Monday, March 23, 2015

Cooking From My Cookbooks

Do you have a shelf like this at home? Actually I am aware that many of you have probably have more than one shelf like this, right? I do have a few other cookbooks in another cabinet, books that I use more rarely. But I already know what Marie Kondo would have to say about that and I have a feeling that those books are going to get tossed this summer when I am on break from school. A whirl of decluttering is coming soon folks! But let's not get ahead of ourselves....

I had a few weeks there when my older daughter was still looking for another job when I had her cooking two nights a week, my other daughter cooking one, and I took the remaining two. I haven't cooked on the weekends in a few years unless I want to. For all of you readers with little ones, hang in there; your children do grow up and they can begin making you supper too! :)

But now Maia is back to work and her hours are right during the dinner hour. I still have given her one evening to cook, but if she's at work, then I take it. So that puts me back to at least 3 and sometimes 4 nights a week. It's okay, though the break was nice!

For the most part I enjoy being in the kitchen. It is not my hobby or passion like it is for others, but when I don't have to be rushed, it can be very centering.

To keep things interesting for me I like to incorporate new recipes as I'm sure most of us do. When the schedule gets really busy, I find myself falling back on the tried-and-true. That's usually alright because I have collected a number of these recipes over the years for a pretty good balance of variety. But I begin to feel in a rut if I use them too long. It's not that the food doesn't taste good. I mean, they are tried-and-true for a reason! But if there are no culinary surprises for me, I begin to lose interest.

So, this year I have been doing a pretty good job with staying on track of a goal I've set for myself of trying one new recipe each week. There is risk involved in this of course, because no one likes a flop. I don't think anything new that I've tried thus far has been a complete disaster, but a few have definitely fallen into the -"Well, that was okay, but let's not have it again!" - category.

I recently had this book Fresh From the Vegan Slow Cooker by Robin Robertson out from the library. We tried a couple of so-so recipes from it but I also made a good one. But there were so many that looked worth trying that I went ahead and purchased my own copy. When I put it up on my shelf I realized that I have another book of hers sitting there that I purchased last year, 1,000 Vegan Recipes, from which I've only made a very few recipes!

Do you do this too? Do you see a lovely cookbook, imagine making some of the great dishes from it, purchase it, cook from it once or twice and then... move on? There are so many amazing recipes out there on the Internet. I have a wonderful Pinterest board chock full of terrific, vegan recipes that I call "Vegan Deliciousness" and I have a recipe file in my Evernote files. AND I have some old magazines and collected clippings from magazines that I have tried or intended to try, but have not. I don't think of myself as a collector, generally speaking, but I don't think I can say that honestly. I am a collector of ideas and I can see how easy it is to become overrun.

So, while I'm not going to stop pinning good ideas and I may even use a few of those pinned recipes, I am going to actually use my cookbooks at least once-a-week. Isn't that a novel idea? :) That will mean that if I can only get to one new recipe during the week, then it should be from one of my cookbooks. If I want to try something else new, I can take it from somewhere else, but the cookbook comes first. I am going to try this for the remainder of March and on through the month of April. Honestly, I know I could do this for years and still not get to every recipe, but I have to start somewhere. Giving myself some boundaries is actually something I like to do and I always see it as a little adventure. Limiting oneself often produces interesting results. Artists of all kinds do this; Redwork and Blackwork in embroidery is stunning, and Picasso had his "Blue Period", for example.

I know that I am missing out on some great new dishes by being so distracted by all the new and shiny that shows up in my feeds each week. I mean, in one book alone on my shelf there are a thousand recipes to choose from! So, while I'm not going to try every recipe from one book, a la Julie and Julia, I am going to use what I've got that is sitting on that one, little shelf.

Do you have a favorite cookbook from which you have made many dishes? Or do you have many cookbooks from which you have made a few?

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