I am a Cookbook Cook and actually quite proud about of it.
It all started with being frustrated that I had a few cookbooks…wanted to make a good dinner…didn’t really know how…wasn’t really sure which way to turn…or even what to do. It has to be a common affliction and the remedy it turns out was right before my eyes.
You have to admit, they can be scary things to the uninitiated or beginning cook. Seeing a cookbook in the kitchen can set the viewer in all manners of direction. That is also its biggest trapping. It is too much at times and when that happens we can divert our attention to the next shiny object, idea or conversation.
To break down these barriers for myself I decided to read my cookbooks from front to back and list the recipes I would like to try. I recommend laying down on the couch for this one with a pencil and a legal pad. After listing the recipes or even part of the recipe I wanted to try, I then went to “Word,” listed them by protein, main ingredient, or dish and gave a brief one line description along with the Cookbook, Title or Description of the recipe as well as page number. I then selected it all, hit the A-Z button in Word, and Word alphabetized them in an astonishing manner. I just made my own Google index for my cookbooks.
It has proved to be one of those paradigm shifts for me and my family.
The “Index” is in its own 3 ring folder and this is the first stop when deciding what we want for dinner. Nope, I don’t even think of grabbing an individual cookbook first, the index covers them all and can even lead to better ideas sometimes than the initial idea on what to have for dinner.
Within the Index folder I write notes, give the recipes stars from one to five, and jot down brief notes. In the actual cookbook I always write the date tried, number of stars, how it was, and any other notes for future use. Yep, these cookbooks get used and written all over. Sorta fun and why not! I think its a bit sad to see an unadulterated used cookbook.
Being the nature of recipes, I do from time to time come across recipes we did not like at all. Those recipes get the “Do Not Do Again” written bold in the cookbook and I scratch out the recipes line and description in the Index folder. I periodically go through the index on my computer to make updates, delete bad recipes, and add recipes from new cookbooks. I highlight the recipes in bold we have tried and included brief notes about it then print off a new fresh index and discard the old one.
One of the biggest inspirations that set this whole ball in motion was being dragged to an Estate Sale with the Wife. I walked into this cool European Country Style Kitchen and they had a ton of French Cookbooks in the library. At that time I only owned maybe two books was in awe at was before me.
I wondered if they had any Escargot recipes in these cookbooks? I loved escargot growing up as a kid, and it’s not something you see on menus very often. My parents would take us to one of the few French restaurants in town about once a year and I would always order the Escargot. Dipping the french bread into the warm garlic butter was my absolute favorite. I didn’t mind the Escargot either, but what ever it is about the combination of that French classic, it has always made me happy.
I was after escargot recipes in that kitchen and looking to take a journey back to being a kid. One of the relatives approached me in the kitchen and told me how much she loved her mothers cooking and these were her favorite cookbooks. I went straight to the index’s looking up Escargot and grabbed three of them. I ended up with the Cooking of Southwest France, Gourmet France, and La Cuisine from Oliver. She tried to make sure I went home with a copy of Escoffier, but I declined. I had no idea who or what he was, all I remember was thinking it looked the most daunting of the bunch. Sorta bummed on that one but learned a good lesson. I still don’t have his book yet. Someday. The Copper Pans on the blogs main page are also from that kitchen. Sorta Cool…and very grateful to that family. Thank You!
I just counted all my cookbooks – over 80 at this point. I had no idea I had that many. Sorta interesting what a side trip can lead to.
It’s even wilder to think of what life would have been like without “The Index.” The family has had some amazing meals…and of course some clunkers. I’ve also learned to prep, cook, use knives, follow instructions and expand our family’s horizon immensely.
This blog though is mainly a time capsule. My girls will be able to look back at what they had at the dinner table growing up and of course say…their “Pappa” is a little Batty.
So it goes…