Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Recipe Thoughts and Roundups

I'm sure this article is going to provide fodder for lots of food blogs this week: The NYTimes printed an article today about Recipe Deal Breakers. What ingredient, technique, or phrase will make you walk away from a recipe without trying it? Both the article and the accompanying reader comments are worth some perusing time; I agreed with some of the deal breakers, but thought that others were crazy. For example, a one-word comment said, "Cilantro." I love cilantro! Can't imagine giving up all the varied dishes that contain it.

But that's just a question of personal taste, so it's an agree to disagree sort of situation.

My bigger problem is that I seem to have walked away from almost all recipes in the past few years. I used to be reasonably good about looking for and trying new recipes, but I almost can't remember the last time I actually followed a new recipe (or even an old one, by actually looking at it) from start to finish. And I think this is good and bad. I even think I might know where it comes from.

Living here in Desolationville, I get to a grocery store once almost every week. Sometimes, we go ten days, but that's about the longest stretch we've had, I think. In Isolationville, we went MONTHS. After first arriving there, I spent six months without going more than sixteen miles from our house. And, believe me, there were no "real" grocery stores within a sixteen-mile radius of our house. So I had to make do with what I had stocked up on, what could be ordered on the internet (you'd think almost anything could be, but Amazon wouldn't ship food products to Isolationville and neither would a number of other mail-order purveyors), or what happened to show up on the shelves of our gas-station-convenience-store-sized "supermarket".

This automatically made following recipes, especially any that included fresh produce, extremely difficult, and I think I just stopped trying and haven't really started again. I cook a lot from scratch, even trying new things, but recipes aren't often involved. On the one hand, it means that I can almost always come up with something for dinner based on what's already in the kitchen, which is good in the day or two before a shopping trip takes us out of Desolationville.

On the other, though, I do think my cooking more generally is diminished by not trying new recipes created and honed by others. I have a good friend who almost always tries a new recipe when I visit. The last visit, she made a favorite, but she still had the cookbook (Moosewood Lowfat, a favorite of mine, too, for healthful foods without stupid concessions to commercial lowfat products) sitting open to the recipe on the counter. The same cookbook had inspired a foodie friend of mine (almost a decade ago) to try every recipe in the book. I think my cousin was pretty close to considering the same attempt.

I guess this is a way of saying that I need to find ways to try new recipes. I've been thinking of doing this month's Donna Day choux challenge, and that will help; I've always wanted to make choux, but never have, and I'll definitely need a recipe.

Speaking of food blogging events, a couple roundups have been posted recently for the Sandwich Festival and the Beautiful Bones event. There are a lot of great recipes -- maybe some I'll even follow!

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