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Fixin' Supper

Talkin' 'bout what to fix for supper. Tonight, tomorrow night....

Thursday, May 19, 2005

The answer is 73

For years, friends, family and near-strangers have harassed me because I own a lot of cookbooks. I'll own up to having quite a fetish for them. It's VERY hard for me to resist a new one...or a great vintage edition.

Since I'm moving, I've apparently gotten into counting my possessions, and cookbooks were bound to be on the list. I guess it's the only thing you could say I "collect." There are a very few that I could do without. For instance, the one that came with my mother's Crockpot 30 years ago. (No, I didn't steal her Crockpot. Just the related cookbook. I have no idea why.) But most of the rest, I use several times a year. And some I use almost weekly.

Here's how I cook. This partly explains why I need so many:
I decide what to make. Then I start looking up as many recipes of the dish as I can find. I compare all the recipes and either take the one I like the best, or (more likely) mix up the parts of all of them that I like to come up with my own version.

My mother and at least one of my sisters are mystified by this method. They are by-the-book folks when it comes to cooking. I don't really know where I picked up this alternate method, since my mom taught me to cook. But I do remember VERY distinctly the first time I realized it was possible to cook without a recipe. Or even measuring.

I don't remember how old I was, or even WHY this happened. Maybe my mother can enlighten us about those details. But for some reason, a lady who ran a local restaurant came to my house (when I was a teenager, I think), to teach me her biscuit recipe. This many years later, I don't remember it, but I do remember that THERE WAS NO RECIPE. She took some flour, some shortening and some milk and mixed them up in the proper fashion until it looked good to her. Maybe it was self-rising flour, or maybe she threw in the baking powder and salt. Like I say, that part is gone. But I was completely mystified that she didn't need measuring cups, teaspoons, nothing. She cooked til it looked good. Then she baked them and they were the same delicious biscuits you could get at her restaurant.

It didn't immediately change my method, but over time, as I thought about that day, and cooked more and more on my own, I'd find myself thinking, hmmm, this would be better with sausage. Or, I want a third of this size. How much of what do I cut? From those questions, it's a small jump to: I have these three things in the fridge. What can I make from them?

So the 73 books are helpful for a starting point. My newest is a Chinese cookbook. It's a cuisine I've not spent a lot of time cooking, but I made a goal for myself early on to really work on Chinese this year. So far, I've been distracted with other stuff, but the second six months look promising.


At 3:56 PM, Anonymous Lena said...

To an extent, I'm the same way. I use cookbooks as a guideline, but so far no masterpieces have come from it. I once forgot to add artichokes to an artichoke dip I made last year. Needless to say, it was very creamy.

At 9:22 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

My count is 107, and this is after carefully discarding a large number and sharing quite a few with you and your sisters. Perhaps this helps explain your 73!
your mom

At 10:18 PM, Blogger Laura Creekmore said...

That is truly scary. That means I better buy another bookshelf, I think.

At 12:24 AM, Anonymous lessons said...

Hello Laura
And G'day from Downunder. I was hunting around the web for stuff on kitchen utensils when I came across this post. It's just amazing what these searches turn up. I'm not sure I'm finding what I need, but I'm having a lot of fun. Have a great day!


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