Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Cook Book Confession

One of my favorite things about post-college life is the fact that I have been able to go many, many semester-length segments without packing up my entire life and moving it down three flights of stairs and four blocks over. When I did have to move, I have extremely vivid memories of my least favorite box to pack: the books. Why? Because it’s so satisfying to pack a box perfectly full of them (and their shape makes them the easiest thing to pack, in that way) only to realize it weighs about 200 pounds. The books always seemed to get spread out over many other boxes and thus, when I unpacked, I never had all of them out of the boxes at the same time.
And maybe this is how I became the lady that owns 31 cookbooks.
Literally, 31. The top six sit in my kitchen and the rest are stored just around the corner. And the rest’s rest (because even my overflow has overflow) are in the bookcase across the living room. Might I have a problem? Absolutely not. I swear.
The part that I really hate to admit is that while I have definitely thumbed through all of them and cooked something from almost all of them, I’ve never really gotten into very many of them to figure out what the heck is going on between all those pages. And for the effort I’ve put in dragging those cookbooks up and down stairs and over state lines, I think we should be a bit better acquainted.
We had two particularly snowy weekends the first two Saturday of December in darling Indiana (isn’t avoiding this crap weather so early in the season part of why I moved here?). I took the opportunity to shut myself in my apartment, curl up with some hot tea, put a movie on, and thumb through cook books. I was reminded of some recipes and techniques that I’ve been meaning to try out and haven’t gotten around to as well as things I have tried and loved (or didn’t love so much), but mostly I discovered a ton of recipes I am now dying to make. 172 of them to be precise. And I was being a little picky about which ones made the list. Maybe it would help if the list of ingredients I didn’t like was closer to the number of cook books I own.
I have no particular goals in mind with these recipes in terms of getting them cooked within a certain amount of time. I’m sure I’ll feed my addiction and buy more cookbooks in the meantime, not to mention all of the little treasures I’ll come across in my food blog trolling. I must say, though, it’s nice to feel like I’m getting to know the cook books better. (I realize that statement sounds simply silly. They’re books, not people. I get it!) I’ve always had a familiarity with the style of each, but really peeling through the pages makes me feel like I’ve sharpened the tools that are at my disposal. Do I need a quick 30-minute weeknight recipe? Do I want to challenge myself and my dishwasher’s load capacity? Rutabagas were on sale…who will know what to do with these? These are the kinds of things that get a bit easier to tackle when you know what resources you already have.
So, while I don’t necessarily hope you find yourself snowed in (or having to box and move cook books, for that matter), I do hope you take some time to dust off those old recipe receptacles and see what you come across. If it’s anything worth sharing, I’d love the ideas. After all, I have many more than 172 meals that I’ll need to eat in 2011.

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