Monday, March 14, 2011

The Old Standby

As a cook, I don't really have the creativity to develop my own recipes from scratch, as much as I wish I did.  I need to use another recipe as a launching pad.  I love searching through recipes, online, in magazines, and in cookbooks.  If I am looking for something new or interesting, I go online.  I page through tons of recipes on tons of different sites.  I love going to Tastespotting to look at all of the mouthwatering images of delectable food.  I like to use Epicurious because their recipes are reliable and they have great feedback and comments from other users.  If I am looking for something more indulgent, I love Food and Wine.  Healthy food?  Eating Well it is.  That's not even the stacks of magazine pages I have ripped out to try at some point.  But if I am looking for a classic?  If I want an old standard?  Meatloaf.  Chicken Pot Pie.  Sauces.  To remind myself how long to cook a baked potato and at what temperature (or any other basic cooking technique for just about any food).  For any and all of these, I pull out my old, falling apart, needs to be taped at the seam, pages splotched with recipes I've used over and over again, the Joy of Cooking cookbook.

Joy of Cooking.001

It seems so old school, old lady cooking, but the classic cookbook is a cook's best friend.  All of the fanciest recipes in the world won't help you if you don't know how to do the basics.  The Joy of Cooking is my culinary school general education course.  I go to it for some of my favorite meals and can still get rave reviews using recipes from this book.  The meatloaf I make that everyone loves?   Joy of Cooking.  My meatballs? Joy of Cooking.  Chicken Paprikash?  You got it: Joy of Cooking.

At this point, I don't even know where I got this cookbook.  I don't know if I bought it or if it was a gift.  I think it was new when I got it, but it has been so long, I really don't remember.  All I know is when I am not sure how long to cook a certain kind of steak based on it's cut, thickness, and bone or not, there is a handy little chart.  Each food section starts off with a quick basics lesson on the food - what it is, how to clean or prep it, and how to cook it in the most stripped down manner.  Then you get the recipes.  Recipes that take up hundreds and hundreds of pages of everything from sauce to dessert with every kind of protein in between.  It is my culinary bible and hasn't failed me yet.  I always thought in this technological age, that I would have moved almost exclusively to the internet, but either I'm old-fashioned or the internet just isn't as reliable as a cookbook that has been around since 1931.  So, for now, there will always be a spot in my kitchen where the Joy of Cooking will sit in easy reach, ready to make another delicious meal.

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