Friday, March 25, 2016

Cook Books and Recipes

I was having breakfast with some friends when we started to discuss recipes and cookbooks. It seems to be a universal issue that you have a whole cookbook and only ever make one recipe from it twice a year. Not only does the book take up space, but you also need to remember which one had the recipe you are wanting and where in the book it would be.
So one of my goals for next year is to find all of my favorite recipes from my favorite cookbooks- and try to compile them into one good recipe source.
Now I know there are reference cookbooks that will not be affected by this. They have way too many recipes and information to let them go. But sometimes I find myself needing one recipe from some obscure book and having to look all day to find it, like Greene on Greens, as an example. I love the idea of a cook book devoted to many different kinds of vegetables. I have used in one time in the last 5 years. I can find the two recipes I like, type them out, and let the book go.  And am I, a diabetic, ever going to really make any of the Victorian candies and confections? I just love the pictures, though. It, too, can go. I have never made anything from the book, although I have looked through it often.
As I look through some of my books, I find an AMISH cooking book from Indiana. Almost everything in it is made from canned items or pre-made products or high carbohydrate foods.  This is not what I think of when I hear the word Amish. But someone thought I would like it. It is going to go. I have never made anything from the book, and it doesn't have pictures so I have never really even looked at it much.
So how do you decide which books will stay and which will go? I think it may be a gut feel thing, to some extent, but other factors can effect the result. Certain books, like THE JOY OF COOKING and MASTERING THE ART OF FRENCH COOKING, and ITALIAN COOKING, and EVERY GRAIN OF RICE (Chinese)- these have so much information that I can't let them go. The ASIAN COOKBOOK is problematic. It has many countries represented and lots of information. It has pretty pictures, but I seldom make anything from this book. I love the Burmese curry and make it often, but not much else. And it is a really big book.
So I have decided to try several recipes from some of the books on the problematic list. Today I am working on some things from a cookbook from MAINE, USA. This was a gift from my daughter and until today, I have never used it. It is mostly about pastries and breads, but it has some good ideas for quick desserts. It uses commercial products and fresh products and tries to keep things simple.
My first attempt from this book is FONDANT. I have 4 other recipes for FONDANT in my other books. They are all pretty much the same. This one is very simplified for making a sugar syrup glaze for pastries. After comparing the recipes, I decided that this book could have true merit if the product is respectable.  It is much simpler than the other recipes, so I started. First problem, no temperature for the syrup only time. But I am wise and experienced so I can figure this out. 2) Too much cream of tartar? This recipe is about 2 times as much as other recipes. 3) Cooling not really given much thought. "Set in a bowl of ice and stir until opaque." Vague.
I divided the beaten syrup into two bowls. One was left as per the book and the other was KNEADED on a cool surface until stiff. PITA. I will compare results when it has CURED in two days.
In the meantime, I will try some other recipe from the book to see if there are other redeeming values. Like the Turnovers that use up the extra puff paste I have from that great breakfast.