27 February 2017

Advice for Acquiring New Recipes

1. Designate a notebook for your recipe research. I recommend a composition book, the kind that has appeared on the school supply lists of American children since the dawn of the nation. Traditionally the covers of the books include a bold, black and white marble pattern, a black strip on the spine, and a white, central block in which to record the student's name and the subject of study. The rounded corners, probably incorporated as a safety measure, are conducive to turning the pages with ease. I favor Decomposition Books designed by Michael Roger, a family run company founded in 1949 and based in Brooklyn. The cover of my recipe book is cappuccino colored and printed with images of coffee cups. I copy new recipes onto its pages like a diligent grade-school student. This exercise builds my familiarity with the ingredients of new dishes, advancing my confidence to make them.

2. Gather recipes from a variety of sources. Family members and friends will divulge their favorite foods as well as accompanying memories. Pinterest is an incredible resource for locating recipes on the internet. By browsing cookbooks in bookstores and libraries, you are bound to discover a few items of interest. I occasionally find recipes sprinkled throughout memoirs. In my current read, Pamela Druckerman's Bringing Up Bébé, I came across instructions for le gâteau au yaourt. I baked the cake and shared it with my colleagues who paired it with their morning cups of café. A recipe often appears on the packaging for an ingredient of that recipe. Following the directions on a pack of granulated sugar, I made a batch of brownies. My husband's coworkers approved.

3. Permit yourself to prepare foods you are not in the habit of eating. Knowing my office associates will enjoy the product of my labor, I bake as a calming exercise. I am at liberty to dabble in the lab that is my kitchen without being tempted to eat too many sweets.

4. Acquire culinary tools as needed. If you require a particular utensil or cookware, buy or borrow it. I found a recipe requiring the zest of a lemon. I now own a zester and have discovered many other uses for it beyond its initial purpose. 

5. Be empowered to adapt recipes to your own specifications. You can always try again if the experiment goes awry. 

6. Focus on one new recipe at a time. I was overwhelmed at the beginning of my search for new foods. But my anxiety subsided after resolving to shop for the ingredients of one recipe at a time. My colleague K. says cooking is a continuous battle, but I plan to win it with patience and a plan.
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M.J.C.

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