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What's for dinner? Hit the books!

I'm a proud iEverything user and I love my cooking apps. With a simple touch, I have access to a complete encyclopedia of menu options and recipes; I can get videos on cooking techniques; and download a shopping list to make sure nothing is forgotten. Its convenient, especially at the end of a long day when the last thing I actually want to think about is, Whats for dinner?

But when I want inspiration, I get old fashioned and turn to books. Not the online or eBook version, but a good classic cookbook one that has pages turned back, marked with the dribbles of overflowing measuring cups, and notated in the margins with tweaks that make any recipe uniquely my own. My favorites are still the basics, but vintage copies rescued from used book stores are frequently grabbed and my Larousse Gastronomique sits proudly on the coffee table, serving as a beautiful conversation piece and ready reference.

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This past weekend, in search of a fool-proof recipe for pie crust, I consulted an American staple: the Church Cookbook. Usually homemade and mimeographed, it's a treasure trove of recipes and kitchen secrets I'm convinced would otherwise be lost: Dorito Dip, Puppy Chow, Girdle Buster, Tater Tot Delight, an entire tab devoted to Casseroles and one recipe simply labeled SURPRISE! which calls for hamburger, Rice-a-Roni, macaroni and cheese, tomato soup, and canned corn. I'm not saying they are all winners!

Cookbooks vary depending on the region represented, but from a quick thumb through this Church Cookbook, the congregation was stocked up with Miracle Whip, Cool Whip, Bisquick, and Crisco shortening.

Lobster Feuillete with Seasonal Mushrooms, Vanilla Bean Veloute

Ive also dabbled in the cookbooks that look too pretty to cook from. While my Alinea cookbook just sits there and taunts me, I did manage to pull off a Bib Gourmand worthy feuillete with vanilla bean veloute a stunning dish from a well-produced Relais & Chateaux cookbook (and with a little tutoring from the Chef that created the dish!).

Essentially I'm thankful for all these resources which help us piece together a history of food, of comfort, of technique, and of traditions. If those little old church ladies hadn't been so good at dishing out guilt along with the broccoli casserole, my Nana may have never written down the details for her Mexican cornbread. And where would we all be without Nana's cooking?!

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Posted in Home Improvement Post Date 03/07/2018


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