Monday, September 8, 2008

My First Cookbook

I have an extensive cookbook collection. It's slightly less extensive now; since I forced myself to weed out the ones I haven't used in a long time and put them in the highly profitable Yard Sale. Those books are now in the United Way Fundraiser bin at Hannaford, where I was browsing the other day before I realized that 2/3rds of the books in the bin were from my house in the first place. I read cookbooks. My mother will also tell you that I used to read the encyclopedia, which is true, but that's another story. But anyway, I read cookbooks like ordinary books. If I have nothing to do, I'll pick up a cookbook and page through it. I never have nothing to do, but I persist in thinking that I have free time to do things like this. This perhaps may have some bearing on why my house is so not neat. Maybe if I got rid of ALL my cookbooks, I would have a neater house. But I like to cook. My sister Haleine was watching one of those shows on HG one day where you had to get rid of most of your posessions to clean your house, and they told a particular couple they could only keep 25 books. This topic was good for a half a day of email one slow work day, as we both struggled to think about what 25 books we could keep and what to get rid off. I would probably need 25 just for cookbooks. And then another 300 or so for all the books I like to read semi often. But, since I have titled this post My First Cookbook, maybe I should talk about My First Cookbook.
I probably got it about 1997 or so, the date is a little fuzzy, but I remember it was in the sale bin at Borders. Most of them were in the sale bin at Borders, but my first one is Cooking Provence, by Antoine Bouterin. Being the francophile that I am, this was a must for me. I read it cover to cover, including the anecdotes about growing up in Provence on a farm. I go through phases of cooking out a certain cookbook, and this is a good summer one, full of vegatables and herbs which make the veggies taste so incredible. This might also have started my gardening kick, come to think of it, since it was much easier and cheaper to grow my own herbs than to buy them. This week, I have made baked eggplant, and pistou, which is sort of a vegetable soup with lots of basil. I always forget how much work the eggplant is to make..the slices soak up a lot of oil, but a couple days later I thought maybe I would try grilling the eggplant slices in the George Forman griller instead of frying them all in the oil. I think that would work great. If eggplant can be found at Farmers Market on Saturday, I might give that a try. There are other recipes I cook from that book on a regular basis, and the book is in about three pieces and is in desperate need of rebinding. But definitely a keeper, especially if you have a surplus of garden produce on your kitchen counter attracting fruit flies.
And, I am proud to say, I have come close to living one of my dreams. This particular dream applies to salsa. I love salsa. I have a great recipe for salsa. But usually I have to go to the store, buy 2 and a half pounds of tomatoes, a hot pepper, onions, garlic, and cilantro. Last week, I picked all the tomatoes, the garlic, and the hot pepper from my own garden. Normally I would have cilantro too, but I am in between cilantro sowings at the moment. So the salsa was both delicious, and cost effective. I looked online today for methods of canning salsa, but after looking at all the specific directions and warnings, I wimped out. They say you can freeze it, and I've tried, but the texture just isn't the same. But maybe I'll give it another try. I'll be making some more tomorrow, since I have lots of roma tomatoes just begging to be turned into salsa. I think for our Sunday pizza I will try using salsa instead of tomato sauce, put Jack cheese and fresh corn on top, and see if Mexican pizza is feasable. My made up recipes are not always as edible as the ones I make from cookbooks. Happy Joe's restaurant in Pella used to make a great taco pizza, though.
Jupiter had her first official day of school today. Her new school has been wonderful about letting her come in and visit and get used to things. So far, I LOVE her new school. So far, Jupiter also loves her new school, and her new assistant teacher Miss J. She even told me the other day that Miss J is the bestest teacher in the whole world. Absolutely music to my ears.

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