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Friday, September 19, 2008

Foodie Friday - Resources

It's possible that this may be my most random Foodie Friday post to date.

I got some bumps earlier in the week that I wrote off as bug bites. But then more and more showed up and began itching. So I called Thursday morning and was able to get in to see my doctor that afternoon. I also called my mom to confirm whether or not I'd had chicken pox.

So I went to the doctor... I had to step on that dreaded scale... and I had to get a shot.

Now, I'm currently known around my house as "Queen Itchy." If you'll remember from the Pixar movie Monster's Inc., the abominable snow man relays to Mike and Sully how big foot wore poison ivy on his head and called himself King Itchy. Well, now I'm the one with poison ivy. And here's the culprit:

My beloved herb garden. I was working in it and the rest of the flower bed on Sunday and don't at all remember seeing anything that looked like poison ivy or poison oak. It's stealthy. And vicious. Much like the devil himself.

So after the doctor and getting the kids shipped off to soccer practice with their dad, I headed to the grocery store to get a steriod cream perscription filled (which is NOT working by the way). While I was waiting, I wandered around the store, just enjoying being in the grocery store without kids. Because if you have kids, you most likely know that grocery shopping ceases to be any fun with them around.

And as I was wandering, I picked up a few extra things. You know, for the sake of research...

Which leads me to my topic for today. Resources. Specifically cookbooks.

Now, as you can see above, they come in many shapes, forms, and fashions. I find that having a variety to pull ideas from is helpful in my kitchen.

So many of what used to be considered gourmet restaurant type dishes are making it into the home kitchen these days. There is such a greater appreciation now (as opposed to in the past) for cooks and chefs. Evidenced by the crazy popularity of people like Emeril Lagasse and Tyler Florence. So with this rise in popularity has come an influx of cookbook resources on the market.

1. The Periodical

Even the periodical comes in many forms from the Rachel Ray magazine, to Southern Living, to Food & Wine and Gourmet. While I have used recipes out of almost all of these publications, I do not subscribe to all of them. I may pick one up in the airport for plane reading material or at the grocery store on a lark. But they do not serve me well on a regular basis. What I want from a periodical is methods and explanations to help me learn. Therefore, the one I do subscribe to is Cook's Illustrated. You've probably "heard" me sing it's praises before, and I'll do it again.

This is the magazine version of the public television program, "America's Test Kitchen." They take no advertising, so when they do food or product comparisons, I feel like they are giving unbiased opinions. Also related is Cook's Country which is similar and includes quick fixing recipe cards that you can punch out of each issue.

2. The Specialty Book

This is definitely not your mother's cookbook. There are entire cookbooks dedicated to variations of a single food, cooking method, or dish, like Risotto as pictured below. I also have in my library specialty books for chocolate, and baking. These are wonderful resources for really honing your skills in a certain area or giving you ideas for branching out beyond the way you might normally prepare a dish.

3. The Theme or Celebrity Book

This is different from the Specialty book as it may have a collection of recipes from many different genres of food but they are tied together by a theme or celebrity personality. Take, for instance, the Today's Kitchen cookbook pictured above. There are a lot of different types of recipes from a lot of different celebrity chefs, but they are tied together by the personalities of the Today Show cast. Or, for instance, in my library, I have several books based on the "French Classics" theme. Another variation of this might be the fundraiser cookbooks that we all have in our collections. These books are good to just see a variety of different recipes from a variety of sources.

4. The Old Standard

It never goes out of style, does it? It's the same cookbook your mother used... maybe even your grandmother... just a slightly updated version. Mine was up to date (kind of) when my dad gave it to me in college. I could never get rid of it, even if it is out of date, because there's something so familiar and down-home about it.

So what does one look for in buying a new cookbook? Well, obviously it depends on what you're looking for. This is something that you have to try several kinds of books and see what you like.

If you're anything like me, you'll choose books with beautiful pictures. I love pictures, especially beautiful pictures of food. But for a periodical, you would love the utilitarian no frills just give me the right information look.

Or, maybe you're like my friend Lolly and your favorite resource is the phone book.

You know, whatever works.


Genny said...

I love looking at the pictures in cook books! In fact, unless there's a picture, I'll rarely try to make a recipe.

Hope your itching gets better soon!

Lolly said...

Hey Donna,

I hope the itching is better. That sounds miserable!

Great post. I guess I might need to check out some of your great resources . . . or just get me another phone book. :)

Thanks for the shout out.

Kay said...

I've enjoyed the Taste of Home brand of magazines in the past. Lots of pictures.

Hope you get over your itchies soon! So not fun!

twinkle said...

Praying for you and your family...

Father in heaven, guard and guide Your servants by Your great power. Give them a sense of discernment to know what direction to take during this time of persecution. Father, open doors for them to follow Your lead. I pray for all the ones experiencing this horror in Your Name. Grant them favor and mercy and defeat the enemy who seeks to steal, kill and destroy. Bless Donna with a strong spirit of peace as she trusts in You. In Jesus Name. Amen.

ocean mommy said...

Hi Donna!

Just want you to know I am praying for your parents and the other chrisitans in that is very near and dear to the heart of my husband and I....