It started innocently enough, as many compulsions do: the local church cookbook as a newlywed; followed by Betty Crocker and Joy of Cooking.
There was the occasional exchange of recipes with siblings and friends; a subscription to Bon Appetit.
Then mon mari gave me a wok, and '1.000 Chinese Recipes'. (See? I keep saying it's all his fault but he never accepts responsibility – typical modern man.)
It was a slide down the slippery slope from there: 'Larrouse Gastronomique', followed by 'Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking', followed by the entire Time Life 'Foods of the World', followed by countless others. At last count there were more than 200 on the shelves.
That's when it started happening.
I could no longer just fry some pork chops for dinner.
A simple pot roast with potatoes and carrots would no longer work for me.
Hamburgers? I think not. Frozen pizza? At my house? Are you joking????
I had all of these lovely cook books, therefore I must use them.
(I think; therefore I am.)
The last year we lived in the U.S., whilst sorting through our worldly possessions, packing and preparing to move, I decided I should make something different for dinner every night for that year. Seemed like a good idea at the time….
We moved. We moved again.
New countries, new food, new challenges, new experiences: exciting times in the kitchen chez moi.
Then, in the interest of supporting our current lifestyle (ie. feeding ourselves) I started my website/menu planner. Since I couldn't really just rattle on about food on the site I started this blog.
That's when, what had been a healthy interest in food and cooking, turned into a full-out compulsion.
Not only do I have to make something different every night, it has to be 'new', 'daring', 'innovative'.
I pour over the cook books but would never actually follow a recipe…. That would be cheating!
The minute I find that 'fantastic new recipe', I start tweaking it, making it mine.
And then there are the photos.
First, and most importantly, they help me remember just what, exactly, I put into the dish…since actually writing the recipe down while I cooked would be far too simple. I mean, where's the challenge in that?
My mother made certain that dinner arrived on the table piping hot.
I try to get food on the table before it gets ice cold.
Timing is everything: first I have to calculate which foods cool off the fastest so I know in which order to take my 1,000 or so photos, then I have to adjust the lighting and take said photos.
Of course, this usually involves some discussion with mon mari, which, often, is much hotter than the food….
And, sometimes, halfway through dinner, I realize/decide/think I should have taken the shot from a different angle so back we (the food and I) go to the kitchen for more camera fun.
I now know, for those of you who don't:
Broccoli cools off faster than most other vegetables.
Foods with a sauce stay warmer than those without.
Foods with a crust stay warmer than those without.
Potatoes that are roasted stay warmer longer than those that are boiled.
Cold, coagulated gravy is best served over dog food.
Hot foods served in a cold, French farmhouse in winter are less appetizing than cold foods served in a hot, French farmhouse in summer.
Mon mari is grateful summer is almost here.
I've offered, by way of the give and take so important in a marriage, to do the cooking in stilettos and a skimpy maid uniform….
Mon mari said he'd rather have the food hot….
Occasionally, I do make something simple; not requiring thought, recipe or more planning than cutting the herbs before dark.
I try to remember that, in cooking as in life, simple is often best.
This pasta dish, for Ruth's Presto Pasta Nights, is one of those.
Stop by Once Upon a Feast, on Friday, to get the complete round-up of pasta from around the world.
Pasta with Fresh Herbs no thought required
1 cup dried pasta, cooked
2 – 3 tbs fresh herbs (here I used chives and garlic chives)
2 – 3 green garlic (had a few left)
2 – 3 tbs good, fruity olive oil
Parmesan, optional (I didn't – wanted the herbs to shine)
Cook the pasta according to package directions.
Snip the herbs.
If using green garlic: Heat 1 tbs olive oil in skillet. Slice green garlic and add to skillet and let warm slowly over low heat.
Just before pasta is done, warm remaining olive oil and herbs in skillet – do not 'fry', just warm. Pour over drained pasta and serve.
I'm looking at this photo and thinking: I could add sliced cherry tomatoes; or goat cheese; or avocado; or slivered snow peas; or tuna; or a splash of white Balsamic vinegar; or lots and lots of fresh oregano or
Someone, please, make me stop. My head hurts…. Please….
I wonder how strawberries would be…with some spinach, yeah, tha..