Anyone who knows me at all knows I have an affinity for cookbooks. They sing their siren song to me in the promise of a succulent stew, a creamy custard, or a fragrant, perfectly roasted chicken. The images of fantastic food is as enticing to me as a fashion spread is to those who are lured by the images of beautiful clothes, and, yes, lovely clothes are…well, lovely, but can they permeate your home with an amazing aroma? Can they show love and hospitality to the hungry masses? Can you eat them? Well, you get my drift. Hey, we all have our priorities.
Lack of space and a resolve to avoid an appearance on “Hoarders” has caused me to periodically prune my cookbook collection, yet I still have too many of them, and, like any avowed addict, I can’t say I will never purchase another cookbook, but I no longer do so with the wild, impulsive abandon of someone furtively crouched behind a trash can smoking crack. Does that sound slightly dramatic? Granted the consequences of my purchases were less devastating, but the bottom line is I wasn’t even using them, and I wanted to stop spending money on them only to try to twist someone’s arm to take them off my hands a month later, which was kind of crazy. The simple truth is a lot of people don’t want to take the time or effort to cook from scratch and therefore do not feel compelled to accumulate books that are taking up space and are heavy to haul around when you move (believe me, I know this from personal experience). When they do get a hankering to tinker around in the kitchen, the computer is their friend, and that’s the case for me as well. I love to look at the glossy photography in a coffee table worthy tribute to delectable dishes, but after I have done my share of perusing, it’s back to the shelf they go, and I’m off on an online search for the perfect peach cobbler.
I also subscribe to several foodie magazines. After I read them, I can usually find people to pass them on to more readily than a book, but I have rarely attempted to make a dish from one of these magazines. Yesterday I did see some amazing looking fried chicken with an appealing kick that came from soaking the pieces in hot sauce before coating them with flour. I started to look through the recipe to see what ingredients I had on hand and what I would need to purchase to create this poultry masterpiece.
That’s when I noticed the instructions, which did not bode well for a potential collaboration with this dish. “Working in four batches.” These words struck fear into my heart, and I suddenly realized why there is a disconnect between acquiring all these tomes to fine foods and the fact that I don’t use the books. I have food fascination/food phobia, a tricky combination to be sure. For instance, I would love to make a creamy custard or cheesecake, but I am intimidated by the process of pouring boiling water (sounds risky) halfway up the pan before placing the whole affair in the oven. I also have an aversion to creating a big mess with the knowledge that no one in this household will want to clean it up afterwards, so I don’t want to use a food processor, an immersion blender, brown something in oil and then transfer this whole production to yet another appliance and then have a million sticky, oily, tumeric stained (yes, that’s happened) items to have to immerse in hot, soapy water and scrub.
Yes, I’m a messy cook. Powdery substances such as flour and confectioner’s sugar mysteriously sprinkle themselves on my granite counter top. When I carmelize onions or fry potatoes on the stove, particles often flip from the spatula and situate themseles in hard to reach places around the burners. The cooking part is not the problem, but it is invariably a precursor to the clean up, which, for me, is an ordeal.
And this is what I need to remind myself of when a cookbook tries to wrap itself around me with its insidious pasta tentacles. I DON’T WANT TO CLEAN UP THE MESS AND NOBODY ELSE IN THIS HOUSE DOES EITHER. Thus I will stick to the tried and true recipes that call for throwing everything in the crock pot or a casserole dish, and I don’t need more cookbooks or fancy kitchen appliances for that. DILEMNA SOLVED!