Thanks everyone for chiming in this week — I think this has been the liveliest discussion yet here at LivingSmall and I’m just thrilled. So often, I feel like the lone crank in the wilderness bleating on about how food in boxes is terrible for you and it tastes bad. My cry of despair: Just cook something!
In light of that, I thought some practical links might be an appropriate way to close out the week.
Here’s a terrific site all about home cooking: Simply Recipes
It looks like the kind of place where you could find a solid recipe for just about any occasion, and Elise’s focus isn’t re-creating restaurant food, but creating good solid home food.
I also like 101 Cookbooks — she’s got a terrific piece up today about the recipe entry in Michael Ruhlman’s new book, The Elements of Cooking. Myself, I am not good at following recipes — I usually go off on a tangent someplace and the recipes I find myself going back to again and again are the ones that provide the kind of scaffolding that will allow this. My Beloved Stepmother and the Mighty Hunter are really good at following recipes — which is why they’re both much better Thai and Chinese cooks than I am (up here, if you want Thai food you have to learn to cook it yourself).
As for storage options — I blogged about getting rid of my plastic a few months ago. I ordered a lot of vintage pyrex refrigerator storage containers off of eBay which I’ve been thrilled with. I like that they have glass lids on them as well.
If you want real info on how to store food, I rely on Putting Food By — it’s got info on everything from canning to pickling to freezing.
As for cookbooks:
Patricia Wells Bistro Cooking is probably the most dog-eared book on my shelves. It’s also stuffed with clippings I’ve cut out of magazines or newspapers. I love this book — it’s my favorite kind of food, for one thing, and every single recipe works. It’s a bombproof book. Everything works. Everything’s delicious. And nothing requires exotic ingredients — it’s good, solid French food and you could easily use these recipes to feed a family.
I love Mario Batali’s Molto Italiano for many of the same reasons I love the Patricia Wells book. There are flavor combinations I wouldn’t have thought of — the lamb shanks with oranges and olives is beyond fabulous.
Staffmeals from Chanterelle would be a great cookbook for anyone feeding a family or looking to change up their weekly repetoire. It’s a collection of recipes that the restaurant feeds its own staff — I’ve used it a lot for parties. It’s all homey food: brisket, lamb shanks, macaroni and cheese, and some great summer barbecue potluck dishes. The potato salad is to die for. (Sadly, it seems to be out of print — maybe check Alibris or AbeBooks or your local used bookstore for a copy.)
What about you all? What are the tips and tricks you rely on to get dinner on the table? Was there a book that you think of as your core cookbook — the one you go back to again and again?