Well, I am calling this one “Blame Cinnamon” because it’s just too much of a title to write “Blame Tom For Being a Lazy Hog Who Spent the Entire Holiday Doing Nothing But Watching Bad Movies on Netflix and Eating Thanksgiving Leftovers.”
But that’s pretty much it.
But thanks to Cinnamon for giving me the idea. Oddly enough for someone who really doesn’t cook that much. I love cooking. I love doing it, I love watching others do it, and I love cookbooks. I kept cable TV for years even though I was only watching the Food Network, and since that kind of devolved from people like Ina Garten and Giada DeLaurentis to the culinary equivalent of “Fear Factor” I cut the cord and never looked back. Luckily, PBS and YouTube supply enough shows and the advent of broadcast networks like DABL and Create have neatly filled in my desire to see Jamie Oliver do things with rocket or Martha Stewart lecture me on the proper way to perfect an orange.
I have, over the years, gotten quite a collection of cookbooks, that is actually pretty eclectic. I have the requisite Fannie Farmer and both volumes of Mastering the Art of French Cooking, several ones by Nigella, Ina, Martha, et al., as well as some real odd-balls: Elvis’s favorites (suggested by Nigella, and worth it), Diner foods, ones from local restaurants famous (72 Market Street) not-so-famous (Madame Wu’s, Hamburger Hamlet) and infamous (Brown Derby, which is as much a memoir as a cookbook and a blast to read) I have in the past even used them- a friend and I used to work together on various projects and did catering for them on the side. We never really made a dime but had many happy hours putting things together and hanging out cooking. Which, if you have partner with whom you click, is a wonderful thing. Our adventures took us places that we can laugh about now: Trying to assemble a plate of fiendishly “simple” Martha Stewart hors d’oeuvres in a tiny room under the stage at the Tiffany Theater in Hollywood, a room that was not tall enough for me to stand up in and had fluorescent lighting that strobed in epilepsy-inducing flashes. Or attempting to make gum paste wedding cake decorations in a Catskills hotel room with credit cards and car keys because we had inadvertently left the bag with the implements in the kitchen we had used in Brooklyn. Or catering a friend’s party for putative investors in their show only to find that the hosts kitchen sink was not only backed up, but filled with dirty dishes. But Martha’s nibbles were a hit, even if pared down from some of her excesses, the cake turned out to be lovely (and the bride and groom thrilled) and there was a sink it the bathroom and the only cooking on-site were made to order mini-quesadillas that I did on two griddles and propane burners I got in Little Tokyo for $10- and still have.
I think of all the cookbooks I have the ones that I find the most useful are put out by the America’s Test Kitchen people. As I commented on Cinnamon’s post, if you don’t know them, they have the magazine “Cook’s Illustrated” and the TV shows “Cook’s Country” and “America’s Test Kitchen.” They will go out and purchase 50 pounds of potatoes or lamb or peaches or whatever to find and perfect the ultimate way to cook that ingredient: potatoes mashed to au gratin, lamb shanks or stew, peach pie or cobbler- they will spend hours making perfect, fool-proof apollonian ideal of a recipes.
And I am here to tell you, at least in the kitchen I can sometimes be the fool.
So I know we all chimed in on Cinnamon and mentioned our favorites but please share more here, and any stories you want to share about recipe triumphs or disasters. I’m going to go reheat the last of the stuffing and mashed potatoes and watch another bad movie..
Photos are mine. You may notice from the photos that I am a devote of thriftbooks, the online used bookstore. I love them- they connect with used bookstores all over the US to sell books. Keeps the used bookstores alive and keeps me in Elvis cookbooks. What’s not to love?