The Esoteric Cookbook is Just for me!

I have spent three months writing a cookbook for myself, my family and friends and it has been fun “having” to make all of my recipes to make sure I have them written down right so other people can make them. I have the habit, as most good cooks do, of making it up as I go along or changing things up because I grew up developing my palette in the art of being able to taste recipes as I read them. So frequently I read a recipe and I know before I cook it that it needs to be changed but most of the people who ask for my recipes want them written down exactly as they should be made because if they could do what I do they wouldn’t have asked for the recipe. So it was important that the recipes be written exactly like they needed to be cooked to taste like the dish the person cooking is expecting. So I “had” to write the recipe and print it out and make like I didn’t know how to cook it and then I “had” to serve the finished dish to friends and myself to make sure it tasted like it was supposed to taste. I did have to amend several of the recipes I had written because of how much I had adlibbed changes in them over the 40 years I have been cooking. The main reason I wanted to do this cookbook is that I have so many cookbooks, loose recipes cut out of newspapers and magazines as well as a large card file with hand written and typed recipes (back in the days when we didn’t have personal computers) that I needed to consolidate the clutter and get rid of the thousands of recipes that I am never going to cook. I went through every cookbook, and there was about 40 of them, and went to the dog eared and bookmarked recipe of two that I at least sort followed at one time so I could pare my cookbook collection down to just a few sentimental favorites like the Doubleday Cookbook my mother gave me when I moved into my first place away from home. It is still to this day the only all around cookbook that I like, every recipe in it that I have tried is good and pretty much every standard recipe no matter what the cuisine is in it. I don’t recall any of the recipes that I have tried from it ever not tasting or working like it was supposed to. Another one of my favorite ones is not exactly a cookbook, though it has a lot of recipes in it, and it is called “The Von Welanetz Guide to Ethnic Ingredients” and my mother gave it to me as well. She gave to me for Christmas in 1988 according to the inscription she wrote in it. I loved cooking with all the spices in the world and had started exploring the cuisines of other countries and I asked for a book that would give me information on what people in other countries cook and eat and what spices they use and that exactly what this book tells you. I liked it because since I already didn’t really follow recipes it was perfect because to cook a cuisine you just need to know what kinds of ingredients and spices are available that is how to create the authenticity of the country whose food you are trying to find out about. I went through the hundreds of loose recipes and threw out all but the ones I had already tried because if I haven’t used them after having them for over 10 years chances are I never will and I really am trying to get rid of most of the things I have been collecting so long that are just taking up space and getting dusty. I wanted my cookbook to have my most favorite recipes, in their altered states if they came from a printed one, in one cookbook to last me into my senile years (joke I hope) when I can no longer remember what I am doing.  A lot of recipes that I have altered are a conglomeration of several recipes I used to look up in several of my cookbooks and that I would make one  recipe that contained the elements I like from the other ones and I also frequently add ingredients that I think should have been included in the recipe. My carrot cake started out that way, I found a recipe in an old “New York Times” cookbook for something called carrot bread that had wonderful ingredients but it wasn’t a cake so I took a simple carrot cake recipe and loaded it up with every single ingredient I had ever had in a carrot cake. Then I started making doubled amounts of the cream cheese frosting and I added some orange extract one time and lemon another time and then I got so many rave reviews over those that I started putting some of each of them in the frosting every time and I can’t tell you how times I got asked for the recipe. My fried chicken started out like my mother taught me, salt and pepper, shaken with flour and fried on one side with the lid on it, flipped over and fried on the other side with the lid off so the skin gets crispy. Take it out and set it on paper towels while you make the gravy. It was good but I liked the spices they used to use on Kentucky Fried but it was way too greasy so I started making my own secret spice recipe, actually it wasn’t a secret I just opened the cupboard and added a bit of every spice I thought would go together with chicken and eventually came up with a combination of 13 that everyone really liked and asked me what they were. I also like to keep some bacon grease around to use with oil to fry the chicken it, you really can tell in the flavor as well as it seems to get crispier I think and if it isn’t crispier it sure tastes great! I decided to call my cookbook the Esoteric Cookbook since it is made of the recipes that mean the most to my taste buds or if I was stuck on a deserted island I could be happy if these were all the foods I would ever get to eat. I included 350 recipes and that should be enough to last me the rest of my life along with all of the things I never use a recipe for. I have posted 66 of them here, I only got feedback that I screwed one of them up – I didn’t copy the instructions for some cookies I posted early and someone wanted to cook them but all there was listed were the ingredients. It actually turned out it was a problem with the software I bought to help me organize the recipes and it had not saved the instructions for several recipes but fortunately because of my posting the cookie recipe I got to fix the program before I got too many recipes typed in that weren’t getting saved so I didn’t have to reenter very many of them. I have really had fun going through the recipes but I had to make sure and eat before I did because reading all those recipes and imagining how they tasted sure did make me hungry! I wonder if you can gain weight eating food in your mind? I sure hope not.

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