Sunday, September 23, 2012

slow cooking fun, a book review

For the next few days I plan to keep a few crock pots busy in my kitchen as I continue to try out as many recipes as I can manage from Carrie Forbes' (who we know and love as Ginger Lemon Girl) The Everything Gluten-Free Slow Cooker Cookbook.

I've been playing with these recipes for a week or two now, and I'm no where near through the list of dishes I want to try. So far, one of my favorites has been Dijon Beef Roast. It is so simple, yet the Dijon mustard adds just enough depth to the flavor to make it interesting and keep it familiar at the same time. This is one of those toss it together and it works kind of recipes as far as I'm concerned. I could make it every week and not get tired of this tender, tasty roast.

If you've recently started on a Paleo diet, have been eating this way for awhile, or are just removing wheat and other gluten-filled grains, Carrie's book will be a big help. While this is not a grain-free or Paleo cookbook, per se, many recipes fit that lifestyle just as they are, while others are easily adapted. I love thumbing through cookbooks for ideas just as much, if not more, than for recipes to try. This one is great for that. She shares so many ideas for different approaches to slow cooking that it just becomes a fun-filled adventure. Seriously.

I have never used a slow cooker for more quickly cooked dishes before. I must confess on my first attempt with salmon filets, I was a little too nonchalant and did not pay enough attention to timing. For dishes like this, timing matters, and the directions say so quite clearly. I'd suggest following the directions, unless you have someone like I do in the house who doesn't believe protein can ever be too done.

Think I'll head back to the kitchen now. I have two large Crock Pots going, but I still haven't tried the blackberry preserve recipe. Onward...

Saturday, September 22, 2012

it's all about method

I've recently come to a rather embarrassing realization, embarrassing for one who aspires to be a decent food blogger. I'm neither a fan of recipes nor of photography. I like reading recipes and looking at photos for sure. I just can't get really excited about creating either.

So what am I doing here? I am an avid cook. I cook for fun, for relaxation, for escape, and to eat, of course. I love playing in the kitchen. I rarely if ever know what I'm likely to end up with until I'm about to serve it. I love to look around the kitchen and start throwing things together. Fortunately for me and those I cook for, the results are usually pleasing.

I have had years and years of practice doing mostly this sort of cooking. I have and do follow recipes from time to time, though usually my (enormous) cookbook collection is more of a source of inspiration than of recipes I actually follow. I have mastered several methods and know which ingredients do what. So my kitchen has become more of a playground.

Improvisation in the kitchen is just plain fun in my book, though it does have its drawbacks. When someone likes a dish I've made and asks for the recipe, I stumble. I know it often sounds like I'm refusing to share, and truly it isn't that. Simply put, I don't have one. When I've tried to record each step and measure amounts and note specific ingredients, the dish suffers, suffers immeasurably. To those of you who create and share recipes, my hat is off to you. I will continue trying from time to time, but I know it's not my calling. I cook, I eat, and I write about food. Recipes --- clearly not so much.