Tuesday, September 11, 2007
Rainy Days and Mondays Make Me Wanna Cook!
Last week, my daughter Sarah did several posts of her system for menus, grocery shopping, everything associated with keeping a family well-fed, with minimal fuss. I had a system. Hers is better. I've been working on tweaking mine to mimic hers. What's not to love when you raise the kid, they surpass you in an area and in turn they teach you?!

One of Sarah's pointers was to choose a few cookbooks to work from. She mentioned she likes to try new recipes. I second that. I'm easily bored, and figure the price is right for our guests, no matter what I serve. If we entertain I choose a new recipe. If it bombs I don't make it again, and pray our guests will have short memories.

After studying Sarah's post, I headed to our local library, walked down the aisles with my head cocked sideways, til I came across several cookbooks that looked good. After dragging them home, and spending some time going through them, I settled on these three:

House Beautiful: Welcome to the Table (Simple Recipes for Gracious Dinners and Parties). Author is Barbara Scott-Goodman. I was able to order this one, hardback, for under $2.00 at Amazon, with shipping it came to around $6.00. The author not only shares very doable recipes, but tips on setting the table, centerpieces, how to get everything served hot all at once, etc. It's a not-too-thick book that flops open easily on the countertop so I don't have to set heavy bowls or whatever on it to keep it open. For the most part, the recipes didn't require weird or overly expensive ingredients.

Perfect Recipes for Having People Over, author Pam Anderson. Pam is a pastor's wife, which makes me automatically like her, she wrote a previous book called Perfect Recipe which won the Julia Child Award. I paid $11.84 for this book plus s/h. It's fabulous! She starts with the main entree, explaining that most people choose that first, then she gives you menu suggestions (from recipes in the book) to go with it. She adds tips on serving, what season, what occasion, even if it can be prepared ahead of time, and what to do with the leftovers. Her recipes were very doable, some were more elegant for dining room guests, and others were spur of the moment food. I liked this book so much I not only ordered it, I ordered a copy of Perfect Recipe for $2.50. I fully expect it will be good also.

Finally, if you want something to hold the kitchen door open, then you should get this one: The Best of Cooking Light: over 500 of our all-time greatest recipes. Published in 2004 by Oxmoor House. It's a big book, alas it does not stay open easily, but it has great recipes in it. I was able to choose a week of menus very quickly by browsing it's pages. While the previous two books don't give nutritional information, all Cooking Light books do. If you're a Weight Watchers member, you can take the info and easily convert it into points. This one also had a whole section on meatless main dishes. They weren't weird, and not all of them were covered in cheese. We try to eat meatless once a week, but only one member of our family of two is very enthusiastic about doing so. Hence, a really good recipe is pretty important. Since the whole point is to cut cholesterol, throwing cheese all over something meatless seems pointless to me. This one ran a bit more, around $15.00 but it's huge and I expect I'll be able to use it enough to justify the $18.00 it ended up costing me. And there's always a door ajar, right?

It may still officially be Summer, but here in Pennsylvania Fall is creeping across the front doorstep. Rain comes easily, and today is much like a monsoon. Perfect day to cook! I used the Cooking Light cookbook yesterday to make homemade tomato soup with all the tomatoes sitting on the kitchen counter. It was wonderful and tickled my husband who actually grew the tomatoes! I know you can buy a can of Campbell's for about 75 cents, but that's not the point. I loved the feel of the whole process of peeling, chopping, seeding the tomatoes, running them through the blender, and watching the soup bubble away. When we ate it for supper, we both noticed it's much more filling than the canned version, and of course the sodium content was much better too. I think I used six large tomatoes to make a large kettle of soup.

Today I'm going to use a recipe I found on Dianne's website, Unfinished Work, to roast some of those tomatoes and later this week they'll find their way into Veggie Lasagna, Sloppy Joes and Meatloaf. All recipes are from these three books. It also feels like bread should be baking, so maybe tomorrow when the rain lets up enough to get something to rise, I'll try one of the bread recipes in the Cooking Light. (Note: Dianne's recipe for roasting tomatoes is linked at the end of the scone recipe. And yes, I'm making the scones tomorrow to serve my sewing group on Thursday.)

I also finally opened an email account at Google, replacing the one I had on yahoo. I ran into a lot of trouble with spam on my computer, and $350 later several people suggested I use gmail instead. They promise 'less spam'. Junk email or that smushed psuedo-ham stuff in the can, less of either is a good thing! The google email link is in my profile.

BTW, tonight is the Season Premier of "Biggest Loser", 8 pm Eastern Time on NBC. My absolute favorite reality show - hope, drama, defeat, triumph, along with motivation to eat more healthy myself - what's not to love? Happy cooking!


  posted at 10:54 AM

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