Thursday, August 6, 2009

There's a Problem in this House

There's a problem in this house. Actually, there's more than one problem but today we're going to talk about small obsessions. The kind that fill bookcases.

It started innocently enough. The Farmer and I would have a date night on Friday evenings that would involve grabbing a bit to eat and browsing the local bookstore for hours. There were tables of bargain books and I was drawn to the cookbooks. Who could resist the promise of 1,000 Great Recipes?

I certainly couldn't. This is an especially good book and yes, it actually does have 1,000 recipes and a photograph for each and every one.

This book provided my favorite recipe for Hungarian Goulash. Which, to be honest, I haven't cook in a coon's age.

A trip to Goodwill held the possibility of finding a vintage spiral bound "Church ladies" cookbook. All those favorite recipes from church and social groups in one volume for 79 cents. Hard cover cookbooks were $1.39. I was hooked. The cookbook collection started to grow exponentially.

Other subjects were discarded to make way for the cookbook tsunami.

Opening a page of The Cake Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum, I see she has a story about wedding cakes and snowstorms. I'm not alone in my wedding cake/snowstorm disaster.

The problem with this is, I cook the same stuff every night!!

If you're coming to my home for a dinner party, I promise you the food will be fabulous. We'll have pork loin stuffed with goat cheese, sausage and pistachios. For dessert we might have Cherries Jubilee flamed at the table with fresh ground nutmeg to create sparks. Or individual bread puddings with Creme Anglaise sauce (hands down a guest favorite).

But in between parties the cookbooks languish, collecting dust. Why? Because after a lifetime of figuring out "what's for dinner?", I've lost it. It's hard to produce the energy to plan menus and shopping lists. If it's 4:00 I'm scrambling to dream up something to put on the table.

So, tell the truth, are you a creative cook when it comes to everyday dinners, or are you as stumped as I am?


Kitty said...

Stumped, for the most part, but I do have a creative idea once in a while, usually sparked by a magazine article or something seen on TV. Alas, I must say that the majority of my cookbooks (and not near as many as you have!) are collecting dust on the shelf. I, too, have lost the desire for thinking up everyday dinners and end up with more-or-less the same things to eat every week. But, we are well fed, so can't complain there! Now when it comes to baking, I can think of LOTS of different ideas!

Anonymous said...

It depends upon the season. I'm a bit more creative in the summer. Have six cookbooks. Recipes come from internet, cooking shows, friends and magazines. Last night it was pork tenderloin, roast potatoes and caprese salad, with peaches for dessert. During the really hot weather it was premade sandwiches from the grocery store.

Becky K. said...

Pretty much stumped. I keep waiting for inspiration to walk through the door and get in my face. But, that is a rare occurence.

Becky K.

Ginee Scabrough said...

I hate cooking for dinner. I cook the same stuff too. My hubby tells me "normal" women plan out their menues with the sales ads and has a running month of what to eat that rotates. I know he is crazy. I am a cook book fool but won;t buy them cause Why? I hate to cook.

Therese said...

I have the same obsession, which only grows because my MIL gives me her cookbooks! YIKES!

And, yes, I cook the same stuff over and over!

Val said...

I have 1 cookbook given as a gift for our wedding. I have recipes for baked goody basics on the inside of one of my cupboards. For the most part I "just wing it" but I do keep a binder for some interesting recipes I do like but do not use daily. Simple and fresh, good 'nuff.

chocolatechic said...

I generally have the same thought day after day...."you mean I have to cook AGAIN?"

Stumped as The Farmer's Wife.

Maime said...

Planning my menu has been and on and off again struggle all of my married life but I have recently found great success. I joined For
$25 I get a five day dinner menu including one crock pot recipe; a brunch and dessert; and the entire grocery list already made out every Friday for six months. It has changed my life. I no longer carry the burden of what's for dinner. The groceries are already in the kitchen and all I have to do is open my little book and see what's for supper. The recipes are economical and quite healthy not to mention quick. Go check it out get a sample menu and try it out. It has worked for me! By the way I have enjoyed viewing your blog.

BellaDella said...

One day a few weeks ago we were sitting in front of the tv eating our dinner- fried chicken from the grocery store. The Fella turned to me halfway through and said very sweetly- I thought you liked to cook. So, the next night I opened a box of Kraft Mac-n-cheese to go with our leftover chicken! Ha. I just can't do it at night after work. It doesn't help that I am usually so hungry I've nearly chewed my arm off on my long drive home. And yes, I have dozens of cookbooks and yes, I am a great cook. And yes, I am totally rambling ;)

marbea said...

I also have bookshelves filled with cookbooks yet make the same 15 meals over and over again.
I love to cook and I hate to cook. Such a dilemma and so frustrating.

dina said...

Well... I might have a cookbook collection to rival yours... Most of it's packed away in bins. The ones I can't live without, are on a set of shelves in the kitchen. (There's no room in the kitchen for a fridge! But there is for cookbooks!)

So go figure that I'm totally stumped, too. I think the biggest frustrations that we face are food allergies and picky eaters. My husband and I are TONS that we'd love to prepare and eat. Our daughter - would hesitantly, but willingly try anything that looked adventurous. Our boys? Total wimps. Complete, total, horrifying food wimps. Where did I go wrong?!

Add to the fact that I'm allergic to chicken, egg whites, milk, strawberries, bananas - to name a few. One of my boys pork, egg whites, milk, bananas, peanuts. I'm soy intolerant, so is another one of the kids. My husband is allergic to MSG.

Is there any wonder we feel defeated whenever we sit down to menu plan?

Frankly - we can deal with the food allergies - we have for years. BUT the pickiness, that's the real problem!

Sarah - Kala said...

I fly by the seat of my pants when it comes to cooking, but I'm adventurous enough to try new things that might sound good. I frequent my Pampered Chef books (I have only three) the most - for dinners. I like to eat healthy, but I want it easy. The "easiest" thing to do is menu plan for dinners and that's what I do. Everything else is up for grabs. I have learned to take regular food stuff and put some BAM into it for our tastes. I have learned many good recipes from other military wives and we have these dishes on a rotating basis. I never do the: Monday is spaghetti, Tuesday is pot roast thing on a continuum. I like to mix it up so that every night we are having something different, but something the same. I have two picky eaters, and a man who does not like veg.

I have maybe a dozen cookbooks. I like the Betty Crocker one my mum got me when I got married, because it's like having a mom in the kitchen - it answers questions of measurements, time involved, preparation . . .

I'm up against my laziness mostly. Only I can do anything about that. And, even then, we are not starving. HA!

scmom (Barbara) said...

Nobody wants to do it, but planning ahead is the key. I use my food blog to post my recipes, and then I can also easily reuse them. I link to favorite recipes so I can make my list easily. Maybe your blog can help you with planning.

Liz in PA said...

......HA.....just as stumped as you are most of the time!
I even ask for sugestions......and what answers do I get?
..."What ever you make will taste good"! I browse the spiral bound church cookbooks for ideas.

At least the Pressure Cooker can make a piece of meat that should have baked forever, taste really good along with added vegetables, etc.

LydaBabes Going Ons!!!! said...

I throw things together and my husband can't believe it.....but I too am a horder of Cook books....I went and got rid of alot of them in the last move.....but am back where I was now. But I can go to look for one recipe and find many differnt ways to cook it from every book or not find what am looking for in all the books. I just hate to part with these....especially my old ones from my grandmother and such. I love to see the pictures but having most of the things on hand is hard.

Am an old school cafateria lady....I was head cook for about 3thousand kids. We cooked from Scratch and the meals were great, not like I usually would throw things together at home, from cooking all day. I would take some of the recipes and down size them for us at home. But kept buying the cook books. Especially the organizations ones...the best. So add me as a horder of Cook Books too.....but nothing taste better than have someone else cook it and serve it....hahah......

Stickhorsecowgirls said...

I've lost a lot of my creative spark when it comes to cooking. It seems that just plain food seems to please me now. I sure haven't lost my taste for eating out! When it comes to home cooking, I like the winter stews and soups!
All in one pot! I've gotten SO lazy!!

Karen Deborah said...

I am a fairly creative cook. I love cookbooks and book deals. Most of the time I read them to inspire me and sometimes I do a recipe. But reading them helps break up the being "stumped".

Jody Blue said...

ebb and flow like the rest of the world, I would guess that even in places where they have fabulous markets with everything at their finger tips they still ask "honey what do you want for supper?"

Second Sun Press said...

My wife also collects cookbooks. A few years ago, I thought I could help her enjoy them more by buying her a book call Recipex - a three inch thick index of all the recipes in the 52 most printed cookbooks of all time. Unfortunately, she only had about four of them, so she immediately went on a quest to purchase the rest ... bummer!

My favorite cookbooks are the Frugal Gourmet series. I'm mostly looking for inspiration and his books are full of great food history. If I only had more time to cook. Yes, my wife does most of the cooking, but once in a while it's nice to surprise her with a good meal she doesn't have to cook or clean up after.

Lisa D. said...

I love cookbooks, too. My favourites are church cookbooks, especially when there are recipes from people I know, and cookbooks that are just as much stories and history as recipes. My absolute favourite one is "The Old World Kitchen" by Elisabeth Luard.
They don't help me actually get dinner on the table every night, though! I love cooking for company, and trying something new, but I get tired of cooking every day for children who are just going to hate everything, anyhow. That's getting better now as they get older - my 10 year old son will eat a lot more things now that he wouldn't even look at before he's a growing boy right now, and HUNGRY ALL THE TIME!

Anonymous said...

I've never been one to buy cookbooks since magazines usually have new ideas, and I don't use a lot of those because we already know the things we like and don't like at meal time.

In the past 12 years, if and when I have wanted to try something new I do a search on the internet. Just don't like the clutter of books since they have to be dusted and dusting is a chore I'd rather forget about.

The Blue Ridge Gal

Rue said...

In the summer, I'm stumped, because it's hot outside and I love cold weather food. I mean seriously, how many grilled foods can you eat for 3 months? LOL So, yes, my cookbooks are on vacation until the first cold snap.