With the wealth of recipes available on the Internet, using a cookbook wasn’t a regular activity for me. Many would agree, it’s much easier to find a recipe or use a combination of recipes online that fit your time limit, serving size, and available ingredients instead of making do with a recipe in front of you. What I didn’t expect when I started this goal of cooking through a cookbook was how rewarding it would be.
In November 2012, Deb Perelman of the blog Smitten Kitchen came to Austin for her new cookbook tour. My friend Rochelle, being a big fan of the blog, invited me to hear her speak and we ended up getting new, signed cookbooks. I’ve had cookbooks before but they are mostly focused on cupcakes and baking. They also collect dust on my bookshelf. With this new cookbook and the desire to expand my cooking skills, I set out to make all the recipes in 2013. Spoiler alert: to date, I’ve completed 59 out of 105 recipes.
I’ve loved this fun and somewhat tedious journey. Here’s a run-down of what I think of the cookbook, cooking preparation, and recipes:
- The cookbook is filled with personal stories about each recipe told in Deb’s sassy and down-to-earth style, just like her blog. It’s entertaining and makes the recipes so much more meaningful.
- The beautiful photos are plentiful and inspirational. I love that it has a pretty cover when you take the dust jacket off.
- The recipes are easy to follow and execute, though I needed more time than I expected on several occasions. Having ingredients cut, measured, and ready to put together really speeds things up. When it comes to cooking, I’ve learned to give myself more time than I think I’ll need.
- Included in the back of the cookbook is a guide of tools Deb uses in the kitchen and it’s been very helpful knowing what could make time in the kitchen more efficient and stress-free. Two purchases I made and love are my food processor and electric scale.
- Since I’m more skilled in baking, I’ve enjoyed the dessert sections – which include pies, cookies, tarts, and cakes – the most.
- The hardest section for me is the salads. The salads are more adventurous than I’m familiar with since I enjoy fairly simple salads.
- Focusing on cooking from the cookbook made meal planning easier. It brought variety to meals, decreased the time to figure out what to make, and helped me not overbuy groceries. However, I did end up with a lot of leftovers from many meals and had trouble adjusting recipes for one. I loved making the recipes with or for friends though! Most of the things I made, especially the desserts, were a hit.
There are about 12 more recipes from the cookbook I want to make this year but as for the big goal of cooking through the whole cookbook, the pursuit has been taken off the list. I’ve dreaded some of the remaining recipes because my taste buds aren’t as adventurous or interested, so instead of investing time and money into something I’m not enthusiastic about, I’m going to savor all the recipes I’ve tried, loved and will come back to again and again. Hopefully one day I can say I’ve made all the recipes.
What’s your favorite cookbook or go-to recipe?