Hey – Look What the Nice People at Joy of Cooking Sent Me!

After I posted about using the Joy of Cooking in my Cookbook Challenge, the nice people at Joy of Cooking contacted me and offered to send me a beautiful new copy of their book.

 

As you will recall, I have a version that Husband gave me back in the late 1990’s.

Husband gave me this version as a gift

I also have a version that belonged to my good friend Marie.

Marie’s copy of Joy of Cooking

The first thing that I want to say about this new version of Joy of Cooking is that the folks who run that place are just so generous and gracious! John Becker contacted me through my blog and offered to send me a brand new 75th Anniversary Edition. And then we had a really nice e-mail exchange about the changes and enhancements. He was just the nicest guy!

A few days later my shiny new cookbook arrived in the mail.  The first thing that I noticed was that the index has been revamped. I am a stickler about indexes. I want to be able to easily find what I am looking for. I thought the index in the previous Joy of Cooking  was good. But the new one is even better. It is much easier to read and navigate.

I looked back at some of the recipes that I had made from the previous Joy of Cooking. There have been some changes there as well. They have updated some ingredients and made the directions easier to read and follow. I can’t wait to get in the kitchen and start cooking!

If you are a fan of Joy of Cooking, you really need to visit their website. It’s a beautiful site with so much good information. The website is being developed by the above mentioned John Becker along with his fiance, Megan Scott (more about Megan in a moment!). It is so clear from visiting Joy Kitchen that these are people who are really passionate about food. The website is a fantastic resource for recipes and inspiration.

As an aside, let me mention Megan Scott one more time. She writes a blog on the Culinate website. Recently she wrote a wonderful piece titled “Full of Beans” about the pleasures of cooking a humble pot of beans. It really resonated with me. She is a talented writer as well as a food enthusiast.

Well, thank you John Becker and the Joy of Cooking kitchen for supplying me with the 75th Anniversary edition of the Joy of Cooking. It is destined to become a kitchen classic at my house!

How to Cook Everything Vegetarian: Tempeh with Brown Rice and Spinach

Up until now, most of my Cookbook Challenge recipes have been pretty mainstream. But this is a recipe that I would describe as somewhat adventurous. Tempeh is one of those ingredients that you don’t run into every day. It is a fermented soy product that originated in Indonesia. You can buy it at natural food stores and sometimes, in well stocked grocery stores. It comes in a lumpy, grainy looking cake that is easily crumbled. It is a good source of vegetarian protein.

I used Westsoy Five Grain Tempeh that I purchased at Whole Foods. Meat eaters could easily substitute ground beef or turkey in this recipe.

For this recipe you need the following ingredients:

  • 2 lemons
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 8 ounces crumbled tempeh
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • red pepper flakes, to taste
  • 1 cup brown rice
  • bag of fresh spinach, washed

This recipe originally calls for white rice, but lists brown rice as one of the variations. Naturally, I chose the brown rice as it is a whole grain. You need to par-boil the brown rice so that it can be substituted into the recipe. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Stir in the brown rice and let it cook at a low boil for 12 to 15 minutes. Drain. This is a good trick to know.  After brown rice is par-boiled, it can be substituted in to any recipe that calls for white rice. That is a tip that I will use often!

Set the par-boiled rice aside. Zest one of the lemons, mince the zest and set aside. Squeeze the juice from both lemons and set that aside.

In a deep pot with a lid, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Crumble the tempeh into the hot pan. Cook, stirring often,  until the tempeh is browned and crisp. On my stove, this took about 10 minutes.

Crumbled, browned tempeh

Add the garlic, lemon zest, red pepper flakes and salt and pepper to taste. Stir that around and cook for a minute or so. Add the par-boiled brown rice. Stir to coat with oil.

At this point, I had to  diverge from the recipe. The recipe says that you should add water to cover the rice by about an inch. I was using a large, wide wok. I realized as I was pouring the water in that to cover the rice by an inch would require way more water than the rice could ever absorb. So I decided to add less water, just enough to cover the rice, and add more if I needed to. That was about 2 cups of water. If I had used a large sauce pan, instead of the wok, I think the recipe directions would have been fine. So this was my mistake – I chose the wrong vessel!

Rice, Tempeh and Seasonings – at a modest boil

Bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat so that you have a modest boil, not a violent boil. Cook uncovered for 10 to 15 minutes most of the liquid is gone and the rice is almost tender.

Put the spinach and the lemon juice on top of the rice. Cover and let stand for 10 to 20 minutes.

Brown rice and tempeh, spinach on top. Cover and let sit.

Remove the top, fluff and stir to combine.

The finished product – a one pot meal

 

The Verdict: I would say this was good, but not great. That may be the tempeh talking. I have eaten tempeh on many occasions. I do like it but it has a distinct flavor that takes a little getting used to. I think that tempeh works better when it is paired with stronger flavors.

However, this was as an easy to make, one pot meal. I like that aspect of it. Also, I think it’s one of those recipes that you could change up in lots of ways. You could use whatever vegetables you had on hand. You could season it with fresh ginger and soy sauce to give it Asian flavors. You could treat it more like a risotto and finish it with butter and Parmesan cheese. It’s a good basic recipe that has many possibilities.

I love the tip about par-boiling the brown rice. I frequently have recipes that call for white rice and I can’t quite figure out how to substitute in brown rice. That is a very useful tidbit! Just par-boil the brown rice for 12-15 minutes and your good to go.

I did wish that the recipe had been a little more specific about how much water to add to the rice and tempeh mixture.  I understand that it was my mistake because I used the wok…but the truth is that I don’t have a sauce pan, with a lid, that is large enough to accomodate this recipe. So I would have liked to have an either/or instruction (i.e. “add water to cover the rice by an inch – about 2 cups”).   I had to use my common sense on this particular issue. A novice cook might have had a problem here.

Tempeh usually sends Husband running the other direction. But he actually had a few bites of this. He thought it was pretty good.

I will try this recipe again. I think it is a good, basic, healthy, easy to make dinner. I will make it my own – and I think that is what Mr. Bittman is trying to teach us!

Cookbook Challenge: How to Cook Everything Vegetarian

For my next Cookbook Challenge, I will be choosing bean and grain recipes from How to Cook Everything Vegetarian by Mark Bittman. I think that we have already established that I am a huge fan of Mark Bittman. Naturally, I own a lot of his cookbooks.

I have had this book for several years and it is an important reference in my cookbook arsenal. Because I am a vegetarian, this book is full of recipes that I can prepare and enjoy. There is an entire chapter devoted to beans and an entire chapter devoted to grains. Additionally, there are beans and grains scattered throughout the other chapters of the book; Salads, Soups, Veggie Burgers, etc.

It seems a bit presumptuous to call a book “How to Cook Everything”. But, in this case, the title is warranted. At almost 1000 pages, this book is quite exhaustive. Mr. Bittman’s style is easy and chatty. Virtually every recipe is accompanied by a number of variations. When you read the recipes you feel like everything is possible and nothing is set in stone. If you like a little more of this – add a little more. If you like less – add less. The book is a good match for the way I cook.

In addition to the cookbook, I have the Ipad App for How to Cook Everything Vegetarian.

How to Cook Everything Veg – Ipad App

It costs $9.99 to download the App. The App includes all the recipes that are in the book , abd it some great navigational tools. The App has some neat features that make it very valuable to have.

In normal mode, your Ipad will go dark and then turn itself off if it is untouched for a few minutes. The App makes the screen stay lit until you tell it you are finished. Otherwise the screen would go dark mid-recipe and you would have to fiddle with it when your hands are dripping wet or your up to your elbows in pizza dough.

IPad App Timers

Another neat feature of the App is that it has timers on it. If the recipe says “saute for 10 minutes” you can touch the screen and a ten minute timer will pop up.

There are lots of food photos. They send me an email every week with a Meatless Monday featured recipe. It’s a fun complement to the book.

 

So let me remind you the rules of the Cookbook Challenge:

In the Cookbook Challenge, I will follow the recipe exactly as written, with the following exceptions:

  1. If the recipe calls for canned beans, I reserve the right to cook my own.
  2. Unless it would significantly change the outcome, I will probably cut some recipes in half, as Husband and I rarely want to eat 8 servings of anything.
  3. If there is an ingredient that I can’t reasonably find, I will make appropriate substitutions.

Because I don’t eat meat, I will only choose recipes that don’t require meat meat or eggs. I’m off the eggs right now.

I’ll make frequent posts about the foods that I am preparing. When it’s all over, I hope I will have some fresh ideas in my bean and grain repertoire!

 

Cookbook Challenge, Joy of Cooking: Recap

My Beat-up Copy of Joy of Cooking

If you will recall, I am staging my own Cookbook Challenge, using cookbooks off of my shelf to find some inspiration for my bean and grain cooking. I started off the challenge with the Joy of Cooking.

Over the last few days I cooked four recipes from Joy of Cooking:

  1. Classic Bean Burritos
  2. Unsweetened Fruit and Nut Granola
  3. Two Grain Date Pilaf
  4. Kidney Bean Casserole

That’s two bean dishes and two grain dishes. I followed the recipes very closely.

What’s the verdict? Well, Joy of Cooking is a kitchen standard for a reason. I thoroughly enjoyed every dish that I prepared from this cookbook. I am certain that I will prepare these dishes in the future. And I will be trying many of the other recipes in the book.

Joy of Cooking is an enormous cooking reference. While there are lots of bean and grain recipes, this book is so much more.

This is a terrific book to have in your kitchen. I can’t recommend it enough!

Joy of Cooking: Kidney Bean Casserole

Kidney Bean Casserole is my fourth and final Cookbook Challenge recipe from Joy of Cooking. I love casseroles. That’s why this recipe caught my eye. It’s simple to make and I happened to have all the ingredients on hand.

I cut the recipe in half. So here are the ingredients that I used:

  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 2 cups cooked kidney beans, or other bean of your choice (I’ll get to that in a minute!)
  • 14 ounce can of whole tomatoes with juice, roughly chopped
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 ounces sharp Cheddar cheese, grated

Let’s start with the beans. I’m not all that crazy about kidney beans. Since the recipe said that I could use the bean of my choosing, I chose Bolita Beans. You may remember that I purchased these when Husband and I were in Colorado. The beans are grown in that area.

Bolita Beans

Bolita beans are a lot like pinto beans. Although they supposedly cook a bit faster. I cooked a little over a cup of dried beans in about 4 cups of water. This would yield more than enough beans for the casserole.

After the beans were cooked and cooled, I sauteed the canola oil and onions over medium heat until they were golden. About 12 minutes.

Onions Sauteing – Not golden yet!

I added the garlic and chili powder and sauteed for another minute. Adding the chili powder to the saute allows it’s flavors to bloom.

I stirred in  2 cups of cooked beans. The recipe called for the beans to be drained, but I like things to be saucy, so I included some of the bean cooking liquid.

Stir in the beans

Then I added the chopped tomato, salt and pepper. Just let that mixture heat through.

Beans, tomatoes, etc.

The next step is to assemble the casserole and layer in the cheese.

Grated Cheese – It doesn’t look like much!

Spray a casserole dish with Pam. Pour in half of the bean mixture, top with half of the cheese. Pour in the remainder of the bean mixture and top with remaining cheese.

Assembled Casserole – Ready to Bake

Bake in a 350 degree oven for 25 minutes until the casserole is bubbly and the top is browned.

Casserole, bubbly and browned!

I served my Bolita Bean Casserole with a salad. The casserole would be a very nice side dish, but I used it as a vegetarian main course. I also served some warm corn tortillas.

Dinner

 

The Verdict? This is one of those instances where the whole is greater than the sum of it’s parts. This was a knockout and I’m not sure why. The recipe seemed almost hum-drum. I thought it would just be some cheesy beans. But it was so much more than that!

I think that the combination of tomatoes and chili powder is what put this over the top. When I poured the chopped tomatoes into the bean mixture I was surprised by the volume. This was a lot of tomato in relation to the beans. The chili powder gave it an earthy, smoky, depth of flavor.

I was really surprised by this dish. I loved it.

And here is the best part. I ate the leftovers the following day and they tasted even better! It tasted good cold, right out of the refrigerator. It tasted good re-heated.

When I was preparing the casserole, I really thought it would be better if I added more cheese. Not necessary. I thought it would be better if I made it spicier. Don’t bother! I doubt that I would make any changes to this recipe.

I will try it with other types if beans. The bolita beans were super. But it might be really good with some type of white bean. This is so good that I will try it with every bean in my pantry.

I’m not sure why it works…but it works.

Joy of Cooking hit this one out of the park!

Joy Of Cooking: Two Grain Date Pilaf

Two Grain Date Pilaf is the third bean/grain recipe that I have tried from Joy of Cooking. This is a really interesting recipe. It pairs basmati rice and bulgur wheat. That is a combination I would never have thought of on my own.

I cut the recipe in half. So here are the ingredients that I used:

  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1/4 cup diced onion
  • 1/2 cup basmati rice
  • 1/2 cup bulgur wheat
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 and 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup diced dates

In a medium sauce pan (that has a lid) saute the butter and onion over medium heat, until the onion turns golden, about 8 minutes. Add the rice, bulgur and cinnamon, stir to coat with butter.

Butter, Onions, Rice and Bulgur

Add the water and salt. Bring to a boil, cover. Reduce heat to medium low heat. Cook for about 20 minutes or until all the liquid is absorbed.

Meanwhile, melt the remaining butter. I did that in a Pyrex measuring cup in the microwave. Stir the chopped dates into the butter. This gives the a delicious coating and causes them to separate a bit. They are very sticky and want to clump up.

When the rice and bulgur are tender and the liquid has been absorbed, add the date mixture. Gently stir to combine.

Two Grain Date Pilaf

I served my pilaf with a cauliflower curry.

Two Grain Pilaf with Cauliflower Curry

 

The pilaf was really delicious.  The combination of bulgur and rice was unusual and made the dish visually interesting. The bulgur gave it a nuttiness. It had a nice texture. The dates gave it an exotic flair. The butter added a richness. It tasted great with my cauliflower curry.  I think it would be a nice accompaniment with a piece of chicken and a nice green vegetable.

What’s the verdict? This is a great dish to have in your repertoire. It’s easy and quick to prepare.The ingredients are inexpensive. Though the pilaf has an exotic taste, all of the ingredients are widely available.

If I were to make this dish again, I think I would add more dates. They were good. Or I might leave out the dates altogether and add some sliced mushrooms to the butter and onion saute.

That reminds me…butter and onions really add a lot to a grain dish! I am going to remember to do that more often. Yes, it adds a little bit of fat. But it also adds so much flavor.

I couldn’t really taste the cinnamon. I have had those cinnamon sticks on my shelf for quite a while. Maybe they lost their oomph. Next time I might just put in a good pinch of ground cinnamon instead. Or I might try some cardamom. Another delicious spice.

Last but not least, some toasted cashews would be a great addition to this dish.

Joy of Cooking: Unsweetened Dried Fruit and Nut Granola

Cookbook Challenge Recipe #2 from the Joy of Cooking; Unsweetened Dried Fruit and Nut Granola. I was telling Husband about this recipe and he was mystified as to why anyone would want unsweetened granola. He’s really likes granola but he is a traditionalist.

Well I like granola too. But I always think it is a little too calorie dense because of all the honey and brown sugar that most recipes call for. So this recipe sounded like a good solution to that problem.

I had to make some substitutions in the ingredients because there were some things that I couldn’t find.

The recipe called for :

  • 2 cups rolled oats
  • 1 cup wheat flakes
  • 1 cup rolled rye

I couldn’t find wheat flakes in the bulk bins or on the cereal aisle in a box. I had a box of Uncle Sam cereal in my pantry. The label says that it is “toasted whole wheat berry flakes and flaxseed” so I substituted that for the wheat flakes.

Uncle Sam Cereal – Toasted Wheat Flakes

I also could not find any rolled rye. I went to two natural food stores as well as my local grocery and couldn’t lay may hands on that. So I substituted in another cup of rolled oats. I felt like both of these were reasonable substitutions.

To make the granola, I preheated the oven to 300 degrees.I poured 1/2 cup of canola oil into a 13″ x 9″ baking pan and then placed the pan into the preheated oven for 10 minutes.  When the oil and pan are hot, I carefully removed the pan from the oven and stirred in 3 cups of rolled oats. The recipe called for me to add the wheat flakes at this point but as mine were already “toasted” I decided to hold off on that. Otherwise I would have done just as the recipe described.

Bake the rolled oat flakes for 15 minutes stirring often. They should get toasty, slightly browned and smell terrific!

Rolled Oats After Toasting – delicious aroma!

As the oats are toasting, combine in a large mixing bowl 1 cup of chopped almonds, 1/2 cup unsalted sunflower seeds, 1/2 cup wheat germ, 2 tablespoons of sesame seeds and one cup of the Uncle Sam cereal (or other toasted wheat flakes!)

Almonds, Sunflower Seeds, Wheat Germ, Sesame Seeds and Uncle Sam

Stir that into the toasted oat mixture and bake for another 10 minutes.

Remove from the oven and stir in 1 cup raisins and 1/2 cup dried apricots.

Unsweetened Granola Cooling on the Countertop

Let the mixtrue cool completely and then store. This will store at room temperature for several days or in the refrigerator for a month or so.

I ate mine on top of my morning yogurt. But it would also be great eaten with milk or cream. You could just eat it out of a zip-lock bag like trail mix!

Yogurt Topped with Unsweetened Fruit and Nut Granola

 

The Verdict – I LOVE this. It is so healthy. It tastes so yummy and crunchy and and toasty and nutty. The dried fruit gives it a chewy sweetness. Its a wonderful, good-for-you snack. It’s great on top of yogurt. It would be good on ice cream. Or even on top of some cooked fruit.

The granola was very easy to make. You have to stay around and tend to it but it was really no trouble at all.

You could use any variety of nuts and dried fruit. I’m even wondering if you could make it a sweet-salty-spicy mix. I may play around with that. I love that combo.

This is a terrific recipe. Easy to make. Inexpensive ingredients. Healthy. Great snack. Love it! Joy of Cooking – two for two!

By the way, here are some links to websites where you can purchase Rolled Rye and Wheat Flakes online:

Homestead Mills – Rolled Rye

Bob’s Red Mill – Wheat Flakes

 

Joy of Cooking: Classic Bean Burritos

My first recipe for the Cookbook Challenge is from Joy of Cooking, The Classic Bean Burrito. I love Mexican food. I love Tex-Mex food. I love anything spicy.  This was right up my alley.

The only change that I made to this recipe was that I reduced the quantity a little bit.

The first step in making these burritos is preparing the refried beans. The Classic Bean Burrito recipe directed me to another recipe in the book for Refried Beans. The book calls for 4 cups of cooked black beans including their cooking liquid. Earlier in the day I had cooked a pot of black beans but ended up with only 3 cups of beans and liquid. So I cut the recipe by about a quarter. That will effect the number of burritos that we end up with.

3 Cups of Cooked Black Beans – Still warm from the crock pot

To make the refried beans, heat 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add one medium white onion and saute until it is a deep brown. I a gigantic white onion, so I used about half of it.

Onions Sauteing – Not yet deep brown

When the onion is browned add 3 cloves of garlic. Cook for another minute, being careful not to burn the garlic.

It is easier to mash the beans if they are warm. My black beans were still warm from the cooking process. Into the onion mixture, stir in, one cup at a time of beans. Mash each addition as you go using a potato masher making the puree as coarse or as smooth as you like. When all the beans are added and mashed, add 3/4 cup of cooking liquid or water.

Cook over medium low heat until the beans are just a little soupier than you like them. They will thicken up as they cool a bit. Be careful to keep the heat low and stir often. The mashed beans have a tendency to plop and splatter.

Refried Black Beans

Apologies – there is just no way to photograph black beans and make them look appealing!

Now we can make the Classic Bean Burritos:

The recipe calls for 8 flour tortillas. But I had cut the bean recipe by a quarter, so I only needed 6 flour tortillas. I bought the burrito sized tortillas at my store. I looked for whole wheat, but sadly my store was out of those. They have the advantage of whole grain and they provide a little more fiber.  Wrap the tortillas in foil and put them in a 350 degree oven for 15 to 20 minutes while you prepare the other ingredients.

Grate 1 and 1/2 cups of Monterrey Jack Cheese and 1/2 cup of Cheddar Cheese. Mince 1/2 cup onions. Mince jalapeno or other pepper according to your taste. You can test a little bit of the pepper on your tongue to see how hot it is. I have found that jalapenos  vary greatly in their heat.

I set up an assembly line of burrito ingredients.

Bean Burrito Assembly Line – beans, cheese, onions and peppers

Working with one warm tortilla at a time, spoon about a half cup of the Refried Beans, sprinkle with cheese, onions and peppers. Roll into a burrito…tuck the sides as you roll from the bottom. It takes a little bit of practice to get that just right. Lay the rolled burrito on a foil lined baking sheet.

Burritos rolled and ready for the oven

Pop the burritos into a 350 degree oven for 5 minutes or until they look slightly browned. This will melt the cheese. I sprayed my burritos with a little bit of olive oil. The recipe didn’t call for this but my tortillas were slightly past fresh. I wanted to make sure that they wouldn’t crack or split during the cooking process.

Cooked Burritos – slightly browner, but warm and melty inside

Serve with sour cream and minced chives. I also served some good fresh salsa. Some guacamole would have been nice too.

We ate two of these Classic Bean Burritos for our dinner. I decided that I would freeze the rest. I had got that idea from Martha Stewart’s Everyday Food. I wrapped the burritos individually in plastic wrap. When your are ready to eat them, remove from wrap and pop them into the microwave. Having those it the freezer is really great. Whenever I need a quick meal or snack, I’m ready to go. According to Martha, they will keep in the freezer for up to 3 months.

The Verdict –  The Classic Bean Burrito is delicious! The refried beans were wonderful; much better than anything you would get from a can. The texture and flavor was superior. The burritos were a snap to make. In fact, the refried beans were the most time consuming part of the process. The burritos tasted great. They were fun to eat. It’s a winner.

The tortillas that I purchased were not as fresh as I think they should have been. But that was my fault – not the recipe. So that is an important take away – get really fresh tortillas!

Also, I think it would be better to warm the tortillas in the microwave rather than in the oven. My experience is that they dry out less that way. Just wrap tortillas in a clean kitchen towel, microwave on high for 15 – 20 seconds per tortilla (or until the are pliable but not tough). I would work in groups of one or two tortillas so as not overcook them.

If I made these again, I would use a little less cheese and I might use more Cheddar than Monterry Jack. That’s just a personal preference.

I was making every effort to follow the recipe exactly but I think that this recipe easily lends itself to lots of variations. Pinto beans would be a great option. You could layer some grilled vegetables in the burrito. Meat eaters could add some cooked chicken or beef. You could top the burritos with red or green chili sauce as you would eat them in New Mexico. There are lots of opportunities to make this recipe your own.

I will definitely make this recipe again. Joy of Cooking really came through on this one!

Cookbook Challenge: Joy of Cooking

Joy of Cooking is one of those must-have cooking references. If you need know something as simple as how to boil an egg or as complicated as making a dacquoise, this book has you covered.  There are recipes from all over the globe: French, Indian, North African, North America…you name it! It even has a section on how to set a table properly.

I use the 1997 edition which was updated from the original 1931 version. The 1997 version is a significant revision which reflected the “new ways that we eat”.  Husband gave me  my copy back in the late 1990’s as a Mother’s Day gift.

My Beat-up Copy of Joy of Cooking

I don’t know if you can tell from the photo, but the spine of this book is broken and pages are loose and falling out. That is a testament to how often I refer to Joy of Cooking. Whenever I have a cooking question or need some info or ideas, I take this book off the shelf. It gets a lot of use! Someday I will have to replace it. I hope I can get one with a nice spiral binding so it won’t fall apart on me!

I have chosen several bean and grain recipes from this book. I’ll be cooking those over the next few days. I will follow the recipes exactly. And I’ll let you know how it goes.

As an aside, I happen to have a copy of the older version of Joy of Cooking.

Marie’s copy of Joy of Cooking

This book belonged to my very dear friend, Marie. She died several years ago from a brain tumor. Her daughter, also my dear friend, gave me Marie’s cookbook. Marie wrote notes in her edition. She tucked in recipes that she had pulled out of magazines. Marie was a great cook and I enjoyed many wonderful meals at her table. This is a very personal momento for me. It makes me think of all those happy times.

As you can see in the photo, Marie’s copy of Joy of Cooking is pretty beat up too. It was an invaluable reference then. And it remains so today!

Beans and Grains: The Cookbook Challenge

Deep in the dog days of summer, I have completely lost my motivation and inspiration when it comes to beans and grains. While there are endless possibilities for cooking beans and grains, I seem to be stuck in a rut.

Just a few of my cookbooks

As it happens,  I am the proud owner of dozens of cookbooks. Surely, someplace in all that referece material exist some new ideas!

I am going to start my own personal Cookbook Challenge.  I will choose three of four of my most-used cookbooks. From each book I’ll choose several bean and grain recipes to prepare. I own a lot of really obscure cookbooks (Example – “Authentic Recipes From Indonesia“). For the challenge, I will use cookbooks that I think are good general reference cookbooks and books that are more mainstream.

I very rarely follow a recipe as it is written. I almost always make changes. That’s not because I think I am smarter than the cookbook author. It’s because I know my own tastes. I always leave out the meat, I usually make things spicier and I generally reduce the amount of fat.

But in the Cookbook Challenge, I will follow the recipe exactly as written, with the following exceptions (Husband knew that there would be some exceptions!):

  1. If the recipe calls for canned beans, I reserve the right to cook my own.
  2. Unless it would significantly change the outcome, I will probably cut some recipes in half, as Husband and I rarely want to eat 8 servings of anything.
  3. If there is an ingredient that I can’t reasonably find, I will make appropriate substitutions.

Because I don’t eat meat, I will only choose recipes that don’t require meat meat or eggs. I’m off the eggs right now.

I’ll make frequent posts about the foods that I am preparing. When it’s all over, I hope I will have some fresh ideas in my bean and grain repertoire!