Normally I’m not one too go for the “buy mail-order stuff from us and we’ll give you a cheap introduction and then you just have to buy lots more later” deals. But… one popped up in my e-mail recently and I admit, I jumped.
The Good Cook offered four cooking-related books for what ended up being $13 once shipping was added, and a decent discount on future purchases. Oh, hell yes, where do I sign up?? So I’m a sucker. But I love cookbooks. I love pouring over them and getting ideas from other people, seeing how recipes evolved. I rarely follow a recipe exactly, sometimes I don’t follow them at all, but it’s nice to have. And I picked up a few that had good stories to go with the recipes. What’d I get? Three for me, and one for my roommate who is wanting to get a better handle on “what you can do in the kitchen.”
So what did I get? I started with Crust and Secrets of a Jewish Baker, which were my “I’m a baking geek!” pick-ups for the week, and The Best of Gourmet because I love things that lend themselves to both simple (well, in my world, but I am my mother’s daughter, and believe it’s simpler to bake bread than to go to the store and buy some…) dinners at home and those nights I want to impress someone with a little something extra special.
I also picked up The Elements of Cooking, mostly for J to look at and learn some things, but I’ve been giving it a glance and it’s kind of amusing. Like a basic cooking school in a book.
But what I’m loving the most right now is Crust, and I’ve been pouring over it, knowing I need to bake something, just trying to decide what. I was sort of amused the other day, I stumbled across someone who is just learning to bake complaining that they don’t have a KitchenAid stand mixer, so how can they learn how to make bread?? I didn’t say anything, but I got a chuckle out of it. I can see the reasoning for the stand mixer if you’re making a giant batch of bread, or if you have bad hands, or just because some days, but I have bad hands, and I still get in there and do it all by hand. It’s how I learned, and I can’t comprehend learning any other way. Once you master it, then hand it over to the toys if you’re in a hurry.
Secrets of a Jewish Baker has instructions for using a mixer, and a food processor, while Crust is all hands-on. And his breads are beautiful. Only a little more involved than I’m going to be able to tackle tonight, I’m afraid. I think I’m going to borrow from my Jewish roots, and maybe go simple, with some biscuits to go with some stew since it’s still bitingly cold ouside these days.
But I have to find some Cabernet grape flour, because Crust’s recipe for Cabernet grape bread looks amazing. I’ll see what I can come up with this weekend, and if I can’t find it here, then hey, I need an excuse to take an overnight trip to Canada. I need to go get my hands dirty in some dough, though, tonight, because they’re itching to make something. Having new books to inspire is only making it stronger