I recently realized that I have far too many cookbooks that I have not used as much as I could. I think there are a few that I haven’t used at all. For typical weeknight meals I usually don’t follow recipes. I have a pretty good repertoire of things I just know how to make. But this eventually leads to making the same kinds of things repeatedly. I’m always saying things like “I’m going to pick one new recipe per week from those cookbooks and make something new on the weekend.” But it never seems to happen. Sometimes I’ll pull down two or three books and there’s just too much to choose from and I get distracted. Even if I try to limit it to one book it still doesn’t work, I’m like “oh, maybe this! Or maybe that! Oh whatever, let’s just make pizza.”
I’ve realized that the way to get myself to focus on something in particular is to impose limits of some kind. So I have decided that I am going to methodically work my way through all my cookbooks, particularly the interesting ones that I haven’t made much from. I have some books that are very basic, the kind that I can glance at the recipe and think “well, that’s going to be bland! I’d add some garlic and ginger to that.” I probably won’t bother with those books. I’m talking about the ones with the fancy complicated recipes. I will start at the beginning, and make every single recipe, unless it contains ingredients that are impossible to get or just sounds completely unappealing. I have a couple of books that are vegetarian not vegan and have some recipes that call for dairy or egg ingredients. If something looks like it’s going to be impossible to veganize, I’ll probably just skip those recipes.
First up- The Artful Vegan from Millennium Restaurant in San Francisco. D. and I ate there in May 2007, and it was quite possibly the best vegan restaurant meal we’ve ever had. We bought a hardback version of the book at the restaurant, and our waitress was awesome and got the chef to sign it for us. So I’ve only made one thing from it until now since I didn’t want to mess up the book in the kitchen. I recently bought a paperback copy though for the kitchen. If this sounds a little nuts, I should explain that we have little counter space and I am a bit of a messy cook and all my cookbooks end up with fingerprints and stuff spilled on them and crumbs in the bindings no matter how I try to keep them clean. I like to write little notes in them about alterations to recipes. Cookbooks are meant to be messy, but not nice hardback, signed-by-the-chef-souvenir ones.
Anyway, I think this is probably the most challenging cookbook I own so it’s a good place to start!