I need a change from posting Eye Candy on Fridays. Oh, I like Eye Candy, but I think I like it better on other people’s blogs. At least at the moment. In case you hadn’t noticed, I like having options and changing my mind without warning. Keeps things interesting around here. (If you hear mumbling, that’s the M.E. in the background saying, “Boy, does it!”)
So. The other night I was working on menus for the week. I’ve been in a rut, one of those ruts that all cooks get into with weeknight meals. Regardless how skilled you are, you latch onto ten or twenty different things you feel comfortable making and keep cycling through them until you realize you’re stuck in the mud and decide to do something about it. Something other than picking up takeout, that is.
The M.E. looked at my cookbook shelves and said, “You know, if you made one recipe out of each book every night, it would take you a couple years to get through all of them.” I looked at my cookbook shelves and realized he was right.
That’s most of them. There’s another half a bookcase on the other side of the room, and we won’t talk about magazines, computer files or recipes clipped out of the newspaper. We just won’t. I, um, sort of collect cookbooks and recipes. They just come to me. It’s like yarn. I can’t help it. And I do love to cook, but I admit I haven’t been making the most of my collection.
Now, I know myself. There’s no way I’m going to make a new recipe every single night for a couple of years. But the M.E.’s comment did give me an idea. What if I more or less randomly chose a book each week and made one new recipe from it?
Thus was birthed the Mystery Cookbook Challenge.
It starts next week. I have the first book picked out. It’s one I love to look through, but I haven’t yet tried the recipes: The Artist’s Palate, by Frank Fedele. This was a thoughtful gift from my brother the Very Serious Professor one Christmas. Beautifully produced, as all DK books are, it includes portraits of significant painters and sculptors, stories about their relationships to food, and recipes. Some of the recipes were contributed by the artists, others were reconstructed from their journals or other sources–including an actual grocery list written by Michelangelo–and a few were imaginatively created by master chefs based on the particulars of the artists’s lives.
“Cookbooks featuring recipes by creative people” is one of my favorite subcategories in my collection, and this book is the best of the best. It’s gorgeous, and the recipes appear to be well adapted. There’s almost too much to choose from. Should I make Wayne Thiebaud’s Corn Soup? (I’ll wait until the local corn is in.) Marisol’s Japanese Noodles? (This requires a search for fish paste.) Rufino Tamayo’s Coloradito? (Serious contender until I remembered that I have to order a part for my blender.)
I’ve just about settled on a choice, but you’ll have to come back next Friday to find out what it is. I’ll try a recipe sometime during the week and post a picture on Friday. If you get inspired, please join in. I’d love to see what you have in your cookbook collection!
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