A little inspiration, a little insanity

17 May

Hello, my name I Michelle and I have a cooking problem.

I know we all have little tendencies when we grocery shop or plan what we are going to eat.  (Hopefully you have a plan before you step foot in the grocery store or you are, in my opinion, doomed.)

I thought I would share with you guys my rules for cooking:

1) Nothing gets wasted.  If you have half a jalapeno pepper, you better find something to make to use it.

This rule came from me buying a bunch of fresh veggies, procrastinating, and throwing a ton of food away/into compost.  I put my foot down and it’s been working.  Not having the doors on my pantry has really helped me stick to this.  I remember ingredients that I might normally look past; those are the canned goods I buy that sit there for months.

2) Meal planning is essential before grocery shopping.

If I just show up at the grocery store I end up with random tubs of feta cheese, jicama and 3 boxes of graham crackers because they were on sale.  Wasteful.  Of food and money.

3) Only collect recipes you want and think you will realistically try.

So many people I know collect and hoard magazines/articles of recipes they want to try, but never do.  These collections pile up and you forget the whole reason why you kept the mag.  When you are trying to plan a grocery strip, going through tons of magazines just to find that one really good ravioli recipe you found isn’t realistic.

4) Constantly try to find ways to be inventive, but don’t forget the recipes that have been proven tried and true.

Its okay to try new recipes, but don’t lose the ones that you fell in love with.  The easy ones.  The ones that you know will impress your friends, family and in-laws.  The ones that you’re excited to share with someone.

Which brings us to something else I want to share:  my completely Type A system of recipe selection.

Disclaimer:  I am like this with everything.  My files have files and those sub-files are probably in order by color, alphabetical order, or chronological order.  Most of these systems don’t make sense to anyone but me.  That just means that those people aren’t on my level, yet.  Or something…

Since I’m a food magazine, tv-show, food blog junkie, I’m constantly pulling recipes to try.

They go in one of two books:

The green one is for recipes, the black one is for breads, baking, etc.

The green one is full of all kinds of treasures like magazine recipes:

Idea for holidays and seasonal treats:

Cooking Club instructional articles:

And some of my most dear possessions.

Ones that had been annotated by my grandmother in recipe exchanges with friends (many of whom I remember fondly):

Copies of my grandmother’s handwritten cookbook:

This is a recipe that the executive chef of the Halifax Club (a private club which we belonged to when I lived in New Smyrna Beach, Florida) gave my grandmother.  It looks like she wrote some notes and gave it an “A”!

These things are so special to me, a connection with her that is no longer a phone call away.  My grandmother raised me for much of my childhood, when my own mother wasn’t able to.  She loved to cook and even took a series of Asian cooking classes.  I even have her recipe assignments, which include her notes and that grades given by her instructor.

As a child, all I knew was that everything she cooked was amazing.  It wasn’t a common interest that we shared at the time, which is unfortunate.  She passed away my freshman year of college and my interest in food came years later as I moved out of my parents house and into my own apartment.  My own mother does not enjoy cooking.  When I visit her house, we eat the same foods that we ate when I was a child!

Anyway, the recipes that pass the picky eater test get put into a super secret cookbook that I’ve been compiling.

I taught myself to cook so that I have something to share with my children:  A love for healthy food.  A lesson that can only be taught by someone who has the experience.

Why do you love to cook?

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