Name: margalit
Location: Massachusetts, United States Professional writer, educational advocate, opinionated ultra liberal mother of 18 year old twins, living life in the slow lane due to hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, congestive heart failure, and diabetes.

email: margalitc at yahoo dot com

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Sunday, December 23, 2007

Collecting Recipes

For many years, I've been a recipe collector. It started out innocently enough, falling madly in love with Sheryl Julian's recipes in the Boston Sunday Globe. Every week I'd look forward to seeing what magnificent recipe Sheryl would come up with, a recipe I'd invariably cut out of the paper and save in a stack in amongst my cookbooks.

After a while it became apparent that I was never going to cook the vast majority of Sheryl's recipes because they were complicated, required obscure ingredients that tended towards outrageous expense, and who was going to eat them anyhow? Not Ms Picky Eater who will only eat plain pasta, no sauce. Probably not Mr Brave Eater who likes anything that starts out with Buffalo Chicken.... It was definitely a defining moment for me, finally breaking free of the Sheryl Julian habit. I still like her recipes, and will occasionally pull one off the online Globe site, but I no longer anticipate her entries every week. Lucky, because she no longer writes many of the Globe recipes, having moved on to bigger and better things. So it has worked out well for both of us, not that Ms Julian knows I exist, for she probably does not.

However, now I have even more of a recipe crush. I read a lot of food blogs. I like some for the writing, like Chocolate & Zucchini, Prepare to Meet your Bakerina, David Lebovitz, Amuse Bouche, and the Amateur Gourmet. All of those are fine reads with great recipes and powerful looks into the lives of people who just love food. But they're not my blog crush. I like them, I read them daily, I copy down their recipes that move me, but I'm not madly and passionately in love with almost everything they ever write or cook. They don't share my love of great cookies and the perfect pie crust. They rarely talk about the various failures they've encountered on their way to producing great recipes. But my blog crush does.

Deb, of Smitten Kitchen is my blog crush. Oh my God, that woman is the person I most want to be BFF with. She's funny, she's so freaking smart, she's adorable, she's a great cook who culls some of the most interesting and approachable recipes from the entire world of cooking, and her photography is so good she makes me want to just reach into the computer for a taste of whatever she's cooking. I like that Deb both cooks and bakes, and does so with equal excitement on her perusal of the best recipes ever. She isn't afraid to make changes, sometimes subtle and sometimes fairly drastic, to recipes she feels don't work well. She makes mistakes in the kitchen and she's not afraid to admit them. Her recipes aren't frou-frou with ingredients you have to import from Hawaii or Taipei. She appreciates a good cookie and makes things that aren't just chocolate. She likes brussel sprouts! She was a vegetarian for a long time, so her recipes are rarely heavy on the meat, and she's not pushing bacon and pork products like one can't live without them, although she does on occasion use them in recipes. Lastly, because Deb is Jewish, she includes many recipes that are culturally important to me and my family.

Since I've been reading Smitten Kitchen, about 18 months now, I've collected hundreds of her recipes. I now have an archive of so many recipes I've culled off various food blogs, but especially from Smitten Kitchen, that if I started cooking today and continued non-stop for the next year, I couldn't make all these recipes. I tend to collect more cookie recipes than any other type, and I have made so many of the recipes that it's a wonder I'm not dead of diabetic shock. I love to bake, and I'm a good baker. But I must admit that I get tired of the same old cookies really quickly, so this time of year, when people are baking 5 or 10 different cookies, is the cookie time of year I like best. I like to have a good variety of cookies. I'm more partial to shortbreads and ginger spice cookies than any other type. I love those Mexican Wedding Cookies, with their short dough wrapped in a luscious coating of powered sugar.

I'm hooked, people. I can't stop collecting recipes. My online recipe file has hundreds of recipes contained in little notepad files. I keep thinking I need to have a better way to file things because it's just getting ridiculous trying to keep it all contained in one file, especially with something like 12 babka recipes, all different, but all labeled babka1 through babka 12. OK, so I suck at naming files. Sue me.

What brought me to this post is tomorrow is a baking day. I'll be making peppermint bark and praline bark, but we'll also do several types of cookies. Of course there will be shortbread, that's a given. I'll also make my Three Ginger Cookies that are spicy and rich and so gingery that they make your mouth water just smelling them. The Girl always votes for a peanut butter cookie, although I can't abide peanut butter, but she'll make those and probably oatmeal cranberry cookies as well. We'll do a rolled sugar cookie so we can decorate with the piping bag. My daughter just loves to pipe frosting. I'll have to make the Mexican Wedding Cookies because they are so damn good. The Boy will want a bar bookie, so I'll probably try the Austrian Raspberry Shortbread on Smitten Kitchen's site.

The cookies will get wrapped in cellophane bags and distributed to the postman, the garbage men, and some other well deserving people. Some bark will go to my friend Iris, and to the Boy's program team.

It will be interesting to see how much we get done. Damn that Smitten Kitchen for posting all these fabulous recipes that I have to make. She's evil, that one.

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Blogger Daisy said...

Mmmm, oatmeal cranberry sounds delicious!

23/12/07 11:47 AM  
Blogger Ladybug's Picnic said...

I'm a huge recipe collector - and end up actually making about .005% of the recipes I collect.

I like some of Deb's recipes a lot, too - so much that I actually searched her blog yesterday for a brownie recipe. I made them this morning, following the recipe to the letter, and unfortunately they came out just terrible!

Good luck with the cookies!

24/12/07 1:57 PM  

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