Thursday, June 23, 2011

Motivation in the Kitchen

We don't have cable TV so I can't get hooked on the Food Network or anything like that. But even network television has several cooking programs. I like a show called "America's Test Kitchen." It's really the only cooking show on public television that I can stand watching. I actually really enjoy this one, so if I'm home while it's on, I'm watching it!

They do exactly what their title suggests: they test. They test recipes, ingredients and kitchen appliances so that the final recipe they end up with is the best! Granted, sometimes that means it might be harder to make (more steps or harder to find ingredients) and it usually isn't the healthiest option . . . they test for taste.

They also publish cookbooks! They have tons. I want one. My problem is that I don't know which one I want. They have books from the show . . . they even have one that includes recipes from all eleven years they've been on the air. I found out that they have a "healthy family" cookbook too. They did all the same testing but took calorie and fat into account and substitute healthier ingredients for the not-so-healthy ones and tell you how to do it so it won't affect the taste.

So, rather than buying one or more without knowing which one I really wanted, I decided to check one out at the library first (brilliant, I know!). The Healthy Family Cookbook was the first one I checked out. I've had it for two weeks and I love it. I've only tried a handful of recipes so far and most of them were a success.  My favorite part is that the book is so educational and includes some of their appliance test results.

I've tried two different ways of cooking salmon: oven-poaching and frying. I've roasted a whole chicken for the first time ever, made pork chops with an apple-ginger chutney, creamy mashed potatoes, turkey tacos, and homemade pizza (that was amazing!). Tonight I will make chicken fajitas. It has been a busy and somewhat adventurous couple of weeks!

I am a hard-core recipe follower. I don't stray far at all from what I'm told. Maybe someday I'll be that kind of cook. But for now, playing with a new cookbook is really fun. It's a change in my routine and I'm learning new things. When you do something everyday, like cooking, making even a small change (like getting new mixing bowls, a broiler pan, or a cookbook) can be refreshing enough that you are excited about meal preparation again!

I have to give the cookbook back next week. The Test Kitchen does have a website where you can access most of the recipes from their recent shows. But it's not the same. I will probably be investing in this cookbook or one like it . . . or I might just keep borrowing them from the library (I love the library). We'll see.

Almost 325 miles . . . almost half way there


Suz said...

So fun to read your blog. And I love the idea of checking out a cookbook from the library! I have gotten hooked on ""... definitely inspired to cook by reading your blog- ha, ha.

Sheryl B said...

I have always "liked" to cook, but I too discovered America's Test Kitchen many years ago and really got into cooking; being more adventuresome. Rachel Ray's 30 minute meals (Food Network, of coarse) as well as Lidia's Italy (PBS) have also inspired me to be adventurous. Made some wonderful crab cakes the other day (using fresh crab from HEB Central Market). I mean they were CRAB cakes (little filler). Recipe's a la "", plus they sometimes have videos of "how to make....". Kinda fun! Keep exploring! Love you!

Sharon M said...

I, too, was a hard-core recipe follower when I first got married. My mother-in-law is the exact opposite; she looks in the pantry, sees what she has, and throws it all together. The best part is, it always comes out AMAZING. So, when we moved overseas, I had to get a bit creative with recipes because I couldn't always find the ingredients I needed (or they were imported from the USA and super duper expensive!). I think I've achieved some sort of balance now. I still follow recipes, especially if it's something new, but I've started tweeking and playing with things that I've made in the past, or do the old "throw-it-in-a-pot-and-see-what-happens" trick. I think I might have to add that cookbook to my collection. It looked AWESOME.

Betsy said...

hi emily!

i saw this post and had to share- we have the america's test kitchen "best recipies" and the "best 30 min. recipies" books, and love them both! the latter is my favorite and most used cookbook, but the first one is great, too! so cool that they have these at the library. :) hope you're doing well. :)