Over the last few weeks I have made an effort to slowly go through my recipe files. I’m hoping to sort through the massive quantity of recipes; cull out those I’ve never tried and get rid of many of those that I’ll just never get around to.
In writing a food column for so many years you can imagine that I’ve acquired a ton of intriguing and trendy recipes and found some good solid cooking. I’ll keep those that provide the backbone of my cooking and always keep a short stack of new ones waiting to be tried.
The art of cooking has certainly changed over the 45 years that I’ve been actively cooking. And I know through my mom and my grandmother that many of you have files going back to the turn of the century or earlier — literally.
Some of the old recipes are fascinating to look through. Many give us a look into what life was like before PAM or many of the conveniences that today we take for granted.
For many, cooking was a full day’s job. When one meal was over the next was being planned and executed. Men and women were made of sterner stuff and I think a whole lot less whining was going on. Everyone was in the same boat, so to speak, and griping about things was a waste of energy.
Lately I’ve been trying more and more recipes with buttermilk as an ingredient. Last weekend I marinaded chicken in buttermilk with a little salt and pepper, then breaded the meat with panko crumbs and lightly fried it. Wow, both of us were impressed with the power of the lactic acid in the buttermilk; the chicken tasted wonderful.
As many of us rely more and more on eating out and take out, we need to be concerned with just what is in the food we are paying for. I think the plainer the food the better sometimes, because you can actually see what things are made of. Ingredients do matter and sometimes our very lives depend on quality.
I’ll probably do the same thing with the cookbooks I’ve collected over the years. Many hold recipes dear to me and I have a collection of Cooking Light compilations spanning many years that I’ll keep. Others, again, offer trendy things that were a flash in the pan and now we have moved on.
I’ll always be on the lookout, and enjoy the search, for the next recipe that is a ‘keeper.’ And many others I’ll pass on to the kids in hopes that they become some of their go-to recipes.
Susan Woody has been a food writer for the past 25 years and is a member of the Association of Food Journalists.