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Welcome to Thursday Coffee Hour. This is an open topic thread so help yourself to the goodies and sit a spell and let us know what is new with you. As you know I love to cook and am actually writing my own cookbook. Like many people my age I took Home Economics in school. Talk about a colossal waste of time. I learned more about sewing from my Dad and cooking I learned on my own.

I got my first cookbook when I was 8 years old. It was Betty Crocker’s Boys and Girls Cookbook and was a gift from an Aunt who knew me well enough that she decided I would be a good cook when I grew up. My first adult cookbook was Betty Crocker’s New Picture Cookbook. I still have both cookbooks plus my Mom’s older version. You could say I grew up with Betty Crocker. I collect cookbooks now. I think the most useful cookbook I own is Sunset’s Easy Basics for Good Cooking. I have Joy of Cooking but find I use other cookbooks more than that one.

I grew up watching cooking shows. Like most people I started with Julia Child and Graham Kerr. Some shows I watch for entertainment value but some chefs I’ve actually learned from. Martin Yan and Rick Bayless taught me Chinese and Mexican cooking. I watch America’s Test Kitchen and Cook’s Country although I do have a tendency in my own cooking to go not so butter and fat heavy as they do.

My niece is asking that when I finish the cookbook if I will write a second book on how to cook with simple recipes. I’m seriously thinking of doing that.

So we all have to eat to live. Who were your influences in cooking? What are your favorite cookbooks? Do you watch cooking shows and which ones are your favorites?

 photo HallwayCookbooks-1.jpg

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Comment Preferences

  •  Cookies (19+ / 0-)

    "A dreamer is one who can only find his way by moonlight, and his punishment is that he sees the dawn before the rest of the world." Oscar Wilde

    by michelewln on Thu Apr 25, 2013 at 06:58:26 AM PDT

  •  thanks for the cookies (12+ / 0-)

    but I cant cook. (I have been known to turn spaghetti to cinder). Another time (but that is long ago) I wanted to cook spaghetti when there was no water, so I did it in milk, which created something interesting which didnt look like the spaghetti I expected.

  •  I realized that cooking was a valuable choice when (12+ / 0-)

    my mom pointed to the sky and said, "She who cooks, doesn't do dishes!".  I guess a woman with four daughters could get to feel that way!  But I learned, because I hated doing dishes.

    My go-to cookbook is the Settlement Cookbook, but I have a lot of others for inspiration.

    If love could have saved you, you would have lived forever. &

    by weck on Thu Apr 25, 2013 at 12:17:34 PM PDT

  •  They're Getting Hard to Find. Everything's Turning (6+ / 0-)

    into contests or restaurant visits or interventions, some of them outright faked.

    I see there's a cook HD channel but costs extra from our provider, and we're already paying too much.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Thu Apr 25, 2013 at 12:43:24 PM PDT

    •  I've got some cookbooks I found (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      michelewln, PeterHug, helpImdrowning

      thru Alibris and Thriftbooks -- the shipping costs were more than the books, but they're for really good Texas and Tex-Mex and Mexican food.

      LBJ, Lady Bird, Van Cliburn, Ike, Ann Richards, Barbara Jordan, Molly Ivins, Sully Sullenburger, Drew Brees: Texas is NO Bush League!

      by BlackSheep1 on Thu Apr 25, 2013 at 05:20:18 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Would you be up for posting (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        helpImdrowning, michelewln

        what they are?  I would love to have some good cookbooks for that sort of food...

        •  Rick Bayless (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          I have his Mexico: One Plate at a Time and it is excellent. I'd recommend any of his.

          "A dreamer is one who can only find his way by moonlight, and his punishment is that he sees the dawn before the rest of the world." Oscar Wilde

          by michelewln on Fri Apr 26, 2013 at 04:26:57 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  I like Matt Martinez Jr. and Grady Spears, (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          and my favorites are turning out to be collaborative efforts.

          I have both versions of Seasoned With Sun, from El Paso's Junior League, and I have to say I think the original -- the old one -- is better. However, having visited Rancho de Chimayo and learned to love Green Chile in New Mexico (get the ones from Hatch!) ... I'm a sucker for that three-corner-culture cuisine.

          Seasoned with Fun and Necessities and Temptations are good, as well. Some Like it Hot takes you to the South Texas cuisine, and if you can find an HEB Made in Texas cookbook, go for it. I also have The Authorized Texas Rangers cookbook, which is sort of a guys' version of a junior league cookbook, compiled by Texas Rangers who served from about the 1950s through the early 1980s.

          Tom Perini, who cooks for Perini Ranch down at Buffalo Gap, has an excellent cookbook out, and I have the cookbook from Threadgill's in Austin (the recipes for slaws, casseroles and greens are wonderful).

          You cannot go wrong with Barbecue, Biscuits and Beans. Those chuckwagon cooks are teaching an art in that book.

          Rick Bayless does a great job with seafoods and exotica, but for everyday ... it's darn had to beat Matt Martinez, Jr. and Elizabeth Ortiz, both of whom work with what you can buy in the grocery store down the block (or if you have a good butcher shop in town).

          LBJ, Lady Bird, Van Cliburn, Ike, Ann Richards, Barbara Jordan, Molly Ivins, Sully Sullenburger, Drew Brees: Texas is NO Bush League!

          by BlackSheep1 on Fri Apr 26, 2013 at 12:09:22 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  if you've got a PBS channel OTA, it may have (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      one of those extra digital channels, and carry decent cooking shows. Look for Yan Can Cook, America's Test Kitchen, Pati's Mexican Table, Steven Raichlen's barbecue show, repeats of Justin Wilson or Julia Child, and of course Rick Bayless.

      LBJ, Lady Bird, Van Cliburn, Ike, Ann Richards, Barbara Jordan, Molly Ivins, Sully Sullenburger, Drew Brees: Texas is NO Bush League!

      by BlackSheep1 on Sat Apr 27, 2013 at 06:25:21 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I am seriously into cookbooks. (6+ / 0-)

    I have a bookcase full plus magazine and online subscriptions to Cook's Country and Cook's Illustrated. My go to resource is Cook's Illustrated online for everyday cooking. For barbeque I go to the Amazing Ribs web site. I consider Meathead to be the best when it comes to BBQ.

    My wife and I watch the Food Channel constantly but rarely watch an actual cooking show.

    My Mother taught me to cook the basics and I was always a decent cook but a few years ago the cooking bug bit me bad and now I am obsessed with it. We have a freezer full of food and can pretty much come up with a fantastic meal at the drop of a hat.

  •  Magazines (5+ / 0-)

    I get Cook's Illustrated, Cook's Country, and Cuisine at Home. What I love about Cuisine is that it comes three hole punched so I can put it into a binder and keep them neat.

    "A dreamer is one who can only find his way by moonlight, and his punishment is that he sees the dawn before the rest of the world." Oscar Wilde

    by michelewln on Thu Apr 25, 2013 at 12:59:45 PM PDT

  •  I learned to "cook" first from workshifts at my (7+ / 0-)

    student co-op in the 60's. "Here is the bag of pancake mix. Follow the recipe on the bag. Don't burn them. If you do, scrape off the grill and use a lower heat. Would you rather clean toilets??" I was motivated to cook them as well as I could, because they guys could get pretty mean if their Saturday breakfast was inedible. Heck, I wanted good pancakes too!

    Then a little later, as a low-income bachelor with one roommate, it was cook or starve. By getting good at a very few recipes cooked over and over, I started to internalize some things and eventually, getting to be OK. Both of my sons are really good cooks, who I think just wanted to be better than their terribly boring parents.

  •  I learned to cook (8+ / 0-)

    not too long after I moved out on my own. I didn't know much about cooking at that point so I ate a lot of meals at Denny's. But, it wasn't too long before I realized that was expensive and really boring. So I started learning to cook and when I needed advice I usually turned to my mother because she was a decent cook.

    It still took me a good three years or so before I really started to enjoy it and cooking at home much of the time. It took a while to assemble the necessary tools and learn the basics.

    Who were your influences in cooking?


    What are your favorite cookbooks?

    I had quite a few cookbooks at one time, but I've given most of them away along with a lot of others because I didn't have the space. But, I still have a couple of copies of Joy of Cooking and some of Robert Carrier's books.

    At this point, I rely mostly on the internet when I need to find a recipe.

    Do you watch cooking shows and which ones are your favorites?

    I like Ina Garten far more than any of the others. When I'm searching for a recipe, I always see what she has first.

    The only trouble with retirement is...I never get a day off!

    by Mr Robert on Thu Apr 25, 2013 at 01:16:55 PM PDT

  •  I have about 50 cookbooks that are falling (4+ / 0-)

    apart. I like Barbara Kafka, Ina Garten, NY Times cookbook with Craig Claybourne along with the NY Times International, Steve Raichlen's High Flavor Low Fat...and so on.
     I basically learned to cook by myself. A room mate taught me that you can spice up any canned good with spices. I don't slavishly follow recipes and they generally turn out fine.

    •  I have a half dozen cook books (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      but rarely use them. Mostly I go online and look for inspiration, find something I fancy, then create my own version of that dish.

      Except for  pastry, I never measure - just go by feel, and check for taste.

      Apart from herbs/spices, lemon juice, soy sauce and tomato paste are always good for bringing out flavour in meat dishes.

  •  I learned to cook from my parents (6+ / 0-)

    starting at a fairly young age and gradually picking things up.  When my siblings and I were in our teens, we started to take on more of the responsibility for putting meals on the table -- especially for Sabbath, where Friday's dinner and Saturday's lunch were both expected to be minor feasts in honor of the day, and all the cooking for both of them had to be finished before sundown on Friday.  (With the happy exception of anything that could be put into a crock-pot or other slow cooker; in that case, the dish had to be assembled and put up to start cooking before sundown, and then left alone until it was done.)

    These days I am likelier to consult the internet than a cookbook for new or favorite recipes, or for inspiration to improvise something new.  Sites I frequently visit include Elana's Pantry and All Day I Dream About Food -- both excellent for low-carb recipes sans refined sugar.  In terms of actual books ... I am deeply fond of the original Moosewood Cookbook.  A cookbook I greatly miss is Gourmet's Best Desserts; I still own a copy but very seldom use it anymore, as most of its contents are, alas, no longer things I can eat.

    Cooking shows!  I don't get to watch them often, but when I do get the chance ... I absolutely adore Alton Brown's "Good Eats", and I enjoy "Iron Chef" and similar constrained-cooking game shows (such as "Sweet Genius," which I discovered only recently).

  •  I have one bookcase dedicated to cookbooks. (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    michelewln, Ojibwa, viral, helpImdrowning

    It's not the biggest, but it's not the smallest either.

    I do actually use them occasionally, but one of my hobbies is reading cookbooks.  It's amazing what you can learn about people by reading about what they eat.

    I particularly enjoy kosher Italian.  There's some really good food in those books.

    A lot of my actual cooking is throwing things together, but quite a few of my throw-togethers started off as riffs on some recipe.  And even when I'm officially following a recipe, I tend to season as the spirit moves me.

    Strength and dignity are her clothing, she rejoices at the days to come; She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the law of kindness is on her tongue.

    by loggersbrat on Thu Apr 25, 2013 at 02:05:38 PM PDT

  •  I learned to do it as a child (7+ / 0-)

    My mom saw it as a useful skill t have and that was something else she was dead right about. (she lso tught me how to mage my finances)
    I grew up as a latchkey child with 3 brothers while my moom worked and went to school. Me and my older brother made dinner for ourselves and the younger 2 from the time I was about 10, my older brother then being 12.
    Most of my wives have wanted to do the cooking and two of them were excellent cooks. The current one isn't so I do a lot of the cooking anyway. You have to want to do it, if you don't want to do it, it won't come out well.
    Ive spent the last few years learning to cook low fat, low carb, low cholesterol, can do a couple of dozen good things. we mostly eat fish and chicken and always fresh veggies and fruit.

    My son always liked to cook and he owns 2 restaurants now. He and the cooks created every item on the menus, cooking them out and then calculating the cost. This is where the best restaurant can go wrong---you can make the best food in town and still go broke..

    Happy just to be alive

    by exlrrp on Thu Apr 25, 2013 at 02:51:35 PM PDT


    The guy who does the day-to-day stuff in the lab was up for promotion.  We were under the impression (probably because of how the paperwork was filled out) that he would be promoted from Research Associate 2 to Instructor.  

    He just told me that as of today, he is an Assistant Professor!  No wonder the process took forever!

    Strength and dignity are her clothing, she rejoices at the days to come; She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the law of kindness is on her tongue.

    by loggersbrat on Thu Apr 25, 2013 at 03:22:18 PM PDT

  •  Initially, cooking for me involved (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    viral, michelewln, helpImdrowning

    an open campfire. Now it's about the microwave.

    I used to watch cooking shows such as Emeril, but now everything is about conflict, anger, over-eating, "reality," and not really about food or cooking.

  •  My mom is a great cook, when she wants to be. (4+ / 0-)

    My dad's 2nd wife is the opposite.

    So we all taught ourselves early on how to cook.

    I took Home Ec. in 7th grade, even though it got me funny looks from just about everyone (boys in the 60's didn't do that).  Cooking was my first merit badge in the scouts.

    I like "America's Test Kitchen" as they take a scientific approach to recipes.

    That said, my kitchen is about the size of a phone booth (not a TARDIS, alas), so i can't do much in there, but I can survive where others must dine out.

    I am not religious, and did NOT say I enjoyed sects.

    by trumpeter on Thu Apr 25, 2013 at 04:22:07 PM PDT

  •  My Kitchen (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Ojibwa, helpImdrowning

    I could use a Tardis size kitchen but have to put up with a shoebox instead. Still manage to get a lot of cooking down though.

     photo Kitchen-1.jpg

    "A dreamer is one who can only find his way by moonlight, and his punishment is that he sees the dawn before the rest of the world." Oscar Wilde

    by michelewln on Thu Apr 25, 2013 at 04:36:17 PM PDT

    •  At least everything's within reach! :) (0+ / 0-)

      That's a beautiful kitchen, in truth. It just looks like a "one person at a time" space, is all. In my house, built 1890, the "kitchen" was actually a pantry, which was further divided in two for no reason that I could tell, and I would swear you could run into yourself if you turned around too fast. It had much more room than your kitchen, but two people worked there only at their mutual peril. It was a relief when the 1985 rejoined the pantry to the rest of the space.

  •  Cooking has been my hobby, my passion, my (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    obsession for more years than I would like to say. I have over seven hundred cookbooks and boxes full of old Bon Appetite, Gourmet, Food and Wine, Martha Stewart Living, etc. magazines. I have countless notebooks with recipes I have jotted down from cooking shows and the internet, plus menus for dinner parties and every other kind of party.

    I used to throw parties all the time - Christmas, New Year's, Kentucky Derby, Mardi Gras, Super Bowl, Valentine's Day, Cinco de Mayo, Halloween, Daytona 500, Fourth of July, Labor Day, friend's and family's birthdays, anniversaries, etc. I love to cook for people, to have them in my home, to eat good food, drink a little wine or beer or a cocktail, enjoy great conversation, maybe dance a little, laugh a lot, enjoy each other's company. Unfortunately, financial issues have slowed down my entertaining a bit, but I still cook for people on a smaller scale several times a week.

    My mother was a great cook so I started cooking with her when I was about seven. I threw my first dinner party at seventeen and cooked my first Thanksgiving dinner for twelve people that same year. The last big party I threw was for about 75 people and I made, Appetizers: Four Cheese Phyllo Triangles, BBQ Pork and Smoked Gouda Puff Pastry Turnovers, Smoked Trout and Apple Canapes, Fresh and Smoked Salmon Rillettes with toasted French Bread, Cold Jumbo Shrimp with Cocktail Sauce, Assorted Cheeses and Crackers, and Vegetable Crudite. For the main course I made, Whole Roasted Fillet Mignon with Red Wine Sauce, Whole Roasted Salmon with a Dill Caper Sauce, with sides of Baby Green Beans, Roasted Potatoes with Shallots and Garlic, Honey Glazed Baby Carrots, and Marinated Cucumber and Tomato Salad. For dessert I made, Chocolate Raspberry Torte, Caramel Apple Cake, and Homemade Vanilla Bean Ice Cream served with fresh local strawberries. It was quite a party, I cooked for a week, but it was so much fun it was worth it.

    My roommate left early this morning to drive from California to Colorado to visit family so last night I made him homemade Nutter Butter cookies and ginger spice cookies to take on his trip. I recently have been on a bread making binge with my own sourdough starter and I have some dough for Ciabatta bread rising on the kitchen as we "speak". I always have homemade chicken stock and shrimp stock in my freezer, they are really easy to make and make such a big difference in your final product whether that be a sauce, gravy, soup, or stew.

    So I guess you could say I'm a bit of a fanatic, but I love to see the smiles on people's faces when they are enjoying something tasty. Best feeling ever. Thanks for letting me ramble on. Best wishes.

    "Too often we enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought." - John F. Kennedy -7.8., -6.6

    by helpImdrowning on Thu Apr 25, 2013 at 05:05:10 PM PDT

  •  My mom always scooted me out of (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    the kitchen when she cooked.  She claimed it was because I was such a chatterbox that it muddled her.

    When I complained I would never learn how  to cook, I was told not to fret,  that if I could read I could cook.  Mom was right.  I have two daughters that I, too, scooted out of the kitchen.  They, too, were told if they could read they could cook.  They're in their thirties now. They both love cooking and are excellent cooks.  

  •  I learned to cook because that was what we did. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    helpImdrowning, michelewln

    We grew a massive garden and had fruit trees, and my mother was into organic meat before it got popular.

    There were holes in my education; my knife work isn't great, but it's better than it was.

    But with just about any recipe, I look at it and analyze it and change it until it gives me the results I want.

    When you come to find how essential the comfort of a well-kept home is to the bodily strength and good conditions, to a sound mind and spirit, and useful days, you will reverence the good housekeeper as I do above artist or poet, beauty or genius.

    by Alexandra Lynch on Thu Apr 25, 2013 at 08:34:57 PM PDT

  •  I was motivated (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    by curiosity over  my mom's baked chicken pieces were dry & my grandmother's were not, although both were simple suppers. Same for most other basic items my grandmother cooked. The main  reason was my mom didn't care. She had to cook large quantities for four kids who just wolfed the food down. When she did care, as when occasionally baked pies or made Christmas cookies from scratch - no mixes, or had a really  fine  cut of meat that took a bite out of the weekly budget,  she could be pretty good. Also, one weekend a neighbor, Mr. Rorro, a butcher by trade, cooked wonderfully for  50 people at a father-son Boy Scout campout, with a wood stove. How did he do it? Turned out he had been a WWII Army cook. "Cooking for fifty is nothing," he said.

    "There ain't no sanity clause." Chico Marx

    by DJ Rix on Fri Apr 26, 2013 at 01:11:46 AM PDT

    •  My Aunt (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      DJ Rix

      The Aunt who gave me my first cookbook was an Army cook and she was a good cook.

      "A dreamer is one who can only find his way by moonlight, and his punishment is that he sees the dawn before the rest of the world." Oscar Wilde

      by michelewln on Fri Apr 26, 2013 at 04:28:55 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  learned to cook, sorta', by watching my mother (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    & paternal grandmother, the farm wife. didn't do much helping, just watching, but it gave me an idea of what was supposed to be happening.

    my dear mother was not an interested cook, but was fairly competent in what I now realize was a very middle of the road anglo-american style. meatloaf, pot roast, salmon loaf, bacon and eggs, a couple of cookies. no knowledge or interest in anything ethnic, at least as far as I ever encountered during my childhood!

    Grandma could do lots of baking stuff that I could only dream about! Bread, piecrust. did a lot of preserving & jams-n-jellies (actually, my mom did those too). also very plain, anglo-american (by which I mean plain plain plain food with absolutely no ethnic components AT ALL! strictly UK English background on both sides, back to forever. well, ONE dose of German on daddy's side, ca. US Civil War)

    don't know about my sibs, but I got a little interested in sub-continent & SE asian (thai, indonesian) in the pre-historic period of my life... the first couple of decades out of high school.

    then the SCA came along and fancy camping food, and feast cooking entered my life. so long ago that there were practically no period cookbooks available, and a lot of fudging going on. then the boy with the food sensitivities arrived, which circumscribed fairly seriously what I ate every day. he also distracted me from SCA at the point when good cookbook resources were starting to appear, so I switched from actually cooking medieval, to collecting the cookbooks. I may try event cooking again, but am a bit concerned that that area is now so far ahead of my experience that I wouldn't be good for much but scullery work. we'll see.

    Since Gourmet was garotted, I've found I like Saveur best. Am leary of the ATC/Cooks Illustrated collective -- he's a nice guy, but he's as skewed to the urban NE, in his way, as Alton Baker is to the South!

    I find I'm most interested in breads & desserts. I do watch cooking shows, mostly FoodNetwork. Cooking Channel when I can get it, it's on the top tier of my satellite, 8-). I find the TV cooks less and less interesting as time goes by, however. Too trendy, too professional, too much celebrity ya-ya (anyplace that makes a "star" of Guy Fieri!?!?!) There really isn't much out there about cooking two streams simultaneously, let alone for a grand total of 3 people! two of whom are limited, and extremely limited in what they want to or CAN eat.

    I find the Internet extremely useful for recipe research. I am sort of working at discovering the "one perfect recipe" for a number of dishes I'd like to be able to pull off whenever I want. My grandmother's venison mincemeat, real chocolate mousse, my mother's salmon loaf, brownies the way we like them, and so forth.

    "real" work : a job where you wash your hands BEFORE you use the bathroom...

    by chimene on Fri Apr 26, 2013 at 01:44:57 AM PDT

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