1. Consisting of members or elements of different kinds; of mixed character: a book of miscellaneous essays on American history.

2. Having various qualities, aspects, or subjects: a miscellaneous discussion.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Forgotten, or Never Learned?

I have a couple of “go to” cookbooks when I need inspiration and new ideas and a foolproof recipe.  You can easily identify my favorite baking book by its broken spine and stuck-together pages.  I’ve made notes beside recipes to mark which ones are successes and which ones are failures.  ***Note to the editors of Good Housekeeping:  I’m sure the failures were due to “user error” not due to anything in your cookbook:

While I consider these books invaluable in creating tasty treats for friends and family, I do NOT consider them fascinating reading.  They have straightforward recipes, nice photos, and if I’m lucky a helpful hint or two.  I guess that’s what a cookbook should be.

I am currently in the process of devouring Darina Allen’s “Forgotten Skills of Cooking.”  Devouring is the key word here.  Part cookbook, part memoir, Darina takes me to places I’ve never been (Ireland) and helps me envision things I’ve never done (kill a chicken with my bare hands.)  While the former is on my Bucket List, the latter can pretty much stay not a forgotten skill for me, but one never learned.  That kind of poultry prep is a little TOO free range for me, thank you.

I will admit this is the first cookbook I’ve read that has this narrative style so perhaps there are many more out there that I am missing.  But it is a lovely read and I can only try to understand why she misses the “old days.”  I never HAD those kinds of “old days” but I do appreciate how she brings them to life for her readers.  I think it is wonderful that she is teaching Ireland’s younger generation how to raise farm animals, how to use what you have and not waste, and how to look at her country’s history through food & cooking.

There are several things this book will NOT inspire me to do, such as preparing stuffed beef heart.  (Not to mention the fact that my local Sendik’s doesn’t have a meat counter filled with bovine organs.)  But the rustic and charming ideas of making my own butter, my own bread and growing some simple vegetables, now THAT appeals to me.

In the following weeks I hope to begin a culinary endeavor guided by Ms. Allen.  You will read about my triumphs as well as my attempts that end up with a notation “Don’t make this again.”  Hopefully the next series you read won’t be my attempts to lose weight from all this great cooking!

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