February 23, 2010 | Technique
If you’ve been to my house – and I’m guessing most of you reading this haven’t since Google tells me my readers come from 110 countries around the world – you couldn’t help but notice my cookbook collection. When we built our home back in 2008, this was slated to be a mudroom with cubbies for kids’ shoes, books and other clutter. But one of the (many) benefits of being an empty nester is that I could ditch the cubbies for a full wall of shelves, right off the kitchen, to house my cookbooks, which numbered around 500 last time I counted. You’d think that I get recipe inspiration from these daily, but in reality, I don’t. I love looking through a new cookbook once I buy it, love analyzing the food photography, and thinking about how I’d tweak recipes. But then I find a nice home for it on the shelf. To be completely truthful, I only pull down cookbooks when I’m in a mad search for a detailed menu for a party, or want to see how 10 different Italian chefs dealt with a certain ingredient, or when online searches fail me.My inspiration actually comes to me from the world around me – mentally creating recipes when I wander through a market, thinking “I’ve got to try something like that” when I watch a cooking show, and vowing to recreate a dish that’s thrilled me at a restaurant. If you’re thinking those ideas become lost in this vast expanse of a brain of mine, when cleaning out a drawer this week I found this small notebook. It’s full of all sorts of small notes that mean big things to me.
Citrus peso, shrimp, linguine, pine nuts, Parmigiano
Scallops, sundried tomato tapendar, wrapped in prosciutto, baked, bed of arugula
Polenta crostini with Parmigiano and thyme
Try curing salmon – beet and grappa or salt and seasonings?
Triple cream cheese + Champagne
To many, these would be simple food fantasies. To me, they represent my attempt to capture something that inspired me to cook. Only problem is I lost that notebook in a drawer when we moved. Well I have it now, and I’m ready to start exploring some of those ideas I had!
Having trouble becoming inspired in the kitchen? Keep a small notebook with you at all times and just jot things down – what you’ve heard, what a friend said they made, what you ate, or what you’re craving. Better yet, if you’re here in the Denver metro area, why not join my cooking class on Monday night? It’s called “What’s for Dinner?” and after learning about stocking a pantry to make cooking inspiration easy, the group will come up with a multi-course menu and cook it for dinner. Call me if you’d like to attend!