Thursday, November 19, 2009

Cookbooks, cookbooks, and a contest (!?)

My dilemma.

I have a lot of cookbooks (not an exhorbant amount, but more than I can use).  I have a lot of cookbooks that I've never opened.  Cookbooks that are beautiful and have wonderful, complicated recipes that I will never make because I am generally not one to go and buy unusual or "fancy" food.  The reason?  It's hard for me to imagine buying ingredients for one recipe.  I already have items in my pantry that have been sitting there for a while, so why would I spend money on a leetle jar of some fancy paste when it will probably never be used again and live its life on my refrigerator shelf until it starts growing things.  Since I'm not earning a paycheck anymore my main job as head chef of the Baldwin household is to use what we have in the fridge, freezer and pantry while making as few shopping trips as possible.  This means making garlic bread out of frozen hot dog buns and David making his yummy stir fry out of 25 half-full bags of frozen veggies.  Mental note:  We do not need anymore frozen broccoli.


See the blue binder in the picture above (and to the right)?  That binder houses mostly recipes I printed from AllRecipes.com.  See the cookbooks to the right of the picture?  The ones that say "AllRecipes.com"?  It's easier to type ingredients into the search on the website and find recipes that way than to thumb through cookbooks, although I really do love cookbooks.  I love the idea of them.
We eat mainly chicken, ground beef, and pasta.  We also eat a lot of tomato-based foods such as spaghetti and tortilla soup.  I'm stuck in a rut when it comes to what I buy.  I will freely admit that.  If there was such a service as a "pantry chef" or a show where someone came to your house and listed everything you had in your pantry and fridge then gave you recipes to use it all then I would be the first in line.  Really, though, this post isn't about what we eat.  I do wish I was braver when it came to ingredients.  I'm not afraid to try new recipes - as a matter of fact I pretty much will make several variations of the same dish, never repeating the same recipe twice.  Of course, this is rather inconvenient when I make something that knocks David's socks off.  As I was saying, I'm not afraid to try new recipes, they just have to include ingredients already in my pantry or they have to include ingredients that can be left out or substituted if not in my pantry.  See?

Anyway, I used to house all of my cookbooks in a little hutch in my dining room.  This worked out okay until every recipe I printed off the internet wound up sandwiched between whatever space I happened to find room.  It was looking pretty ghetto.  So, now they live in a bookshelf in a guest bedroom of our home.  It's not even a cute bookshelf. 

I'm a dessert girl.  I love making dessert.  I have a little collection of cookbooks devoted entirely to desserts.  Cookbooks for cookies, brownies (not pictured because it's currently sitting in my cookbook holder on my kitchen counter), and cupcakes. 

If I had a better kitchen with more counter space (that's another post entirely), I would make it my goal to be able to produce cookies that look like this:


Isn't it adorable?  Imagine having the talent to do that!  I considered acquiring this as my new hobby but then I saw the tools required to even attempt to attain this skill:


Considering my sweet husband has been so supportive of all my hobbies such as painting, knitting, and sewing, I figured I shouldn't push my luck.  I really have yet to find my niche, but that's probably because I expect to be really great at something right when I start and that's obviously never the case.

Back to cookbooks.  I have a cookbook with beautiful photos of recipes I'll never make. 

I also have a cookbook dedicated to showing one how to host the most spactacular parties!  It has directions and pictures on how to do everything from setting the table to creating beautiful garnishes to making a beautiful ice bowl!  It also explains (with pictures, no less!) how to host any kind of themed party you want to throw.  Someday I'll be a wonderful hostess, but I probably should get a table that seats more than 6.



I guess my whole point in this is to say that, while I absolutely l-o-v-e cookbooks, I don't know how I'm ever going to use them all.  But my goal is to try to at least thumb through them and see if any have recipes that call for chicken, beef, or tomatoes.  Ha. 

If anyone has a tried-and-true recipe please let me know.  I am also looking for healthy recipes...I have lofty goals of weight loss.  Someday I want to run a half-marathon (those of you who know me stop laughing!) but the thing is - I hate running.  Anyway, that's another post for another time.

If I were to give away one of my cookbooks, would you be interested?  Here's why I'm asking:  I'm considering doing it for a contest.  I will list the ingredients of my fridge, pantry, and freezer and whoever comes up with the best recipe (I have to try it and like it!) wins a cookbook.  I'm also asking because I know there are those of you out there who read my blog but you don't comment.  Other than family, of course.  I know family who read it and don't respond but that's to be expected. 

So, answer me that.  If you're reading me on Facebook, come on over to my blog.  You don't even have to log in to comment (but please tell me who you are).

And, just because I can, here's a photo from bathtime tonight:

Happy Weekend!




11 comments commented:

Leah said...

I'd give you recipe suggestions, but I have too many cookbooks as it is!

I can't get over how BLUE Amelia's eyes are. So pretty!!

Leah said...

I wasn't very clear...I'll give you recipe suggestions without a cookbook contest. :)

Cory and Jenn said...

Have you ever heard of www.swaptree.com? I have never actually used it but I have a friend that uses it all the time. You can post your books, dvds, cds and video games that you don't want on there for trade. People offer you items for trade and you can choose to accept it or not. The only cost to you is the shipping of the item and my friend said the company will give you a shipping label for $2.99 or something like that.

Jennifer said...

Potatoes and Ham Casserole

32 oz shredded hashbrowns, thawed or 2 lbs baking potatoes (chopped quite small)
2 or 3 very thick slices of ham cut into bit-sized cubes
1/2 bag to 1 whole bag frozen peas (depends on how much you like peas)
3/4 cup butter, melted, divided
1 to 2 tsp salt (and some pepper too)
1 can cream of mushroom or cream of chicken soup
1/2 small onion, grated or chopped
12 oz cheddar cheese, grated
2 cups corn flakes, crushed (alternative – crushed club or Ritz crackers)
8 oz sour cream

Mix all ingredients, EXCEPT corn flakes and 1/3 cup of the butter, in a very large bowl. Combine well, turn into a 9×13 inch pan. Sprinkle corn flakes over mixture, drizzle with remaining butter. Cook 1 to 2 hours at 350 degrees.


I made this last week with a full bag of peas and ritz crackers. Delicious. We ate ALL of the leftovers. (that never happens) I love to cook and sometimes get frustrated when I feel like we're eating the same things over and over again. It's hard too on a verytight budget.

Jennifer said...

PS. yes I would be interested in a cookbook giveaway/contest.

My open roads said...

I have a few food blogs I follow, mostly to get ideas on meals instead of following recipes directly, but it's also fun to look every day at a little food post here and there, makes me hungry and motivated to create yummy things in the kitchen. I hear you about the fancy recipes based on some one weird ingredient, that's why I go my way and improvise ;)

Diane said...

I'm probably not up for posting a recipe right now, but I think this is a wonderful idea! Like you, I like to do an "ingredient search". I just put in what I have and see what pops up.

P.S. Amelia is truly one of the prettiest little baby girls I've EVER seen.

Mainly a midwife said...

Jamie..I'm so with you on too many cookbooks. I have tons. I just have a hard time getting rid of them. I love Allrecipes.com too.
And I want to run a half marathon too but I hate running. If you figure out how to overcome it please let me know.
Could you be my virtual running buddy? How about the Seattle Rock n Roll marathon June 26 2010? I'll come up and run it. Look up Hal Higden's marathon training. There are lots of web sites out there on how to train for marathons or halfs. Even if you aren't currently a runner.

Sarah said...

I have a million different recipes around here. Not many cookbooks though. I'll have to think of some suggestions for different things, but one off the top of my head is crockpot potato soup...perfect for the busy mommy! And if you like potatoes then this should be a big hit! Let me know if you'd like the recipe.

Sarah said...

I guess just in general I have a lot of recipes for the slowcooker/crockpot (some for desserts even!). I'll make a list of what I have recipes for and get it to you!

Dawn said...

I love AllRecipes.com Its the greatest place to find awesome recipes. I came across your blog while actually looking for a friends blog and have reading it ever since. I like you get stuck in a rut of making the same types of things. Also, I like you have too many cookbooks...unless they have "normal" ingredients its not likely they will ever be used. Take care and God Bless you and your family this Christmas. -Dawn