Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Tuesday Tip: Making the Cut

I know I have a recipe collecting problem (Ben calls it hoarding--tomato, tamato).  I see a recipe and think "I need to keep this recipe because I am going to make it!"  Then before I know it, three years have rolled by, and the recipe hasn't been made.  I was going through my recipes the other night, and I came up with some guidelines on how to choose recipes.  Because if I know that I have a problem, I'm pretty sure others do too!

{My modest collection of cookbooks--not pictured are the eight binders that I have from culinary school--hahahaha} 

Guidelines for Choosing Recipes

Will you/family/loved ones actually eat it?  If the recipe has ingredients you know your family/loved ones would never touch, don't save it!  It's not worth the dust on the shelf.  Now, there is a difference between the family not liking ingredients and never tried the ingredients before.  For instance, my husband doesn't like spinach--at all.  So I don't make anything with spinach in it, and if I find something I want to try with spinach, I make it for my mom, who loves spinach.  Not only do I get to try out recipes I wouldn't normally, but it's a nice gesture to make dinner for my mom (you know--after she gave birth to me and puts up with my crap all the time).  Another instance is that the hubby had never had spices like curry, turmeric, garam masala, etc, but I make dishes with them because they were new ingredients.  Turns out that he tolerates (the cooking of them) and likes (their flavors) them enough to request the dishes every now and then.

Do the ingredients fit into your budget?  If the recipe has some exotic ingredients, would you be able to use those ingredients in other recipes so nothing is wasted?  If you come across a delicious recipe for lobster but can't afford it--keep moving on!  Will you one day be able to afford the lobster?  Of course!  But in the interim it's not practical to keep.  When you get to that day, the internet will help you find what to do with the lobster--PROMISE.  Also, if the recipe has exotic ingredients like lemongrass, curry paste, sun-dried tomatoes, etc, it's not practical to buy an entire 1 pound container for $50 when you only need 2 oz.  Unless you find other recipes to try at one time that uses that ingredient, or go in with someone on the cost, it's not worth you throwing away the $43.75 that will go bad (yes that is a correct calculation).

Do you have the equipment?  I have a tiny kitchen.  No kidding.  I have kitchen equipment in storage because A) I don't have the room in my apartment and B) because I don't use it too often (mainly serving stuff like platters, tongs, etc).  If you find recipes to make pasta but don't have a pasta maker....  Don't keep the recipe.  Some equipment can be substituted.  For example, if you don't have an ice cream maker, you can still make ice cream; the ice cream just won't be as smooth and pretty if you had used an ice cream maker.

Do you have the time?  If you don't have the time to make a recipe that takes 8 hours (crockpot recipes are the exception)--don't even keep it!  Also make sure that you have the time to do all the steps.  I won't lie--if a recipe has more than 15 steps (besides preheating oven, cooling, serving) I probably won't make it.    I want recipes that are quick, easy, healthy, and low cost.  Several of the recipes that I keep, I modify because they take unnecessary steps so I streamline them and present them to you!

Do you have the occasion?  As much as I would love to eat cakes, cookies, and other various desserts all of the time, it's not practical for my health or anyone around me.  Especially since that's really all I did at the beginning of this blog, I've learned to be EXTREMELY picky about which desserts I keep.  I have to have an occasion, and yes, sometimes I make an occasion around a dessert because who doesn't want to get together for coffee and cake in the early afternoon? 

This goes for Pinterest too!  I pin everything to a board labelled "Holding Place" and then go through recipes when I have more time using these guidelines. 

When I complete a recipe, if I decide it is worthy (so delicious that shouting to deities are involved and the pot is licked clean) of staying in my collection, I make notes of the date and changes I would make the next time.  If not, then it goes in the trash!

As with everything, getting into habits takes lots of time.  Going through recipes at least once a year also helps. 

So tell me--are you a recipe hoarder?  How do you choose your recipes?  I'd love to hear!

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