Posted on: November 21, 2010

by Deborah in the UP

I just LOVE to cook, and I’m pretty good at it too. My mom was a good cook, but with four girls in the family, she didn’t have the time to teach us individually, so I had to learn on my own. I took a home economics class in school, and learned the basics. What I learned the most was how to read and follow a recipe….. And there are some great recipes out there! Which is why I love cooking magazines and find it very difficult to toss one out. That became a problem..

One winter I decided I would sort thru all the cooking magazines and keep only what I wanted… what a chore! With every magazine, I would flip thru the recipe guide, check out something that sounded good, and then cut that page out if I felt it worth trying. Every day I would go thru four to six of the glossy books, drooling over the perfect presentation of pasta’s or cookies or glistening roasts. After awhile, I had a stack of recipes to try, and many more publications to go through. I needed a plan. I needed to organize them.

I took the stack of pages and sorted them by topic: meats, vegetables, pasta, sweets. I trimmed the recipe and glued it to a loose leaf page, that would eventually go into a notebook. Realizing that I needed to separate them even further, the category’s became Seafood, Chicken & Meat in one book, with dividers for those three subjects. Then there was Pasta, Breads & Sweets, and Vegetables & Salads. Because I foraged wild mushrooms, that had a binder all to itself, and the last being the inevitable Miscellaneous. Once I decided on this organization of topics, the selection process went much easier and much faster. It wasn’t long and I was done, with stacks of chopped up periodicals ready for the dump.

Living in the woods allowed me the leisure of cooking all day long if I so chose.. During the winter that is. What a wonderful time I had of it too. I eventually used a spiral notebook to create weekly menu’s, mainly so I wouldn’t repeat a dish too often. It also kept me trying something new. After the first run of a new dish, we would grade it, one to four stars, and I made notes on any changes. I found a few recipes that the sauce was just so yummy, but not enough of it… so I would note to double that part. There were of course some that were awful, and just got a big “X” across them! Some were tasty, but not spectacular … and I wanted SPECTACULAR! So I kept looking and trying.

I think the most challenging was the sweets. I’ve never been into sweets. As a young girl I had Halloween candy left over at Easter. But I persevered and made “old time” recipes, like cobblers, and Apple Pandowdy and Peasecod cookies. Of course I tasted them, but Pete benefited most, he loved sweets. Come Christmas time, I would go into full cookie mode, making a dozen different types, and making up trays that we would take when visiting in town. Now THAT part was really fun! Hungarian butter horns, rum balls, snowflakes and peppermint candy cane cookies; Angel Wings and sugar cookies to hang on the tree. Baking is really an art! And I was in my glory!

All this was just the first step in creating my own cookbooks.. But I’ll save that for next week, and share some of my favorites.

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