Friday, March 22, 2019

Spring (recipe) Cleaning!

Happy Spring!

My attractive post-surgery footwear!
First, I must apologize for being off the radar for awhile. I had foot surgery in mid-February so my ability to do ANYTHING in the kitchen has been impacted by the requirement to always be on crutches or a knee roller. Kind of hard to bake or cook while navigating on those contraptions. Everything takes a lot longer & twice as many moves. I have a newfound respect for people with permanent disabilities. 

"Squirrel" Recipe Storage
Second, it is finally Spring, and with that comes the traditional "Spring cleaning." But given my aforementioned surgery, I am definitely not doing the typical cleaning (moving furniture, window washing, etc). No, my version involves something I can do while sitting with my injured foot elevated...going thru the hundreds (maybe thousands) of clipped recipes I've been storing in a mish-mash of folders for years. 

Now, you might be thinking "clipped" recipes? Don't you just download them and save to your Evernote file (or some other digital system)? Well, yes. Yes, I do. Now. But WAY before that was an option, people actually cut recipes out of newspapers and magazines and stashed them in some kind of file (like a squirrel storing nuts for the winter). You know, in hopes of making these recipes some day...

What was I thinking?! Was I really ever going to make "Chilled Veal Roast with Herbes de Provence and Fennel Salad?" Or "Breast of Duck with Cantaloupe?" Hmmmm, I think not, but for some reason, I saved those recipes.
Recycled Bag #1
Slogging thru my recipe piles!

After spending hours the other day going thru the file, I ended up with two huge bags of recycled recipes, and two much smaller file folders of recipes I just could not bear to part with. Even though I took photos of some of them to add to Evernotes, I decided to keep the paper version, too. Some are very old family recipes written by relatives long gone and I want to keep the recipe in their original handwriting. Some are from the late, great Gourmet magazine (circa 1998) and I'm not sure if all of their recipes have been digitally converted.

I've been meaning to tackle my recipe overload for a long time, and my surgery recovery was the perfect excuse. How do you store your recipes? Do you follow the "squirrel" method, or are you strictly a digital saver? Let us know. In the meantime, I'll be right here trying to decide if I should save this recipe from Food & Wine. It sounds so good. I'm sure I'll make it. Some day.

Monday, March 4, 2019

The Great Olive Oil Dilemma

Olives on the vine in Sicily
While in Sicily a few years ago, we visited an olive farm where, of course, we sampled the wares (directly from the giant stainless steel vats). The oil had the luscious flavor and delicious scent of just-harvested olives that you would expect from tasting at the source.
Our prized tin from Sicily
We bought a BIG tin at the ridiculously low price of 10 Euros and carted it home. We used it sparingly, knowing that when the tin was empty, we could not replace it. After awhile, the tin ran dry and our search began for a new "house" olive oil.

We hopped around from brand to brand (Lucini, California Olive Ranch, Kirkland, to name a few) and while they were all good, nothing really made us jump up and down with joy. Which brings me to today's post:

Are you as confused as I am over what constitutes a really good olive oil?

You may have heard about the "bombshell" olive oil study done by UC Davis in 2010. The study concluded that 69% of imported olive oils labeled extra virgin, were in fact, not extra virgin. WOW! Understandably, this sent shockwaves through the food industry, olive oil producers, and the public. The report, funded in part by California olive producers, raised all kinds of questions and since then many olive oil groups have upped the standards for producing and marketing olive oil. But as an average home cook who uses alot of olive oil, I still have doubts if what I'm buying is the real deal. In addition, I am overwhelmed by the gazillions of brands out there. And unless I am at a store or olive ranch where I can taste a drop or two of the production, I am buying blindly (and most likely, so are you). 

I still don't have an answer to my ongoing quest for an above-average everyday EVOO, but I did find this article from Serious Eats very interesting. If you have a favorite olive oil, please share. Eventually, this long winter will pass and it will be tomato season and I need to have my olive oil dilemma resolved by then.
Jersey tomatoes, fresh mozz, Georgia peaches, with basil and EVOO!