Ever since Matty and I got married, I’ve been slowly teaching myself to cook. Things got a bit more urgent in that department when we moved to the country. Living 15 miles from the nearest Qdoba is a far cry from our old house, where we could walk to Thai, Korean, Mexican, and Italian restaurants in about 10 minutes. Also, we ran a CSA and provided recipes for our farm members each week during the summer, so I have to keep on top of my kitchen game.
I’m not always successful. My family knows that if I’ve made dinner rolls, they should be very suspicious of the accompanying meal. Dinner rolls are my go-to standard when I make something new, like cold carrot soup. When Matty asks what we’re eating, and I say dinner rolls, he just laughs. It’s become a code word for adventure.
I don’t always hit the mark with these recipes the first time through. Some recipes never get a second act on my table. The dinner rolls are there so nobody starves if I make something disgusting.
It’s been good for our food budget, this cooking at home thing. And our waistlines. And our overall health. But it’s work, that’s for sure. It takes some creativity. Luckily, the world is full of wonderful food bloggers and websites that have saved me any number of times. I’d like to recommend a few of my favorites:
Ree Drummond has published two cookbooks and posts a few new recipes here each week. Her food photography is beautiful, and her recipe instructions are clear and often entertaining. The recipes tend to be on the rich side, though, so watch out.
This site, a spin-off from The Pioneer Woman, is an online community of cooks who share their recipes. Anyone can join up and post their masterpieces, and the community rates the different recipes by voting on a five glove oven mitt scale. These recipes tend to be less reliable, so look for the ones with four or five oven mitts.
I got the paper version of the Joy of Cooking as a wedding shower gift 15 years ago. That cookbook has taught me more about cooking than anything else, as there are so many detailed explanations of how to do even simple kitchen things. For example, I think they give three methods for hard-boiling eggs. And the fact that I know that illustrates how little I knew about cooking before I started doing it. I am not a chef. Thanks to this cookbook and site, I don’t have to be.
Say what you want about Martha, but the woman knows food. Her recipes are often super complex and involve kitchen tools that I didn’t know existed before (a mandoline, anyone?), but they are worth the effort (and calories) every time.
I know this list barely scratches the surface of the online recipe possibilities, especially now that pinterest exists. Where do you all find your dinner inspiration?