Mom’s Home Cookin’

I absolutely waste too much time on the Internet, easily distracted by shiny objects and new technology. However, I also think there are some great websites I use on a fairly regular basis that are worth mentioning here. Some will help you to make better meals at home, others are purely for the food porn photos, and some of them are just vehicles for my own obsessions.

Like TwitPic, which is almost always a receptacle for my bizarre take on still-life photography. Example:

SRSLY, why does this product exist?

SRSLY, why does this product exist?

I have no idea why anyone would have thought to themselves, “Hey! You know what’s missing from the world of flavoured coffee? SOUTHERN COMFORT!” To me, SoCo is not a flavour, in the way that hazelnut or mocha is. Sure, you can add a splash of it to your morning brew, if you’re into whisky, but I’m more of a Bailey’s kinda gal. Even so, the concept of a Bailey’s flavoured coffee would still be ludicrous to me. Either you get the real thing or you leave it out entirely, right? What’s the point of having the flavour of the alcohol, but not the alcohol?

Some will immediately jump to the conclusion that I am simply an alcoholic, but let me clarify by saying that I rarely add alcohol to my coffee. Kind of like Red Bull and vodka, the concept is peculiar. If I’m out of milk, then Bailey’s adds a nice creaminess, but a shot of whisky? Yech.

Anyway, back to my point: Southern Comfort flavoured coffee is weird, but it arrived as part of a holiday gift package my mom and sister put together, so I decided to give it a try. Verdict? Southern Comfort apparently tastes like orange. As in the colour. As in orange jelly beans, to be precise. Who knew?

Kolatchkies by mom

Kolatchkies by mom

Along with the coffee, my mom also threw in some of her homemade kolatchkies and some maple walnut fudge. Luckily for me, my husband hates maple more than anything in the world (aside from mixing sweet and savoury items, like ham and pineapple), which means I get the fudge all to myself.

But enough about TwitPic and my bizarre photos posted there. What about these other websites I claim are good?

First, there’s Open Source Food, which was recommended to me by AV Flox. I’ve posted a few simple recipes there, as I haven’t been cooking on a grand scale lately, and today’s recipe was something I termed Fancypants Grilled Cheese. In an homage to The Minimalist, Mark Bittman (whose blog and column in the New York Times I also recommend, as he’s very funny and very New York—particularly in his short videos), I thought I’d pass along a recipe for something really easy, something you probably take for granted that you know how to make. Indeed, most people make a grilled cheese with Velveeta slices and margarine on the stove, along with a can of Campbell’s tomato soup, just like mom used to make. My recipe is slightly different, both because I’m lazy and hate washing dishes and also because I’m a sucker for things with less than five ingredients that taste amazing. Granted, the recipe relies on quality ingredients, but it’s also hella easy to make and everyone can find good bread, good cheddar and an avocado even in the middle of winter, right?

If not, you’re really in trouble.

Anyway, all that to say that Open Source Food has tons of recipes that have been field-tested (i.e. if you’re gonna post something, you have to have big photos so you must have actually MADE IT), many of which come from overseas and lots of which are Asian. I like Asian food, but have no idea how to put together a dish, so it’s awesome to see Asian home chefs giving their opinions on Chinese, Japanese, Indian, Korean cuisine (and more!) so that North American schmucks like me can see how the other side of the world cooks. Plus, since they tend to use readily-available items, you get to see what they’ve got in their pantries, what they regularly buy at the grocery store, etc.

Which all has me thinking that I need to start posting more recipes, which means I need to start cooking more and trying new dishes, rather than relying on my old standbys (hamburgers and tacos are the usual suspects on nights when neither of us want to cook). But there are so many choices, I almost don’t know where to begin. I’ve got subscriptions to Saveur and Cook’s Country, I’ve got a copy of the 2008 America’s Test Kitchen cookbook, and I like to browse Epicurious, even though I’ve never really found anything there that I was convinced I could make (mostly due to their reliance on pricey specialty ingredients that seem absurdly hard to come by here in Montreal).

So I’m asking my readers (all two of you): what recipes would you recommend? What are your personal favourites, and have you got any minimalist ideas with 5 ingredients or less? I’m curious to know what other people like to cook, and what your approach involves!

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