Wednesday, March 10, 2010

potlucks, recipezaar

Attending two potlucks in seven days (last Sunday, this coming Saturday), I have spent more time than usual at I found the broccoli astroturf salad for the Red Hat Ladies Oscar-night get-together, but not the birdseed cake I'm planning to take to the chorale's party on Saturday night.

For four or five years, I've been making a concerted effort to upload all my favorite recipes onto Recipezaar and get rid of the dog-eared, grease-stained old cookbooks and recipe cards. It's labor intensive but well worth the effort. I don't have to remember WHICH cookbook has the 'essence of mushroom' soup, or whether that cookbook is in California or Idaho. I can access my recipes from home or from a friend's house, and when someone asks for one of my recipes I just refer them to Recipezaar.

I have a premium Recipezaar membership entitling me to set up several public cookbooks whilst maintaining a separate set of private recipes, plus storing private notes about my recipes or those of others . You might wonder how the difference between public and private works in this context. When the decision is mine, it's fairly obvious: I type in a recipe or compile a cookbook and then decide whether or not to make it public. Maybe I want to check the accuracy before releasing it, or maybe it really is a secret recipe (yes, Sandy and I were trying to keep the ale-braised corned beef away from inquiring minds).  Sometimes, however, Recipezaar's management steps in and makes the public vs. private decision. Yes, it's culinary censorship, and it has happened to me a couple of times.

A few months ago, I laboriously typed in a recipe for vegetable stock from The Moosewood Cookbook by Molly Katzen.

According to Katzen:
  • The best vegetable stock comes from discarded skins and innards of: onion; apple; potato; carrot; pear; pineapple; melon; bell pepper; zucchini (stems and tips); parsley stems; tomato (tops and bottoms); pea pods; scallions (tips); spinach (stems); corn cobs; lettuce; green beans (strings); beet (parts)
  • Collect your scraps and refrigerate them in plastic bags or tightly-closed containers until you have enough to fill half a kettle. Cover scraps in kettle with water, bring to a boil, and simmer, covered, one hour or so.
  • Cool and strain. Taste and discard if too bitter.
  • If you use cabbage flavored vegetables or celery, use just a little as their flavors are too dominant. Eggplant will make it bitter. Don't use citrus rind or banana peels. [duh!]
I had tried this a couple of times and decided the recipe was well worth saving. My classic veggie broth recipe* calls for potato, sweet potato, carrot, celery, onion, and garlic, and I often throw in spinach stems and asparagus feet (the latter not mentioned by Katzen). I figured I'd work my way through the more unusual ingredients (melon? pineapple? corn cobs?) until I found a useful combo.&

Recipezaar rejected this recipe from its public pages. Why? Because no amounts were specified for any of the ingredients. Thus they couldn't compile a chart of 'Nutrition Facts' giving the amount of fat, calories, sodium, etc. per serving.

You can bet I left the Katzen recipe in my private collection on Recipezaar.  It's unique. Did you ever see another recipe that told you to "taste and discard if too bitter?" And I love the idea of filling the kettle half full -- regardless of the kettle size. It's really practical.

BTW, in one of my Moosewood stock trials I used pepper trimmings Steve had left for me when I told him I was collecting green pepper trimmings. Egad! They were jalapeƱo, not bell pepper. That batch was not bitter but mucho too hot, so it went down the drain.

Today I'll be searching for the hardcopy birdseed cake recipe I want to make for Saturday night's chorale potluck. It includes sunflower seed (I bought a big bag to use half for last weekend's astroturf salad)  and raw millet in a kind of gingerbready batter sweetened with molasses or (ideally) sorghum.

If I don't find the birdseed cake recipe, maybe I'll make a mayo blitz torte.

*In green soup (January 22) I cited this concoction but did not give the recipe. .

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POSToccupations by Frances Talbott-White is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License