sweet success

14 Nov

Tonight was the first meeting of my and Erin’s cookbook club, and I think I can officially proclaim it a success. Erin expressed the sentiment that sometimes when you’re planning something new that you’re really excited about it just doesn’t seem real until it’s actually over – then you’re like “whew, it happened – it’s real”. I couldn’t agree more. This is especially true when you’re planning something that involves a lot of other people contributing to the event – you kind of wonder if it’ll actually all come together after all, but then everyone shows up with food and wine and actually talks about the cookbook and the art of cooking and it’s like YESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS!

Despite my last minute flurry of cleaning and baking (finished my Queen of Sheba cake around 2:30am yesterday), it was totally worth it. And, as Trevor points out, now our house is clean to boot!

This time we cooked from Julia Child’s “Way to Cook”. Erin’s Onion Quiche and Allie’s Chicken and Mushroom Roulades were the clear frontrunners for me, although I also thought my own Queen of Sheba cake turned out really well. I had worried that it looked a little dry, but once you cut into it it turned out to be very moist.

My mama had a great idea to change the format from picking recipes from a single cookbook to picking recipes from a single cook, which will give us a little more flexibility and also make it easier for everyone to get ahold of recipes without having to buy a cookbook if they don’t want to. Our next meeting, in January, will be based around Jamie Oliver’s recipes, but the list we made of future candidates is as follows (in no particular order):

– Giada de Laurentis

– Ina Garten

– Nigella Lawson

– Rocco Dispirito

– Bobby Flay

– Guy Fieri

I like this list because it includes cooks whose recipes I already like and cooks who I am not as familiar with (and in some cases, not even fond of) – I think this is good though because it forces you out of your cooking comfort zone.

I have a feeling even just the act of going to this cookbook club is also going to force me out of my eating comfort zone. Tonight I ate something with mushrooms in it and something with minced shrimp in it – two ingredients I would normally stay away from. I think all of this is good for me.

The group as it was tonight also seems to include a nice mix of skill levels. Erin has a cooking blog and my mom is an excellent and experienced cook. Sarah cooks all the time, although she, like me, is not necessarily as comfortable with some of the more complex recipes with lots of unfamiliar steps. Before last night, I had never beaten egg whites to form stiff peaks, for example. Or melted chocolate in a kind of makeshift double boiler.  It’s hard to gauge where everyone else is from one go, but it seems like most of the rest of us are at that same “comfort food” level. It’s going to be fun to have all these sort of inexperienced cooks or comfort-food cooks try out more complex, fanciful food on occasion. And it’s a great reason (excuse?) to buy new kitchen gadgets and cookbooks and spices and such. Sarah bought a food processor and the “Way to Cook” cookbook this go-round. Even though I have one Jamie Oliver cookbook, I’m pretty sure I’m going to use our next meeting as an excuse to buy another.

Everyone had great ideas about the club, too. Aside from my mom’s cooks-not-cookbooks suggestion, someone else suggested we do a breakfast/brunch-themed meeting in the future and Erin thinks it would be fun to do a meeting based on seasonal ingredients sometime as well – potentially even drawing ingredients from a hat and then you have to make something involving that ingredient as the main component, an idea I LOVE. I want to do a picnic/al fresco meeting once summer rolls back around. And we’ll probably try to do at least a few meetings earlier in the day. I’ll have to take time off work to do that, but if we’re only meeting every other month, that’s not too much of a hardship for one or two meetings a year.

I loved the group that got together tonight, but I do think those that couldn’t make it really missed out, and I hope they and perhaps others might be involved in the future.

Last, but not least, here are some pictures I took of the spread – although by the time I remembered to take them, a lot of it was gobbled up already:

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