The Ritual Elimination of Recipes

Or how I learn (and learn, and learn) to let go.

Every so often, I go through the recipes I’ve got in the queue and acknowledge a terrible truth. I am never going to try out [X] recipe. Usually, I can bring myself to admit this because the recipe has been in my binder for more than a year. Two in the dessert binder.

Look, I am not a terribly patient person. In fact, I would say I’m rather impatient. If I’ve identified a goal, well I want to do something that feels like advancing towards the end result now. Not once a week. Not once a month. Now. This has its upsides, but generally not so much – I’m working on cultivating patience, I swear. Plus, trying a new recipe is my comfort food. So, if a recipe has sat in a binder of mine for more than a year? Yeah, not happening.

For some, coming back to it after a while and rereading the recipe makes me go “what was I thinking?” – ingredients I cannot eat, ingredients that are essentially impossible for me to source, insanely long steps in a recipe designed for weeknight dinners, necessary equipment I just don’t own, things that just don’t make sense. These recipes get the boot too.

And finally, sometimes, although rarely, I’ve just lost interest/motivation for the particular new thing a recipe highlights.

 

The Elimination

Starting count:
26 recipes left – 2 main entrees, 16 sides, veggies, etc., and 8 dessert

Blue Binder/Mains Count Black Binder/Sides, veggies, etc. Count Desserts Count
Vegetarian 0 Breakfast 3 Cookies, etc. 0
Beef 0 Drinks 2 Cupcakes & Brownies 1
Pork & Lamb 1 Pantry 5 Dessert bread 3
Poultry 1 Condiments 2 Cake 0
Pasta 0 Snack Food 0 Pies 0
Fish 0 Appetizers 3 Frosting 1
Agnostic 0 Side dishes 1 Custard 1
Sauces, etc. 0 Vegetables 0 Misc. 2
Breads 0

Cast-Iron Duck: an Alton Brown recipe, quite similar to how he does steak; eliminated for being unable to source duck breasts since March 6th, 2011. Closest I got are the whole frozen ducks available through H&A Supermarket. Section: poultry.

Spanish Rice in a rice cooker: eliminated because I don’t own a rice cooker. What was I thinking? No buying one-use kitchen tools for a single recipe. Been in the binder since Aug. 18th 2013, so not quite a full year. Section: side dishes.

Vinaigrette in a Jar: From ‘How to Cook Everything: the Basics’, which is on the list of cookbooks to buy, so who knows, this may make a reappearance once I’ve forgotten that it sat in my binder since June 28th 2012. We should probably eat more salads. Section: condiments.

Tomato Sauce for Preserving: From a book called “Flavors of Tuscany” which is not one I actually own – so, probably a good recipe to eliminate. Preserving here being freezing, so I wasn’t trying to on a whim to start canning (which I actually do want to try at some point… maybe if/when we have a house and/or garden). But a) I haven’t exactly had garden fresh tomatoes I’ve wanted to preserve, which really this one seemed to call for and b) it’s been in the binder since April 22nd, 2011. Nearly three years! Three! Time to let go. Section: pantry staples.

Raw cashew nut butter: Yeah… this just isn’t gonna happen. I’ve got a good source of reasonably priced almond butter now. August 14th, 2013. Section: pantry staples.

Cranberry & crystalized ginger oatmeal packs: We don’t eat on the go and when we travel to other people’s houses, they have breakfast food for us. I’m sure I could just use the ingredient combination for regular oatmeal, but we’ve already got two of those we like… August 13th, 2013. Section: breakfast.

Cardamom Kulfi: first ingredient – 8 cups of milk. 8. Also in the list? Edible silver leaf. I mean, that’s optional, but still. I am not simmering milk on the stove for 2 hours until it reduces to 3 cups. April 7th, 2013. Section: custard desserts.

 

End results:
19 recipes left – 1 main entrees, 11 sides, veggies, etc., and 7 dessert

Blue Binder/Mains Count Black Binder/Sides, veggies, etc. Count Desserts Count
Vegetarian 0 Breakfast 2 Cookies, etc. 0
Beef 0 Drinks 2 Cupcakes & Brownies 1
Pork & Lamb 1 Pantry 3 Dessert bread 3
Poultry 0 Condiments 1 Cake 0
Pasta 0 Snack Food 0 Pies 0
Fish 0 Appetizers 3 Frosting 1
Agnostic 0 Side dishes 0 Custard 0
Sauces, etc. 0 Vegetables 0 Misc. 2
Breads 0

Looks like I need to get to work on those appetizers and pantry staples. The appetizers are going to be a couple of weekend projects, I’m sure – 2 of them are for one type of dumpling or another. Luckily, a couple friends just bought me a dumpling press – they want me to test out using one to see if it would make creating wontons fast enough that I’d be willing to make wonton soup for our yearly get together of the college/grad school crowd. Look, it was difficult but mostly reasonable when the crowd was 6-8 people. 13-15 and I put my foot down. But apparently people liked the wonton soup enough to keep requesting it by name. So, we’re seeing if a bit of investment in tools makes it all reasonable again.

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