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Trivial things

  • My building is thinking of installing a large aquarium in the lobby. Just thinking about the possibility makes me happy. Fishes! (I prefer to enjoy other peoples' pets and not take on the responsibility of keeping them alive myself.)
  • We had a lovely Thai eggplant salad for dinner tonight, the third successful dish from the cookbook C. gave me for Christmas, Seductions of Rice. I had begun to think I wasn't too keen on rice in general, but it turns out I was just bored of basmati.
  • I have discovered, to my delight, that LJ no longer breaks down into day-by-day views after viewing more than 50 entries back into a journal's past. It's now possible to read and read and read in easy many-post-view format. The downside of recent LJ infrastructure updates is that color-choosing is no longer possible in the "add friends" interface; which is inconvenient, since I rely on color-coding to tell LJs apart.
  • I wonder how it happened that almost no one in the Toronto SF crowd use LJ, and absolutely everyone here in the UK does? LJ is a topic of conversation at nearly every SF-related event I have been to here.

Comments

( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
paul_skevington
Feb. 9th, 2006 07:07 pm (UTC)
Food
I'm always fascinated by your descriptions of the meals and recipes that you have enjoyed. Personally, I'm pretty useless when it comes to cooking, but I'm interested in attempting to improve my culinary skills. Are there any books that you would recommend for someone without much experience in the area?
owlfish
Feb. 10th, 2006 11:49 pm (UTC)
Re: Food
Yes, but the problem is that you're British. Bear with me on this one: comprehensive, basic, thorough cookbooks may sound like more than you need, but they're exactly what someone who feels a bit uncertain about cooking should have around the house. It means that if you end up with some really random bit of veg or meat, you have a reference book right there, waiting, which you can turn to for recipes. Also, I've grown up cooking with cups and half-cups, and third-of-cups and very little kitchen scale use.

Many of us will swear by the book in this category that we grew up with. I certainly fall into this category. The Joy of Cooking is my one staple cookbook. The recipes are reliable - everything always turns out, always it's often a little underflavored, but that's easier to fix than everything else, especially if I ever cook the dish again. The book is my constant reference source, and my biggest source of new recipes. I don't always sample new dishes from it unless I'm looking for something specific - a chili recipe, meatloaf, something classic and basic. There are other basic US cookbooks which other Americans swear by. I have a copy of How to Cook Everything and while I cross-reference with it now and again, there's very little in there for which I don't prefer the Joy's version - at least so far.

Britain will have equivalent cookbooks, but I don't know what they are. I'd like to. I'll ask my f'list, in fact, since that'd be useful knowledge. And perhaps there isn't anything quite as thorough as the Joy - but then again, maybe there is. Joy probably has most of what you'd want to cook, and does have decent international representation, but ultimately, its origins and its focus are on US tastes, US veggies, US produce. It has more to say on sweet potatoes and yams than it does on, say, veg more commonly found over here like fennel and celeriac.

The Joy of Cooking is sold here, with its original ingredients-by-volume, US-style, converted to ingredients-by-weight, British style, leading to some really odd sets of numbers in metric. (I've flipped through it in the bookstore.)

But if you aren't actually looking for a staple, something to comfort you through all your world's staples, here are a few of my current favorite cookbooks. Despite appearances, I'm actually rather new to this whole cookbook thing, but I read lots of reviews, and buy more regularly.

I really like one of my newest, Seductions of Rice. It's written in a congenial, friendly fashion, with lots of fascinating insets on the cultures and cuisines which use rice, and with plenty of information on how to find the more unusual ingredients, and sensible substitutions for ingredients you can't find. That's the kind of informative flexibility I really like in a cookbook.

One of the others I've done really well with, for a comforting, but varied range of foods, is the Moosewood Collective's New Classics.

The only British cookbooks I have so far are Carluccio ones. They're fine, with some intriguing recipes, most of which involve a bit more time than I am usually willing to devote to cooking. Until I sample more of them, I'm reluctant to recommend particularly.
noncalorsedumor
Feb. 9th, 2006 07:14 pm (UTC)
I'll have to check out Seducations of Rice, since in general I'm not that keen on rice myself.
owlfish
Feb. 10th, 2006 11:51 pm (UTC)
It's one of the best cookbooks I've yet used in my exploration of cookbooks. It's friendly, chatty in a way which shows how excited and knowledgeable the authors are about food, without being offputting. Lots of extra info on cuisine and culture of the recipes involved, but never so much it feels like padding. The recipes are really the heart of it. I've tried three of the quicker recipes, and have been very happy with them. Also - it's good for suggesting substitutions if you can't find the right vaguely obscure ingredient (especially in the glossary at the back.)
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