Thursday, February 18, 2016

Wonders of the Internet

I am old enough to remember thumbing through piles of cookbooks looking for just the right recipe to try for dinner. Sometimes it meant going to the library, although in more recent years, it meant buying and storing far too many cookbooks on my shelves. Nowadays, though, I can get online to look for recipes. I often find what I'm looking for in minutes, although sometimes I end up having to combine elements from two or three recipes to create what I want. (When you've been cooking for decades like I have, you tend to know what ingredients, flavors, and textures you like. This lead to a lot of fiddling when it comes to other people's recipes.)

Today's search was a splendid example of finding precisely what I wanted very quickly. I have several fresh ingredients that need to be used up soon: a third of a head of cauliflower and some young kale from the medium Aerogarden. I'd been thinking about making a couple of Indian dishes but when I glanced at my spice rack, I noticed the jar of Ethiopian Berbere spice. Mmmm, that smells nice! I set the spice jar on the kitchen table to remind me to use it this evening.

As my mind mulled over the possibilities for dinner, I realized that I didn't want to make multiple dishes. Making basmati rice, a saag dish using kale, and a curried cauliflower dish sounded like too much work, especially when I realized that I'd really enjoy having some red lentil dal on the side. Besides, if I was using the berbere spice, I wouldn't be using the specific Indian spices for those various dishes anyway. Well, maybe I could just throw everything in together in one pot. Surely I could find a recipe for something like that.

In the Google search box, I typed in "berbere spice red lentils cauliflower kale". The top search result was for an Ethiopian Red Lentil Stew with Cauliflower, Baby Kale, Peas and Potatoes. Perfect! I have peas somewhere in the freezer and I've got dehydrated potatoes in the pantry. Karen, I'm hoping your recipe is good because I'm making it for dinner tonight.

The nice thing about being able to find millions of recipes online is that I don't have to own a boatload of cookbooks anymore. That is a definite perk when trying to downsize to live in an RV. From an all-time high of over 1,000 cookbooks,* I am down to less than 20 and that is including the Vitamix recipe manual and a notebook filled with favorite recipes of my own creation and out of cookbooks. The cookbooks I've kept are the ones with recipes I make frequently and food preservation books for canning, pickling, and fermentation (kimchi!) I suspect I may let go of a few more when it comes time to move into the RV full-time. After all, we have to meet the weight limit of 2,000 pounds for everything we keep!

*While I did have over 1,000 cookbooks in the house at one time, they weren't actually cookbooks that I'd gotten specifically for my own use. I bought 945 cookbooks from an estate sale years ago at the bargain price of $100 with the hopes of re-selling them for big profits. Well, it didn't work out that way but I did have fun sorting through them all and doing loads of research. I ended up trading some at a local used bookstore for store credit and then donating boxes and boxes of them to the local library for their semi-annual book sale. Hopefully many other home cooks are now enjoying those cookbooks.

Update: Turns out I don't particularly care for Ethiopian flavors...


  1. Wow, 945 cookbooks, that is so awesome! Sounds like a dream come true to me! Way to go on putting together a pantry meal, very creative. Also, a good way to figure out what you like and don't like... :)

  2. Becky, that many cookbooks sounds awesome but believe me, the space they took up was not! Holy crapoly! Then I got a bit obsessed about sorting them while trying to figure out how to sell them. There were a boatload of Jr. League cookbooks. Interesting, but not filled with particularly healthy recipes.

    You might have liked today's creation, also designed to use up excess Aerogarden growth. I blended a bunch of basil with some garlic, citrus juice, and veg. mayo to use with bean burgers. It wasn't bad. Lemon juice would have been a better choice than lime, but otherwise tasty. :)


What do you think? Feedback is always welcome. (Spam is not.)