Today I have a few thoughts about food trends and recipes. First, it’s been interesting to watch how foods that in the not so distant past were thought to be cheap, lower-end, peasant food items have come into vogue over the last five years.
Most recently, the lowly pimento, once relegated to a casserole “brightener” in the 60’s has recently been showing up in online recipes, both on commercial sites and blogs. Over the last few years it’s been brussels sprouts, kale, parsnips, turnips, squash, sweet potatoes, all rising to a level of popularity not seen in the past. I recall my Aunt and Mom using these items because they were inexpensive and nourishing.
Of course these veggies had to be “doctored” which in my family’s case (as I mentioned in my Christmas post) meant they were creamed. The women in my life were queen’s of the white sauce. They had sauces down-pat, no recipes needed. Unfortunately I was too young to absorb the techniques and find myself at this late date using recipes, reading blogs and teaching myself the how-to’s of sauces.
Currently I’m waiting for rutabagas and kohlrabi to be “discovered”. 🙂 Actually I hope they’re not. Why? Well, I used to be able to buy a nice bunch of kale to make Danish Kale Soup for 99 cents. Now, I’m looking at $1.99 to $2.99. While food prices have been increasing, I just can’t see a jump of $1 to $2 (Pavilions had a bunch of regular kale for $2.99 just a week ago) if popularity weren’t factored in.
This doesn’t even look at the resurgence of Mac ‘n’ Cheese with the myriad of riffs on it, crock pots/slow cookers, casserole dishes and what not. Personally I was never a big Mac ‘n’ Cheese fan. Don’t recall Mom making it more than a handful of times. Probably because my Dad would not view it as “dinner” being a meat and potatoes man.
In this category, I’m also waiting to see rumaki and other hor d’oeuvres from the last half of the 1900’s make a comeback. Of late, I’ve noticed a couple of bacon wrapped items like dates, scallops and figs speared with a toothpick, marinated and put under the broiler on a few blogs.
My other thought on blogs, specifically food blogs is this, and I could be all wrong but having worked in the advertising industry I know the cost of publishing. Be it an ad, a catalog or a book, the cost of art directors, stylists and photographers is often a major impediment to getting something into print.
So think of how lucky cookbook publishers have it when they can tap a food blogger to write a book. In many cases the photography, art direction and styling is done by the blogger or friends saving the publisher a load of money. Add to that that the author will most likely enlist foodie friends to test all the recipes and it’s a gold mine for the publisher.
As I said I could be completely wrong but I don’t think so. On the other hand, the “free” work provided by the blogger may well be worth it to get published. I don’t know, just thinking out loud. I’d love to know if this is what happens though, just out of curiosity.
Another thing I’m amazed at is how much one can learn online. For example, as I said, I never learned to make sauces. The bechamel sauce for my Chicken Pot Pie made for New Year’s Eve, always amazes me when it goes from watery to a rich creamy entity that robes the veggies and chicken so beautifully. Yes, I am easily amused by simple things others take for granted. But the point is, I learned it online when I was constructing my pot pie recipe.
It’s just like discovering one needs to dry meat thoroughly after rinsing prior to browning. When I tried it with the beef shanks I was stunned (see? easily delighted). Also the concept of not overcrowding the pan when browning…who knew? Not me. My mother never was one for teaching me cooking. Don’t know why. The closest she came was gifting me the red Betty Crocker cookbook when I went off to college.
I think part of this delight I’m experiencing is based on the fact that for so long I had a stable of recipes from college that I relied on. Plus the person I was married to, turned into an incredible cook and basically did most of the cooking. As a result I just atrophied kitchen-wise. Then there’s also the little rabbit hole after the divorce was final that I went down for about a year and a half.
During that time, I relied pretty much on Trader Joe’s pre-boxed salads for my meals vs. buying ingredients and having them go bad waiting for me to make something with them (part of the depression). Anyhow, as I’m coming up into the light and out of the warren, I discovered I’ve forgotten how to cook. Well, at least the ease with which I used to is gone AND I’ve forgotten where assorted pantry items are located! I may have mentioned this before, if so, sorry.
While making the pot pie a few weeks back, I spent about 20 minutes just trying to find a carton of chicken stock that wasn’t past its date, or the Wyler’s crystals or even the recently purchased Better Than Bouillon. Finally found that thank goodness. This experience really shocked me.
So where this is all going is that it sort of decides my resolution(s) for 2013 even though we’re well past the official time frame for making resolutions and even to the point were people are forgetting them. Getting myself back in order is my resolution. Yes, it’s rather general but so much has been let go for so long. The process will take all year. At least. Wish me luck! Oh, and I probably won’t write a lot about it since it seems it’d be fairly boring. And if I think it’ll be a snooze, what would readers think? Yes, that’s what I thought.