One year ago today, we went for a casual stroll through a local Goodwill, like many other Saturdays before it. Been through that Goodwill many times, but THIS time, there was something special waiting for me, and I found it.
Another Simply Delicious book. With a different style of cover and everything.
I’ve waited a year to tell you that I’ve found more recipes. This seemingly never-ending project just got longer.
I have stated at other times that I didn’t feel like I wanted to add any more to what I considered my personal “canon”–the original set my mom gave me long ago. But when I saw it, there was no question that it was coming home with me. There wasn’t a LOT of new content, but there were quite a few that I’d never seen before.
This is a different type of post than what you’re used to–but since we’re all hungry for interesting content these days, why not?
About eight years ago, while lazily sifting though the latest entries in my RSS feed reader, I happened upon an article from Los Angeles magazine talking about an upcoming “Weed Dinner” lottery. If you filled out a Google Doc questionnaire (including essay portion), essentially requiring you to wax poetic about why you deserved to go to this event, you might be able to snag an invite from the chef himself.
Well dear readers–I must have written a damn good essay, because I got myself invited to this event. What follows is an old “anonymous” guest post I wrote at the time for a friend’s food/travel blog describing my experience (she’s since taken the blog down).
Yes, I really went, and yes, this really happened; “GRAMMAR RODEO” shuttle vans and all. Please excuse the terrible quality of the pictures–iPhone cameras (and my photography skills) have come a long way in the last decade or so.
There ended up being two “nights” of this dinner–some of the articles/press that came out about it (links sprinkled throughout) cover the one I went to in Encino, some cover the other which was a few weeks later in downtown LA.
I’ve never wanted to officially attach myself to it for various reasons. However, times have changed, we moved away from Los Angeles years ago, and my f**ks given are far fewer these days. Plus, I just passed the 6-year anniversary of this project yesterday (April 16), so why not share (and essentially republish) some of my other culinary-related writing pieces? Enjoy!
It’s been a while. A LONG WHILE. Anyone still left reading probably thought I gave up/got bored a long time ago. And truth be told, I did. I’ve spent the last year moving 400+ miles, leaving an old career, starting a new one, working as a line cook in a busy full-service restaurant, meeting new people, and learning my way around a new city. With all of this upheaval, it was tough to keep this thing going, and I’ve let it fall by the wayside.
There’s been a lot of tears, a lot of laughs, and a lot of changes. But one thing has remained constant: I still love to cook. So much so, that I’ve made it my new career. However, I’m no Top Chef, and I’ve learned that there are parts of the life I like, and some I don’t. One of those things I’m not a huge fan of is the hours–it’s really tough to work different hours from everyone else in your life. It’s also difficult to want to cook when you’ve spent hours in the back of a restaurant kitchen keeping up with its intense demands.
Where I’m going with this long rambling uninteresting mess is that I’m about a month into a new culinary job that has much better hours/pay and doesn’t leave me wanting to run away from all things cooking when I get home. And I realize that even though I’ve spent 25+ years cooking in some capacity, I definitely still have a lot to learn and practice. So I’m kicking the tires, dusting off this old project, and restarting it again. I WILL finish cooking my way through this book, even if it takes me the rest of my life. So there.
Sorry it took me so long to come back. If you’re still there, thank you. If you’re finding this days, weeks, months, years from now, thank you too.
Here’s where I explain what this whole site is about. Settle in–there’s a bit of a story involved.
When I was a small child in the late 80s-early 90s just learning to cook, my mother gifted me with a set of subscription-based cookbooks called Simply Delicious. The set I currently have consisted of three “volumes” (although I’ve been told there are more cards/volumes out there–I don’t doubt it), and I believe I have a good amount of the cards that were produced. She (my mom) claims she gave up near the end. Thanks, mom.
Many of the cards have her notations on them, as well as mine. I come from a long line of cooks and restaurateurs, and we take our cookbooks seriously when we find good ones. They’re still my go-to books for basic techniques, dinner parties, and just about any instance where you need easy, clear, traditional recipes. ?
I’ve had these books for 30+ years now, and they’ve been carted back and forth across state lines several times, existed in every kitchen I’ve ever had, and have generally just gotten really beaten up. While living in a really terrible apartment in the San Fernando Valley after moving back home to Los Angeles post-college graduation, they were temporarily inhabited by roaches. ?
I successfully evicted the roaches long ago, but the books still aren’t exactly in the best shape. However, I continue to love them and haven’t been able to part with them, despite the lingering roach residue that still coats the edges and corners. ?
Given their present condition, I feel it’s time to scan them in an attempt to preserve what’s left of the physical books themselves. Taking into account the current navel-gazing inclinations of our culture, I have decided to blog-while-doing, writing and cooking my way through the books as I scan them. I’ve cooked many of these recipes in the past, but I’ve never done the whole thing. ?
Since there are SO many to cover, I’ve let my husband try his hand at a few–you’ll see his entries here as well.
I call this giant time-suck: The Cookbook Project. It’s not original in any way. But considering there’s very little that I can find about these books out on the internet, I figure, what the hell.
Dive in, and enter the fanciful world of 1980s recipes-by-mail. I promise, most of the recipes are actually pretty good. You might even say they’re…..simply delicious.