Is it worth it? I wonder. Worth the $27 and wait in the 10-person long line?
I flip through the pages again – trying to gauge whether I will actually make any of the “1,100 quick dishes for everynight cooking” in bon appétit’s fast easy fresh cookbook. I think back to Mark Bittman’s epic How to Cook Everything that a former roommate bequeathed to me nearly a year ago. At the time, I was ecstatic – Mark Bittman! – and had eagerly accepted the 960 page volume from her outstretched hands.
Of course I would use the cookbook all the time! I assured her. He’s one of my epicurean heroes – and he’s a runner! I’d forever be consulting the book for soups and polenta and that pizza I’m going to make from scratch. Some day.
Nine months later, I’ve yet to crack the cover.
I sigh. Do I really need the bon appétit cookbook? I know I can find most, if not all, the recipes on line. Plus, there aren’t nearly enough pictures.
I need pictures.
How else will I know if a recipe is going to taste good? It’s how I decide which dishes to click on TasteSpotting!
I start to put it down. I need to be practical. To not make impulse purchases that I don’t really need and probably won’t even use. I’m halfway to the exit when I remember the worn, stained, barely legible cookbooks that line the shelves in my parents’ kitchen. I think of the handwritten notes next to my mom’s favorite recipes – “More pepper” on one, “Double the sauce” on another, “Diana likes!” next to the one dish I actually ate when I was an impossibly picky child.
I want that – the torn, worn and tattered cookbooks that my future children will make fun of.
I turn through the pages again. I’d make Wisconsin mac & cheese, I’d make celery root risotto and pesto, and I know I’d make the split pea and green pea soup with fresh dill. It’s the last recipe that seals the deal – it makes me want to go straight to Whole Foods so I can cook it now.
Instead, I head straight for the now twelve person-long line, no longer fettered with indecision.
Two weeks later, after the holiday rush has ended and I’m no longer subsisting on a mostly cookie diet, I make the soup that convinced me to buy the bright green cookbook. It’s just as good as I’d hope it would be when I was hemming and hawing at Borders. I scrape up every dill-infused bite and then make my first note in the book.
Recipe from bon appétit’s fast easy fresh cookbook
1 small leek (white and pale green parts only), chopped (about ¾ cup)
1 small bay leaf
1/2 cup green split peas, rinsed
2 1/2 cups vegetable broth, divided
½ cup frozen green peas, thawed
2 ½ tablespoons chopped fresh dill, divided
Salt, pepper to tast
Heat oil in heavy large pot over medium-high heat. Add leek and bay leaf. Sauté until leek wilts, about 3 minutes. Add split peas and stir to coat. Add 2 1/4 cups broth; bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low. Cover and simmer until split peas are just tender, about 35 minutes. Remove from heat. Transfer 1/2 cup soup solids, bay leaf, and remaining 1/4 cup broth to blender. Add peas and 2 tablespoons dill. Puree until smooth. Return puree to soup. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Ladle into bowls. Sprinkle with remaining dill.