Tuesday, January 3, 2012

What's New in Your Kitchen?

2012 CalendarWhen the calendar flips to another year, it's difficult to resist tossing out the old and zooming in on the new, whether we're replacing last year's favorite book bag or a worn pair of gloves or even the preferred kitchen gadget that grew rusty after too many cycles through the dishwasher. Bring on January 1st, and I want all things shiny and clean and in tip-top shape. New. But, if you think about it, "new" is a relative term. Sometimes, the one thing that's been sitting around a while, gathering dust, proves just as exciting.

Take my copy of Cook's Illustrated Special Collector's Edition All-Time Best Recipes. Given to me last year, I admired it from a distance for, well...months, flipping through the pages here and there, but still not breaking the binding. But last week, I decided I would attempt the recipe for "Soft, Chewy Molasses Spice Cookies." Finally.

I love Cook's Illustrated (if I could slip in one day and hang out a while in America's Test Kitchen...oh the joy!). The articles inside are written in such a way that I don't feel snubbed as a novice chef, nor do I feel overwhelmed. I learn from them every time, like with the cookies. When the recipe says to use butter that's "softened but still cool", there's a reason for that. Don't brush over a simple word like cool if a Master Chef mentions it. Butter that's too soft makes for flat cookies. Butter with a slight chill promises a full-bodied cookie just like the one in the picture. I made this recipe twice: the first time I hit gold, the second time I got sassy, poo-pooed the "cool", and ended up with molasses pancakes. They still tasted good, mind you, but they didn't look as pretty.

My point here is not so much about my rise and fall in the kitchen, but that, in a world where almost everything is disposable, so much is worth keeping. And, worth trying again. We've talked about it before; remember those old cookbooks with the yellowed pages? I bet you have a gadget in your kitchen that marks the ages but still works like a charm.

What do you think? Did you revisit an oldie but a goodie this Holiday Season and make it new?

* Photo credit: Calendar image by danielmoyle on

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