I used to look in cookbooks for a recipe and then see if I had the necessary ingredients. Now I’ve reversed the process and see what ingredients I want to use and then look on the Internet for a recipe that includes them.
Computers have upended cooking as much as they have transformed reading. I still have my favorite recipes, such as tomato soup from “Laurel’s Kitchen,” but increasingly I’m using the Internet to find new ones based on what’s available. The cookbooks sit on the shelf.
Last week I decided to make some curried bean soup as a dinner main-dish. I had a quart of precooked black beans, two cups of bean stock (which would overpower my usual tomato or pea soups) and two quarts of stock created by draining the liquid from pumpkin puree. I also had some tomatoes and celery that had been picked weeks ago.
So I went to Google and typed in “soup,” “bean,” “celery,” “tomatoes,” and “curry.” Bingo! There’s a recipe for Three-Bean Curried Tomato Soup.
I like to improvise while cooking, to riff on recipes, and this new technique for finding them still provides that opportunity. I didn’t have any cooked garbanzo beans (which I don’t much like anyway) but I had twice as many black beans as the recipe called for. No problem!
When I grabbed the curry powder jar, I found it was empty. So I went back to the computer and googled “curry powder ingredients” and found that there are lots of recipes for curry powder. Who knew? I chose one with cumin, coriander, turmeric, nutmeg, cinnamon, salt and cayenne. It worked fine.
The soup recipe called forcardamom. Whoops, we’re out of it. We had all the other spices, even ground fennel, but no cardamom. Who cares? The soup turned out great anyway.
I also used the Internet to discover Vanilla Buckwheat Granola (using walnuts instead of almonds), which in my new low-gluten diet has replaced the oat granola recipe from the “La Leche League Cookbook.” I’ve also mined the Internet for recipes for Banana Applesauce Cake, Applesauce Muffins, Pumpkin Pudding and Celery Soup.
By the way, the word “recipe” derives from the Latin word for “take” and was originally used by physicians at the top of prescriptions starting in the 1580s. (This use survives in the pharmacists’ notation “Rx.”) “Recipe” was first used for instructions for preparing food in 1743. I learned that from the Internet, too.
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