My very favorite kitchen tool is the one I reach for the most often. I congratulate myself every time I remember to grab it, and I’ll kick myself when I forget to use it, even months later! The most important tool in my cooking, baking, and entertaining arsenal, ladies and gentleman, is a pencil. Well, a pen works just as well, and I suppose we’re really talking about two tools, since a pen or pencil doesn’t work overly well without a piece of paper. Although I suppose you could just make notes for yourself on your kitchen walls, or maybe the inside of your wrists, but that seems counter-productive if you’re as nit-picky about a clean food prep area as I am. All right, can we agree that a pen or pencil is roughly equivalent and the paper is just assumed?
For years, and before I was as avid of a cook as I am now, I was uncomfortable writing in my pristine cookbooks. They were just so pretty, sitting there on my bookshelf, with their glossy covers and perfectly styled photos. I loved them with all my heart, and I kept them protected from glops of dough, smears of tomato sauce, and drips of roux by walking back and forth in my kitchen between the counter where I did my food prep and the table where I could safely leave a book open. With such care to protect my darling books, I couldn’t possibly deface them with my notes, comments, or changes scrawled in the margins! … or could I?
It was my quest to find the perfect chocolate chip cookie recipe (more on this later) that led me to question my own rules. I learned that by adjusting the cook time & temp, I could get variations on the ratio of chewy to crunchy in each cookie. But with so many experiments, I needed a chemistry lab notebook! But then, that was ridiculous—I have to have all of this info in one convenient place (which eventually led me to this website, but again, more on this later). Have you ever had one of those smack-your-forehead moments, when you realize that the simplest, most obvious solution, is right there, but you were just way too dumb to see it?
Ya, pfft, me neither! Well, OK, I have those all the time. On the bright side, I suppose this means my IQ is still climbing. (Ya, ya, I know that’s not how intelligence quotient is measured, but again, just go with it, pretty please).
And once I started writing in that cookbook, I realized how handy it is to jot down notes for my future self, and now I do it all the time. And now, my beautiful, glossy books, like the Velveteen Rabbit, are real. They’re well-used, and well-loved. The covers are still very professional in appearance, but now anyone who opens one up will know the truth: these are the property of someone who loves to cook!
I encourage you to join me in bridging the gap of the time-space continuum and leave little notes for your future self!