Extra Helping: Test Kitchen
too legit to quit
January is the Monday of the months, and 2023 does not disappoint. Since there are three Tuesdays this month, here’s a Cook & Tell “Extra Helping” from me. Enjoy!
When I decided to revive my mother’s newsletter last summer, I figured it would be a relatively easy project. She’d already written the stories, created the illustrations, tested the recipes. Piece of cake, I thought.
Reader, it was not.
As I dug my way through the archives (400 or so paper issues, a dozen pages each and none of it digitized or stored on even a floppy disk), I realized I would actually need to test certain recipes. Those with ingredients so ancient they no longer exist; those with vague references to size—exactly how many ounces in a “large” can of peaches, mom?—and, I can’t lie, the gooey chocolatey recipes that sounded so delicious I threw a “Dessert in the Desert” party to test these gems on friends last month.
I realized I couldn’t hack my way through cooking. I had to become legit.
Also, I realized I actually needed the tools to do this. Like, whole cloves and vanilla extract. Better mixing bowls. Flour. A Dutch oven.
Here’s The Tell: I have never used a Dutch oven, so it follows that I do not have one. It turns out the ceramic orange cooking pot my mother often used for roasts and casseroles is, in fact, a Dutch oven. But I’m in the Arizona Test Kitchen for the winter with a pantry and cupboards as barren as the desert itself and Mom’s recipe calls for a Dutch oven, so I ordered one, and tunneled down the rabbit warrens of cyberspace in the process.
Perfect for braising, said one YouTube foodie. NOT invented by the Dutch, another insisted, rather energetically. Yet another detailed the “8 Dutch Oven Uses All Homeowners Should Know,” and, okay, I admit the word “homeowner” within the realm of cooking intrigued me and when I found out who wrote the list, it was unexpected but did make sense.
It's about time I got back to the kitchen.
I’ve been away a long time.
When I tested the cider pot roast and whipped potatoes from the last issue, the subtle scent of apple cider and cloves simmering on the stovetop and late afternoon’s muted sunbeams gave the meal a fall vibe, even if it was 75 degrees outside and there were no autumn leaves crunching beneath my feet. The Dutch oven is the ideal vessel for the roast, and now that it’s officially broken in, I’m excited to cook more in it.
Hungry for more? Have another helping—a printable issue of Mom’s February 1998 newsletter from the Cook & Tell vault.
Got a Dutch oven recipe for me to test? Reply to this email or share in the comment section below.
Your Pantry Pal,
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