Tuesday, July 29, 2008
Cookbooks, Electronic or otherwise, Cucumber Salad
Being asked about having a cookbook programme, made me think about cookbooks in general of which I have quite a few plus a mass of Cooking Light magazines from older years. I have had a software cookbook for a number of years called Micro Kitchen Companion. I thought it was a great programme, unfortunately they stopped supporting it and it is getting less likely to work as time goes by. I am still on Windows XP and likely to remain so, but if I had to go to Vista, I suspect this programme wouldn't work at all. Because of that I have been evaluating a couple of other programmes and have found Living Cookbook to be the nearest to my Micro Kitchen Companion. I can design menus and then make a note of guests who are going to eat these menus which I find very helpful - after all I don't want to serve Chicken à la King to someone twice running. Not that I have ever served anyone Chicken à la King but the principle is the same. I find the search section a bit cumbersome, but it can be done. It was also great for me that I could import my recipes from the old programme. Both programmes had the ability to cut and paste which saves a lot of unnecessary typing and I can add pictures if I want which is easier to do in the new programme. I have just discovered that I said all this in January, but some of my current readers weren't around at the time. Anyway, suffice to say, we basically don't buy cook books any more as most recipes are available in one for or another on the internet. If I come across a recipe I want I can save it to my programme to pull up when I decide to cook it. One wonders whether cook books will soon be a thing of the past. One often reads, in Speculative Fiction, of people in the future basically being unfamiliar with paper books, they read everything electronically and we are definitely heading that way. I personally buy a lot of ebooks and read them on my Palm Zire although I still prefer a paper book, but I guess one day people won't buy paper any more. Look at encyclopaedias, they are very much outmoded these days. I doubt there is anything you can't find out on the internet one way or another. I used to have a set of Britannica Encyclopaedias but gave them away. I suspect the person I gave them to has got rid of them now as he too has a very computerised household. I still have a Britannica CD and I do love some of the pictures it has, but I assume that most of those pictures could be found online with diligent search. I still haven't downloaded any cookbooks for my Palm, I haven't even looked to see if there are any and I don't think I would do so if I did come across one. I know I have talked about Mrs. Beeton's Cookery book which I love, my edition is from 1935 and has loads of household hints which are funny to us today, but the cookery is still sound and if I want to know something I can bet on being able to find it there. When I first came to Canada, I had never heard of squash, the vegetables that is, but, lo and behold, Mrs. Beeton had a recipe for cooking it. For the Brits who read this, Vegetable Marrow is a squash and I wish I could get them, the nearest I can get is an overgrown Zucchini which isn't the same thing at all. Not that I ever came across one as big as the one in the picture. I also have an older version of The Joy of Cooking which is the American cookery bible. It was given to me by a friend who bought herself a newer edition. I had a copy which was stolen unfortunately. A very useful compendium of books is the Time Life Foods of the World series which I bought many, many years ago when I was still living in England. I have to remember, with my English books, that some of the measurements aren't the same. An English pint, for instance is 20 fl. oz. A North American one is 16 fl. oz. or 2 cups. The measurements I haven't got the hang of are the metric ones. I still ask for half a pound of something in the deli. My mother did get the hang of it, but she lived in Europe a long time and had to get to know them. Canada uses metric but they still know what you mean if you use pounds instead of kilos etc. America still uses the old avoir dupois system of pounds and ounces. They use gallons too and they didn't get that right, it is much smaller than the usual gallon, 4/5 I think. A friend told me she was making a cucumber salad the other day, I don't have her recipe, but I have a very simple one I have been making for years. I have no idea where I got this recipe. Danish Cucumber salad English cucumber thinly sliced salt white wine vinegar or tarragon vinegar for extra taste. a little sugar. Put the sliced cucumber in a bowl and sprinkle it liberally with salt. Stir to make sure all the slices are covered. Leave half an hour or so until the cucumber slices are limp and flaccid. Rinse off the salt and pat dry. Put into a clean bowl and add wine vinegar to cover and a little sugar to take the edge of the vinegar. I actually make a quick version of this by just salting (but not heavily) the sliced cucumber and adding the vinegar and sugar, omitting the marinading step. The original version is better of course. Have a great day.