In desperation, I Googled.
Until a couple of years ago, I didn't much see the point of browsing for recipes online. Every magazine devoted to food, every celebrity chef and many television shows post recipes. If I started tomorrow, lived to be 100 and cooked three meals a day, I wouldn't live long enough to try every recipe in my collection. Then I had a genuine recipe emergency.
The day before a community cookbook I edited was to be shipped to the publishing company, I discovered a problem. I had some green beans in the crisper, remembered seeing a recipe for Roasted Green Beans and Onions in the cookbook, decided to try it out and discovered there were two listed ingredients not mentioned in the directions. Oops. How did our crack team of proofreaders (i.e. me) overlook that? A phone call revealed that the recipe contributor was out of town—double oops. In desperation, I Googled. For those who don't use Google as a verb, I went to www.google.com and instigated a search for Roasted Green Beans and Onions.
I quickly found an identical recipe and located the missing two sentences. I doubt if I prepared the green beans that night. I'm pretty sure I needed to assuage the crisis by dining out, but I was impressed enough that I became a confirmed recipe Googler.
Suppose I have some salmon steaks and am feeling uninspired. I Google salmon and a few key words—maybe specifying a method of preparation (grilled), maybe specifying another ingredient or two (lime juice, mangoes). Usually, within minutes, I select a recipe and am in the kitchen or at the grill. The flaw in this method is that if I'm not mindful, reading the recipes is so compelling that the period allotted for dinner preparation expires. Suddenly, it's 8:30. I have a long-suffering but hungry husband.
My recipe Googling is primitive contrasted with this recently discovered Google Hack. Go to http://www.researchbuzz.org/archives/001404.shtml. ; It's called Cookin' with Google. Type in some ingredients and choose the type of recipe you want. The categories are General, Vegan/Vegetarian, Worldwide Cuisine, Atkins Diet, For Diabetics, Seafood, and Crock Pot Recipes.
I was a little skeptical, so for testing purposes, I typed in two ingredients: peanut butter and tomatoes. Those are not necessarily items you'd think to throw in the pot together, but I happen to have a favorite recipe for African Stew that includes both ingredients. To give the Google Hack an extra little hint, I chose Worldwide Cuisine as my category. Then I clicked on Find Recipe. That resulted in an interesting list, which I've saved. You never know when you'll have tomatoes and peanut butter and an unexpected crowd for dinner.
The results included a recipe somewhat similar to my stew recipe.
My recipe for Laurie's African Stew:
Sauté four cloves chopped garlic and one chopped onion in a small amount of vegetable oil. When the onions are softened, add three cans drained and rinsed black-eyed peas, one 28-ounce can whole tomatoes (cut into pieces) with juice and a cup of peanut butter dissolved in a cup of hot water. Simmer briefly. Add a bag of torn spinach and cook and stir until it wilts.
The Google Hack's recipe for African Peanut Soup:
In a large pot, heat two tablespoons oil. Sauté two chopped onions, two chopped green peppers and four cloves chopped garlic until they begin to brown. Add a 28-ounce can of whole tomatoes, cut into quarters, with juice reserved and cook over medium-high heat for about 10 minutes, stirring from time to time. Pour in the reserved tomato juice and 10 cups vegetable stock. Bring to a boil, add a half-cup of raw brown rice, reduce heat and simmer, partially covered, for 45 minutes. Stir in the peanut butter until it melts and the broth is smooth. Reheat to a simmer. Serve sprinkled with crushed peanuts.
Hey, why not use spinach, black-eyed peas and rice? This is very cool. We are mojo cooking now. I like my basic recipe better, but chopped green pepper and rice have proved to be great additions to my stew.
Googling is a great way to locate a misplaced recipe. Let's say I remember making Brie with blueberry chutney, but I can't find the recipe. I'm using this example because I've relocated this recipe in this way several times. Years ago I lost a great recipe for chocolate mocha torte. I haven't found its replica online, but I've found recipes close enough that I can improvise.
I love leafing through cookbooks, especially the ones with photographs. I become sentimental about the stains dotting the most frequently prepared recipes. I haven't made Pizza Rustica in years, but the rusty-colored spoon spots on that page in The Vegetarian Epicure testify to its frequent appearance during a certain period of my life. So, no, I'm not going to give up my cookbooks. But I will supplement them with online resources. And besides, I just discovered there are a bunch of recipes for Pizza Rustica online, and I haven't made it in a really long time.