05 January 2013

Weekend Cooking: The Kitchen Journal 8

Weekend Cooking is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, quotations, photographs. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend. You do not have to post on the weekend. Please link to your specific post, not your blog's home page. For more information, see the welcome post.


 Looking Forward to 2013

I suspect that many of us start the new year with good intentions for developing new habits and meeting specific goals. I'm no different, but my kitchen and food resolutions may not be typical.

1 My first kitchen goal is to do a major culling of my clipped and printed recipes. If you are unfamiliar with my method, you might want to check out the post I wrote in 2010 about getting organized. I love my self-made notebooks and use them often, but every few years I have to toss the recipes I know I'll never make.

2 Next, I want to check out some apps, reassess my Pinterest boards, and generally think about transferring my loose recipes to an electronic form. I'm not sure I'm ready to give up paper, but I'm also not sure I've given online sources a fair try. If you have suggestions, I'm happy to hear them.

3 I really must learn how to take better food photos. Making a simple light box is step one. Then I need to practice, practice, practice. I often get so caught up with cooking, I forget to stop and pick up my camera. Then I hate to hold up dinner so I can get a good photo. So you see I have conflicting desires here. I'll need to work that out on my own.

4 Finally, I hope to use Weekend Cooking to showcase more of my cookbook collection. I own quite a few food and cooking books and would like to share more of them with you. I've held back because I know many of my books are no longer in print; on the other hand, they may be available from the library or you could spot one or two at a flea market or yard sale or in a used-book store.

Wine Discoveries

We have two new wines to add to our buy list. These are both a little more money than we spend for everyday dinner wine but quite nice for company or a special occasion. (True confession: We hate to spend a bundle on weeknight table wine.) The first is a mix of Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, and Merlot from Argentina: 2009 Paisaje de Tupungato from Finca Flichman. The other is a Shiraz from Australia: 2011 SW102 Reserve from Barossa (though it appears to be bottled in St. Helena, California).

Winter Recipe Adventures

I hesitated to share the following recipe because I know many Americans avoid eating rabbit, but this is a dish I've been having fun with. It's still not quite where I want it, but I thought I'd write it out. Substitute chicken if it interests you and you don't want rabbit or can't get it.

This started out as my attempt to re-create a beer-braised rabbit dish that is very popular in Belgium. But somewhere along the way, I got sidetracked by both French and American influences. We like this as is, but it's missing the wow factor. I'm thinking of going much more American next time and adding in onions and garlic.

International Rabbit Stew
Serves 3
  • 1 rabbit cut up into stew meat
  • 1 bottle of dark Belgium beer or ale (not light wheat beer)
  • 1 tablespoon vinegar
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 bay leaves
  • a couple of shakes of thyme
  • 1 small sprig rosemary
  • 4 to 6 prunes
  • 1/4 cup butter (50 grams)
  • 1/4 cup flour (50 grams)
  • 2 tablespoons mustard
  • 2 baking potatoes
  • 2 carrots
Place the rabbit, beer, vinegar, salt, pepper, bay leaves, rosemary, and prunes in a medium bowl. Mix well, cover, and let marinate overnight or at least 6 hours in the refrigerator.

Preheat the oven to 350F.

Drain the rabbit, reserving the marinade. Heat the butter in a medium skillet over medium-high heat and brown the rabbit. Remove the meat to a dish. Add the flour to the skillet and whisk until smooth, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Add the mustard and the reserved marinade and stir until combined. Add the rabbit and accumulated juices and transfer to an oven-proof casserole. Cover and cook 1 hour.

Peel the potatoes and carrots and cut in to chunks. Add to the rabbit and return the covered dish to the oven to bake for 1 hour more, or until the rabbit and vegetables are tender. Remove the bay leaves and rosemary before serving.

If you have any suggestions for the next time I make this stew, let me know. I'm still perfecting it.


Marg 1/5/13, 6:10 AM  

You know I haven't even thought much about food goals for the upcoming year - other than a somewhat vague don't eat so much takeaway! Good luck with your goals.

Oh, and I have never eaten rabbit and can't imagine doing so. Good luck finding your mystery missing ingredient to give it the wow factor though!

Rebecca @ The Key to the Gate 1/5/13, 6:50 AM  

You have some great resolutions for getting the kitchen organized. I need to work on sorting through recipes as well. They collect so quickly! The kitchen journals are a wonderful idea. Thanks for sharing!
Rebecca @ The Key to the Gate

Tina 1/5/13, 7:00 AM  

I have a similar method for keeping loose recipes. I use hard notebooks and the clear page protectors. The books are tabbed for chicken, desserts, beef, etc. The real keepers are in there!
Then I have a folder of recipes ripped or copied from magazines that I want to try. Oh my, these need to be culled yearly or they definitely get out of hand.

I am going to try the rabbit. It's on my list for participating in a book club where we read the Hunger Games. Sounds great!
Happy new year!

caite 1/5/13, 7:09 AM  

get organized...oh, that is a funny one. I will organize my recipes right after I organize my books....lol

as to photos, a lightbox is a great tool. I love the almost free one I made...I mentioned it in a post. a box, some tissue or tracing paper, tape, a couple of cheap IKEA lights...

Too Fond 1/5/13, 7:57 AM  

Good luck with your cooking-related resolutions! I haven't thought too much about mine, but I need to do some organizing and planning of recipes.

Rikki 1/5/13, 8:48 AM  

Good resolutions. I can relate seeing that my NEW52 foodie project is under way. As for organizing, you might remember my post about Plan to Eat which I am still using and totally love. It has made meal planning and recipe organizing so much easier.

Janel Gradowski 1/5/13, 8:55 AM  

I use Pinterest now for saving recipes. Sometimes I still print them out, but I try to pull them up on my Kindle Fire instead. For my printed recipes I have an old cedar chest that I put a hanging file folder frame into. It fits perfectly with a bit of space left over for a stack of cookbooks.

Molly 1/5/13, 9:00 AM  

I love everything about this post - except perhaps the rabbit :) I want to be more intentional about meals this year - spending time in the kitchen and becoming reacquainted with my old recipes while finding new ones.

I would love for you to post more wine suggestions ... we tend drink very inexpensive everyday wine as well, but would like to experiment more with those served for special weekend meals.

(Diane) bookchickdi 1/5/13, 9:18 AM  

I have to cull my recipes too. I have been trying to find my favorite paper recipes online and adding them to Pinterest, and that has helped, but my recipe file is out of control and I must be more disciplined. Good luck to you with your 2013 goals.

Beth S. 1/5/13, 9:26 AM  

The New Year sure brings out the organizer in everyone. I have been doing the same thing the past few days. I took all my looks recipes that I shoved in binders, searched for them online, and then pinned them to my Pinterest boards. Then, because I have so many recipes now, I had to reorganize my Pinterest boards. That was a long process. LOL!

Meghan 1/5/13, 9:30 AM  

That recipe looks really good, although I think I'd try it with chicken - I had a stew made with Belgian beer in Belgium and it was delicious, but I've never thought about reproducing it!

Good luck with your resolutions for this year in cooking and blogging about it!

Natalie~Coffee and a Book Chick 1/5/13, 10:09 AM  

I also would love the wine suggestions! I do need to get much more organized in the kitchen this year, and perhaps I also need to have a few new resolutions specifically for my kitchen life. I do love using Pinterest to catalogue my recipes and ones I want to try, but the actual kitchen itself needs a complete do-over, face-lift, what-have-you. Needs to be organized; I love an uncluttered life. Happy New Year, Beth! I hope to participate much more in your meme as it's always motivating :)

J. Doe 1/5/13, 10:12 AM  

I am totally with you on the food photography. I got a new camera for Christmas and have checked out several food photography books from the library so that I can improve my own.

With regard to keeping recipes online, I use software called Living Cookbook, which you can download a free trial of. I find it works well helping me keep organized all the recipes, they print out nicely, and you can create a cookbook easily (complete with photos and index) which is my ultimate goal once I've collected as much as I can from family members. I really like it.

Deb Nance at Readerbuzz 1/5/13, 10:14 AM  

I love reading your thoughtful goals.

Anonymous,  1/5/13, 11:11 AM  

I love these goals and I hope you meet them this eyar!

bermudaonion 1/5/13, 11:37 AM  

Just the other day, I was thinking that I need to get all of my clipped recipes organized. It takes me far too long to find one of the recipes when I need it.

Sandy Nawrot 1/5/13, 12:32 PM  

Well, now you have me thinking. I have all my cookbooks, but I also have two LARGE binders where I put my tear-out and printed recipes. They are fairly organized, but these folders just keep growing. Purging is needed. I also do have two recipe apps that I use frequently...Epicurious and Allrecipes. Both free.

Carole 1/5/13, 1:52 PM  

Once a year I do a big update of my recipe books (exercise books where I tape in recipes I find - includeing from cookbooks that I have destroyed) - the thing that makes it work for me is that the books are separated into categories and I have an electronic index (sorted by ingredient) which makes for easy finding. Have a Happy New Year and thanks for hosting Weekend Cooking. I always look forward to it.

Angela 1/5/13, 4:48 PM  

This rabbit stew sounds delicious. I bet it would be good with venison too.

Peaceful Reader 1/5/13, 5:00 PM  

I know I won't be cooking with rabbit anytime soon but I love your kitchen resolutions. I fight the clutter of magazine clippings and folders of recipes mixed with my cookbooks. I do have some typed out on my google docs but would love an even better way to save recipes.

Joanna Hennon 1/6/13, 11:07 AM  

I still haven't found the perfect way of organising clipped recipes, my collection is such a mess! And I can't seem to stop buying the magazines either. I'll have a look at your old post on how you organise, maybe I'll be inspired!

Sue Jackson 1/6/13, 12:00 PM  

I love your cooking resolutions! I desperately need to organize my recipes. Mostly, as you know, I cook from recipes from Cooking Light or dishes I made up myself. I have 10 years' of Cooking Light issues lined up on my kitchen shelves and an Excel database of recipes I want to try and/or like on my laptop.

But I also tend to clip recipes from magazines - I do have one binder of those, but most of them - 20 years' worth! - are stuffed into two bulging folders. I definitely need to go through those.

Thanks for the inspiration!


Book By Book

Fay 1/6/13, 1:43 PM  

My Pinterest account is new. I finally broke down for the purpose of collecting recipes and now need to find you and some of the other Weekend Cooks. Your plan to write about your cookbook collection fires my jets. Really!

Debbie Rodgers @Exurbanis 1/6/13, 2:01 PM  

What an interesting recipe! I would never have thought to put either vinegar or mustard in a stew. I'm going to to try this! (maybe with some onions & garlic?) ;-)

Julie Goucher 1/6/13, 6:15 PM  

I always have an urge to want to dip into your journals, so be thankful we are separated by lots of water! With that in mind my thoughts turned to my own rather old looking book and contemplations of a new journal. My post is up, albeit, later than normal!

Unknown 1/6/13, 6:38 PM  

I love rabbit! Have you tried Jeremiah Towers' recipe for braised rabbit with leeks and prunes? It'll knock your socks off!

Sue Jackson 1/6/13, 7:09 PM  

You really did inspire me today, Beth! While our soup was cooking for dinner, I spent some time putting clipped recipes into my recipe binder - a small drop in a huge ocean, but it's a start!


Trish @ Love, Laughter, Insanity 1/6/13, 8:46 PM  

Arg. loose recipes are a major source of stress for me. I do try to put them into a recipe binder but that takes time and I always dread doing it. And then there are all those pesky recipes I print online because I like having the paper in front of me for making grocery lists. So even if I do have something pinned on Pinterest, I won't make the recipe unless I print it out. Wish there was a better way but it is tough to give up the paper!!

Heather S-G 1/7/13, 6:31 PM  

I haven't had rabbit in a long time, not because I'm adverse to eating it, but because I just can't find it! Guess I have to go back to working in restaurants (or dining in them).

My goals are to slow down on posting on the blog...be a bit more selective. I've been runnin' myself ragged lately!

Julie P. 1/8/13, 2:39 PM  

Definitely more interested in the wine recommendations than the rabbit! :)

Margot 1/8/13, 9:37 PM  

I share your goal of wanting to improve your food photos. I hope you'll share what solutions you find.

Mary R. 1/10/13, 1:39 PM  

These sound like very achievable goals. Good luck! The recipe sounds excellent (though I will probably wimp out and use chicken). What dark Belgian beer did you use (or do you recommend)?

Beth F 1/10/13, 1:51 PM  

@Mary R: I've been using Leffe because it's easy to get in my town.

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