Worth the expense

Anyone that knows me well enough knows that I am not allowed to buy cookbooks very often. Alright, I should probably clarify that because I “can” buy them but I typically have to justify the expense. It is more with myself than anyone else, especially my husband. However, I do get funny looks. My children roll their eyes when I come home with new ones. As a result of this, it deters buying them too often.

I am a very picky when it comes to cookbooks. I will study and contemplate a cookbook purchase for a long time before actually making the purchase. It has to be worth my investment before shelling out the money for it. I cannot buy a cookbook if I am only going to use it for a single recipe. Now I might make an exception if that single recipe is exceptionally good. Usually though, I’ll pass up a cookbook if there is only one or two recipes in it that I might be interested in. Like I said, I am extremely picky when it comes to cookbooks.

They have to meet other criteria as well. For example, a cookbook must have pictures. Not just a handful of pictures either. It must have a significant number of pictures. It is ideal if there is a picture for almost every recipe in the cookbook. I will admit to being a visual browser when it comes to food and if it does not look good I will not be interested. I cannot visualize a recipe by words alone. Thus, pictures for me are vital. Also, due to diet restrictions on my part a cookbook must have minimal nutrition facts in it. I do not need every detail but calories, fat, carbohydrates, and protein are not too much to ask in my opinion. I will walk past many cookbooks simply because they do not have this simple attribute. If they have this and are missing pictures, then nine times out of ten I will also walk away.

So cookbooks have a hard battle to win when it comes to me and getting me to part with my money. It is a hard task. That does not mean that it is impossible, but it is hard.

Now my Kyle will tell you that there is no point in my buying any cookbook because I just tinker with all of the recipes anyway so it makes no difference. What he does not understand is that at least if I have a recipe, I have a guide to start with at least. Right? He will learn that one day.

Anyway, during the fall of 2010 I bought this little paperback cookbook at the checkout counter at Randalls. I was standing in line waiting for my turn to be checked out. I saw it. It was entitled Fall Freezer Meals. I was enticed. The picture on the front cover looked divine. Yummy! So I picked it up and started flipping through it. It was real food and stuff that my children would actually eat and it had pictures for every single item in there as well as minimal nutrition facts. It was perfect. I threw it into the cart and never looked back. I started trying things here and there. My sister and her kids were still living with us at the time and I was getting ready for what would be my hysterectomy in January of 2011 so I did not do too many, but I would try a recipe here and there. They were good. The kids liked them. I liked them. Of course, with 9 people living in the house there were not too many left overs even as large as the recipes were.

After my sister moved out and school started back, I got a bit more serious about it and I spent more time studying the cookbook and planning out things. I had to modify many of the recipes because there were many that had pork in them. However, I would just do part of it with the pork and part without the pork (substituting chicken most often). It was wonderful. I would cook the meal for dinner and then have two to three 8″x8″ foil pans of stuff to put in the freezer. It was wonderful. I quickly filled one shelf in the freezer with stuff that I could eat, the family liked, and that I did not have spend time preparing. It was perfect for when I was not feeling well. It was awesome for when I did not feel like cooking. It was great for those days when I did not have time to cook. It was minimal work outside of what I was already doing for dinner that night.

So I went looking for more cookbooks that were similar concepts. I had tried freezer cooking before and frankly I did not enjoy many of the recipes. I did not enjoy the food or the experience. I did not enjoy the prep work or the process. So this was a huge step forward for me to be looking at it again. Maybe I was growing up. Maybe I just found the right format for me. At any rate, I was looking for more. I went to the website from the publisher of the little cookbook I had purchased to see if they had more. They did. It was an older cookbook. I went to Amazon.com an sure enough it was still available. I stewed on the idea of purchasing it for a couple of months. I finally just went ahead and did it.

After cooking dinner tonight, I was reminded again why I like that cookbook so much. I was skeptical but time and time again I am reminded about why I like it so much. I was not making a freezer meal tonight, but I needed a simple recipe for making a fairly easy dinner. I just needed an easy “bread dough” that made enough for what I needed.

If you are considering doing freezer cooking and are not sure where to get started, I highly recommend the Taste of Home Freezer Pleasers Cookbook (2009).

Taste of Home – Freezer Pleasers Cookbook

In the cookbook there is a recipe for Freezer Crescent Rolls. They are very good. They are easy to make and very good. I have used the recipe for more than just rolls. They are good for that. I used this recipe when Lance made pigs in a blanket a few weeks ago. We just made our own crescent rolls.

Tonight I wanted to make stromboli. I used the Freezer Crescent Roll recipe for the dough. Normally I would use my pizza dough recipe for the dough. Tonight I changed it up a little bit and I am glad that I did. It made the perfect dough for this. These crescent rolls are not flaky like your Pillsbury variety out of the can. At least mine have not turned out like that yet, but they have a nice flavor and texture and the kids devour them just as fast. Worth the little bit of work to make.

 A single batch of the Freezer Crescent Rolls dough was enough to make three full sized stromboli.

The Italian sausage and ground beef with tomato based sauce stomboli.

The Italian seasoned chicken and broccoli with Alfredo sauce stromboli.

Now I do have to say that it is not the perfect cookbook. It does fail on a couple of fronts. There are not pictures for every single recipe. There are pictures. There are a lot of pictures. Just not pictures for every single recipe. There are no nutrition facts. Fortunately, you can find many of these recipes online and the nutrition facts are online.

Another area that kind of bummed me out was that some of the recipes were duplicates. With some of the newer publications that I have seen lately, there are also duplicates of recipes from the two cookbooks I already have. So I hesitate to buy another one simply because of this. I am sure there are other recipes that I do not have, but I do not need to spend the money to get a few more recipes. I want a lot of new recipes. The newer publications do not have nutrition facts either. I would hope that Taste of Home would figure that out sooner or later.

This being said, I would rather buy a cookbook than get all of my recipes online. I do not mind searching for recipes online from time to time but I still enjoy searching through cookbooks. There is something about a physical cookbook. I am strange like that.

I need to get back to cooking from these cookbooks again. We have depleted the supply in the freezer again. I did restock the Italian Sausage Lasagna the other day when I made lasagna. I need to plan out what I am going to make and plan out the collection of the supplies to do this. This can end up costing more up front for us, but in the long run it saves us money because it cuts out trips to get something quick to eat from the local fast food chains nearby. This is better for us anyway.

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