I said last month that I’d talk about how my cooking has changed from my early days of meal preparing to how I cook now. When I was a new bride, my recipes consisted of mostly casseroles, with heavy reliance on canned soup for sauces. Vegetables were canned or frozen for the most part, and large portions of the plate went to pasta or potatoes. I baked bread most every week, heavy sourdough or whole wheat artisan loaves using a starter. The food guide was heavy on carbs, from my growing up years having four food groups with one for bread, cereal, potatoes, pasta, and rice. I went by that as I wanted to be sure I was serving nutritious meals for my new husband. Then we had the food pyramid, where the base was the carb group, and the recommendation of up to 11 servings a day! We ate tuna casseroles made with canned tuna and packaged mac-and-cheese, ground beef with mushroom soup served on noodles, meatloaf with mashed potatoes, chicken enchiladas made with two cans of soup – mushroom and cheddar cheese – layered with tortillas, and more like that. I made recipes with Julia Child as I watched her French Chef show every Saturday, heavy meals like Beef Bourguignon, and liberal use of butter. It was home cooking as we all remember our mothers and grandmothers making, except I didn’t put bacon grease in the vegetables. Home cooking recipes like the ones you find in Taste of Home cookbooks was how I cooked. But that has changed. Over the years, I have gone to more and more fresh foods, fewer canned items, less heavy meals overall with lower fat. So, last week I pulled my Taste of Home cookbooks from the bookshelf and donated them, along with two more boxes of novels and other cookbooks I don’t use. These books, while full of good home cooking style recipes, just don’t have the appeal they once did. Now I look for recipes that use farmer’s market fresh vegetables, lower fat meals with more international flavors. More of the plate contains fresh green or yellow vegetables, or salads. Meat servings are smaller, and carbs smaller still, often not on the plate at all.
This is not to say that I don’t ever cook like this anymore. In fact, just last Sunday I made my homestyle chicken and dumplings for our lunch on a cold and rainy day. There will always be days where comfort food is required without a vegetable in sight. But I can do this in my sleep, I don’t need a recipe for it. Of course I had to serve it in my rooster bowls to go with my Rooster tablescape.
While I was in a mood to be in the kitchen, I decided to bake some Banana Bread, doubling the recipe so I could do two loaves. I used one from my basic Good Housekeeping cookbook that I received as a wedding gift over 46 years ago. It has stained pages, and opens automatically to the banana bread recipe as I have used it that much. Certainly, that cookbook is a permanent keeper. These will be breakfast breads for My Sweet Babboo. I sometimes will snitch a thin slice and put peanut butter on it for breakfast.
Now, I have to decide about the Southern Living Annual cookbook series. I began collecting these with the very first one in 1979. I faithfully got one each year for about 15 years, then I began waiting just a bit to find them at book sales at a greatly reduced price. But now, there is very little in them that appeals to me anymore. They take up a huge amount of space, and I stopped collecting them a few years ago. What I need to do is copy the few recipes that I do use, and probably donate them, too. I used to page through them for inspiration, and now I use different cookbooks for that, mostly the Milk Street Cookbook series.
With fewer carbohydrates and lower fat, along with new flavors and fresh ingredients, this way of eating appeals to me more now. This Taiwanese Five Spice Pork dish from the Milk Street cookbook Tuesday Nights has interesting flavors and low fat. I serve it with fresh broccoli and Jasmine rice. This has become a regular meal for us. I don’t always make the egg that garnishes the dish, but I do love it.
Another one is this Japanese Chicken Meatballs dish from Milk Street’s World in a Skillet. I love Asian flavors, and now keep more interesting things in the pantry so I can make these on short notice. New Asian pantry items that I never kept before include rice vinegar, mirrin, orange sauce, oyster sauce, and black bean garlic sauce. Other things for international dishes like fire roasted tomatoes, and sun dried tomatoes make their way into the pantry often as well.
From the Vegetables cookbook, a wonderful dish of Artichokes with Linguini I posted about a while ago. This is easy, with a bright lemon flavor and the tang of artichokes. It has no butter or cream, yet has a wonderful sauce thickened with the pasta water.
There is also a great recipe for Charred Brussels Sprouts done in a skillet, with a bit of garlic, yum!
A perfect example of the way I cook now is another chicken dish I recently made called Chicken Salmoriglio from the Tuesday Nights Mediterranean cookbook. This is a southern Italian dish, with bright lemon and flavorful garlic. The dish is cooked at a very high heat, 475º, so it doesn’t take long.
It uses chicken thighs which can stand up to the high heat of the oven without drying out. Slash the meat all the way to the bone in a couple of places. This allows the meat to cook more quickly and evenly, as well as getting the marinade into the meat.
Zest the lemons, then add oil, herbs, and garlic,then toss the thighs in the mixture, working it into the slashes.
Place the thighs skin side up on a baking dish, with the half lemons. Work any remaining mixture over the thighs and deep into the slashes.
Bake 20 minutes, then turn on the broiler to char and crisp the skin.
Fresh oregano is added to the pan juices, along with the baked lemon juices for a lemony sauce not too tart. The recipe calls for it to be served on watercress, but I used fresh spinach, and served spaghetti squash as a side dish. This was SO good!! It didn’t take long, was not too fussy, yet has fresh, bright flavor.
Download the recipe – Chicken Salmoriglio
I still like making up my own recipes, using cookbooks as inspiration such as Everyday Dorrie by Dorrie Greenspan and Gordon Ramsay’s Healthy Appetite. Try my Bacon Wrapped Chicken with Goat Cheese. I served it with linguine (just a little for me and a lot for My Sweet Babboo), with an avocado and cherry tomato salad.
My Veal Meatballs with Basil Cream Sauce is delicious, and can easily be made with ground turkey instead. I served it this time with a fresh salad and Jasmine rice.
See more of my cooking posts by using the Cooking category on my sidebar. How has your cooking changed over the years? What do you do differently from when you first learned to cook? Where do you get your inspiration?
Click on Milk Street Cookbook series to see all the great cookbooks Milk Street offers on Amazon. You can also access Milk Street online (not an affiliate link) for free recipes each week.
22 thoughts on “Cookbooks, Recipes, and Chicken Salmoriglio”
Though I never made a lot of casseroles or the heavy meat and potato meals often served in the Midwest, I had a huge passion for Julia……never missed an episode of her many shows over the years. My immense cookbook collection got whittled down first in 2000 when we moved to our “forever’ house built along a Southern Wisconsin river. Then again in 2006 when the ‘forever’ notion of living through WI winters brought us to to WNC. Now, with the exception of baking, I rarely use a cookbook. I’m guessing like Carole….many of us have changed our cooking methods.
Doesn’t it seem like the nutritional guidelines have changed more frequently than they used too? I changed my cooking a lot last year when I embarked on a new plan. Now I spend more time focusing on each recipe’s nutritional content & if a recipe doesn’t have that breakdown, I probably won’t make it.
I used to have many cookbooks, not a lot though. Mainly because I like simple recipes.
Now hubbs and I eat far less than we used to, so I just make simple stuff. salmon, potatoes, or rice and vegetables. Honestly, I do not enjoy cooking anymore.
My daddy gave me a big box packed with mom’s cook books. More cook books
She loved cooking stuff from around the world. So, now I have that huge box in the dining room. I am not sure my daughters are interested in all of those books. Perhaps Lizzie.
Your photography skills are exceptional.
I am no longer interested in heavy meals either. My cooking has changed a lot over the years – still some heavy meals but much smaller portions when we do have them. I had cookbook series also and no longer have many and continue to donate off of the bookshelf. It used to be very normal when the kids were at home that the pantry shelves were full of canned soups and package meals – hamburger helper, tuna helper, rice a roni etc – now I must admit I rarely pick up a can of soup other than golden mushroom that I still like to put over the top of a beef roast in the crockpot or chicken noodle soup for when you don’t feel well.
We love the Japanese Meatballs recipe and will certainly be trying the Chicken Salmoriglio soon. I am always on the lookout for new and lighter recipes. Thank you.
My cooking has changed a lot like you describe over the years, especially with trying to cut back on our carb intake! Sometimes you still need those comfort foods, though – my cookbook opens right up to the banana bread recipe, too. You always share such yummy looking meals – I’m going to have to check some of them out!
Your chicken recipe sounds fantastic and making sure I have that linguine recipe, too. My cooking has changed, too. I don’t remember when I last made a casserole and rarely use cream or milk. Rick is Mr. Pasta. I’m pretty good but he really explores it all. And my bread guy. I really should do as you are and dispose of many cookbooks. Some I’ve already done. But it’s time. I find I’m mostly using old favorite or new discoveries. What a treat this post is!
Things do change don’t they. With my late husband gone cooking for one is a challenge. Home delivery aka Every Plate etc is the new way to go. The problem is it is still too much and can last at least three meals each. When my sister comes to the farm we share . She cooks one day I cook the next.
My husband prefers meals heavy on the carbs and veggies with meat used as a flavoring agent. I prefer higher protein meals with lots of veggies and less carbs (not keto, but carbs do tend to make me hungrier). Fortunately we can cook so that we each get what we want without doing two different meals 🙂 He loves watching cooking competition shows, and often uses tips from them when he’s throwing things together for a meal. I got rid of many of my cookbooks also, since I rarely used them anymore – I kept my mom’s 1949 Betty Crocker cookbook and my favorite family and church produced cookbooks. I did order the Milk Street cookbook you mention above, it sounds like we’ll find a number of recipes to enjoy. The recipes in the this post look absolutely delicious, we’ll have to try them!
I, too, still use my BC Cookbook given to me as a shower gift from my mother in law 54 years ago. It opens automatically to the blueberry muffin recipe
I also donated many cookbooks last year when we moved across country and downsized. Do cook differently now. Light and easy meals 75 % of the time, but still enjoy old favorites.
I agree. My cooking has changed from years ago. Not only cooking smaller since we are empty nesters and no longer entertain as much but cooking fresh more. I love my carbs so some homemade quick breads (as muffins as portion control) and yummy yeast rolls still appear regularly. I guess my Taste of Home cookbooks should get donated as I more often check the Internet rather than pulling the books out. There are still canned/frozen foods in the house for when my hubby or daughter want to throw something together neither are creative cooks and my hubby’s usual go to recipe is Chinese takeout LOL!.
Somewhere in the bowels of my basement, I have all those cookbooks! DH used to work for the parent company of Southern Living and we would get to buy them once a year at a deeply discounted rate! I think I paid maybe $3 for the annual Southern Living cookbooks and lots of craft books! Our tastes have changed through the years too, so maybe one day I’ll donate all of them. I still like to look through them occasionally! The only large meals we cook anymore are for family/friend gatherings. And they have certain foods they want ALL the time, so no recipes needed for those! LOL Have a great weekend, Carole!
Your new style of cooking looks lovely and very appetizing. My lips were watering reading about the recipes and looking at your photos. Like you I got rid of a lot of cookery books a few years ago because our tastes had changed and evolved. We’ve been married for 51 years and eat less meat, more fish, fresh vegetables and salads, hardly any potatoes and prefer baked sweet potatoes instead. I cook very few puddings, cakes if we have visitors, so very much like you, much better for us and as our appetites diminish ( although I never had a large appetite even when I was running around after two children and doing a full time teaching job!). I shall certainly look up some of your recipe suggestions. Good luck with all the decluttering – it’s very satisfying, isn’t it?
My cooking has changed from where I started out due to food allergies and other health conditions. It is mostly plant based. Low protein, low sodium, FODMAP and GF.
Like you, I now use fresh ingredients and serve fewer carbs.
Everyone’s cooking has changed over the recent past I guess. We have always been vegetable lovers and we now eat very small portions of meat. We enjoy lots of fish meals as well. I make my own bread which I slice and freeze. Then just take a slice or two from the freezer when required and it always tastes ‘new-baked’.
Most people are aware of eating more healthy and more thoughtfully. I haven’t eaten Pasta in such a long time and I really crave it at times. Such a quick meal with gorgeous sauces over it. Oh well………
Your wonderful blog post prompted me to look at my own collection of cookbooks which I had thinned out considerably a few years ago since I’m now a widow and live alone. My oldest and best loved was/is my 1961 (First Edition) Betty Crocker New Picture Cookbook which I received as a bridal shower gift that year. The original is now minus the spine and back cover, some of the pages are loose, and it too falls open to page 305 (the Fluffy Meatloaf) so I made it my mission to find a replacement for it. I’m happy to say I found one in pristine condition. For some reason I have found it difficult to part with my Kraft “Food and Family” magazines and my Pillsbury “Fast and Healthy” magazines from years past. I really need to take an afternoon and browse through them again before I pass them on.
Take a look at my post from January 2016- Getting Organized Saving Recipes
Great topic! How the food pyramid has changed over the years.
I never tuned into how food made me feel until in my 30s when I could no longer eat gluten or dairy. Now I eat foods that make me feel energized. I find that nothing beats fresh vegetables out of the garden for making me feel at the top of my game. Pasta out…spiralized zucchini in. White toast out…ground flaxseed bread in.
I used to cook American and Italian genre meals exclusively. I’ve broadened my appetite for Indian…my favorite and Mexican dishes.
I am inspired to move my cookbooks along to charity as I now keep my recipes on my computer. I’ll put this on my task list!
AWESOME collection of Southern Living Cookbooks. I love my collection.
I remember when I wanted to lose weight in H. S. and went on the “Drinking Man’s Diet” (minus the alcohol) basically no carbs. Fast forward we teach the kids “Eat the Rainbow” Four to five colors on the plate, 2/3 veg, 1/3 meat, chix, fish. No carbs – but they sneak in, breading, sauce, etc. When I have a cookie/cake treat it tastes sweeter when I haven’t had a ton of sugars in the meal. Oriental recipes like the ones you have shown are great – pretty and nutritious. Love hearing all the comments above and looking forward to trying some of their suggestions as well. Thanks for opening this topic!
I have that Good Housekeeping cookbook (probably the same edition as yours) and have a bunch of favorite recipes I still use. Now that I’m cooking for one, I don’t cook as much and don’t like using fussy techniques or unusual ingredients. Like many others, I should donate most of my cookbooks to the library book sale. The internet has made it so easy to find recipes for anything you might want. And yes, I use fresher ingredients, less sugar and hardly any salt.