Recipes from magazines and newspapers, or those meticulously written out on illustrated index cards, or scrawled by friends on torn-out pieces of paper all have a home in my kitchen. Decades ago, confronted with piles of hidden treasures, I decided to take control. One rainy winter weekend, I bought a binder photo album, some extra plastic coated pages and started a cookbook. It was even divided into apps, meat, vegetarian and the largest category – desserts.
That collection has grown to fill four photo albums, including one exclusively for summer-only recipes.
Once a year, again on a rainy winter day, I go through the books and cull recipes. If they haven’t been tried in a couple of years – out they go. If they look impossibly complicated – what was I thinking? – out they go.
Like most photo albums, these provide snapshots of a life well lived, of friends and family who have come and gone or stayed. The wine-stained recipe for sangria from an old boyfriend? Bad boyfriend – great recipe that we still use.
I’ve got my late mother’s handwritten recipes torn from her phone message pad and a recipe on a napkin for tamarind dipping sauce provided by a bartender at one of our long-gone watering holes. There’s Lillie’s Sinful Pie from the late, great Lillie Fagala. I’ve got dozens of recipes from other Gaston cooks submitted in the ’80s and ’90s when I wrote My Favorite Recipe for the Gazette.
Maybe it’s an obsession. A lot of clipping and collecting is still going on around here. Hey, it’s not always about the food. But sometimes it is.
Here are two quick favorite appetizers recipes I’ve adapted from the stacks:
Wine Baked Olives
1 pound kalamata olives, drained (You can used pitted or unpitted)
1/3 cup dry red wine
3 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
3 sprigs fresh thyme
Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Put olives in a saucepan, cover with water and bring to a boil. Lower heat to medium and boil for 2 minutes. Drain olives and place them in a glass or ceramic baking dish. Add wine and thyme and stir to coat. Bake 30 minutes. Stir once during cooking time. Let olives cool a bit. Serve warm. You can refrigerate them for up to two weeks, but allow them to come to room temperature before serving.
Herb Cheese Dip (tastes like Boursin)
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup low-fat cream cheese, softened
1 garlic clove, crushed
2 tsp. onion, finely minced
2 tsp. dry Italian dressing seasoning
2 Tbsp. low-fat milk
2 Tbsp. minced walnuts
In a mixer on medium speed, cream the butter and cream cheese together. On low speed, mix in the garlic, onion and Italian seasoning until smooth. Add milk and walnuts. and blend until smooth. Refrigerate for 1 to 2 hours to let flavors blend. Then bring mix back to room temperature before serving. Makes about 2 cups of spread.