And here we are. Thanksgiving Day.
Boil the essence of this holiday down, and for me, it’s about making food for people I love. Cooking and baking as an expression of gratitude. “I made this for you because I am thankful for you.”
This year I’m making food for my wife, daughter, youngest son, step-daughter, and step-daughter’s boyfriend. Not a ton of people, but I work in the kitchen like I’ve got a band of hungry orcs showing up on my doorstep. After all, leftovers are awesome.
There are two recipe books I like to keep by my side as I work in the kitchen, specifically for baking. Cooking is one thing. There’s a science to it, but it’s a mad sort of science that allows for improvisation and constant tweaking. Baking is different, though. Precision is key. Yesterday I made a pumpkin cheesecake and three different cream pies. Helping me through it as always were Cheesecake Extraordinaire by Mary Crownover and The King Arthur Flour 200th Anniversary Cookbook.
I’m on my second copy of each. The previous met their ends through a combination of stressed spines, batter-encrusted pages, and water damage.
Cheesecake Extraordinaire was introduced to me 22 years ago as I worked my way through college as a line cook. I learned the essentials of cooking and baking at a wonderful Italian restaurant called Cafe Espresso that used to exist in Williston, VT, back before the area turned into a big box store and chain restaurant nightmare palace. I found The King Arthur Flour 200th Anniversary Cookbook at a book sale about 20 years ago.
If you pick the books up, I recommend the chocolate Irish cream cheesecake from Crownover and the popover recipe from King Arthur Flour. There’s also a bunch of great recipes and info for beginning bakers in the King Arthur book. Its pie crust primer is indispensable, and the pizza dough recipe is simple and delicious.
Recipe books are a dime a dozen. Well-researched recipe books with reliable information that stands the test of time are hard to find. I’m thankful that I found two of them.
I hope you have a wonderful and happy Thanksgiving.