By Karla Jones Seidita, Home Economist
We know you wonder how we do things because you're always asking.
Well, there's a lot of research that goes on before the ingredients ever hit the stove.
We have hundreds of cook books and stacks of recipes so high they reach the ceiling (and then some).
Seems we just can't resist a cook book or magazine. I've even been known to jot down recipes and tips I've heard on the radio while driving.
We love the home spun type cook books best but never shy away from the cook book classics and professional references. Recipes give us inspiration.
Next, we consider what's in season locally. Oh, once in a while we splurge on the exotic and the expensive but that's really not how most people eat.
Most people (ourselves included) want good, easy to prepare recipes that are quick to make and easy on the wallet. If it also looks lavish, well so much the better.
When we finally move from paper and pencil to the test kitchen, we prepare the recipes many, many times until we finally come up with something we like. But we don't stop there. We try to think of ways to make it fool proof - something anyone, at any skill level can cook with very good results.
Every once in a while we re-do our favorite, tried and true recipes to update them - like reducing the sugar and salt. Both tastes are learned so as our own tastes change, our recipes change, too.
Sometimes manufacturers and producers send us samples of their products to taste, evaluate and try out in recipes. We like that.
We've gotten just about everything from gourmet potato chips and kettle corn to locally roasted coffee, unusual vegetables, jams, jellies and sauces, microgreens, tomatoes, spices, fancy salts and goat cheese.
A lovely bottle of olive oil arrived yesterday. We can't wait to try that!
Once we even received a cheesecake from a producer who wanted us to help him make his cheesecake better.
Oh, and gadgets, too. We get tons of gadgets to try out and comment on. We got a cheesecake knife once that promised to cut perfect, non stick slices.
Historical cook books. Quick and easy recipe cook books. Gourmet cook books.
Cook books that are self published and cook books that come from huge publishing houses.
And wine.... did I mention wine? Also books about wine and wine vinegar.
What's it like in our test kitchens?
Well, it's great fun, good eating, wonderful things to try… and a lot of dirty dishes!