Where do you find recipes? Nobody I know cooks the same few things, week in and week out, for a lifetime. So where do you go for recipes, or ideas, for new, different foods and combinations?
One of my primary sources for creative culinary ideas is printed matter — magazines, cookbooks and newspapers. For me, a main criterion for renewing magazine subscriptions is the recipes and food articles. I like lots of different flavors, new treatments for old favorites, and ingredients I’ve never tried. More and more, the Internet is a creative source for me and lots of others.
One way to get ideas for new and different cuisine is to just walk the aisles of the grocery store, from one side to the other, really looking at what’s on the shelves.
For example, when you’ve gone into the produce section for a 10 pound bag of potatoes, have you seen those enormous durian fruits? They’re brown, with a hard, thorny rind and are seriously as big as — or bigger than — my head. I haven’t bought one yet, mainly because of the sheer size. What do you do with all that after you’ve cut into it? Having one of those at our house would be like two people disposing of the remains of a whole Christmas ham. You’d have to eat it for two meals a day for at least a month, and invite the neighbors over to join you every Sunday to finally get rid of it.
But I digress. (I do that a lot.)
Last Sunday, when my daughter Heather suggested a trip down to Cincinnati to shop at two of my favorite stores, Jungle Jim’s and IKEA, I jumped at the chance to go shopping someplace different and to spend time with her going down and coming back. Both stores have a large selection of the Swedish foods my husband grew up with and loves.
IKEA is two floors of everything under the sun — furniture, kitchen items, linens, office supplies, decorative pieces for the whole house — along with Scandinavian foods of all kinds. You can’t take it all in at one time. Arrows on the floors point you in the right direction, but I still found myself going “up the down staircase” when I cut across departments (open floor plan) to see something that caught my eye.
Then, there’s Jungle Jim’s. In addition to “regular” food, Jungle Jim’s offers acres of different ingredients most people never heard of before. (I must say at this point that there are parts of the world where people consume things I am not at all interested in trying — even for the sake of my own education.)
Jungle Jim’s also has the freshest produce and fish on the planet (the fish swim in large tanks while waiting to be purchased), and a huge wine selection (not to mention the larger-than-life mechanical Elvis figure that plays guitar and sings for five minutes every hour). It is absolutely the most entertaining grocery store I know.
I saw some of the same giant durian fruits at Jungle Jim’s that I first saw in the Columbus area. I still didn’t buy one, but did manage to find out about them. Durian fruit comes from southeast Asia. When you cut them open, they have a unique odor. A little like rotten onions. I’m told once you get past the smell, the taste — rich, custard-like, with a flavor like almonds — is supposed to be worth the trouble. Judge for yourself. I have a recipe for Durian Muffins that sounds pretty good. If you make them, invite me over to help and we can taste the results together.
1 cup self-rising flour (sifted)
1/3 cup castor sugar
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
3/4 cup fresh milk
1/2 cup melted butter
1 cup plus 1 tablespoon durian flesh, mashed
Add self-rising flour with sugar in a large mixing bowl. Lightly mix with a whisk. Add eggs, melted butter and milk into mixing bowl. Stir with a whisk in the same direction.
Stir in durian flesh.
Scoop mixture into muffin cups and bake in preheated oven 20-25 minutes.
Makes about 24 regular size muffins.
Linda Conway Eriksson can be reached by e-mail at email@example.com.