My Non-Cookbook Non-Challenge

Non Cookbook Non ChallengeI’m fessing up: My 2015 Cookbook Challenge has kind of fizzled out. I think it was a worthy endeavor, for reasons I’ve previously discussed, namely that I revisited cookbooks that had been languishing on my shelves and cooked some wonderful dishes that I may not have otherwise discovered, but lately my foodie thoughts have been running to magazines, websites and new-to-me cookbooks from the library. There is a reason that I subscribe to three food magazines (Cooking Light, Eating Well and Bon Appetit) after all.

Plus, I have two new online loves: New York Times Cooking and Pepperplate. They are my new Pinterest (except that I still use Pinterest, and in fact went on a bit of a pinning spree the other day).

I’ve mentioned the New York Times’ newish (just over a year old) cooking website previously, a glorious online union of the newspaper’s vast repository of recipes, along with curated (I die a little inside when I use that overused word) recipe collections and videos designed to help make you a better cook. When you create a free account, you can easily save recipes to your personal “recipe box” and even curate organize them into your own themed collections.

Pepperplate RecipesSpeaking of organizing, have you met Pepperplate? I recently learned about this website, and it’s either going to be a game-changer or a place where interesting recipes I pluck from the interwebs go to die. (I’m thinking the former.) If nothing else, this should stop me from actually printing out recipes and adding them to my bulging folders and binders at home.

Anyway, once you set up a free account, Pepperplate lets you easily import recipes from “supported” websites and food blogs (including biggies like NY Times, Epicurious, Food 52, Simply Recipes and Smitten Kitchen). If you download the Pepperplate bookmarklet to your browser bar, it’s extra easy. You can also manually import recipes by cutting and pasting or typing them in. (The ease of the cut-and-paste feature is important, because some recipe sites aren’t supported, and I’ve had random issues with not being able to automatically import some recipes from some supported sites. I emailed Pepperplate’s help desk, and they said this is a “known issue.” Translation: it will never be fixed. Still, the cut-and-paste lets you drag in the recipe photo, and the resulting formatting looks very nice.)

Once you import recipes, you can use them to create menus, meal plans and shopping lists. Very slick. Pepperplate has free iPhone and iPad apps, too (not sure about other smartphones), which I mostly use to double-check my shopping list or to look up one of my imported recipes while I’m cooking.

Speaking of recipes I’ve imported to Pepperplate, I made Smitten Kitchen’s wonderful cannoli pound cake last weekend for my husband’s birthday (at first he was like, “This is my birthday cake?” but once he took a bite the absence of frosting and candles mattered not one whit). I was driving somewhere, listening to NPR, when I heard Dick Stein mention the recipe on Food For Thought (the October 14 edition), and decided I had to make it at the next appropriate opportunity. It was delicious, and as the recipe states, even better the second (and third) day!

Ok, now let’s get cooking!