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Welcome to the kitchen table. I've been thinking about recipes. I subscribe to Bon Appetit magazine and have done so for many years. I read every issue cover to cover and admire all the recipes and food presentation ideas, from the sublime to the ridiculous. From time to time I try one but by and large the resolve to do so is greater than the actual manifestation. And so I add each issue to the growing pile, presently taller than the Tower of Babel, for some future rainy day, during which I will cut out the best recipes and file them alphabetically in a cooking scrapbook, each page protected by a plastic cover. Never happen.

Now of course there are those folks who never cook and have no interest in recipes, and those who never cook but love to read about food, perhaps anticipating some future opportunity to put their knowledge to use. I know that many people here do enjoy cooking. And there are many ways to move from a recipe to the finished product.

Seasoned (heh) cooks have most of their repertoire committed to memory, varying them occasionally as to the availability of ingredients and possibly the vagaries of memory. And though many recipes are little more than guidelines which can be altered without materially changing the final result, some must be followed exactly to ensure success. I look up the recipe for scones in Joy of Cooking every time I make them because a little off on quantities and they fall apart.

I have about 100 cookbooks, of which I regularly use perhaps five. During a cooking class I took from local chef, restaurant owner and author John Ash (From the Earth to the Table ) he mentioned that research showed that people will keep a cookbook if they use only 3 recipes from it. The bible, of course, is Joy of Cooking which covers everything. Note: the meat section was written by John Ash. There are ideas in this huge tome you could use for a lifetime of cooking.

Moving into the digital age, many recipes are available on line, at sites such as Epicurious, and there are hundreds of these. You can store favorites within the site so they are always available. I'm sure you could print out a recipe you are using, but since you then have it on paper then you might file it for the future in a paper folder and there you are, back to the old way.

So I'd be interested in what methods folks use for storing, collecting, categorizing, and using recipes. Do you spill food on open cookbooks? Do you like recipes of incredible complexity? Are you willing to try the newest "in" recipe with weird ingredients no-one has ever heard of?

At yesterday's S F Kossack party I brought an onion dip, something I've brought to many parties. I was besieged by requests for the recipe which is very simple. My response was "Go to Kitchen Table Kibitzing tomorrow and it will be there." Always proselytizing. So here it is.

4 Vidalia or other "sweet" onions (regular onions won't work)
2 cups water
1/2 cup white vinegar
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 tsp. celery salt

Slice onions as thinly as possible, you can use the onion blade on a food processor
In a small bowl mix water,vinegar, and sugar, pour over onions. Cover and allow to marinate overnight or at least 8 hours. Drain out liquid, takes a while, be patient.
Mix in mayonnaise and celery salt, chill for 2-3 hours. Serve with crackers.

Kitchen Table Kibitzing is a community series for those who wish to share part of the evening around a virtual kitchen table with kossacks who are caring and supportive of one another. So bring your stories, jokes, photos, funny pics, music, and interesting videos, as well as links—including quotations—to diaries, news stories, and books that you think this community would appreciate.

Finally, readers may notice that most who post diaries and comments in this series already know one another to some degree, but newcomers should not feel excluded. We welcome guests at our kitchen table, and hope to make some new friends as well.

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