Sunday, September 18, 2005

Dream On

My new million-dollar idea: a reverse recipe book. This would allow you to look up an ingredient, and it would then tell you what recipes that could be used in.

The impetus for this idea is my present quandry: I have half a tub of ricotta cheese in my refrigerator, with two weeks until its expiration date, and no idea of how to use it. I bought it for making lasagna, which is the only dish I know of that uses ricotta.

I imagine this is a common situation for people like me: single guys who enjoy cooking for themselves but don't have a lot of knowledge regarding foods. I have two great recipe books, which are wonderful if I already know what I want to make, but are rendered nearly useless in this scenario.

What might be even better is a computer program. You could create a mini food-database, feeding it with the stuff you currently have in your kitchen, and it would spit out the stuff you could make with it, sorted by cuisine and preparation time. That would rule. It wouldn't be too complicated to create, and after the initial setup it'd be a cinch to run. Maybe I'll do that next weekend. Oh, and as an option, maybe it could create suggested shopping lists... as in, "If you had this extra ingredient as well, you could also make the following dishes."

While I'm thinking about food, here's a great website for nerds: Cooking for Engineers. Take a look. It has a really innovative and (I think) incredibly clear way of describing recipes. The food sounds pretty good, too.

Thanks to my friend Jennie I have a new plan for tonight: Frittata! I don't think I've had one before but the description sounds good. Takes a little while to make, but that will give me time to ponder whether or not I want to watch the Emmys, after a three-hour tape delay, and with just one race (Best Actor) that I really care about (although wins for Lost and Arrested Development are certainly encouraged).

UPDATE: The frittata turned out well. I'm still almost certain this is the first time I've had one. Jennie summarized it as "like a baked omlette," which seems like an accurate description to me. My substitutions: Ricotta cheese for cottage cheese, ground beef for ham, and onion powder for chopped onion. The recipe I followed didn't say how many servings it made, but I ate a quarter of the result and that seemed about right. So, um, yes. Hooray for food!

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