I've always enjoyed Good Eats, and I even met Alton Brown at a book signing once. We have the entire set of his cookbooks, but I rarely cooked from them before this challenge. So many of the Good Eats recipes just seem so involved for an everyday, very busy cook. Don't get me wrong, I'd love to try something like Brown's coconut cake, but since cooking of necessity comes third behind writing and the day job among my commitments, I rarely have the time or energy for something of that magnitude.
While I doubt I'll be taking on his more complex projects, now that I've sampled a few of his recipes, I plan to try a lot more. These recipes work, and he explains the steps with enough clarity to reassure the cook who's never tried a particular technique before.
For the midpoint of my random cooking year, I drew Good Eats 3: The Later Years. After browsing, I settled on Oven Roasted Broccoli (see link for recipe), because Brown recommended it for people who normally find broccoli too bitter. It's a definite winner. Best-tasting broccoli I've ever had, without any of that icky bitter mushiness broccoli so easily gets, and only slightly more work than steaming or stir-frying.
Halfway through this project, I've already decided to promote some of my little-used cookbooks to the regular rotation--not least Alton Brown's--while others will get even less play. In general, I'm finding my older cookbooks, especially those that are fundraiser collections rather than single-authored, just don't have a lot of appealing recipes. That surprises me a little--I'd expected my taste buds to have more nostalgia for the kind of food I ate growing up. It feels weird to even think of giving away The Moosewood Cookbook or the 1990's Joy of Cooking, but if I want vegetarian recipes or just a comprehensive encyclopedia of anything a home cook might venture on, my Mark Bittman books pretty much have that covered.
After I've finished my 52 cookbooks, I think I'll keep doing a random rotation--it's a fun challenge, and it gives me something to blog about--but I'll stick to those books I actually liked on this go-round.