The Internet has significantly, and irreversibly, changed the way we communicate, share information, and ultimately, the way we live. It has also, seemingly, changed the way we cook.
In Tweet Me Right: The Joy of Cooking in a Digital World, Fran Brennan writes about the changing nature of recipe exchange and food community. The Internet has stimulated the growth of a large and passionate food community. It allows us to connect to people, places and even ideas that we wouldn't otherwise encounter.
Opening a browser can open a world of culinary possibilities. So, how do you navigate this new world?
Thankfully, there are a number of sites that stimulate food community and make navigation of the online food space a bit easier. Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubs created Food52.com to "bring together people who care about food." If Food52 stimulates conversation and creation in the online food community, it's offspring gojee.com provides users with a way to navigate that conversation.
Gojee.com allows users to enter an ingredient they have on hand (or that they're craving), and ingredients they'd like to avoid. After that information is entered, the site suggests recipes that fit your previous specifications. Did I mention it does that with food-porn images of the finished recipe? (Warning: You will walk away from gojee.com with your stomach growling). When you are tempted by a recipe, you click through and end up on the food blog that originally posted the recipe. From what I've seen, there aren't links to allrecipes.com, or more generic cooking sites. Rather, gojee.com directs users to further explore to food community.
This is why technology inspires me. This type of site helps to foster community engagement and new discoveries online. Between complete strangers. Tell me you're not amazed by that. The most interesting part of gojee.com, though, is not the new discoveries it provides. The most interesting thing about the site is that it makes my life in the kitchen a lot more like my grandmother's.
See, as a Gen Y'er and daughter of an enthusiastic cook, I was raised in a world where the cooking process went like this: find a recipe, buy ingredients for that recipe, cook that recipe.
My grandmother, though, and her mother before her, followed this cooking process: look at ingredients you have, find a recipe that utilizes those ingredients, cook that recipe.
Gojee.com allows, and encourages, cooks to use what they already have. This isn't surprising, considering the concept of using what you have is back in style (we're calling it sustainability now). Think of sustainability in the kitchen as your grandmothers old broach, suddenly appearing--a bit re purposed--in the September issue of Vogue.
Why am I serenading you about my love of technology while showing you pictures of zucchini, you ask? Well, I had zucchini on hand a few weeks ago--a lot of zucchini. And, I discovered gojee.com, which led me to the 15 minute curried zucchini recipe from fresh 365. Find it adapted below, courtesy new technology.
Zucchini & Chickpea (Quick) Curry
By Alexandra Rogers, adapted from fresh 365
3 Tablespoons olive oil
1 large (white) onion, chopped
4 large garlic cloves, minced or crushed
2 teaspoons cumin seeds
3 medium zucchini, cut into 1/2" semi circles
8 oz. garbanzo beans (chickpeas)
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoon curry powder
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
handful of chopped cilantro
In a small bowl, mix ground cumin, curry powder, turmeric, ground ginger and cinnamon together. Set aside.
Heat oil in a large saute pan, over medium-high heat. Add the onions, garlic and cumin seeds and cook for about 5 minutes, until the onions become translucent and start to brown*. Add Zucchini, and spices. Stir to combine. Cook for approximately 6 minutes (until zucchini is tender when stabbed with a fork and begins to brown a bit). Add garbanzo beans and stir to coat with spice mixture. Add salt to taste, and cook for another 5 -6 minutes. Remove from heat, stir in cilantro, and serve with brown rice. Serves 4-5.
*To get vegetables to brown when sauteing, don't stir too often. Extended contact between the hot pan and the surface of the vegetable is needed for vegetables to caramelize (brown). Many cooks struggle with this concept, feeling the must stir continuously so everything cooks evenly and doesn't burn. But, if your goal is caramelization, you need to step back and let the vegetables hang out with the hot pan without stirring for a few minutes.