I love experimenting, trying new flavors, seeing new places, and rarely am I disappointed. The only exception - when you try new recipes, the long list of what ingredients you don't have on hand is daunting, pricey, and occasionally - unsatisfying. This might explain my love/hate relationship with cookbooks.

The feeling of cracking open a cookbook, the tantalyzing flavors that lay hidden in the many pages is a recipe for financial disaster. The luscious, shiny photos make me whimper and cringe. I know there are 3, 4, and 5 ingredient cookbooks - but the recipes you find there are for BBQ ribs (got it), grilled cheese (yep, covered that one in 4th grade), and using almost all pre-made stuff (which isn't a bad thing - but I do like to feel in control of my own meal). Still, any trip to a bookstore finds me wandering back into the cookbook area - flipping through, alternately drooling and chuckling - who do these people think they are, Iron Chef? Oops, sorry Bobby Flay. I guess you are.

What about the rest of us? (Naturally, I hope I'm not alone in this!) When we want something a little different, but not a budget-busting experiment, where are we supposed to turn? It took me a while, but I finally came up with an idea. If you don't like what's on offer - it's time to do something about it. So, last February, I began cataloging all my recipes - the ones I've created, anyway - and so I wouldn't have to worry about misplacing them, I've started a cookbook blog, Chicagos Cookbook.

At first, it was just a new way to organize - which I so desparately need. Then, as time went on, I noticed a few people had come to take a look - and I was amazed. As I started adding followers, I was stunned again. I considered myself a decent cook and a good baker, but never imagined it would amount to much. So, to keep things interesting - I have set a goal for myself.

365 original recipes by the end of the year. If I used someone else's recipe, and made my variation of it - I always give them credit for it, but no recipe in my collection has been copied and pasted from somewhere else. As we near the midpoint of the year, I can see I am well on track to meet my goal, though I do need to beef up my side dishes chapter, no pun intended, of course.

At the end of this year, I'd like to look back at all the new flavors I've tried, decide on my favorites, and maybe even try to get a cookbook actually published. I know that last part is a long shot, but if nothing else - I have finally created a way of keeping track of all the recipes I've made, all the fantastic fresh food I've sampled along the way, and I come out of this journey a well-seasoned (hahaha) traveller.
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