Okay, here's my latest brilliant idea: it's called "The Save Yourself Some Time Cookbook”. Once I explain the concept, you're going to be really mad you didn't come up with it first – but you didn't, so just get over it.
Before I get to the specifics, let me begin by describing what inspired the whole thing. You see, last night I decided to try a brand new lasagna recipe that I ripped out of a magazine from the car repair waiting area. What made this particular version different was that it's made in a slow-cooker, which as luck would have it, I happen to own, having received one as a wedding present exactly thirty-nine years ago next month.
So anyway, I went out and bought the items needed for this dish, which included a pound of ground beef, an onion, a head of garlic, a large can of tomatoes, a carton of ricotta, fresh parmesan, fresh mozzarella, various and sundry spices, fresh herbs and a package of lasagna noodles. This little grocery list set me back about twenty-seven bucks. According to the directions, I was to put everything in the Crock Pot, add some water, wait four hours, and Voila!
Not being bilingual in French, of course, I had no way of knowing that the word "Voila!” literally translates "Vomit!” which is exactly what this concoction looked and tasted like. In fact, it was so positively disgusting and revolting that I threw the whole mess out and ended up serving scrambled eggs for dinner instead.
Has anything like this ever happened to you? I'll bet it has. At one time or another we've all encountered a new recipe that looked good on paper (and even better in the accompanying photograph) only to have it turn out so ghastly when we made it ourselves that we wouldn't set it in front of our worst enemy, much less our own mother-in-law (who for some women may actually be their worst enemy.)
This scenario is made worse for those of us who are addicted to food channels where TV chefs demand that every ingredient be authentic, and will accept no substitution for the real stuff. This means that where once we could get by with a dash of dried tarragon that has been in our pantry since the Carter administration, nowadays we're brainwashed into believing we have to spring for the real McCoy at a cost of $3.99 for a tiny little 1-ounce plastic package containing four sprigs which naturally yields way more than the scant teaspoon needed for the recipe, leaving us to come up with some other creative way to use what's left before it turns brown. (Hint: Tarragon in tunafish = good. Tarragon, in pancake batter = not so good.)
The maddening part is, despite how often we fall prey to these costly, time-consuming culinary endeavors, we can't seem to resist trying yet another one – always with the same disastrous result. If any of this sounds familiar to you, take heart. I have come up with the perfect solution – "The Save Yourself Some Time Cookbook”.
Here's the basic premise: You begin by perusing the slick, glossy pages of my cookbook, which are filled with deceptively scrumptious sounding and beautifully illustrated recipes. Each one has been lovingly tested and proven by me to be a complete and total flop. Next, after choosing just the right recipe for your upcoming important dinner party or family holiday meal, you'll head for the nearest upscale trendy specialty food store where you will purchase the entire extensive list of exotic, exorbitant, prohibitively expensive ingredients. Once at home (and here's where the title of the cookbook comes into play) you will then follow the directions – they're the same for every recipe – which instruct you to Save Yourself Some Time and simply dump all of the ingredients directly down your garbage disposal!
My approach takes a little getting used to at first, and you still won't come out ahead on cost – especially after factoring in the price of the cookbook, which is admittedlyon the high side (after all, I've got a lot of money tied up in testing all those failed recipes!) But trust me, once you've experienced the heady freedom from anxiety and shock over spending a small fortune and untold hours preparing dishes that look and taste like Voila! you'll never go back to your old ways again.
So do yourself a favor. Buy a copy of "The Save Yourself Some Time Cookbook" today, and entertain guests the costly but quick and easy way tonight!