Magazine article Information Today

Web Dishes Up Recipes for Home-Cooked Savings

Magazine article Information Today

Web Dishes Up Recipes for Home-Cooked Savings

Article excerpt

To save money, about 45% of Americans are eating out less often this year, a nearly 12% increase over last year, according to BIGresearch, an Ohio-based consumer research firm.

But some of us (especially those of us who don't cook often) quickly exhaust the list of dishes we do know how to make and find ourselves spending an inordinate portion of our evening pondering questions we've rarely thought to ask before: "What else can you do with ground beef?" and "How can I make a new meal out of that leftover chicken that's been in the fridge for a week?"

Maybe that's why cookbook sales for Borders Group, Inc. were up in 2Q of this year and Amazon.com saw double-digit growth in sales of cooking and wine books, according to The Associated Press (AP). AP also reported that Bon Appétit, "a magazine that serves up recipes for everything from gourmet meals to fast and easy dinners, said news-stand sales in May 2008 were up 39 percent from a year ago." (Here's one of several places you can read the AP article online: www.cnn.com/2008/LIVING/wayoflife/09/18/cooking.to.cut.costs.ap.)

But why are budget-conscious home cooks buying expensive cook-books and magazines? The web offers enough free recipes to fill several dozen filing cabinets, assuming you still can afford your internet connection. Here's a menu of a few sites you might want to visit.

Pasta Can Be Easy on Your Pocketbook

To get a good idea of how much it costs to prepare specific pasta dishes, visit LaPasta (http://lapasta.com/palazzo/index.htm). Just hold your cursor over the credit card symbol for a recipe such as Penne All'arrabbiata - penne with angry (chili) sauce - and the approximate cost of the ingredients ($5) will be displayed in the Internet Explorer status bar. Most of the meals on the site serve four to five people for $8.

If you hold your cursor over a clock symbol, the approximate time it takes to prepare a dish appears. Of course, you'll probably wonder why the site doesn't put this information directly on the page. (Maybe it will. As of this writing, an online note says a "major overhaul and update" is on the way.) And unfortunately, like most online recipe sites, no photos are provided to show you what the finished dishes are supposed to look like. Still, LaPasta offers a collection of attractively presented and easy-to-follow recipes in such categories as Quick & Easy, Meat & Poultry Sauces, Fish & Seafood Sauces, and Dairy & Vegetable Sauces.

The site also offers a Basics section with information on making and buying pasta. For example, "Pasta is the subject of much misinformation these days. The worst example ... is the notion that so-called 'fresh' pastas are superior to the dried varieties. The truth is often the reverse. Many supermarket products sold as 'fresh' pasta are not the 'real thing'. Just check out the list of ingredients and if it contains anything more than eggs, flour, and salt, put it back on the shelf and head for the dried pasta."

For more pasta recipes, try ERCPS (www.e-rcps.com/pasta/index.shtml), which includes an alphabetical list with everything from Aglio Olio (spaghetti with garlic and olive oil) to zucchini with farfalle pasta.

You might want to stay away from the fettuccine with black truffle sauce unless you're weathering the economic downturn well and want to celebrate with an especially fancy home-cooked meal. In that case, you also might want to visit an online gourmet food supplier such as Dean & DeLuca (www.deandeluca.com), where fresh black truffles sell for $200 an ounce. The fettuccine and truffle sauce recipe calls for two medium truffles. If you really want to celebrate, try the dish with white truffles ($415 an ounce).

The E-RCPS site also offers quick and easy dishes as well as easy-tofollow instructions for making appetizers, soups, salads, pasta salads, and risottos. You can even browse a list of recipes by Italian region. The Pasta FAQ is also a good place for beginners who want basic info on pasta types, brands, and shapes. …

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