Cooking With Confidence
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Musings

Cooking Resolutions for You

by Nick

“I’m going to cook more this year.”

“I’m going to spend more time in the kitchen.”

“I’m going to eat healthier.”

These are just a few of the resolutions I’ve read or heard from people over the last few weeks. I hate to say it, but I’m fairly sure that if you have one of the above as a resolution you will most likely fail at it. You won’t fail because you’re a slacker, but you’ll fail because they aren’t really measurable.

I know. Normally, people write resolutions for themselves and it’s not really my place to stick my nose in other people’s resolutions, but I just can’t help it! So here are 12 ways to make your resolutions more tangible. Some are more difficult than others and it’s not a coincidence that there are 12 of them.

 

1) Bake a loaf of No Knead Bread. I’ve mentioned this before, but over the last few years one of the most significant changes I’ve made to our diet is to make bread every week. It is really easy to get down and takes just a few minutes of actual work. Once you get the basics down you can add all kinds of things to change it up. Here’s the base recipe if you want to try it out!

2) Chop an onion. I’m sure if you cook at all you probably know how to muddle through an onion – crying the whole way. If you chop anything enough times it will eventually get to the size you want. But there’s a right way to chop an onion actually. Learn it and give it a shot!

3) Spice up your kitchen. The next time you are at the store, buy a spice you’ve never used. Then learn a little about the spice. Maybe check out wikipedia as a start. Once you have the basics down, find some recipes that use it! I like to find recipes on Food Blog Search.

4) Dust off a book. Everyone has a cookbook or two that they’ve never opened. Maybe it was a gift. Maybe it was a poor purchase. But here’s the thing. Most of the time if a book makes it all the way to the printhouse there is probably at least a few solid recipes in there. Give them a shot! For me this would mean making something from an unopened Rachel Ray book…

5) Make a dish more difficult. If you have a dish that’s a go-to for you, one that you could make with your eyes closed, spend an extra five or ten minutes to try something new with it. If it’s a pasta dish, add something new to it or make the sauce from scratch. Yes. You’re making it harder, but you’ll learn something in the process!

6) Make a dish easier. When you have a few hours on a lazy Sunday, find a recipe that looks too difficult for you. Don’t go really far out of your comfort zone, but push your boundaries a bit. It might be hard, but it’ll probably be easier than you thought. And it will definitely be easier the next time you make it.

7) Make a soup from scratch. There’s nothing like a nice homemade bowl of soup. Try to make the stock from scratch also if you have time. You’ll be shocked at the quality difference that your soup will have if you start with homemade stock. Heck. Double your recipe and freeze some. Soup is always good and it won’t lose much by being frozen.

8) Get Cheesy. Make some cheese on the weekend! Some cheeses are hard to make and you need special equipment. Some cheeses are easy to make and you can do it with practically no new equipment. I’ll be trying some of the latter variety in a few weeks!

9) Change techniques. Try taking a dish or ingredient that you’ve only had one way and cook it in an entirely different way. One example that’s very common in America is calamari. Most Americans only have it sliced and fried. That’s it. But it’s also good grilled. You can even make a salad out of it!

10) Pancakes! Throw out the Bisquick people. Let’s make pancakes from scratch. It’s not that many more ingredients. Some flour and melted butter and a bit of milk. Maybe buttermilk if you want to get crazy. A good pancake can save a lousy day. If you’re a Ben and Jerry’s fan, check these out.

11) Braise something. Sure it might take a few hours to do correctly, but it’s a great technique. The good news is that it’s basically impossible to overcook something that’s braised. I mean, it’s cooking in its own juices. Brisket is always a good braising subject.

12) Stay Healthy. Pick a few dishes off of this list. They are all super healthy and will help with any cooking resolutions you have plus any weight loss resolutions you have!

If you have a reoccurring resolution, I found this awesome and simple website that lets you track them. You don’t have to sign up for anything and it takes about 10 seconds to figure out. All you do is enter the info and then bookmark the results page and it will update it for you throughout the year and keep you on track!

Photo by Steve Wampler.

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15 comments on “Cooking Resolutions for You

  1. #10 – great idea, and not at all diffucult. I grew up on pancakes made from scratch and the taste difference between from scratch and from a mix is incredible.

    #7 – again, I never had canned soup growing up. Still don’t. I am going to try your cauliflower and Stilton soup on Saturday, it looks delicious.

  2. Good stuff Nick! This is a great list. I have an excellent no-knead bread recipe that I like to whip together at the beginning of the week. Keeping it in the fridge develops flavor and lets me use it when I need to, baking a loaf for dinner in about an hour. We’ve really gotten experimental and started “folding” things into it – golden raisins and fennel seeds… italian herbs and pine nuts… it’s great.

    And thanks for the onion tips!!! I’ve heard there are things you can do, but had forgotten, and was literally thinking about looking this up last night. Then someone said “Oh, I already have some chopped onion handy!” I think that might be the best solution to avoiding pain ;-)

    Looking forward to 2010 and Macheesmo!

    Cheers – Ryan

  3. Thanks for the comments everyone! @Ryan, folding in things is awesome. I’ve never tried fennel seeds… ON THE LIST. :)

  4. I will probably make some more no-knead bread this year however I will definitely make those pancakes. I also adore Cherry Garcia so those pancakes look yum.

    I got Home Cheese Making by Ricki Carroll for Christmas and will be attempting some of the simpler cheeses like Mozzarella soon. People usually look at me like I’m insane when I say I want to try making cheese!

  5. Hi, new here! I was actually visiting your soft pretzel post which I intended to make tonight but realized I didn’t have enough baking soda. But! I will another night this week. Sorry off track.

    I agree with your post and appreciate you pointing out the error of our ways. :)First post on your list I’m checking out is the onion one. Thanks!
    ~ingrid

  6. I am bound and determined to learn to bake good bread this year. Plus that’s my “reason” that we “have” to buy a good stand mixer and a second big green egg (shhhhh! Don’t tell my wife.)

  7. This is a great post! I really want to try baking bread this year. And I also love the idea of making a go-to dish more complicated to spice things up. … and to buy new spices as well! haha

  8. Ingrid, definitely try the soft pretzels, they are AMAZING!… I need to make them again.. People at work are starting to request them :)

  9. I make the no-knead bread, and it rivals anything you can get at a bakery – there are lots of variations out there on the internet too, if you want to fancy it up, and then of course there's the risky fun of messing with it yourself.

    The only problem w/ the no-knead bread is that if you work full-time, the 18 hour interval for the rise is a little tricky to negotiate – that being said, the recipe is VERY forgiving – a couple of hours in either direction doesn't hurt (if in doubt, longer is better), and then you can always just put it in the fridge to rise SUPER slowly. It's just the bee's knees!

  10. Resolution #1 – Done! Result? Not as close to perfect as I would have liked, but I didn't shed any tears or throw any utensils. I'm happy with it. Check it out: http://greenbeanbetty.blogspot.com/2010/01/i-made… I can't wait to try again next weekend!

    Also, don't poke fun at my sad, sorry excuse for a blog. I'm not a regular and the only follower I have is one of my sisters, so it gets no love.

    1. Thanks for the comment Erin. It looks like maybe it was too wet… Did you use bread flour? That makes a huge difference.

  11. thanks so much everyone!
    really appreciate all the good wishes. this is a scary move but defintely good scary.
    have started posting twice a week since my trip to spain so will see how we go with that.

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