Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Not a Domestic Goddess

Those who know me roll their eyes when I say I'm going to cook dinner. "What, salad in a bag again? With steamed broccoli? mmmmmmmmmmmm".

Well, in 2007 I had this bright idea that I would learn how to cook. I can follow a recipe - an easy recipe. I actually do know cooking terms - some of them, anyway. I'm not a complete cooking idiot - it's just never been a priority for me. I go out to dinner a lot (and I do have foodie friends, so we eat well), I take-away a lot too, and I'm telling you, salad in a bag is good for you and tasty too! Especially if you pile arugula with walnuts and goat cheese and dried cherries and home-made salad dressing (see, I'm not completely helpless!)

I decided that once per week (or rather, 52 times during the year) I was going to plan, shop, and prepare one new meal. The parameters were that it would have to be an actual recipe made of food components and not just opening a can of something or other or salad in a bag. I had also hoped that the more exposure I had to this strange new world of "home cooked meals" that I would have a ready-made arsenal of recipes in my repertoire and could go to the store without a list and still come home with tasty things to prepare. The "shopping without a list" plan was easy, since it has been my modus operandi since I moved away from home. It doesn't always bear fruit however. Pardon the pun.

Well, 2007 was a busy year as usual - a LOT of traveling (I actually spent almost four weeks total in Europe on vacation, and I think 8-9 nights at my beach house, and then various business trips and trips home to visit the family...) and as always a lot of work... and I recognized very early on (this is key, so pay attention, all you other non-domestic goddesses!) that the hard part of cooking IS NOT THE COOKING. It's the planning! Anyone can find time on a Sunday afternoon to hang out with the cookbooks, fresh ingredients, music, and a bottle of wine.... My problem has always been "before the trip to the store".

I just don't sit down and think about food - I think about food just before it's time to eat. This doesn't bode well for serious culinary skills. So, 2007 was an experiment and while I did NOT cook a new recipe every single week - I did partially succeed in that by the end of the year I had almost 20 new tried-and-true recipes at my fingertips.

I decided to make more of an effort in 2008. What, you say? We are already well into 2Q in 2008? How many new things have you made so far this year? (Erm, don't ask. Please)

I already know that in order to reach my goal I will have to double up some weeks. Maybe keeping a diary will help. Later I will post some of the things I've already made this year. I hope you (somewhat) enjoy my progress!

Oh yeah, about the gardening. I doubt this blog will have much about gardening. If I bite off more than I can chew I'll never accomplish anything. There may be the odd post here and there about my flowers but that's likely going to be it. You never know though!


Joanne said...

Make sure you post your onion soup. I've made it 4 or 5 times already

Anne & Kirk said...

Here's one to try - a baked risotto that I made last week - got it off a French website. I love risotto, but sometimes don't want to take time to stay at the stove stirring as you have to with stove-top risotto.
Hope you like it-

Baked Asparagus Risotto -

8 ounces/250g thick, smoky bacon, chopped into small pieces (I like to use pancetta)
1 onion, chopped
2 tablespoons/25g butter plus 1 tablespoon/12g
10 ounces/300g risotto rice
8 ounces/ 250g fresh asparagus, cut into 1-inch pieces

1/2 cup/125ml of white wine (optional)
3 cups/700ml hot chicken stock
pinch salt
freshly ground black pepper

1/2 cup/50g Parmesan cheese, grated
Heat oven to 200C/400F
Fry the bacon pieces in an ovenproof pan or casserole dish with a lid for 3-5 minutes until crisp.
Stir in the onion and 2 tablespoons/25g butter and cook for 3-4 minutes until soft.
Add the rice and stir for a minute or two, until all the grains are coated.
Pour in the optional white wine and cook for 2 minutes, until absorbed.
Add the hot stock, the salt and the asparagus pieces, then give it all a quick stir.
Cover with a tight fitting lid and bake for 18 minutes until just cooked.
Stir in 2/3 of the Parmesan and remaining butter.
Serve, sprinkled with the remainder of the cheese and pass the pepper mill.

Andrew said...

You will have to make pasta. There is no task more fulfilling in a kitchen, in my not so humble opinion, than spending an hour with a wad of flour and eggs and transforming it in to a silky, toothy, and richly flavored delight cooked in three short minutes! I made a big batch of fettuccine over the weekend to pair with Jessie's bolognese. Mmm, I'm hungry just thinking about it!

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