2017 - A Year of Cooking
The revelation of 2016 and the crystallization of 2017 was the need to pick A Year Of where the subject where constant, useful progress can be made and that has an immediate impact on my life.
2018 is A Year of Cooking and the plan is to pick a different cuisine or group from a part of the world, e.g. South American, North African, Italian, Chinese, Thai, and attempt to cook dishes from that part of the world.
Along the way I’d like to learn some techniques and perhaps resolve one of my frustrations, which is the inability to put together a meal from various ingredients found in the fridge; also, I don’t have a very good grasp on what ingredients and spices go well together and perhaps this will address that too.
The basis, at least in the beginning, for this journey comes from Cooking Light Global Kitchen: The World’s Most Delicious Food Made Easy - which was the inspiration for the regional breakdown.
Outside of regional cooking, I’d also like to improve in three specific area:
- salads (I have one salad I keep making - need to expand);
- Soups and stews;
- Sandwiches - would be great if I also learned to make my own bread.
To avoid waste — different cuisines tend to employ different ingredients — I will be cooking from each region for a longer period of time, but to avoid boredom (“we’re having Chinese again?!”) they will be keep reasonably short: two week cycles.
To avoid the exhaustion of previous years,
I will be setting a low bar: aiming to cook
only 4 dishes every two-week cycle.
If I get to do more, that’s a bonus, but not an expectation.
(No more 30 minutes each day which I suspect ended up contributing to the stress and made me less attracted to my endeavors.)
As a separate stream, I’d like to learn how to make more creative breakfasts than scrambled eggs - I will attempt to make breakfast every weekend, just one of the days, at a minimum.
There are also some fixed dishes for which I’d love to find a good recipe and learn how to make them over and over - this will be a process of refinement:
- Hot & Sour Soup
- Pad Thai
- General Tso chicken
- A few vinaigrettes
- Pasta sauce.
As an aide to Cooking Light Global Kitchen: The World’s Most Delicious Food Made Easy I will also use:
- The Whole 30 Cookbook;
- 101 More Things to Do with a Slow Cooker - both because I already have them;
- The highly recommended Joy of Cooking - 1997 edition - apparently later editions have been unacceptably altered;
Other books I’ve seen recommended which I might acquire:
- Michael Ruhlman’s Ratio: The Simple Codes Behind the Craft of Everyday Cooking - should help with understanding the ingredients and ratios that make up recipes;
- The Flavor Bible: The Essential Guide to Culinary Creativity, Based on the Wisdom of America’s Most Imaginative Chefs
- Niki Segnit’s The Flavor Thesaurus: A Compendium of Pairings, Recipes and Ideas for the Creative Cook
- Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything The Basics - maybe this should be higher on the list.
- dishes from a region of the world - rotating every 2 weeks;
- 4 recipes minimum per two-week rotation;
- 1 breakfast every weekend;
- make bread;
- learn to make better sandwiches;
- learn to make soups and stews;
- learn to make better salads.
I have a good feeling about this year.