How I’ve changed as a cook since January 2013

kitchenaidkitchen

No, that is not my kitchen. Beautiful though, right? (image from KitchenAid.com)

I don’t like New Year’s resolutions. I think it’s the high rate of failure when I set myself a goal and label it a “resolution”.

I don’t know if I have any specific “goals” for 2014, honestly. As I was thinking about what I might want to accomplish this year, I thought of some stuff that has changed for me since last January. Right around this time last year, I was just about a week into my Twenty/20 Project, cooking up a storm and generally flying blind. It was fun, and I realized that after a year, many of the lessons that I learned from that experience still stick with me.

Beyond the general “learning new techniques” goal that I got from completing that project, some fundamental habits changed for me in the kitchen. A list:

- I noticed that now when I have any chicken broth-based soup…I kind of need a bit of lemon juice in it to make it “brighter”.

- I bought a digital scale and now weigh ingredients more often than not.

- The confidence I earned by baking an angel food cake (twice) led me to making a challah in October for the first time. And it was…not bad. That’s a story that deserves its own post, honestly. Stay tuned!

- My iodized salt went out of my kitchen on January 1st of last year. Kosher salt replaced it (and I acquired this nifty salt container). I never looked back.

- When I took a cooking class with my husband in December, I was flattered when one of the assistants to the instructor saw me season onion in a sauté pan and said, “clearly you’ve done this before!”. (No, I have not changed my mind on onion…this was a cooking class, folks.)

- I am getting better about my mise en place. By that I mean, instead of simply taking out my ingredients before I start making something and putting them in an unorganized pile…I actually organize myself before I do anything.

As a result of some of the above lessons, I noticed one more big change: cooking for my extended family for the holidays had me way less stressed out this time around. Namely, we host Thanksgiving. That can be an intimidating thing even for someone who cooks at home a lot. There’s always the pressure of “will our family like what I’ve made”. I found that by being more organized and having just a bit more confidence in myself as a cook, that intimidation kind of…well…disappeared. That, my friends, was the biggest win of all.

In other, non-cookery news:

Today I begin a ten week writing course given by Creative Nonfiction. I’d tell you which course I’m doing, but honestly, I’d rather not. The end goal of all of this is simply to become a better, more polished writer, so the specific class isn’t the point. The point is getting instruction from an actual writing course – something I’ve never had in my life. Oh sure, English classes all throughout school gave me a solid base (or at least I think they did). Studying history in college provided me with plenty of writing opportunity, for sure.

I confess I’m a little scared and excited about the class. I’ll try to update you all if something interesting happens, but we shall see. Just wish me luck! I’ll be around here a bit more often. If nothing else, I’ll have to tell you all the story behind the challah. It isn’t half bad. :)

 



Categories: Cooking, Personal Adventures, Shenanigans, Twenty/20 Project

2 replies

  1. I’m just so happy to see you writing! And, as a lover of challah, I must hear the challah story. :)

  2. Missed you, glad to see a post! Good luck with the class and look forward to reading about your adventures in cooking.

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