Tuesday, August 21, 2007

How Am I Doing?

It's time for a chat.

You probably remember I had a loooooong list of New Year dares up back in January. I thought this was the time to do a short recap of how I'm doing on that list, because, you know, I've had all of my summer holiday to get stuff done, there's only four short months left of the year and - maybe, just maybe, I need a literal kick in the behind to get back in gear. So:
  • Do more comparative cooking and, especially, baking.
Well, it started out great! But since that fight, not much has happened. I've done quite a lot of comparative tasting, like organic vs. regular cucumbers (couldn't tell the difference, except for a slight difference in texture), and mayo (homemade wins, no doubt) , but other than that. Meh. So I can't quite cross that of my list, yet.
  • Cook Osso Buco.
I actually did do this, quite a while back, but it just wasn't worthy of a post. That may have had a lot to do with the recipe, which I sorta winged, drawing on a couple of insprations. I absolutely lovede the gremolata thing, and I haven't given up on Osso Buco - come autumn, I'm sure I'll find an excuse to try again.

  • Make pasta/to use my Kitchen Aid attachments more often
I have done pasta a couple of times, since that first encounter on New Years Eve. But the other attachments haven't been put to the good use they should. Sausages, really, c'mon Zarah!
  • Enter the Indian kitchen.
Nope. Well, and then again, There was a probably-not-so-authetic version of Chicken Tikka Masala. Which was tasty. But I need to get my groove on, here....
  • Cook Chicken Parmesan, a classic Wienerschnitzel and Cordon Bleu.
Martin's done saltimbocca a couple of times! But, no, none of these, either...
  • Make puff pastry. And then bake me some fine Danish "Wienerbrød" with it.
Who on earth put this on the list? Who?? Geez... A no on that one, too.

  • Thrash less food because it's gone bad.
This is actually going quite well better than expected. That is to say, it's become more present in my mind and thus in my everyday shopping and eating habits that I need to use some of the stuff I already have. Also, I've made lists of what I have in the freezer and cupboards that hangs on the fridge door, which helps with me knowing, at any given time, what's available (and what needs using). I update them regularly, 'cause even though I try to remember to cross things off when I use them, something always slips.

Mostly, though, this is going well, because (pat on shoulder) I've gotten better at substituting - no, you don't HAVE to buy buttermilk because you need two spoonfuls - soured milk or creme fraiche or yoghurt, that you already have in the fridge and that is very near expiration, just might do the trick- and improvising with the stuff that's already there. In fact, it's become somewhat of a sport to do a fridge clean-up cooking whenever Martin's out for the night and I just have to cook for myself.
  • Find the recipe for Ranch dressing I've been looking for...
Any suggestions??
  • Make stock! Vegetable, veal and chicken - and maybe fish. And actually keep some handy, throughout the year. Shall this be the year of the death of Touch of Taste? (a liquid stock thing)
Well, it has been the death of Touch of Taste (read: I'm substituting water and wine), but I haven't quite, shall we say, kept stock handy. There is a small stash of chicken stock in the freezer as I write, and this is one thing I am adamant about. Besides, chicken salad is gooooood!
  • Cook fish, at least once a week.

Wo-hoo, one thing that's actually going well!! We've had tons and tons of fish and shellfish, and we're enjoying it, too. Sometimes, they're classics, other times, we're doing new and adventurous recipes - it's all good.
  • I'll try not to buy any cookbooks.
I thought this was going to be the hardest one of them all. Seriously. I've bought at least 10 cookbooks a year for the last 5-6 years. And even though my Amazon Wishlists are ready to burst at the seams, I haven't bought a. Single. One. Yes, I've been blessed with three (all courtesy of Mom - Mom, I love you!)

Two Danish ones: Noma, from the restaurant, which is gorgeous, but has totally inaccesible recipes (for an everyday meal, anyways) and FISK by Nikolaj Kirk, our version of Jamie Oliver, only better (Take THAT, J.O!) Fisk means, as you probably guessed, fish, so this one has come in quite handy.

Also, I got Heston Blumenthal's In Search of Perfection. I like it, but it was more of a nice read than anything I suspect I'll ever cook anything from. But time will show.

That's it. I'm so proud of me. Yes, there are still three cooking magazine subscriptions (gastro, a Danish one, and Gourmet and Saveur) and I love them for the thrill of them dropping in my mail box ever so often. They probably make the longing for real cookbooks easier to resist. I've also re-discovered the library - did you know they actually have pretty cookbooks there, and they let you have them for a month, and you don't even have to PAY for it?? Amazing, that.

What we have been doing with regards to cookbooks, is putting the ones I (we) already have to good use. Like, we've been using them. Like, we've cooked recipes, straight out of the books, only using our good judgement to adjust etc. Every Sunday, we picked out three cookbooks, then picked a recipe from each, and cooked it during the following week. It's brought us lovely treats such as Thai fishcakes, croquetas and pappardelle with scallops. The project has been on the backburner over the summer, but we're counting on getting in back in gear, now that I'm starting school again.

So that's how I'm doing - how are you doin'?


plum said...

Oh you have been so good about the cookbooks! I keep trying to stick to that resolution, but it hardly ever happens. Although I was looking through my Amazon list the other day and removed a couple of the new chocolate books from it when I realised I hadn't even opened the last one I bought six months ago. That's as far as my progress goes!

Kevin Kossowan said...

Fun read, and a great list! An idea that may assist your stock goal: I stole on of my wife's shoeboxes that was just as wide as a medium ziploc. And it went into the freezer as my stock 'holder'. When I make stock, I freeze a quart or so in the bag, flat on a baking sheet. I can then stand them up in the shoebox, all neat and orderly like files in a filing cabinet. Makes it easy to review what you have. I'm going to make me a list like yours, I'm jealous.

joey said...

Glad to see you are doing well and getting along fine with your new year resolutions :)

Garrett said...

Ranch Dressing - Equal parts sour cream to buttermilk. Add garlic powder and dill to taste, and personally, I like a bit of lemon zest as well for a tiny bit more zing.

Love the pic of the chickens btw.

Tea said...

How great to have a mid-year check-in. I usually get to December and realize I'm nowhere near where I planned to be...(sigh). Good for you!

Cathy said...

You're so good to even have a list, but to post it for all to see AND keep uas updated on your status? That shows commitment and bravery! I've been trying in fits and starts to make little steps towards being less wasteful - like putting leftovers into a container I can wash and reuse instead of using a plastic bag or wrap. Unfortunately, it just dawned on me yesterday that my near daily excursions to Starbucks (and the disposable cup and packaging for the sandwich) must surely negate what little progress I thought I'd made on that front. :( Now I'm trying to talk myself into at least cutting back on Starbucks. Not there yet.

Andreea said...

we recently got the heston book as well. great read as you say. for the rest i think we would need to move to a laboratory rather than a city apartment :)
(oh and love the tip on the restaurant as i might have to go to copenhagen for work november'ish so something to try out ...)

Julie said...

I think you're doing great! You inspire me to at least think about moving outside of some of my intense little culinary boxes, and experiment more. I haven't played with pasta except for that one time, so maybe you and I should make a pasta-making pact -- once a month or so, we have to dig out the KitchenAid pasta rollers...

Sara said...

Try not to buy any cookbooks???? Why would you do that to yourself?

good food said...

If you would ever quit blogging you could become a pro photographer. Love, love these photos and especially the one of your fridge. The shadows are magnificent. Well done!

Agree, Gastro magazine rules! :-)

Eva said...

Maybe I should start to make fridge inventories, too... Thank you for that hint!

Pragyan said...

You inspire me! Some of your list items..I am going to steal them and add to my list. Particularly the pantry inventory and using them up before buying new stuff..I try to record every item bought so that next time I go shopping I know what I need..need a good procedure to use up what I already have :)

Zarah Maria said...

Plum - well, weeding out the amazon list is a good place to start. The hardest time was just in the beginning - going cold turkey. But now, it's not that bad. And with the library there, I'm actually doing okay. And looking at a lot of Danish cookbooks that I would otherwise over-look because here in the foodblogosphere, there aren't many Danish books, you know;)

Kevin - That is a great idea. One things is to have an organized list of what's in the freezer - the actual thing isn't so organized as the lists might suggest, though. But I'll keep this in mind...

Joey - Thank you!

Garrett - Oooooh! Will try this, thank you!

Tea - one of the lists on that fridge is of my New Years Resolutions. So it's staring at me, every day. It will not let me forget. If it wasn't there, I probably would have!

Cathy - well, we need to indulge every now and again. We don't have that many Starbucks-type places here, so I don't have that problem. I'm sure it would becoma a problem for me if we did have Starbucks, though. How would they feel about you bringing your own mug? Or maybe if you bought one of theirs, they have some pretty neat thermos things, don't they?

Andreaa - Noma is gorgeous. Expensive, but definitely worth it. And let me know if you do get to go here, we could meet up!

Julie - you're serious? A pact between the two of us on making pasta - that would be awesome!

Sara - I know. But there's an easy answer, albeit a dull one. Money. ICK! :)

Trine - thank you! And yes, gastro is awesome - REAL food, and I love the combination of easier, accesible recipes and to-die-for-but-I-would-never-be-able-to-make restaurant-recipes. And killer photos. I'm so sad Spis Med died out (but I know some of the people behind it, so I was naturally inclined to like it) - Mad & Venner is just nothing like it. Sniffles.

Eva - you're welcome!

Pragyan - steal away ;)

netta said...

hi, i just have a question i wondr if you can help with:
my sister and i will have two days to our selves before the rest of the family arrives in copenhagen for a family vacation. we want to find out about foodie adventures outside of copenhagen - farms, cheese makers, vegetable garden, wineries...or anything that isn't super touristy and urban..
any ideas?