It’s January, so time to come up with a new challenge to write about here on the blog. Preferably something a bit less ambitious than last year’s challenge of cooking a new ingredient a week for a year.
The problem with trying out these kind of challenges is that they pre-suppose a certain amount of stability, even staleness, in the lives of the participants. They’re meant to shake things up and challenge the participants. However, last year saw my life get thoroughly shaken up – in a good way! – as I changed jobs and with it, my lifestyle completely changed. From March onwards, most weeks I was just pleased if I managed to cook something reasonably nutritious never mind trying anything new or exciting. All things considered, I’m amazed that I actually managed to try 17 new things, no matter that I got nowhere near my target of 52, just getting near to two new things a month feels like an achievement.
Instead, this year I want to cook with two new ingredients each month and try one new recipe a month, as I gained a couple of new recipe books that have been sitting forlornly unloved on my shelf. I’ve even sort of succeeded on the cook a new recipe front already this month! I made tomato soup from an amalgamation of two different recipes this afternoon! I’m once again suffering from the need to cull my store cupboards of excess of cupboard staples so this month I’m trying to do as much bulk cooking from things I already had in the cupboards. So far this month I’ve managed a nice Cauliflower Daal, quesadillas and the aforementioned Tomato Soup. If this last year has proved anything, it’s that if I’m to eat properly and not waste food in this new job, I need to get back to being as organised and pre-planned about my meals as I used to be when I lived at home.
Part of the problem is that I don’t keep all my food in the one cupboard, so things are scattered between three different cupboards so I completely lose track of what I do and don’t have in there. This then backfires in various ways from the difficulties caused by discovering at an inconvenient moment that I don’t have an essential part of a particular recipe, or at the opposite end of the scale I bring home several cans of chopped tomatoes that were on special, only to find I already have four cans in the cupboard and nowhere to put them. (Hence tomato soup, which handily used up three cans of chopped tomatoes and a can of butterbeans I’d forgotten why I bought but keep getting in the way at inconvenient moments.) So it’s high time I had a clear out, figured what I do in fact have in there and sat down with the recipe book to figure out what to cook with them before they all expire on me! Hopefully, this will lead me to trying even more things as I actually have cupboard space to fill with new things.