Kitchen Resolutions You Should Make for a Delicious 2016

I don’t really do resolutions like “running” or “clean eating,” but I do enjoy the “take charge of your life!” energy that each January brings. Instead of harnessing that energy to start a diet, consider making a few resolutions that aim to improve your kitchen and kitchen-related skills.

Though there’s nothing wrong with starting a diet per se, I prefer to focus on changes that make me more excited to cook at home, rather than focusing on calories or “cleanliness.” The better a cook I become, the more likely I am to make meals for myself, which will be healthier and cheaper than eating out. Here are seven ways you can better your cooking in 2016 and, unlike some resolutions, these are likely to last the whole year.

Source: Kitchen Resolutions You Should Make for a Delicious 2016

Try to cook four dishes, from a different country …each month.  Maybe a tad less if your INR is fluctuating though.  I know of a circle of friends who theme a potluck for a challenge while not having to cook everything themselves.

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Keep Super Sticky Dough from Binding to Your Hands With a Little Oil

…during the holiday season, no matter how vigilant you are about following these commandments, sometimes you still need a little help, some extra assurance, a few aces up your sleeve.

So we gathered 52 of our smartest tips—the tricks and techniques picked up from years of experience and experiments but that don’t necessarily fall under the Great Baking Laws—and put them in one place.

Source: Our 52 Favorite Tips for Smarter Holiday Baking

I had a similar problem with a recipe not too long ago, incredibly sticky. Instead of wasting a ton of dough into the kitchen sink I thought I’d try nitrile gloves, clean hands to do clean stuff and doughy hands to do doughy stuff. Turns out… the dough won’t stick to nitrile gloves!

Those Extracts In Your Cupboard Have Many Uses Beyond Baking

It’s a tale as old as vanilla extract: You buy a bottle of it (or of almond, or anise, or any other kind of extract), it gets shuffled to the back of your pantry shelf, and then you buy another.

And before you know it, in a fervent pantry clean out session, you uncover an extract windfall. And then what do you do?

Source: How to Use Up a Heck of a Lot of Extracts

Couple additional options:

  • If you have kids, you can add it to your playdough (homemade or store bought) or rice.
  • They can be used pretty easily to make flavored syrups for cocktails. Just dump the extract in before (or after honestly) you boil the syrup down.

How to Pass Off Store-Bought Food as Your Own

Taking it out of the container would be a start 😉

From now until January 2nd, you’ll be invited to many parties of the house, cocktail, and dinner variety. If you love to cook, making and bringing something won’t be a problem, but if you have the baking skills of a young Cher Horowitz, you may need to lie. By “lie” I mean “buy some food you did not make and pretend you did.” This isn’t honest, or righteous, or even very easy, but it can be done.

Source: How to Pass Off Store-Bought Food as Your Own

I figured if I covered cranberry sauce, why stop there?

Whole-Grain Flour Has a Short Shelf Life, So Freeze It

Let’s just say you were unable to resist the temptation of the bulk bin aisle, and you’ve arrived home with a half-dozen baggies filled with everything from quinoa flour to einkorn. These things happen, but not to worry, because you have plans — big plans! — for baking all sorts of wondrous things in the coming weeks.

Okay, you eager-beaver baker, you — do you know where you should be storing all your lovely bags of whole-grain flour until your schedule clears? Do you know why?

Source: Why You Should Probably Be Storing Your Whole-Grain Flours in the Freezer

Why should I care about it being in an air-tight container? Because even in the freezer, the fats will react (slowly) with oxygen and become rancid. In an air-tight container, the oxygen level will eventually drop too low for the reaction to continue, thus preserving the flour for a longer time than flour stored in the freezer and constantly exposed to fresh oxygen.

On the flip side, whole grain wheat has a shelf live of over 30 years if properly prepared, sealed and stored.  Just add a grinder for flour.

Get Excited About Parchment Paper, One of the Most Useful Things In Your Kitchen

It’s the non-waxy wax paper 😉

For those of you who don’t know, parchment paper is a grease and water-resistant paper that has been treated with some sort of coating to give it its non-stick properties (usually silicone). Contrary to what you may have heard, parchment paper is not wax paper. Wax paper is coated with wax (duh) and, though it’s a good parchment substitute for tasks like letting chocolate-covered strawberries set or covering a work space for easy cleanup, it doesn’t do so well in the oven, as the wax can melt or even catch on fire (which is usually frowned upon).

Source: Get Excited About Parchment Paper, One of the Most Useful Things In Your Kitchen

FYI – en papillote does not mean you eat the parchment.  Not saying I witnessed someone do it …but I totally did.

Last time I looked, parchment paper cost more than wax paper.

Liebster Award Nomination

I was nominated by Bekah, of the lovely A Vegan with a Plan.  Thank you!

The rules for the Liebster Award are:

  • post the award logo on your blog
  • link back to the person who nominated you
  • answer the questions set for you
  • nominate 10 other bloggers (preferably with less than 200 followers) and let them know they’ve been nominated
  • create 10 questions for your nominees

Here are the answers to the questions I was asked:

What is your favorite kitchen tool?

Egg beater, for licking after making whip cream.

What is your favorite food?

Just one?

What kind of camera do you use for blog photos?

Smartphone.  There was a time when I had a Nikon, but it died on me and I was never a photog.

What inspired you to start blogging?

I don’t consider it blogging – this is the result of wanting to change my diet.  After the third or so recipe on a piece of paper, I figured there had to be a better way.  So it’s a cook book to me, but it’s evolved to include various articles and information I encounter that’s either related or interesting to me.

Do you have any hobbies?

Too many.  Cooking takes a backseat to training for triathlon, which includes yoga and sleep.

Which do you enjoy more, cooking or baking?

Can’t it be both?  Both are delicious.

If you could go on vacation anywhere in the world with the goal of trying local cuisine, where would you go?

Eurasia 😀

How much time do you spend blogging each week?

I haven’t tallied – it depends on content.  Some things need more time than others.

What is your favorite color?

Puce.

Food processor, essential or “nice to have”?

Essential.  Mine is almost too small – guacamole is fine, but the black bean brownies almost kills the poor thing.

Here are the questions for my nominees, in no particular order:

  • Please describe yourself in 5 words
  • Would you rather fight 100 duck-sized horses, or 1 horse-sized duck?
  • What’s your guilty pleasure?  Doesn’t have to be food
  • Insects: Would you try them if someone offered them in some form of a meal?  Does it make a difference if the insects are alive or dead?
  • Puns: Enjoyable, or breach of etiquette?  Any favourites?
  • What was the last thing you celebrated?
  • Where was the last time you traveled somewhere new?
  • When did you last push the boundaries of your comfort zone?
  • Would you rather be evil but considered good, or good but considered evil?
  • What’s the wisest thing you’ve heard someone say?

And the blogs I would like to nominate are… (drum roll):

Therapists Use Cooking to Treat Depression, Anxiety and Other Psychological Problems

Many cooks know what a sanctuary the kitchen can be.

Now, some health-care clinics and counselors are using cooking or baking as therapy tools for people suffering from depression, anxiety and other mental-health problems.

…Psychologists say cooking and baking are pursuits that fit a type of therapy known as behavioral activation. The goal is to alleviate depression by boosting positive activity, increasing goal-oriented behavior and curbing procrastination and passivity.

Source: A Road to Mental Health Through the Kitchen

Healthy cooking and eating in groups in encouraged because being around others can boost social skills and confidence.  The healthy aspect should be highlighted more – omega-3 foods are known for improving mood.

I found yoga to be very similar.  Both provide a means of focus and parameters, but with the ability to experiment.  The article does touch on weight gain – never trust a skinny cook 😉  I bring my stuff to work and see what or if co-workers have any feedback as some are foodies.

For some doing large volume, this time of year is great for selling food at craft fairs.  Had an interesting conversation with a co-worker who sells at craft fairs and what they’ve picked up for how to promote and present product.  Out of season, volunteering for a soup kitchen might be an idea.