Saturday, January 21, 2006

Meme: Cooking Challenges 2006

A few days ago, Kalyn of "Kalyn's Kitchen", who always impresses me with her beautiful presentation and interesting posts (not to mention the focus on healthy recipes!), tagged me for a very interesting meme: my five cooking challenges for 2006? Ever since I started writing this blog (almost a year ago!), I have taken on small cooking challenges, baby steps like making custard from scratch or cooking with some novel (for me) ingredients. But I have such a long way to go towards being the kind of cook that I would like to be.

My 5 Culinary Challenges for 2006...

classic1. Learn To Cook Classic Dishes. Don't get me wrong...experimentation has its own role in my kitchen, but one of my goals is to learn to make all of the world's classic dishes really well. I want to make a perfectly creamy risotto, tasty pad-thai and a mean macaroni-and-cheese. The same goes for Indian classics: I would like to make the perfect dal makhani, the tangiest rasam and an authentic aloo gobi. Luckily, I have access to wonderful recipes from fellow bloggers as well as cookbooks and this challenge is going to be really fun!

salad2. Make More Salads. Now here is a department where I am woefully lacking! Most of the meals I churn out don't have a big salad component at all. My idea of salad usually is to make a quick yogurt-based "raita" or to put out a bowl of baby carrots and a platter of cucumber and tomato slices. That just does not cut it! I want to start planning meals around salads rather than include them as an afterthought.

WholeGrain3. Cook More Whole Grains. Again, I started working on this last year by including oatmeal, whole-wheat pasta and brown rice in my cooking repertoire. But so many more grains/flours are available now, such as quinoa and teff, and I want to learn to cook them all. Whole grains have too many health benefits and learning to make some delicious dishes using these grains would make it easy to make small healthful changes in my diet.

cookware4. Equip Myself With Better Cookware. I presently own a skillet, a non-stick pan, 3 saucepans and a pressure cooker. All three saucepans are non-stick and I want to replace them with others (the lining is prone to leaking into food, studies suggest). The problem is, I am unsure what kind of cookware to buy. Any suggestions? What do you all use and how do you get around the problem of food sticking to the cookware? Any suggestions would be very welcome in helping me meet my challenge to cook in safer cookware. In addition, I would also like to buy a cast-iron pot, and a good wok. I would like to buy quality items and use them over a lifetime.

5. Generate Less Kitchen Waste.This one means a lot to me personally. I try to live an environmentally-conscious lifestyle, and in my home (and I suppose, most others), the kitchen produces most of my household trash. I would like to reduce this trash to the bare minimum. Some things I currently do are:
a) Take tote bags to the store so that I save those grocery plastic bags.
b) Buy foods in bulk to save on packaging.
c) Try to minimize food waste by planning meals in advance and buying only the groceries I know I will use.
d) Cook beans from scratch to avoid buying all those canned beans.
More challenges:
a) I want to grow my own herbs (never have to buy herbs again) and start growing some other veggies.
b) Start a compost heap with my bio-degradable kitchen waste.
Any other suggestions to reduce kitchen waste would be very welcome. I will challenge myself to keep thinking of new ways to do this.
Thanks, Kalyn, for provoking me into thinking about this meme...it was a very useful exercise!

13 comments:

  1. TAG!
    10 Random Facts You Didn't Know About Me.
    Can't wait to read your post ^^
    Check out my blog first...
    Thank you.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Yup. Salads. I think that one is on my list every year! I really am going to try harder this year. If you make some great salads, please post about them. I need the inspiration!

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  3. those are excellent Challenges. I have been thinking the same thing about my circulon cookware - the non-stick is great but i am a bit nervous about what i've been hearing. And your less-waste is a great idea too! One additional idea... they say that unplugging small appliances when not in use can save quite a bit of energy. So i've started unplugging the toaster oven, microwave, etc. Oh, also, we stopped buying bottled water and got a Pur filter for our faucet. ;) keep up the great blogging!

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  4. Good Luck!!

    I have many of the same goals especially with respect to cooking!!!

    I'm right now making my first chana dal, and sambhar...

    Don't forget to add some ethioptic dishes to your classic list...Injera from scratch using teff is a must!
    http://www.exploratorium.edu/cooking/bread/recipe-injera.html

    ReplyDelete
  5. Strawberry...hmm..lets see if I can come up with 10 facts that I don't mind writing on the blog...I'm a bit shy about that :)

    Amy, this year I am going to be serious about salads too :) not just keep it an idle resolution. I am going to write about the salads I make on "recipe watch" so stay tuned!

    Hi EP, great tips...thanks for sharing them!

    Hi Russ, good luck with all the Indian cooking...I know you will be rewarded with tasty results!
    Thanks for the injers link...I simply love ethiopian.

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  6. Nupur, I've been moving away from nonstick too after reading some studies on that. first step was buying a set of cast iron cookware through Amazon. I got a very good deal (5 pieces of lodge cast iron cookware for a whopping $36.36 with free shipping - got a great deal) and have been in love with my cookware ever since. The taste of the food has increased leaps and bounds. I highly suggest lodge cookware through Amazon. If you need more details on what I bought, let me know. will be glad to help.

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  7. These are inspiring goals! I have similar ones for whole grains and less kitchen waste.

    Regarding the issue on non-stick, I have totally dispensed with all my non-stick pans (except for one appam pan which I love), and use cast iron instead. I got a 10" Lodge cast iron skillet years ago at a yard sale and it is my very favorite pan ever. Properly seasoned, nothing sticks to it, and it has a nice feel.

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  8. Dear Tai,
    Your idea of making compost yourself is good.All you need to do is to hae the following:-
    1. A wire mesh basket.(mesh 1"X1")
    2. Insert a layer of dry laves or coconut (shendi) at the base of prevent the compost from falling down.
    3. Add a layer of dry leaves--2"thick
    4. Add some wormiculture --about 1/4 of a kg.
    5.Keep on adding the wet waste which you generate in the kitchen-ie stems of coriander,geen vegetables,bits of lady's fingers,peels of cucumbers etc.
    6. Keep the whole mixture moist by spraying aome water daily.
    7.No cover needed if kept in the shade.
    8.The water that tricles down and out should be collected as 'Wormiwash ' adn is a good insecticide for the other plants and a good fertilizer too.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Dear Tai,
    Your idea of making compost yourself is good.All you need to do is to hae the following:-
    1. A wire mesh basket.(mesh 1"X1")
    2. Insert a layer of dry laves or coconut (shendi) at the base of prevent the compost from falling down.
    3. Add a layer of dry leaves--2"thick
    4. Add some wormiculture --about 1/4 of a kg.
    5.Keep on adding the wet waste which you generate in the kitchen-ie stems of coriander,geen vegetables,bits of lady's fingers,peels of cucumbers etc.
    6. Keep the whole mixture moist by spraying aome water daily.
    7.No cover needed if kept in the shade.
    8.The water that tricles down and out should be collected as 'Wormiwash ' adn is a good insecticide for the other plants and a good fertilizer too.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Very good ideas. You must grow some herbs if you possibly can. There is nothing like herbs picked right off the plant. I really enjoyed reading this.

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  11. N U P U R !!!!
    i saw the site,finally!it sure is HOT!!
    it's fantastic!!u really r amazing!! trust u to come up with these ideas! great pics too!keep it up and all the best!
    sujata

    ReplyDelete
  12. Please look at the following link.
    http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=george&dbid=40

    What I do is, all dry stuff in iron kadhai and wet stuff in stainless steel.

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  13. I got to this post only today. I've always used copper bottomed stainless steel for normal cooking, heavy cast iron kadhais (the kind they so don't make anymore) and borosilicate glass.

    I have only non stick pan. I have recently moved to hard anodised cookware and I find that very nice.

    ReplyDelete

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