I’m not one to make a list of New Years Resolutions. However I do relish the opportunity to quietly ponder what I would like to achieve in the coming year. One thing I am striving for in my life is to get to sleep at an earlier hour. Evidently I appear to be doing that very well, lately.
Following along this path, and feeling inspired by the promise of a new year, I recently spent a little time pondering my food aspirations. Namely skills that I would like to develop this coming year, and a few food-fears thrown in for good measure.
I am a food appreciator from way back, however branching out of my comfort zone to tackle daunting recipes is a something that is fairly new to me. Historically, I would rely on others to do what I couldn’t, and if I am honest with myself, for a long time I stayed within my comfort zone. This lack of confidence stopped me from cooking certain foods, which were categorised in my mind as ‘scary’.
This year has seen me taking leaps and bounds with my cooking, trying new food and cooking more adventurously than ever before. I have never been hungrier than I am now. Yet there are still a good handful of foods that I am yet to tackle. These foods sit there in the back of my mind, clearly untouched and ever-foreign.
Not all my feared, not yet attempted recipes are necessarily difficult. They do not always require an arms length of exotic ingredients, nor do they necessarily involve skillful processes. They are simply ones that are foreign to me, and hence, ones that I have never before attempted in my humble little kitchen.
I so wish to make friends with these intimidating foods. Even if I fail, I want to try. I want to give myself completely to my cooking and be fearless, like my mum. Essentially, I need to man-up. And I know just where to start…
These foods are at the top of my ‘feared’, ‘never made before but oh how I long to do so’ list. This year, I want to attempt them and become less inhibited with my cooking. Cheers to that!
Yes, I have never made cupcakes. Of this I am rather ashamed. I tried once, yet I was decidedly distracted and lacking some ingredients. They weren’t great. I long to bake a fluffy, moist cupcake and generously top it with picture-perfect swirls of frosting. I may also add sprinkles or some dainty edible silver balls…we’ll see. Either way, this year I am determined to get my cupcake-bake on.
I put this down to the fact that since moving out of home 7 years ago, I have never had a good oven. Cheap rentals don’t really afford you a smeg. Frittatas and cakes never cooked throughout and the edges were dry, occasionally burnt. This limited my options. I rarely tried anything ‘roasted’ – slow-cooking I could do, but I never trusted my oven to roast anything properly. Potatoes would take at least 1.5 hours and would never be crisp *sigh*. While my oven at our current apartment is not particularly better, my confidence and skills have improved enough for me to attempt roast lamb, and I also regularly roast vegetables. And so, I feel ready to try my hand at a classic roast chicken. Last year, using my parent’s beautiful oven I have made Valli Little’s chicken with 40 cloves of garlic, and it rocked my world. This year, I am going to give my oven a chance to rock my world too. It might just to the job.
From cooking conversations I have had with friends, baking with yeast is not an uncommon fear. For me, I am dubious about my ability to use it and have the dough rise properly. However I recently saw a recipe for cinnamon buns that might just lead me to push my fear aside, rise up to the challenge (pun intended) and get baking.
Clams and Mussels
On my recent European adventure, I ate mussels and clams like there was no tomorrow. Prior to this, I was never a huge fan. I have never attempted them since my trip, as, well, they’re kind of creepy looking and I have no idea where to start. This year, I wish to cook with these babies at home, so I can feel like I’m in Italy or Spain, vino at the ready. I’m thinking spaghetti with mussels and clams, seafood platters with crusty bread and garlic aioli and I might even try a bouillabaisse. I cannot wait!
I have never made pastry before, and I am not quite sure what it is about pastry that scares me. Perhaps it is the chilling process, or the fear of a dry, crumbly mixture. Either way, I find myself avoiding recipes that involve pastry because of this ever-present lack of confidence. However I so wish to overcome this frustrating fear. One of my favourite movies is Waitress, and every time I watch it I long to be in the kitchen, with my rolling pin, creating and baking pies. This year I want to become a pie girl. I want to bake pies all day long until the sun sets. Whilst doing said baking, I will wear a frilly, floral apron over a yellow sun dress, and walk around my kitchen barefoot as the sun softly peeks through the blinds. At least this romantic notion is how it goes in my head.
So there it is, my list. Now where shall I start…