A List

January 7, 2011

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…

A List

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!

Cupcakes

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.

Roast Chicken

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.

Yeast

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!

Pastry

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…

Heidi xo

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20 Comments

  • Reply Ashley January 7, 2011 at 5:28 pm

    What a good idea a little list is to have, I tend to leaf through my mum's cookbooks thinking I'm eventually going to learn how to actually cook…although I was making some progress towards the end of last year at least! 🙂

    Cupcakes are so easy and fun once you have a few stabs at them, once I started baking them I became a bit of a cupcake fiend and now make them fairly reguarly to bring to friend's things. 🙂 Have a great chai cupcake recipe if you're ken to try something different!

  • Reply Heidi January 7, 2011 at 6:04 pm

    Yes! Your cupcakes are amazing. Chai cupcakes sound delicious, Ashley! I would love to try them, thanks! xo

  • Reply Kiki Chaos January 7, 2011 at 6:24 pm

    Pastry is easy! But I know what it's like to have an irrational fear like that. I have a fear of blank canvases. I have an easel, brushes, paints and canvases, but I cannot bring myself to make that first brush stroke. If you conquer your pastry fear this year, maybe I can conquer my canvas fear 😀

  • Reply Mez January 7, 2011 at 7:16 pm

    LOVE this list!!! I want to cook these cupcakes: http://www.theparsleythief.com/2011/01/vanilla-bean-cupcakes-with-salted.html

    Apart from that we cook roasts often, even in our shitty and I mean SHITTY little – TINY oven. Thank goodness it's gas, it's the only saving grace. Then again I used to cook roasts in our electric oven.

    I've got the best recipe ever for roast spuds to get them crisp and golden and fluffy in the middle.

    I'll bloggy it for you in the next few days 🙂

  • Reply Heidi January 7, 2011 at 7:26 pm

    Kiki Chaos – yes! let's conquer our fears together!! 🙂 (I would love to be able to paint well)

    Mez – oooh fabulous, can't wait!

    Heidi xo

  • Reply Laura Preston January 7, 2011 at 7:26 pm

    sounds like a great plan. I'm sure you'll enjoy the journey with all those yummy things.
    Can we have the recipe for chai cupcakes? they sound amazing!

  • Reply ClaireyH January 7, 2011 at 9:13 pm

    Put that chook in the oven!

    Our new house I am sure we paid more for because of the Smeg appliances, totally disappointed. The oven is just two years old, already have had to pay $250 for an element that blew up, and the electrics have now blown up and the part alone is $450…so I just said I don't need the clock and timer. And this oven is no better than all the rental ovens I cursed over. A Smeg is certainly no help to my poor cooking skills.

  • Reply Julia @ Boredom Abounds January 7, 2011 at 9:21 pm

    Cupcakes can be hard, I totally agree! It's a fine line between over cooking them and/or making them too dry. Starting with a basic vanilla cupcake recipe is a good way to ease into it. The trouble for me is getting the icing just right (not too runny, not too sweet!)

    I've also decided to try using yeast this year – I saw a recipe for some mini apple scrolls and it didn't seem too difficult, so I think I'll have to give it a shot!

  • Reply The InTolerant Chef January 7, 2011 at 9:50 pm

    I really think if you're going to wear a sundress and frilly apron, you can't be barefoot. You really need the matching high heels. That way you can be a real Stepford Wife honey! I would so love to wear that to work one day in my commercial kitchen!!
    I am not hugely confident with shellfish either. Its a fine line between cooked and ruined. My motto is "fake it till you make it" so just give it a go.

  • Reply Michelle Chin January 7, 2011 at 10:29 pm

    If there was a list of things I would not cook, it would the same as the to-cook list of yours.

  • Reply Hannah January 7, 2011 at 10:49 pm

    *raises hand about yeast* Yep, I'm one of those scared-y pants too! Pastry is something I've never really been interested in making, but it does scare me a little. Clams and mussels… I adore mussels, but got disheartened after spending ages debearding mussels for a dinner with my brother, when I didn't know he hates shellfish…

    Which means I really hope you do the bouillabase, so I can be inspired by you 😉

    Love the list!

  • Reply Sophie January 8, 2011 at 4:23 am

    I love your list Heidi. My vote would be for tackling pastry first, so I can see how you get on (it's one of my challenges for the year too, to get more confident with pastry!)

  • Reply Leah January 8, 2011 at 10:29 am

    What a great list Heidi. I say go for it. If something fails, so what? Everyone has failures thats how you learn what works and what doesn't 🙂
    Good luck in the kitchen for the new year

  • Reply Anna Johnston January 8, 2011 at 3:02 pm

    What an admirable list Heidi & I just know we'll be reading as the year unfolds heaps of fabulous achievements ticked off. I get the whole irrational wobblies over some foods, I've always been a bit iffy with cakes & baking.., no idea why, perhaps its because its I've always been an intuitive cook & baking is a real science, but 2011 is going to see me taking a little step into the baking department I hope 🙂

  • Reply Hannah January 8, 2011 at 3:31 pm

    Great list! I would also love to make pastry from scratch. I've been dreaming of making this tart with sliced pear and chocolate ganache ever since seeing one at this bakery but it does seem quite intimidating (well at least Masterchef makes it look that way)!
    Hannah x

  • Reply Phuoc'n Delicious January 8, 2011 at 4:42 pm

    Hi! Wishing 2011 brings you luck in tackling this list. You can do it! The trick with pastry it to handle it as minimally as possible! If I stumble upon a easy recipe, I'll be sure to pass it on 🙂

  • Reply Carly Findlay January 8, 2011 at 5:42 pm

    I love the waitress!!! Such a lovely movie. And delicious looking too

    I think you should try a roast chook in a crock pot – I put something on my blog the other day about roast chooks being easy.

    Good luck, you can achieve these 🙂

  • Reply Kath (Eating for Living) January 9, 2011 at 7:35 am

    I can so much understand how something that isn't difficult maybe, just unusual, can frighten you! Since I haven't had an oven in 8 years, I feel very insecure about oven-roasting and baking. I've just done some easy rosted veggie and fish dishes, but nothing more. Cupcakes (never made them, too!) an roasted chicken are also on my list! I've made clams once and found it easy, but I just cooked them in freshly made vegetable broth with a little bit of white wine and we ate them from the shell, so not with pasta.

  • Reply Heidi January 9, 2011 at 11:10 am

    Thanks for all your thoughtful, insightful and encouraging comments!! they are so appreciated. I am in Ho Chi Minh CIty right now, and am a little short on time, but I just had to say that I loved reading all your comments! Thank you lovelies 🙂
    Heidi xo

  • Reply Xiaolu @ 6 Bittersweets January 12, 2011 at 12:48 pm

    Good for you and good luck! Having a blog has definitely motivated me to try making so many foods I never would have thought to make and I'm so glad for it. I hope to tackle the macaron and much more this year :).

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