What I’ve learned so far in Postaweek 2011

03 Mar

Just to recap, I’ve pledged to cooking or baking a new recipe per week of 2011 and posting about it here in WordPress. I am currently on week 9, and it’s been a wonderful experience so far. I would like to share with you what I have learned in 9 weeks of tackling new recipes.

1. Scheduling menu and cooking ahead of time

It is important to try plotting out a list of recipes/dishes I want cook for at least two weeks in advance. Three weeks would be better. The reason for this is so I know what dishes go with each other in terms of ingredients, and what days I need to be cooking. This also helps me cut back on the time I need in the mornings to prepare my baon. In terms of this challenge, it keeps me on track and I don’t have to use a recipe I don’t really want to try just to meet my deadline.

2. Making an organized shopping list

It’s kind of self-explanatory, really. Having an organized shopping list will prevent any extraneous items from “falling accidentally” into your cart, and it will also reduce the overall number of trips to the grocery. What I do in addition is to have a priority list, so that I’ll know when would be the best time for a grocery run.

3. Making the menu around the ingredients, instead of buying ingredients to suit the menu

This is important in relation to #1. When planning out the menu, it’s important to think about or even list down the contents of the fridge and the pantry. This way, you are using up the items before they go bad. In the long run, it’s also cheaper since you don’t have to make a grocery run just to get the specialty ingredients. Or, if I really need specialty ingredients, I can work that into my schedule so I’ll only make that dish when I already have the necessary ingredients in my pantry.

4. Rewriting recipes is valuable

This is probably the most surprising thing I discovered during this challenge. Even before I started with Postaweek, it’s already been my habit to rewrite recipes I intend to try on a little notebook. I appreciated it more because this notebook made a handy little reference when I’m scheduling my recipes. In addition, it’s small and sturdy enough that I can bring it to my kitchen without fear of ruining it. And lastly, writing it down in my own words let me internalize the recipe way beforehand, so I don’t forget things like preheating ovens or letting things go to room temperature.

5. Equipment is important, but not that much

In my search for recipes that I want to try, I encounter such and such equipment that I will need when making a particular dish. I know that having those equipment would probably make my life much easier (e.g. stand mixer), but it doesn’t mean that I have to acquire it first before I try the recipe. Sometimes, I can substitute or improvise with existing things (e.g. a hand mixer). However, there are certain things that cannot be substituted, or that I don’t have any of the acceptable substitutes that I’ll just have to admit I can’t do those recipes. For example, I’ll have to pass on things that require a food processor/blender, because I have neither. No biggie! There are lots of other things I can try, anyway.

This Postaweek challenge has taught me all these things. In addition, it has taught me the importance of being organized and planning ahead. Not to mention the incredible wealth of knowledge I’m picking up just by spending all this time in my kitchen trying things out for the first time.


Posted by on March 3, 2011 in 52-Week Challenge 2011


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11 responses to “What I’ve learned so far in Postaweek 2011

  1. Clair

    March 3, 2011 at 2:11 PM

    Nice! 🙂 Thanks for sharing what you’ve learned.

    There are a lot of things I’m learning by baking things. Hay. The type of chocolate powder matters, from the looks of things. And one of my friends agreed with me when we chatted about making cupcakes. She sticks to certain imported brands. Sometimes the locally available and cheaper ingredients don’t match up 😦 But there really are times when things still turn out ok when it comes to swapping ingredients.

    I don’t really plan what I cook/bake. I’ve always looked at the ref and then decide from there. unless there are particular requested dishes from my mom and/or sister XD

    • baonkobento

      March 3, 2011 at 2:31 PM

      I agree about the chocolate! Grabe, even just the brand makes a big difference. What I discovered recently is, Goya baking chocolates are an acceptable substitute for Van Houten baking chocolates (which are VERY hard to find!). Would you believe that even the brand of evaporated milk matters?

      I love hearing about your baking/cooking adventures too! Keep ’em coming! 😛

      • Clair

        March 3, 2011 at 6:56 PM

        Oi! Goya — san meron niyan? I will look for that 😀 As for evaporated milk, I haven’t experimented much. I usually use Carnation so I wouldn’t know. What’s the lesson on evap milk? Share! Hahaha.

        I will try Hershey’s cocoa powder. Buti may bilihang malapit sa amin. (Just learned this earlier!) May de-kilong chocolate powder. Yung confectioner’s sugar na malaking pack 180 pesos. Looks like a sweet deal 😀

  2. Patrecia aaka misswhiplash

    March 3, 2011 at 7:41 PM

    How I wish I was a ‘cookie’ person. In my younger days I did quite a lot of cooking and thoroughly enjoyed trying new recipes but now that I am in my’ not so young as I used to be’ years I just cannot be bothered.
    So I envy the fact that you get so much enjoyment…. but having said that I get my enjoyment from reading your blogs whether about food or anything else. So I am pleased that you are happy with your 9 weeks of practicing new recipes and that you have been able to give pleasure to so many .people

    Have a Great day and keep smiling!

    • baonkobento

      March 3, 2011 at 11:10 PM

      I get that feeling a lot. I wish that I started to do many things while I was younger, and that there’s a feeling of wasted time. But I realized that the past cannot be changed, and we could only move forward.

      I’m really touched for your taking the time to read my food diary, and to comment too!

      Have a good day as well! 🙂

  3. baonkobento

    March 3, 2011 at 11:06 PM

    Clair: My friend Seth taught me her sopas recipe (I should write about that too!) and she was adamant on using the Angel brand evaporated milk. There was a time I couldn’t find any Angel evap milk, so I tried carnation. It did taste different, and that Angel was better! Very surprising.

    I bought my goya chocolates in Landmark, although I think I saw some in Hi-Top as well. It’s not so bad at php85 a pack.

    Where do you buy the per-kilo chocolate powder and the confectioner’s?

    • Clair

      March 4, 2011 at 6:13 PM

      Angel evap is sweeter, I think. I use that sometimes when baking but it’s mostly Carnation XDDD I now want to try your friend’s version of sopas. Soooo curious!

      85 pesos per pack sounds reasonable 😀

      I buy the baking supplies here in my neighborhood ^^;;; But Chocolate Lovers in E Rodriguez Cubao has baking goods in big packs. I think naka-kilo na sila and looks like sulit naman. Meron din dito na per kilo na baking goods sa Novaliches Bayan. ^^;;; Those could be too far from you?

      I heard from a friend that there’s wholewheat flour being sold in the Salcedo weekend market. 🙂

      • baonkobento

        March 5, 2011 at 10:03 AM

        I’ll write and queue up that sopas post. I think it’s already in my menu in the next couple of weeks, so watch out for it! 😀

        I’m not exactly sure where Nova Bayan is, but I’ve previously been a regular shopper in SM Fairview. How far is it from there? A per-kilo shop of baking goods sounds just awesome!

  4. peonyli

    March 4, 2011 at 5:52 PM

    I really like this post TL! It’s great that in the course of doing something that you love you learn things along the way. I can relate to number 2 and 3; since I’m always at work and rarely cook, in the opportunities that I can I find myself underestimating grocery shopping, finding out after aimlessly meandering that I wasted two whole hours just to gather a dozen ingredients.

    Also, just to share: there is a baker’s supply store in Walmart Muñoz, and also another one along EDSA between Congressional and Gamo if you are interested (near Muñoz also). I don’t know about the pricing since I can’t bake to save my life, but if you have time and are in the area, it could be something worth checking out.

    Looking forward to more posts! ^_^

    • peonyli

      March 4, 2011 at 5:53 PM

      Sorry, I meant Gami instead of Gamo. :))

    • baonkobento

      March 5, 2011 at 10:10 AM

      Grabe, yeah, one of my favorite pastimes is to just wander the aisles of a supermarket. It’s very therapeutic! I just make it a point to be full so I’m not hungrily grabbing everything in sight!

      Thanks for the tip about Walmart! I’ll try googling directions to Muñoz, I’m not very familiar with that area. But this seems to be a trip worth taking!


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