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.