January is the cooking part of my theme to feed myself and my soul up for my journey ahead. And I spent today, updating my Breathe journal on how this is going to work. Firstly though, what on earth will I be cooking? This may seem lame, but I work full-time and can’t devote tons and tons of time to this project. So, my plan is to introduce 4 new recipes into my repertoire – one each week. Now, the question was what recipes. I began by thinking about all the food I missed from where I grew up. For feeding my stomach and my soul, home comfort foods seemed to be the place to start. Around this time, I also caught a bad cold. More than anything I wanted Campbell’s Chicken Noodle Soup. For me, there was nothing in Britain that could come close to touching the restorative powers of Campbell’s Chicken Noodle soup when I had a cold. The first choice was then obvious. I had to find a recipe for chicken noodle soup that would make me feel as warm and happy inside as Campbell’s had. It helps that I have been stock piling recipes for chicken noodle soups on Pinterest for ages – well, over a year at least.
While I was sick, I remembered other foods that I had as a kid when I was ill. If my dad was off with me, we ate Chinese food he would collect from one of the many local establishments we frequented. In the UK, I found I wasn’t as fond of the British Chinese food as I had been of the American, but I do love Ginger Chicken Udon from Wagamama’s. And really, we can’t afford to eat out as often as I would want to eat this dish. Obviously, a copycat recipe of that needed to go on the list. Side note, I also love their chicken gyozas but my lovely husband has making gyozas down, so if I master this, I can have my favourite dishes at home!
Along with Wagamama’s, I have discovered since moving to the UK, I love Thai food. Not the spicy stuff, but when the food is full of flavour, I love it. Pad Thai is a particular favourite, and I love noodles in all forms, so on the list it went.
For my final recipe, I remembered how much I hate Mexican food in the UK. I mean seriously, putting pulled pork in a flour tortilla doesn’t make it a burrito people. I have a good enchilada recipe, thanks to doctoring skills and the Pioneer Woman, but a friend of mine makes the most amazing salsa. Every time I visit my friend, I ask her to make salsa and eat it until I am practically sick. Coincidentally, for Christmas, my husband got me The Border Cookbook which definitely covers salsa. Salsa was on the list.
As I looked over my decisions, something did feel amiss. I love pasta, but not a single pasta recipe was on the list. I think I now know quite a few pasta recipes (either from cookbooks or developed in my own head) so I began to feel okay about leaving it off. Spaghetti Bolognese might have made the list because even good old Ragu is different here, but really, I’m looking more for ways to doctor the sauces from jars more than anything. I decided that didn’t really count as cooking, because I am looking for things from scratch.
Alongside this though, I have left cooking to my husband a lot while I was working full-time and completing a degree, and even after my degree finished because we had set up the routine. I am mostly thinking now that I need to take back some of the cooking and I think I will commit myself to cooking at least three of our weeknight suppers as well as at the weekends. This will hopefully take some of the weight off him as well as help me find some speedy foods that I will enjoy cooking.
My little action plan for each week will be:
- Research recipes for each of the 4 meals at the beginning of the week.
- Add the ingredients to our weekly food order.
- Cook at least 2 test batches of each. Repetition helps me figure out the quality controls and may help the recipe become ingrained. Cooking will probably happen at the weekends.
- On the days during the week I am not doing any of the above, I cook dinner. I will select 3 quick recipes and make sure the ingredients are on the weekly food order for the next week.