Wednesday, December 28, 2011

2012: the year you (and i) learned to cook

Hello, friends! It's been a long time since I've posted, but that's about to change, as one of my New Year's resolutions is to start blogging again. And, as University of Maryland psychiatrists say, one of the keys to being successful past January 5th is to "share your goals with friends," as they hold you accountable. So I figured the best motivation would be to share this goal with all my readers! But then I went a step further and thought, why not make a resolution that ALL of us can share and hold each other accountable to! Hence was born the inspiration for my second resolution and hopefully one you will adopt as well:

It is my goal to learn how to cook this year. Sure, I can already "cook" in the sense that I can follow most recipes, make a few tweaks if need be, and make something tasty as a result. But I still don't feel like I can say that I truly know how to cook. Why? Because I always cook the same things. I stick to what I know works, what I can do, what I know will taste good because I've already made it. My pantry and fridge have held the same things in them all semester: beans, rice, pasta, pasta sauce, olive oil, soy milk, salsa, tortilla chips, cheese, bread, frozen pizza, butter, flour, sugar, an occasional package of ground beef or chicken, and the typical herbs and spices. I can eat well and pretty healthfully with different combinations of these ingredients, of course. But I also have an ARSENAL of cookbooks and a passion for trying new foods, both of which have been neglected over the busy fall semester. And my guess is that many of you feel similarly. So here's my plan: let's "learn to cook" together! Let's try new things, share stories and recipes, and encourage each other to make time for thinking more about our food than just the number of minutes it takes to microwave it or the vitamins and minerals it can provide. Trying new recipes is a great way to learn about (and appreciate) other cultures, improve the variety and quality of your diet, and spend time with family and friends (or have some fun alone-time if that's what you need).

Now, being the goal-making nerd that I am, want to make sure we do this right. Therefore I went ahead and made myself a "SMART" (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Timely) goal to help me make sure I stick to this resolution. So here goes:

2012 Cooking Goal: I will try a new recipe, with at at least one new ingredient, once every week, from January 1 until the end of spring semester (January 1 - May 15). I will then share my recipe on my blog. This should amount to 20 new recipes (and blog posts)! 

But here's the thing: this will be WAY more fun if you join in! I'd love for you to share your own cooking resolutions here and then, as I post my recipes each week, for you to share your recipes and cooking stories as well. The social aspects of cooking and eating can be just as important as the nutrients in the food, so let's share our experiences with each other here!

Now if you need a little more motivation than just improving your cooking skills and trying new things, here are a few more reasons to make "learning to cook" one of your New Year's resolutions:

1. Save money: Cooking at home costs less than eating out!
2. Save time: Make big batches and use the leftovers throughout the week.
3. Be healthier: Cooking from scratch is way healthier than relying on preservative-packed frozen or canned meals and ingredients. And trying new things adds more variety to your diet, ensuring that you're getting all the vitamins and minerals you need!
4. De-stress: Many people find cooking a great way to de-stress. Put on some soothing music and put all of your stress into beating those eggs!

If you're on board, comment here! Your goal doesn't have to look anything like mine. For example, you might be more interested in "spicing up" your standard recipes rather than finding new ones, or maybe your goal is to cook and eat more meals with family and friends. Another variation you might find fun is cooking a recipe from a different ethnic cuisine each week. Whatever your cooking goal is, share it below!

Vitamin Wheel