Thursday, 16 January 2014

I resolve to have fun cooking new recipes

Yes, you know what that means… the cookbook challenge continues!  As part of my week of releasing my "fun" resolutions, I'm resolving to reconnect with my inner chef.  I admit I've been cooking a lot less since Finley came along, instead relying on a huge stockpile of delicious homemade frozen dinners.

Freezer stocked courtesy of my mom, Sharon, friends, neighbours & my pre-baby self

We still rely heavily on this stash, especially on days that we both work.  I've also created a list of all the 20-30 minute meals I know of and we turn to these frequently too. But sometimes it's nice to try something new, to exercise the cooking muscles and to tantalize the palate!

I've already done two cooking challenges in 2014, and I aim to do 2 every month.  But my challenge has become more challenging as a few new books have joined the fold:

Four new cookbooks that were gifted to me this year - they all look fab & I can't wait to start cooking!

Super Baby Food is not really a cookbook, but more of an instruction manual on how to feed your baby homemade wholesome food.  It does have lots of recipes in it, and if you want to be technical, I have met the cookbook challenge in making several new things out of this book.  I use it to make homemade rice, barley & millet cereal, which I prefer to the store bought stuff.  I can by organic grains & feel pretty confident about what goes in to Finley's tummy.

Making baby food has actually been pretty easy, as mostly it's just pureed whatever.  We've pureed apples, pears, yams, sweet potatoes, carrots, lamb meat, blueberries so far, and I'm sure there will be more to come.

In a world of useless gadgets, every so often you stumble upon a really useful gadget.  Here is my great gadget, which I bought used from another mom in town.  It's called the "Babycook", which is a bit of a creepy name that makes me think of Hansel and Gretel.  But it's for cooking baby food.  You steam and puree the food all in the same container.  The other day we went from apple to applesauce in 15 mins.  You can throw in a raw potato, a piece of uncooked chicken & a raw veg and have a delicious pureed dinner in 15 min later.  How cool is that?

OK, but on to the products of this resolution.  I've already done my two cookbook challenges for January!

Cookbook Challenge #16: Rice Noodles with Vegetables, Tofu and Mommy Brain 

The last ingredient was supposed to be watercress, but it was missing on account of mommy brain.  It probably would have enhanced the meal, but we will never know.  Not that it wasn't good, but I probably won't make it again soon.  And if I do, I may forget one of the ingredients again.

This book was given to me for Christmas many moons ago when I went through a vegetarian phase.  I liked spicy food, so you can imagine what a hit it was.  It has lots of very tasty veggie dishes.  This one was good, but not a stand-out.  It was quick & easy though, and that counts for a lot these days!

Cookbook Challenge #17: Shrimp and pea risotto with basil and mint

Photos do not do this meal justice.  It was yummy beyond yummy.  As we started eating I asked Derek what he thought, he told me he couldn't speak.  When he finally did, he said: "This is insane."  That sounds like a pretty good compliment to the chef, and incentive to keep trying new meals!

Aw, look how young and fresh faced Jaime Oliver is on his first book!

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