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Kitchen New Year's Resolutions

c
cstout Dec 25, 2011 04:58 PM

Since we spend most of our time in our domain, the kitchen, we should be thinking about making some changes for the upcoming year. Maybe we should clean out the pantry, Downsize, or get rid of old equipment. Have more variety in our meals, change the menu rotation or just make our kitchen a better place to be.

Here is a list I have started for myself...I am sure as I read yours, I will be adding more to mine.

1. Be way more selective in the cookbooks I purchase during the year.
In the frenzy of books being churned out by the dozens, I just thought I had to have everyone one. I hate to add up the wasted money I threw away on some doozies.

2. Learn to make simple meals using spices I have never tried before.

3. Find the right containers to store all baking related tools/spices.
Seems like I tear the kitchen apart trying to read all those spice containers trying the right thing. Maybe grouping baking & other items separately will eliminate.

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  1. chipoltay Dec 25, 2011 05:19 PM

    Sounds like it's going to be a busy year!

    1 Reply
    1. re: chipoltay
      c
      cstout Dec 25, 2011 07:26 PM

      chipoltay, hey what are your resolutions??

    2. caseyjo Dec 26, 2011 06:34 PM

      1. Not waste food! I've gotten much better at this, but still not exactly where I want to be (cooking for one is pretty tricky).

      2. Cook from my cookbooks. I mostly cook from my head, but lately I've been in a bit of a rut. Plus, I have some great cookbooks.

      8 Replies
      1. re: caseyjo
        c
        cstout Dec 26, 2011 07:36 PM

        1. Not waste food - that is going on my list right now.
        My problem is I buy stuff & then forget to fix it & when I remember about it, the veggie or whatever is tired & limp looking. Somehow it gets lost in the fridge. Maybe I should concentrate on how to organize my fridge....anyone have any ideas on that one??

        2. Cook from my cookbooks - amen!
        Here again is a glitch in my thought processes. I have some very good cookbooks, but I just keep buying more. Also, I do not know where any given recipe is when I want to prepare it. There was a discussion a while back on how folks organized their recipes, but I never got any of the ideas implemented, so I am back to square one with finding recipes. A pattern is beginning to be apparent here, I am not organized in my kitchen....now what??? This new year is beginning to shape up just like last year. Oh dear.......

        1. re: cstout
          p
          pine time Dec 27, 2011 07:52 AM

          +2 on reducing food waste. I thought I had done a better job last year, but the holidays made me realize just how much "lost foods" I still have--you know, lost in the back of the fridge, lost in the vegetable drawer and found once it's original identification is long gone, lost in the pantry, etc. Plus, still have a few unused gadgets to winnow out (do you hear me, George Foreman grill?).

          1. re: pine time
            c
            cstout Dec 27, 2011 08:15 AM

            pine time, I just posted a new topic called Food Waste, hopefully we will glean a few ideas from it.

            Yep, I am looking at some almond bark that I bought before Thanksgiving & of course it is now past Christmas...I do not bake much during the year so this is just another one of those things that will hang around past the expiration date. It will take up space, get lost somewhere in one of those plastic containers I just bought to store stuff just like this, boy if that isn't a bummer. I don't think storage containers is the answer.

            The gadget thing is a nightmare in itself....not as bad as I used to be, but still need to go through things again. That non electric coffee pot is lurking back there somewhere, along with all the cookie cutters that I have never used. We don't own these things - they own us....I want outta here....somebody come in here & pack them up for me while I am away...I know I will never miss them, but I just don't have the guts to do it myself. Geez....this is beginning to sound like an episode on the Jerry Springer show. Please forgive me.

            1. re: cstout
              p
              pine time Dec 27, 2011 11:44 AM

              Consider keeping that non-electric coffee pot--after an extended blackout, I was thrilled to have an ancient "old fashioned" coffee pot.

          2. re: cstout
            jenscats5 Dec 27, 2011 12:03 PM

            +3 on the food waste!! I tend to "lose" things too in my fridge AND freezer.

            Considering getting a new upright freezer to be better organized....also need to organize my pantry - it's a mess and I can't find anything!

            Continue on my quest to learn to like Iced Tea.

            1. re: jenscats5
              c
              cstout Dec 27, 2011 12:28 PM

              jenscats5, I have a "chest" freezer & absolutely hate it...big & hard to reach way down in there to get things, almost fell in there trying to reach something from the bottom. Just a few baskets on the top & then all that empty space down in the bottom...really don't understand the logic there, but I am stuck with that thing....do not even think about getting the chest type.

              1. re: cstout
                jenscats5 Dec 27, 2011 12:45 PM

                I used to have a chest freezer & didn't like it for the same reasons!! So when I moved I sold it on Craigslist. Now I just have the upright freezer and STILL lose things in it!!

                Saw a freezer with all sorts of bins, baskets, slots on the doors as well - thinking of buying it as I hope it will help me be more organized. (I hope!)

                Jen

                1. re: jenscats5
                  CindyJ Dec 28, 2011 07:02 AM

                  When I bought my chest freezer, I bought extra baskets. They make organizing -- and retrieving food from the bottom -- so much easier.

        2. Boudleaux Dec 26, 2011 07:05 PM

          I've actually been thinking about this kind of thing lately. I am working on my resolutions right now and some of them are kitchen/food related.

          1. Start cooking out of my cookbooks. I noticed this was on someone else's list. All too often I cook one or two things and then put it on a shelf. When I need a recipe, I turn to the internet. Why do I do that?

          2. Start cooking more in the evenings. I love to cook. I do. But I get home around 6:30 and it's just me. It is so easy to make a quick sandwich or pour a bowl of cereal and be done with supper but I don't want to do that anymore. I feel like I need to eat better.

          3. Learn to make bread. Actual bread. With yeast!

          4. Clean out and re-organize my pantry and baker's rack. Way too cluttered and I can't keep track of what I do have. I also need to learn how to stock a pantry, something I've never done properly.

          7 Replies
          1. re: Boudleaux
            c
            cstout Dec 26, 2011 08:13 PM

            Boudleaux, they say everyone has a twin.....yikes you are deja veau all over again!!!! Mama Mia & all that, I am hearing myself speak.

            But I must admit I learned how to make the no knead bread this last year & it tastes & looks very good. Search the internet...(I know, there is that internet problem again) for Peter Reinhart's" lean bread" recipe. Very easy. Do everything in your power to make this recipe, you will be most happy. Of course there are dozens of no knead recipes out there, but I had trouble with bunches of them...this one worked for me. His book, Artisan Breads Every Day (or something like that) is wonderful, but check it out of the library first so you can get a feel for his methods. Trust me on this recipe.

            2. Start cooking more in the evenings....so hard to do when you come home pooped...been there & done that. Maybe you/we could plan a couple of casseroles for the week.

            3. The pantry....well, I think maybe if we planned to fix certain recipes during the week, then we would know what to buy for the pantry....it kinda all goes together. One thing I am trying to do is plan ahead for a certain item, let's say I buy a head of cabbage, well, I try to think of different dishes I can make with that head so I don't end up wasting half of it. Sauteed cabbage, cole slaw, add in soup, etc..

            Now about the internet...I absolutely do spend too much time looking at recipes & that is only because I do not know where any of the recipes are in that big stack of cookbooks....so much easier to sit down at the "pooter", search for a recipe, get sidetracked on fifty million other things, forget what you started searching for in the first place, get tired, grab a sandwich & go to bed. Tomorrow, grab a cookbook to throw in the satchel & get geared up to find something to fix for supper the next day. Forget to do that on lunch break. Stop at the store & wander around hoping something pops out at you, grab a few more things, get home & realize you forgot a main ingredient, get on pooter & repeat last night's ritual. Boudleaux, I seriously wonder if there is hope for us. Never mind me, you just go ahead with your lists...I am not going to rain on any body's parade here. See, I told you that I think you are my twin, please don't let that be true....for your sake.

            1. re: cstout
              Boudleaux Dec 26, 2011 09:01 PM

              Many thanks, cstout! I'll give the lean bread recipe a try! Thanks also for the input on the other items!

              1. re: cstout
                pamf Dec 26, 2011 09:07 PM

                cstout, check out the web site www.eatyourbooks.com. It is used by lots of CH'ers, as discussed here:

                http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/755419

                The Eat Your Books people index thousands of cookbooks (magazines and blogs, too), so they can be searched. When you create your own account you can select a list of of the cookbooks you own and then do custom searches.

                You can find all those recipes that are "hidden" in your own cookbooks!

                You can register for free to try it out and the full service is $25/year. I am not affiliated with them, but am a happy customer.

                1. re: pamf
                  c
                  cstout Dec 27, 2011 06:09 AM

                  pamf, I do remember someone mentioning eatyourbooks.com, but at the time, there were so many other ideas floating around & since this was a pay type service, I just kinda forgot about it

                  . Well, 6 months have come & gone & I am still "looking for a solution". One quick question, say I remembered a recipe in Food & Wine magazine that was listed on eatyourbooks...will it list the recipe too or just reference what month/year to find it on?

                  1. re: cstout
                    pamf Dec 27, 2011 07:58 AM

                    EYB will provide a link to a recipe if the magazine puts them online.

                    It's free to try out, you can add 5 of your own books to your account and see how the search features work out for you.

              2. re: Boudleaux
                f
                ForFoodsSake Dec 27, 2011 03:57 PM

                I will echo #2 on Boudleaux's list!

                1. I'm not alone but my husband is the pickiest eater on the planet, so anything I cook during the week is just for me. I'd like to get back to fixing something (that is not a bowl of cereal) at least a few nights a week.

                2. In that same vein, I need to cut back on my food waste. I buy big portions of fresh food, convinced that I am somehow going to use it all, only to throw out 2/3+ at the end of the week when it's gone squishy.

                1. re: ForFoodsSake
                  jenscats5 Dec 27, 2011 04:05 PM

                  I second the picky 2nd half!! Mine is soooooo picky he'd just rather not eat than have a leftover & rarely will even eat leftovers. So whatever I cook for the week is mostly just for me and I get tired of it after eating it several days in a row....

                  I keep bags of the frozen veggies in the freezer for myself....

              3. s
                small h Dec 26, 2011 08:14 PM

                1. Find a creative (i.e. non-storage) use for all those plastic containers I cannot bear to throw away, lest I end up on an episode of Hoarders.

                2. Level my stove. It's like solving a Rubik's Cube. I cannot get it right. It's right-ish, but not right.

                3. Keep the kitchen cleaner. To paraphrase Dorothy Parker, I hate cleaning, but love having cleaned.

                4 Replies
                1. re: small h
                  c
                  cstout Dec 26, 2011 08:37 PM

                  Yes, Yes & Yes to all 3....

                  As for those containers, I shall pass on a little hint about containers in general.....purchase or keep the ones that have straight sides...most will have a slight slope & that is not good. I bought a bunch of containers to store my spices in & the bottles just topple over each other because the sides are not straight. Great for food, but non food items just don't do too good.

                  For the stove problem, go to the hardware store & ask for a package of wooden wedgies...there will be several sizes in there. Try a couple until you get it balanced. The washer repair man told me about them...my washer never stayed level...worked for me. Geez, I feel like Heloise, giving out all these little tidbits.

                  1. re: cstout
                    s
                    small h Dec 27, 2011 08:58 AM

                    The stove has feet that screw up & down; wedges are unnecessary. I just can't get it exactly right for some reason. Even using a level.

                    1. re: small h
                      c
                      cstout Dec 27, 2011 12:47 PM

                      small h...maybe your floor is uneven....who knows????

                      1. re: cstout
                        s
                        small h Dec 27, 2011 08:54 PM

                        The problem is that the earth is round, and I would like it to be flat. Then I could fry an egg without it sliding off to one side of the pan. (#FirstWorldProblems)

                2. a
                  AGM_Cape_Cod Dec 27, 2011 06:33 AM

                  After I opened a cabinet to find that something spilled (can of pineapple juice split) I started thinking about changing habits.
                  1. Keep pantry items up to date
                  2. Cook from my cookbooks using the items I have in the freezer.
                  3. Since I have a long commute and don't get home until 8 most nights my DH prepares dinner. Organize the week's menus so he know what to make and prep items for a quick meal.
                  4. Make puff pastry dough. I keep seeing recipes I would like to make which call for puff pastry but I hate the commercial doughs.
                  5. Reduce food waste. A perennial resolution. maybe this year (sigh)

                  5 Replies
                  1. re: AGM_Cape_Cod
                    c
                    cstout Dec 27, 2011 07:29 AM

                    AGM_Cape_cod...your #4 about the puff pastry...is one I shall pass for sure. There is supposed to be a better brand of bought pastry out there...can't think of the name, but it is not in my store so I shall just have to work with Pepperridge Farm stuff. Good luck on that one!!

                    #5....yes, I am ashamed at the wasted food I go through. The food bill is definitely one of the biggest expenses for me. I used to blame it on trying to eat more healthy, but when I take a brutal look at what is being thrown out, eating more healthy has nothing to do with it. I have approached this from several different angles, but still can't seem to find a solution. I think I will start a new post about that & see if someone can help us out. Sure hope so!!!

                    1. re: cstout
                      p
                      pine time Dec 27, 2011 07:56 AM

                      I've tried to rationalize that my food waste at least goes into the compost, but that's a hard argument. Time to get more creative!

                      On puff pastry: good luck; I've made it from scratch only once, and didn't think the end product justified the work. That may well speak more to my lack of skills than the method, however!

                      1. re: pine time
                        a
                        AGM_Cape_Cod Dec 27, 2011 08:46 AM

                        I hear you about the compost but it doesn't seem to make sense to buy food to feed the compost pile. If I am going to do that I should just put it there from the grocery store and not let it degrade in the fridge first.

                        Yea, I have the same experience as you with trying to make it from scratch but I am hopeful that I can get it right. Of course I am holding various sizes of clothing in hopes that I lose weight.

                      2. re: cstout
                        a
                        alisonk Dec 27, 2011 09:27 AM

                        Such a great thread.

                        cstout, if you are looking for good puff pastry, try the Dufour frozen puff. It is quite pricey - I think around $10 in Wholefoods, but it is by far the best I have EVER had. I was in Boston and it was easy to find in our smaller local Wholefoods. Am back in the UK now and still looking for an equally good alternative

                      3. re: AGM_Cape_Cod
                        m
                        Marianinha Dec 27, 2011 09:49 AM

                        I like your puff pastry resolution! It sure is tricky and time consuming, but so rewarding in the long run. Best of luck!

                      4. b
                        beevod Dec 27, 2011 08:01 AM

                        Clean our oven.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: beevod
                          c
                          cstout Dec 27, 2011 11:20 AM

                          Is that ALL...just clean the oven?? Oh well, I can see you are "with it" in your kitchen..wish I only had that one thing to deal with. Happy New Year!!!

                        2. l
                          LauraK42 Dec 27, 2011 08:48 AM

                          1) I could always, always do better at wasting less. I realize where my pitfalls are, e.g.: didn't like the food much the first time around and so I turn my nose up at the leftovers, but I never take them out and try to tweak them to make them more edible, as is usually possible.

                          2) Organize well and generally make the most of an amazing feature of our new house: the pantry!! (Hall closets had been used before, not to great effect at all.)

                          3) Do more efficient meal planning. I have always sat down and made a "menu" for the week ahead based on sale ads and/or what I need to use up. But inevitably I'll come across a new recipe I'd much rather make than the planned stand-by, and I find myself spending another half hour rearranging things to make it work, only to remember that a 2 hour roast won't work with our schedule on Saturday, or whatever. I love thumbing through cookbooks and it can turn into a real time-waster when I actually need to have food on the table, or make up a plan to use up x or y ingredient that are languishing in the fridge. I need to separate the fun cookbook skimming and menu dreaming from the everyday planning, or else I end up wasting time and food.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: LauraK42
                            c
                            cstout Dec 27, 2011 11:11 AM

                            #3,,,,I hear you on the menu planning thing. I think I am going to pull out one cookbook & cook from that one for the whole week....no ifs, ands, buts or maybes. And no looking on the internet for more recipes...no no no. That solves that!!

                            I stroll into the break room & pick up a magazine....oh sweet mama...just looky here at that luscious baby.. I hurry up & tear out the page & walk away feeling real smug...thinking how good this Italian Goo Goo is going to be for supper....even though I just bought stuff based on that weekly menu that I am so proud of. Well, this calls for another trip to the store because I can't remember if I have a can of those fancy Italian tomatoes at home. Stop at the store (again). Get home late (again). Read the directions & it says to cook the sauce for an hour until it is reduced by half. FINALLY, everyone sits down to eat & the comments are underwhelming....."we liked the plain ol' spaghetti better....it has too many spices in it". Well, that means no leftovers from THAT baby. And to think that fancy can of overspiced Italian brand of tomatoes cost over four dollars! Oh my, I just remembered there are THREE cans of that stuff on the pantry shelf. Another terrible thought just hit me..I actually made this awful stuff once before. The so & so's just gave it a different name & tried to hawk the same ol' overpriced Italian tomatoes. Boy, this dinner was another expensive mistake. What is the lesson here? I think I can figure it out, a little late as usual. Hey, the recipes are out there everywhere....I just picked up a tidy little free card while sampling some stuff they were hawking at the store...here buy this bottle & you get one of These free. Well, I don't even like that free bottle, but I loved the recipe, so I take card, get the "buy one get one free" deal & blow the weekly food budget before the week even started. Folks, it's all a bait & trap game out there, we are so addicted to food & will go to great lengths to prove it.

                            You know, all this venting really is uncovering all the ways we just fling money away on food & by golly we are bombarded with all these food games.yes sirree...we are going to feed our families well, no scrimping here. Guess what? We are only fooling ourselves, the blame all comes back to self...not the internet, magazines, food courts or whatever. This is something we need to address & get a handle on...it cannot go on any longer. All joking aside, we have acquired some very sloppy food habits ranging from no self control, not keeping track of what is in the fridge or on the shelves to just plain laziness. This whole thing has been a wake up call for me. I am going to do something about it with your help & ideas. Bless me Father, for I have sinned..

                          2. BubblyOne Dec 27, 2011 09:46 AM

                            Continue to replace spices and write the date on the jar. They are organized alphabetically, but I've still got some that are several years old. It's an expensive proposition, so I try and buy one every couple of weeks or stock up when there's a good sale.

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: BubblyOne
                              c
                              cstout Dec 27, 2011 11:38 AM

                              Replacing spices....have you ever came across one that didn't even have an expiration date on it?? That worries me....if it can last that long, what in the world is in there?
                              Just saying.....

                              1. re: cstout
                                p
                                pine time Dec 27, 2011 11:48 AM

                                This one I've mastered: for the often-used spices, I buy from Penzey's. For the one-in-a-blue-moon ones, I buy a tiny scoop from the bulk bins at the health food store. Keeps down not only the wastage, but the costs.

                            2. m
                              Marianinha Dec 27, 2011 09:48 AM

                              Here are a couple of my kitchen NY resolutions:
                              1) I'd like to familiarize myself better with spices, and ethic ingredients
                              2) Use produce, or meat cuts I don't often use
                              3) Eat more fish
                              4) Incorporate more beans/grains in my diet
                              5) Set up a weekly food budget

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: Marianinha
                                c
                                cstout Dec 27, 2011 11:34 AM

                                Marianinha....here, I have several jars of spices that I bought so I could expand my culinary experiences.....

                                Kicked Up Chicken....hmmmm...very pricey & has an "off" taste...sorta like fritos.

                                Eastern Spice Kitchen Rub...just chalky & bland

                                San Simeon Coconut Mango sauce....leaves a greasy feeling to the top of my mouth

                                It really is a shame we have to buy those spices in such large jars, use once or twice & then look at it on the shelf for 3 more years until it gets thrown out.

                                Your resolutions are very good & good for you. Let's all add these to our own lists.

                                Thank you

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