Chat Leftovers: Start Me Up
But first, time to clear up some unfinished business from last week's chat, when, as usual, we left a slew of questions unanswered. Here's one of them.
Arlington: My problem is one of inspiration. I love to cook, but I often find myself reading recipes and not feeling inspired by them. Maybe I don’t have all the ingredients, or it takes five hours and it’s 6 p.m. on a Tuesday.
I try to plan ahead on menus, and I want to try new recipes, but when I go through cookbooks I end up feeling sort of overwhelmed and retreat back to my familiar dishes. Any ideas for getting out of a cooking rut?
Absolutely! I have two ideas for you. One’s perfect for right now, the other is good anytime.
1. You want inspiration? This time of year especially, there’s nothing more inspiring than your local farmers market. The fruit is juicy and fresh, the vegetables are bright and beautiful, the meats and dairy products are tempting. You’re bound to see something you want to cook.
And at many markets, the vendors are full of advice. If you’re not sure how to prepare a particular food, just ask. Often the vendor has a written recipe to hand out or can recite one from memory. Other marketgoers are apt to hear your question and chime in with suggestions of their own. It’s a great way to learn about food and to branch out: Make a vow, for instance, to try something new each week. You live in Arlington, close to several very good markets, so this is a natural for you.
2. If cookbooks are too overwhelming, limit your focus. I hate to toot our own horn, but I will: A perfect solution for you is the Food section’s weekly Dinner in Minutes column on Page 2. It features an interesting new recipe that doesn’t take long to make and doesn’t call for tons of ingredients, though it usually requires a trip to the supermarket.
Because structure helps steel resolve, craft a plan and stick to it. Vow to make every week’s recipe, whether you think you might like it or not. (We pick dishes that we think most eaters will like, so even if some of them don’t immediately appeal to you, you might be surprised by how good they taste.) Check this blog for the recipe’s shopping list a day ahead of time, every Tuesday.
Or just work a week behind, so you can shop for it over the weekend. Why not cook today’s recipe next week, because you might want to check out an Asian market for one or more of the ingredients? For this week, start off with Mustard Roasted Fish, an oldie but goodie from last year that is a snap to shop for and really delicious. In fact, once you taste the creamy-tangy sauce, you’ll want to try it on differents kinds of fish, or chicken, or pork. In other words, it’s an inspiration. Just what you needed, right?
-- Jane Touzalin
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