New Year’s Resolutions!

I NEVER made New Year’s Resolutions until I met John. In fact, I thought they were pretty pointless and ridiculous. But…after years of seeing they are possible to carry on and that they can add enjoyment and focus for your life I decided to give it a try! Of course mine are not quite as serious or focused on success and self-improvement. I needed to find a fun way to make myself do MORE of what I love! Thus, 2 years ago I decided to not buy any clothes for the whole year so that I would wear more of the clothes I already had that I liked. Didn’t hurt that it saved money to spend while travelling. It was an interesting experiment. Last year, I vowed to make more recipes out of my cookbooks. I chose 1 book a month to make as many recipes as I could.

It’s taken me time to nail down this year’s fun but I think I got it sorted…

1. Make at least 1 finished garment a month. This could be for me or someone else. Like cookbooks, I also seem to have collected an impressive amount of sewing patterns, paper and digital. I WANT TO MAKE MORE!

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Just some of the patterns I hope to accomplish this year.

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My gorgeous custom sewing area.

You can see a pile of gorgeous fabric waiting in the wings! The first project is actually for a dear friend Anne. I hope to work more on my fitting skills so making things for different people will be a fun challenge. I also hope to move away from simple projects like shift dresses and make more tailored pieces.

2. Cooking Magazines. I feel like this next challenge is very reminiscent from last year but…I seem to also have a small problem with reading food magazines and never making any of the recipes! Part of me feels it’s totally ok to just enjoy reading the articles and looking/drooling at the pictures but once I get a couple piles like this I start to feel a bit guilty…

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When we lived in the UK I went on a crazy magazine organizing scheme in the hopes that I’d actually cook from all the recipes I’d cut out, no house is big enough to keep years of magazines right! Possibly crazy but I still think my headings are clever!…

Most pre-made recipe folders have meat headings so what are us veggies to do. In case you organize in your head like this too…these categories seem to describe everything I’ve cut out of magazines:

  • Salads
  • App like recipes
  • Soups (Chilies, Dahls etc.)
  • Other (Nuts, Snacks)
  • Drinks
  • Dips/Sauces/Dressings
  • Mains-Pasta
  • Mains-Pastry
  • Mains-Other
  • Veggies Solo
  • Baking-Savour
  • Baking-Sweet
  • Cakes, Tarts-full size-showstoppers
  • Puddings

Once I make a recipe I write the name and quick rating on the front of each folder. Since the initial culling of the magazines I realised that I haven’t done it again since, eek. Hence…

I felt incredibly guilty over all the money spent on these until I sorted them and saw that more than half were Waitrose mags which are free with your Waitrose store card. For those that haven’t been to the UK and shopped at a Waitrose all I can say is we are missing out here in Canada! Waitrose and M&S food halls are 2 of the things I miss most about the UK lol! Think gourmet, higher end but EVERYWHERE! The Waitrose magazine every month is dreamy and I miss that John isn’t travelling to and fro anymore to get them for me, snurp.

For the past week I’ve felt overwhelmed with going through every issue again to cut out recipes to file away…soooooooo…I’ve decided to donate the mags I have to school and move forward with more intention. If/when I buy a new food mag I vow to make some of the recipes and then keep the ones I try and like.

I also wanted it to be fun and interactive in case anyone else wants to follow along and make the recipes I make too! I’m not going to go nuts buying new mags all the time but I usually do buy a few a month just for fun, or as time killers on car/plane trips. I’ll post them as soon as I buy them so you can decide if you want to play along.

I ENCOURAGE YOU TO LET ME KNOW IF YOU MAKE SOMETHING FROM A MAGAZINE I POST SO THAT I CAN HEAR YOUR REVIEWS TOO!

I’m going to started with these…

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These looked good in the store today. Test Kitchen mags are always a good read and bonus because it’s January diet food lol. This Milk Street mag just looks nice to look at and Bake British issue, well that’s a must.

Milk Street and Bake are Jan-Feb issues and Test Kitchen Best Med recipes is displayed until March so lots of time to buy these and make.

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February Cookbook

I don’t know where to start…First of all, how is it the end of February and I’m amazed I packed in so many yummy recipes this month. Recall, I chose Rebar-modern food cookbook for this month’s challenge. I was able to complete 25 recipes and I don’t feel like I even scratched the surface of this awesome book. I barely touched brunch and didn’t even make 1 soup recipe. Not feeling failure though because the recipes are more involved than most. E.g. for the Buckwheat Crepes you need to make the crepes, the marinated portobello mushrooms from p. 23 and the caramelized onions from p. 36; yikes right! Take a look at these babies though…they were probably my fav recipe…

You should know that I do NOT think this is a book for complete rookie cooks. E.g. the gorgeous Shiitake Tofu Potstickers on P. 63 have you soak the dried mushrooms, drain, cool, finely chop and set aside but no where does it say to add them to the filling mixture. I figured it out but “poor John” was stumped more than once with the recipes in Rebar. I ended up frying the potstickers because I didn’t really understand the cooking instructions but man were they good anyways…

I also don’t think it’s a book for those that want to drool over the gorgeous food photography; there isn’t any! I’d love to see a reprint of this book with updated pics. It would be to die for…that said…

We sure had fun with this book…We had one extremely funny event that I like to call the Great Tart Malfunction. John decided to tackle his first tart which should have been the first red flag but whatever…First, while he was making the Apple and Spinach Tart P. 72 I heard him whining from the kitchen “grrrrrr, so how do you just “wilt” spinach!” Me: Oh John…thank goodness for the internet! Then this happened…

Me: That’s the oven timer…oh, the tart is really wobbly still. Let’s leave it in a bit longer.

John: Ok

Me: (After almost double the baking time…) Hmmmmm, John this really is liquidy. What’s going on? Surely there is enough eggs in there.

John: Oh ya?

Me: ya eggs, John. Did you put all three in? (I was thinking it looked awfully white from the double cream instead of more yellow.)

John: Huh, what do you mean all three. It said 1. It also said 3. I did ask you why it had eggs twice but you didn’t answer.

Me: OMG, eggs are pretty important, JOHN. Why didn’t you keep asking until I answered. The 1 egg is just the egg white that you brush on top of the apples before baking but the 3 whole eggs are to puff up the tart and hold it together. HAVEN’T YOU EVER WONDERED WHAT EGGS ARE FOR IN A RECIPE! (Now I’m upset because I’m starving and it’s been cooking for ages now.)

John: No, I don’t know what eggs are for.

Me: UGH, just go sit down and I’ll try to salvage it. (Then I felt bad because he’d tried really hard and tarts are advanced and I should have gone over the recipe more with him). Ok, sorry John but this is pretty funny right. Love you!

Don’t stress everyone, I was able to whip up 2 more eggs, remove the apples and mix it up again. It didn’t look as pretty but you know what, it tasted awesome…who doesn’t love apple and blue cheese…”Poor, John”

Below are some pics of the other recipes we tried. All were spectacularly tasty, except the banana bread (it was totally fine just not out of this world). I still maintain that The Best of Bridge “Going Bananas” is the best (in the green book).

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Apple Pecan Bars P.206 were a huge hit.

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Szechuan Noodle Salad P. 11 so worth it! The dressing flavour is too tasty.

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Thai 3 Cabbage Slaw was also too good. You could easily make a double batch of veg for a left over salad bag, there was enough dressing.

Chocolate Zucchini Cupcakes. Not too sweet. They were a bit too “cakey” for me but the White Chocolate, Cream Cheese icing was gorgeous and I’d use it again on other bakes.

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Oops! Could have got a better pic of these Mushroom Pecan Burgers P. 114 but they looked too good to waste time taking photos. The Horseradish Mayonnaise recipe on the same page goes amazingly well. It’s just mayo and horseradish but I could have eaten it with a spoon. Not fattening at all.

Rustic Bread Salad P. 21 with Basil Vinaigrette. It was a winner with John and Mom. I found it a bit too garlicky, but that’s just me.

Pumpkin Millet Muffins P. 222, a total go-to muffin now; Peanut butter Squares P. 214

A huge thank you to the friends who recommended recipes from Rebar for us to try. I didn’t make them all but I have them marked for the future. When January was finished I felt ready to move on from Skinny Bitch but I wish I could do Rebar for 2 months. There are still so many things I want to try. March calls though. I was really torn for which book to do next. In the end I decided to go with a true vegetarian classic Moosewood Cookbook.

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Mollie Katzen is hailed as one of the first real cooks to champion the veg recipe! I have made many recipes from her other cookbooks but for some reason have not made anything from the original Moosewood. I feel kind of embarrassed by that and intend to rectify the situation this month. Also, this book is having it’s 40th anniversary this year. It was written in 1977 and I truly believe that that was the BEST YEAR ON RECORD! (Not that I want to admit it’s my year…eekk…yikes…how did this happen…)

New Year’s Resolution 2017

It’s that time of year again when we think about what we want to accomplish in the New Year. For the last few years I’ve thought of some fun ideas that I’ve actually managed to complete! 3 years ago I vowed to not buy any new clothes for the year…I’ve more than made up for that year now though lol. Last year, John and I said we wouldn’t buy any bread and would make our own. For the most part we did but near the end of the year we did amend the resolution to include Artisan bread from local shops.

Some will know that I have a love of cookbooks and probably have a disease where I buy too many! Over the last few years I’ve noticed that I tend to read many of the books but don’t ACTUALLY cook anything from them! Thus is born this year’s plan…

I have picked 12 cookbooks from my collection. I will pick one for each month and see how many recipes we can make in that month (yes John is participating too). I haven’t settled on which book for which month but I have picked the 12…

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I thought the choice for January was appropriate to counteract Christmas indulgences!

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Don’t forget John and I are Veggies so no meat recipes will be reviewed.

I got Skinny Bitch ages ago and hadn’t made anything. We don’t tend to eat a lot of dairy so this Vegan book fit in nicely. I was happy with the sauce and dressing section and many of the soups. I hadn’t realised that many of the Mains used faux meat by a particular company. I tend not to use these products so was disappointed on that front. However, we did find a few gems that we will definitely make again. When the month was finished I wrote down our favourites at the front of the book so that we wouldn’t forget what we want to make again.

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The Pumpkin Banana Bread was particularly scrumptious and it will get made again and again!

The orange, beet and arugula salad was light and delicious (I would add some blue cheese though if you aren’t vegan). John mastered the Spaghetti with Spinach which was served at a dinner party to rave reviews. It was creamy without having dairy, yum, love a creamy pasta dish! There are lots of good risotto recipes out there but this one was particularly nice and the Spaghetti squash dish was the picture of health. I’m not convinced that this book is a MUST HAVE but I’m glad I gave it a go. My dad always says “if you can just get 2-3 great recipes from a book then that’s a success”!

Stay tuned for next month…I’ve chosen Rebar that I got from the famous Victoria, Vancouver Island restaurant YEARS ago…I’ve heard great things about this one so I’m excited to get stuck in…

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Resolutions Yea or Nay!

HAPPY NEW YEAR’S EVERYONE!

Let me start by saying that I do NOT ever make New Year Resolutions. I just think they are silly. BUT… my lovely husband always has and finally I feel inspired to make a few. I really see them as challenges though and I hate to let myself down!

I figure that I can keep myself accountable by throwing these ideas out into the world…

1) I have decided to not buy any new shoes or clothes for the year! Despite what you may think, this does not have anything to do with saving money, although John is very pleased! It has more to do with the fact that I feel I already do have a lot of clothes that I love but hardly ever wear because I keep getting new things. I don’t want to get behind the fashion of course but I think I can get through 1 year. I also hope it will help to purge my closet of things I don’t really wear and I’ll be left with those items that are really comfortable and that I actually like to wear. I hope it will help in the future when buying new things. I’d rather spend money on lovely basics rather than buying the current trends on the cheap. I guess there is a balance but I want to explore this challenge. Of course if I were to get giftcards from say… Lululemon then I would be allowed to buy a treat!

2) I want to try and cook with my magazine recipes more often. I started this collection years ago but it’s grown since we were in England because of the great recipes in the Waitrose and Sainsbury’s grocery store magazines. I have it all organized in folders…

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On the outside of the folder I’ve written down the names of the recipes I’ve tried so I can remember what I liked. I decided to make my own folder headings because store bought recipe holders don’t seem to work too well for vegetarians. I decided that most recipes for a Main Meal can be sorted into “Main-Pasta” “Main-Pastry” or “Main-Other”. I also have sections for salads, soups, dips and sauces, and appetizer type recipes. The baking was harder. I was living in the UK at the time so I have “Savory Baking”, “Sweets Baking” and “Puddings” which are general desserts. I’ve since added a “Cake” folder and one for “Cookies and Tray Bakes” which we call Squares.

I think 2 resolutions is enough right! If you do too many I think you feel like a failure at the end of February when you’ve given up.

WISH ME LUCK!

and feel free to check on my progress…