Some days I just Don’t. Want. To. Cook. Anymore.
However the hungry people in my house do not go away. That’s a good thing, so I just have to hoist myself out of the cooking rut. In this post are 9 ideas, or levers, that I’ve used to get myself back on to a smooth road of inspired cooking.
First off, to get yourself out of a rut you need new ideas. Each of these strategies below is like a writing prompt. It’s not a writing prompt. I don’t want you to write. These are thinking prompts; ways to get yourself thinking about food or thinking about food differently. Ways to get new ideas about food into your mind.
Pick one and only one. There is no need to rush through these or try to fit them all into a year. Choose one and then give yourself permission to work on this ideas slowly, for a long time, and to go as deep into it as you like.
1. Read about cooking: The point is to give yourself new ideas. The new ideas will spur you to try new things, will help you understand new things. The kind of book that you want is not a cookbook. It may have recipes in it, but you want a book that has ideas about cooking; ideas that are new to you.
Another option would be to take one of our cooking lessons. Each of the classes includes articles and video that help you dig into why the recipes works, and why baking mishaps occur. Knowing why a recipe works will give you the confidence to do more gluten free experiments on your own. Gluten Free Bread 101 is a great first class.
2. Learn about a new method of food preparation. Learning about different methods of cooking can add new challenge and interest to cooking. A few years ago I bought my first pressure canner and had quite a good time making stews and beans quickly. This year I’ll be exploring using a slow cooker. I’ve had one for years, but have not ever used it that much. I’ve got my fingers crossed.If you’re looking for something that’s more specifically gluten free, try a new type of recipes that requires some new techniques. Recipes that require you to roll a very soft dough are a fun and rewarding challenge. The cooking school students that I’m working with personally are going to learn how to make a Cinnamon Raisin Swirl Bread this month!
3. Learn about a new method of food preservation. What would you do if you didn’t have access to a refrigerator and freezer? Or only a very small, unreliable one? That’s one possibility that could become a very real for us, so this year I’m planning to learn about alternative methods of food preservation. Canning, fermenting, dehydrating are some food preparation techniques that used to be commonplace. If you have the prospect of being able to purchase or grow large quantities of fruit and vegetables, or even meat this year, then this methods may be of interest to you, especially if you’d like to be able to store food without having to constantly supply a freezer with electricity.
4. Try a new food every month. If someone gifted you a huge bass, approximately 2 feet long, that had been swimming merrily in the Atlantic ocean a few hours earlier, would you know what to do with it? No? Neither would I. Learning to process and cook large fish is on my list of things to learn this year. Pick any food that you’ve been a little afraid of and then learn how to make it delicious.
5. Learn to cook the foods that you’ve missed most. Which of your family’s favorite foods have you not learned to make gluten free yet? Are you still wishing for a good loaf of bread or a tasty gluten free pizza. Learn to make that this year! I haven’t spent much time making my list of new recipes to create this year, but crackers and sourdough bread will definitely be on the list.
6. Explore a new ethnic cuisine for a year. I love to eat out at ethnic restaurants but I love even more to be able to cook ethnic foods well in my own home. Learning to cook an ethnic cuisine often involves buying new spices and cooking equipment, in addition to finding a good source for recipes. So, give yourself a full year to explore.
7. Try a new spice every month. I think this would be a really fun challenge. Go to the spice rack at your grocery store and pick out 12 spices that you’ve never used. Buy one for January and make a list of the the others and then go home and find recipes that use that spice.
8. Give yourself stricter boundaries. Strangely enough, giving yourself limits can spark creativity like nothing else. Challenge yourself to cut your grocery budget severely. Doing so will encourage you to use up the foods in your pantry and probably in combinations that you wouldn’t normally think of. When I do this, we usually end up with the tastiest meals that we’ve had in weeks.
I also grabbed a few of my grandmother’s and great-grandmother’s cookbooks when we visited my parents and the recipes are so very different than the ones I’m accustomed to making. I can’t wait to try some of them!