Usually I don’t make a big deal about New Year’s resolutions, and I actually can’t remember a single other one I’ve made before. I do tend to come up with little ideas and goals for myself here and there; I just don’t necessarily keep them within a dedicated timeframe.
This year, New Year’s happened to fall at a time when I was discovering mini “goals” for myself anyways:
1) Cook more
2) Focus on increasing the number of miles when running and less on time/speed
The cooking one came about because I kept coming across all of these tempting holiday-themed recipes. For some reason, my apartment is equipped with a dishwasher but no oven, so I bought a toaster oven off Amazon and then a mini-prep food processor a few days later.
I should explain at this point that I would not exactly consider myself to be adept in the kitchen. I eat out or throw together frozen or pre-cooked Trader Joe’s items, and make eggs or pasta when I’m feeling particularly ambitious.
In the past few weeks, I’ve played around with several different dishes with the recipes and moral support from my friend Cara, who has a great cooking blog (Big Girls Small Kitchen) and book (“In the Small Kitchen“).
Baking proved to be the most fun and challenging experiment. (My parents immigrated from Thailand so I grew up in a household where there was always chili paste and oyster sauce aplenty, but finding flour and baking soda was a stretch.)
My first attempt—oatmeal raisin spice cookies—tasted more like Cliff Bars than cookies because I made so many try-to-be-healthy substitutions. Edible, but I had them for breakfast rather than for dessert.
The second attempt—Cara’s banana, chocolate chip and granola cookies—turned out a little better. But entailed two trips to the grocery store for all of the proper ingredients, and a few important lessons learned:
1) When the recipe calls for both granulated sugar and brown sugar, you really have to use both. (I only had brown and thought that would be fine. It was not.)
2) It’s not a good idea to make egg substitutions in baked goods. (I’d forgotten I’d hard boiled mine earlier, and thought that since the internet said you could sub applesauce or yogurt for eggs, it’d be ok. It was not.)
3) It’s important to cut the cookie sheet to the size of the pan or smaller in a tiny toaster oven. (I may have started a small fire when the oversized cookie sheet caught fire…)
I also made homemade hummus, chicken soba soup, and fried rice, each of which had its own little lessons learned. The overall lesson so far? It’s fun to be creative and see what you can do by putting different things together, and pretty fulfilling to make your own meals!