With the short break between Christmas and the New Year celebrations comes the classic reflective period, which many of us use to focus on how to make the next year better than the last. Everyone makes resolutions at the start of every new year, and we’re no different. So here are the top three resolutions from the folks at Fante’s.
1. Eat Healthier
Probably one of the all-time most-broken resolutions – don’t let that happen to you!
We’re sure you’ve heard of the old saying that you should never eat something if you don’t know what’s in it. Well, the best way to know what’s in something is to make it yourself!
A good place to start is with the under-utilized but reliable blender. You remember the blender, right? That upright stow-away that comes out mostly for a smoothie-binge? Well, blenders can be used for much more than healthy drinks. The right blender can whip up the creamiest soup, brightest pesto or most velvety sauce; just bring the old guy out from the pantry. If space is a concern (5th floor walk-up, anyone?) immersion blenders (at right) can do much of that work in a snap, too.
Steamers can also become a valuable part of your healthy kitchen. Traditional bamboo steamers work by stacking weaved layers of bamboo over one another to create multiple layers to steam your food. Bamboo steamers are popular for the preparation of steamed dumplings, while other options include in-pot steaming. Silicone is an evolving choice here, as it can form to the interior of your stock pot. Steaming vegetables, rather than boiling or blanching, keeps more of the rich nutrients that make those veggies so healthy in the first place!
This is a generalized variation on the common theme to try new things. We figure there’s no better, or easier place, to try new things than in the kitchen. And why not do so by spicing up your next brunch?
Make homemade English Muffins! Nothing says “Yeah, I made this brunch” like Eggs Benedict perched on top of warm, nooked-and-crannied English Muffins. A key point for English Muffins, like with many baking recipes, is portion control. The muffin rings help to achieve even portions, as well as size, so you’re not left with caveman-sized muffins. Portion scoops, which we’ve featured before, are also a big help here.
We made a similar uber-homemade approach with our Pumpkin Bread French toast a while back, too. Also, look for recipes that you can assemble the night before and pop in your oven to re-heat, saving the hassle of prepping the morning of your brunch.
3. Try Something New, but Don’t Forget the Classics
Stepping outside your cooking comfort zone can open up a new set of possibilities for future meals. Learning to make candy will definitely make you a better baker. However, home candy making requires a deft touch (practice makes perfect) and specific temperatures to produce the sweetest results. Digital candy thermometers are critical for finding the right temp. We’ve found that many home cooks are wary of candy making at home; but, after taking the plunge, they find it’s much easier than expected.
Also, making homemade chicken stock yields a fresher and healthier stock than you’ll ever find on the grocery shelf, which can be a key to any number of soups and sauces. This is a great example of a classic that we sometimes bypass for the canned (or boxed) version. Don’t worry…we’re guilty sometimes, too!
After roasting chicken, using a combination of the bones and the classic mirepoix (French cooking term for onions, carrots and celery), along with water and fresh herbs is the easiest way to go. The key to any good stock is time; patience in letting the ingredients reduce and flavors marry together will leave you with a rich, flavorful stock which is the bedrock to so many recipes. Pressure cookers, normally associated with quickly tenderizing tough cuts of meat, can definitely play a role in making chicken stock in a fraction of the time.
What are some of your New Years foodie resolutions? Share with us at firstname.lastname@example.org