Sunday, May 10, 2009

I want to make some new foods, how can I get out of my cooking rut?

It's easy to get stuck into home cooking and eating habits; always picking out the same ingredients and preparing them the same way. In the kitchen, it's very important to mix things up, not only to keep things fresh and interesting, but over long durations a narrow diet can lead to serious health problems. Both from too much of one thing and not enough of another.
So how do you go about mixing it up?
Try out some new ingredients. This starts in the produce aisle, where people seem to suffer the most from tunnel vision. They stare at a cornucopia of fruits and vegetables and see only apples and asparagus. If only they could refocus their eyes to see what stands out; maybe a seasonal delicacy, or an unusual entry like fresh lima beans.
Expanding your base here accomplishes a few key things. It opens your eyes to what is best at the time that you are looking rather then simply the best of what you are looking for. This simply results in better food. It also ensures a more balanced and varied diet for a healthier you.
The next step is to take on some new cooking methods. The best (and usually most interesting) way to do this is to venture into a nationality of food you don't have much experience making but love to eat. I was recently in Portugal where they simply layer items into a special pot (a cataplana), cover it with wine and cook it over low heat for a while. It's super simple and very delicious and different from what I would otherwise advise (or do myself). And that's just the tip of the international iceberg. Cooking foreign dishes will encourage you to try out new ingredients too.
In cooking, as in life, trying out new things requires a little effort and some risk, but if you just take the leap you'll find a whole new world (of food) is at your disposal.
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