Friday, February 3, 2012

Cooking Homework: Orphaned Appliances and Unread Books

Nobody puts Breville in the corner.
In October, I introduced the concept of cooking homework. It was a selfishly motivated endeavor to immerse myself in slow cookery but many of you seemed enthusiastic about it. The concept was to give yourself an assignment in the kitchen and then report back with progress. Timing may not be everything but my timing stunk and I checked back with all of you in November right as holiday hell festivities were getting started. Nobody, except me, had done their homework.

Well it’s a new (or newish) year, we’re all back from "winter break" and a new semester is starting. I’ll admit, I have temporarily abandoned my slow cooker and retreated to my cooking comfort zone. Only last week did I do a little rut busting and experimented with some recipes from a beautiful new book "Home Cooking with Jean-Georges". The recipes are manageable but I have to laugh when I see accomplished chef’s concept of “simple recipes”.  Simple to me is fewer than 10 ingredients and does not involve butchering. I cooked Cumin and Citrus Roasted Carrots and the most delicious chicken breasts ever and really enjoyed it. So, your first homework assignment is to cook 1-2 recipes from a cookbook you haven’t used or haven’t used in a while. I’ll continue to cook Jean-Georges but also plan to make recipes from “Appetite For Reduction” from the author of Veganomicon and “Healthy Hedonist” from one of my favorite chef’s Myra Kornfeld.
After the cooking homework I clearly need some photo homework
Assignment #2 refers to the photo above.  I’m very fickle in the kitchen and with the arrival of the slow cooker and the Vitamix my beloved Breville juicer (in addition to being fickle I’m a bit of an appliance whore, there are worse things right?) has been orphaned. With Organic Avenue opening just a few blocks from my house, I haven’t exactly been juice-deprived.
Can you name the blogger at the register purchasing everything in sight?
 Their Green Coco juice awaits me after a run or barre class while my loyal juicer sits in the corner tucked behind Nespresso. It took some good old-fashioned guilt to get through to me. I was talking to a friend about kitchens and the items we use every day and she said, “well I keep my juicer out because I use it daily.” “You really make a juice every single day?” I had to clarify. “Every day she insisted”. I love the ideal of juicing again (maybe not daily) and also don’t really think anyone needs to spend $10 for greens in a pretty bottle.  Assignment #2 is to revisit a neglected appliance. Whether it’s the blender, waffle iron or even your oven, change things up and maybe you’ll like it.

Mark your calendars, assignments are due a month from today or Friday 3/2. Class will be in session by 6am but you can “hand in” your work any time that day.
What do you think you’ll do for each assignment? Any great cookbook discoveries or new appliances you’d like to mention? Are you more of a cookbook or appliance whore?
Did I mention the NY Giant's Toaster? It's my son's, I swear. Go Giants!


  1. Vanessa @vanperroneFebruary 3, 2012 at 5:12 AM

    I think I might have a nutrition/cookbook addiction. I catch myself on amazon buying new ones before being halfway through my current reads (but really, it's not my fault, they just keep coming out with such good ones!!)
    I think I will take you up on assignment numero 2. Got a new immersion blender at Xmas that hasn't seen the light of day. I'm thinking soup.
    Off topic: heading to vermont at the end of the month, in Stowe. I think you go there quite often...any recs for dinner?
    Love the toaster.

  2. I'm with you on cookbooks and other food books. Look forward to hearing about your "immersion" course. I am so bad with VT geography but we stop in Brattleboro often for dinner (email me for suggestions).

  3. I did you assignment without knowing about it!!

  4. I'm the type that collects cookbooks and then never reads them. Recipes HAVE to be simple in order for me to make them (and it's most likely to happen if I already have the ingredients). I'll have to think about this assignment 2 =)

  5. OK Lisa, as long as you do your homework. Maybe take a cookbook recipe and lis-ify it, we know you're good at the creative part.

  6. I failed miserably at the first homework assignment. I never bought a slow-cooker. I still want to! But now I am all budget-crazed (i just learned about the concept of saving money and I rather quite like it!) so I think I am going to put that off for awhile. I was gifted "Cafe Boulud" at a work event that we did at Daniel. Most of the recipes are far too French (fatty) for me, but some of the side dishes look good and manageable. I will attempt to tackle a side dish.

    You have so many appliances!!! I have appliance envy. The one I used almost daily is the blender. I have a crappy juicer I rarely use because I am not sold on juicing. It seems like calories and sugar in a cup. Is it really worth the hype? Or can I get my vitamins from eating a balanced diet of whole food...?

  7. Definitely a cookbook addiction over here. I would love to be addicted to appliances too but the books are more in my price range :) I will even borrow appliances from friends (and vice versa) if I need something I don't have (like the waffle iron I borrowed last week because I wanted to make homemade waffles for the first time).
    I'm in for assignment #1 but I don't think there are any appliances I neglect. Except for maybe the bread machine but I would much rather bake bread in the oven anyways - I even got adventurous this past week and made a sourdough starter and our first loaves of sourdough bread. I'm on a mission to perfect those loaves now :)

  8. I'm in! I want to make a new soup every week from my favourite Rebar cookbook (Rebar is a West Coast restaurant that I looooooved when I lived there). And I've been neglecting my blender, of all bring on the smoothies!

  9. i definitely recognize that blogger. Well I am in a different category because I trying to only cook from Mom's recipes but, I have to admit. I have a new found gadget addiction. I love my slow cooker and all of my new dutch oven and casserole dishes from Le Creuset. I especially adore our SODA STREAM where you can make your own seltzer water in the privacy of your own home.

    My cooking homework is to make a bread from start to finish. I made bread in my Culinary Institue class but, that was under the tuteledge of a chef. The yeast scares me but, I'm going to try.

  10. My mom is in that stage of her life where she likes to order stuff from QVC or infomercials. One of the things she ordered was some sort of pocket sandwich maker contraption. She ended up giving it to me. I'll have to haul it out of the basement and give it a test run someday.

    I have all sorts of lonely cookbooks.

  11. I'm usually a pretty good student but I didn't break out my crock pot. And let's face it, my cookbooks have so much dust on them it might take a while to find a new recipe to try.

    I need help. Lots of help.

  12. Ok, I am in.... I've been reading about fermented food for months, and never had the gut to try it.
    Cabbage is in season, so my first assignment will be sauerkraut.
    I don't use cookbooks because my children have many diet restrictions and it is very frustrating when trying to follow a recipe. But there is one blog I really love, from a Canadian chef living in Denmark, because the recipes are usually gluten, dairy, soy, and egg free, it is

  13. I was just thinking about how I BEGGED for the first Alton Brown recipe book, but have so far used it ONCE! That's so pathetic!! So, I will definitely use it again this month :) I needed this motivation!
    As for an appliance, I use them all, I do. I am so picky about the appliances I/we buy, I only buy them if I KNOW I'll use them!

  14. Gina- how great is Alton, can't wait to hear what you'll make. And Natalie, would love to hear more (maybe blog about) your sauerkrauting. Ameena, I want to see what you wear to slow cook (can't picture you getting messy). Fleur, keep the cookbooks company, you have a month dust it off and start and infomercials- uh oh is that in my future? Yep that's you cute Shari (but you knew that). Bread- you're an ambitious mama...Stephanie smoothies and cookbook, of course the teacher takes on both assignments. Jenny another breadmaker, so out of my league- let's see what cookbook you choose.Cameo perhaps a juice post is in order after my month. I like juicing but only as part of veggie eating. Let's see your French (modified) creations.

  15. OK-So now I'm understanding I have THREE assignments now? My original one,mp is 2 new ones??? In my defense with my original assignment to make gluten-free sourdough bread, I have actually scheduled it on my planner and started researching it. Perhaps I should consult with Jenny for tips... Love the cookbook assignment, because I have too many underutilized cookbooks. I have both of Heidi Swanson's (from 101 Cookbooks) books. They are so pretty and I love to look at them, but haven't cooked one single thing yet. Going on my list now! As far as appliances go, I'm pretty good about using them, except for my bread maker. I've almost decided to give it away, but maybe I'll try some gluten-free bread in it (not the sourdough though!) Time to get to work!

  16. It took me years to buy a blender. That's my sole appliance. Too many appliances start to make me nervous! Cookbooks are okay though.
    Is that you in the picture?

  17. No sam, it's Shari (myjudythefoodie) but good guess. Let's see some cookbook homework. EA I haven't touched Super Natural Every Day just not recipes I'd make for family dinners, more lunch/side dishy.