At the start of this year I had got very bored with the meals that I was cooking – it is so easy to get into a rut and do the same things all the time. I therefore set myself a challenge of cooking a new dish every month in the hope that some of them could be added to my repertoire.
In January I tried Spaghetti Carbonara. I looked at several recipes, from a cookery book and the internet and sort of put them together. This worked OK and I have made it quite a few times since – but it works better if I check the quantities and get them right!
February was Coronation Chicken, which I made to share with others on jacket potatoes. I think I chose one of a number of recipes on the internet – probably the one that looked easiest. It worked well and others thought it was good. I did make a single portion for myself on another day but that didn’t come out as well. It is not something I have taken to making regularly as I often have Coronation Chicken at the cafe where I work.
Chilli con carne was my choice for March. I looked at a number of recipes and sort of put them together, choosing ingredients that were readily to hand. I made a batch and froze a number of portions and as it was something I enjoyed, either with rice or a jacket potato, it has been added to the things I make regularly.
In April I had run out of ideas for a main meal, so I made some small chocolatey biscuits, probably from my Mary Berry book. They were OK, but not very special and I haven’t bothered with them again although I might if I have to knock up some biscuits in a hurry.
May had the same problem – no ideas of what to make. Again I used the Mary Berry book and made a chocolatey tray bake. This was again not something I am likely to do often; it mas acceptable but nothing special.
In June/July I did 2 recipes on consecutive days, using similar ingredients. The first was a corned beef cottage pie, using sweet potato and it really wasn’t very nice! I had used a mixture of cookery books and the internet and got the general idea and quantities, but I haven’t done it again. On the following day I made a corned beef hash again with sweet potato. The recipe was a mixture of what I had found on the internet and was really nice! Odd how the same things combined in a different way can taste so different. The hash has been added to my “regulars” list.
I was doing an on-line course in August – “Strategies for Successful Ageing” – and someone doing that course had suggested banana pancakes, which are only made from banana and eggs (and possibly baking powder). I looked up the recipe and tried them and they were quite nice, tasting rather like banana bread. They are the small scotch type pancakes and because I found them quite filling I have not made them again. I quite enjoyed trying them, though.
September was Moroccan Lamb, with a recipe taken straight from the internet. I invited a friend to try the experiment with me and served it with couscous and, I think, a green vegetable. This was again a success and I will make a batch of it again and freeze portions.
I was given a butternut squash in October, by my neighbour who has an allotment – and a glut, I think! I used the internet to put together a successful recipe for butternut squash soup. That is something I can try again – if I am given another butternut squash.
November might be considered cheating (but I make the rules and say it isn’t) as I adapted recipes and used them in a different way. As I did two, it makes up for not being totally new. The first was chicken in white sauce with rice and peas. My brother says that is “chicken a la king”, but that should have peppers and possibly mushrooms and I didn’t have either. Maybe I will add those next time. The other dish was “Moroccan lentils” which was Moroccan lamb but made with green lentils instead of lamb. It tasted OK but I had rather overcooked the lentils, so will take more care next time.
In December I searched through my “More-with-less cookbook” and went for a lentil curry – again made with green lentils. This was fine, but I need to adjust the quantities if I am cooking it for one as it came out with a bit too much stock cube so was rather salty – even though I use the “reduced salt” cubes.
I have therefore managed to make something new each month and have added: spaghetti carbonara, chilli con carne, corned beef hash, Moroccan lamb, chicken a la king, Moroccan lentils and lentil curry to my repertoire.
So will I continue and was this a success? I won’t continue every month, but I will try to make sure I do some new recipes – if I can think of easy things that sound interesting. Yes, it was a success in that I have 6 new meals to make regularly and have tried others too – “Strategies for Successful Ageing” suggested that trying new things was a good idea!