Five Food Challenges for 2006

Kalyn from Kalyn’s Kitchen (also up for the Best of Blogs award – please vote if you haven’t done yet) has tagged me with another meme – this time I’m to list five things I want to work on in the kitchen this year.

Knife skills
My knife skills are horrible. I’m fast, but I’m not very neat, and some tasks, like boning whole birds or filleting fish are only accomplished in this house with a maximum of mess. One problem here is my total inability to sharpen knives on a butcher’s steel. I may give in to technology this year and buy a knife sharpener that you don’t need an Olympic skater’s degree of precision to operate.

Regular readers will have twigged to the fact that I don’t really have much of a sweet tooth. Mr Weasel does most of our baking, and I don’t really enjoy cake-making that much; compared to a lot of what I cook I find the method very rigid, and I get a bit fed up with following recipes to the letter. I am not an obedient cook. Unfortunately, I’m not good enough at baking to be able to construct cake recipes in my head. This year I’m hoping to work on this, so by the end of the year I might just be able to make up some new ones.

Japanese food
I love Japanese food, but I don’t cook much of it; I have to go to London to get a lot of the necessary ingredients, and there’s a cultural subtlety to the cuisine that I need to read more on. Cooking in Japan (Nihon no ryori) is a blog that’s relatively new to me, but extremely informative on Japanese food. I’ve lined up a few Emi Kazuko books to buy. Miso and dashi are lurking in the fridge, ready to deploy.

Wild foods
We moved into the countryside last year, and we’re surrounded by woods and hedges brimming with interesting foods. Look out for more of this in the spring, when the elderflowers will be blossoming – honeyed elderflower fritters, elderflower cordial and elderflower champagne beckon. (The picture is of last year’s sloe gin – you can see how the sloes’ juices are seeping out and blending with the gin and sugar. This will be great when it’s ready to decant.)

A new kitchen
A poor workman always blames her tools. Strictly speaking, I blame the people we bought the house from. They built the kitchen themselves, and were enthusiastically incompetent carpenters and designers. The cupboards aren’t deep enough to fit plates in. Half of the doors have roughly carved flowers on them; they got bored halfway round the room and just painted flowers on the rest. The surfaces are about four inches higher than is natural or comfortable, the floor is covered with lino which seems to have been chosen for its startling resemblance to pitted industrial spillage, and the whole thing is tiled from floor to ceiling in a colour I like to think of as terminally-ill-frog green. (The agents’ details said ‘extensive splashback’.) Nothing is at a right-angle to anything else. Little tongues of Polyfilla slurp out of the edges of the units and the plug sockets. Still; it’s a big room, and when we can get it all ripped out and replaced, it’ll be fantastic.

Here’s hoping I win the lottery this year.

This, I’m afraid, is where this meme comes to die. Everybody I might have tagged has already been tagged (I come to this rather late). It could be worse. Your kitchen could be terminally-ill-frog green.

8 Replies to “Five Food Challenges for 2006”

  1. Cooking in Japan is a fun site. I can’t remember how I discovered it. But since he’s not Japanese he comes at it in a way that we can understand. (I think it’s a he . . ) You were very fast getting done. I never would have guessed on the knife skills. BTW, I remodeled my whole house (completely gutted) and it was so worth it. Very expensive, but worth it. Good luck with that.

  2. Yeah – my knife skills are the sort of thing which would have got me a ‘must try harder’ on a school report. Good, but not as good as they ought to be. Like Latin.

    I have ordered an absurdly expensive fridge in anticipation of a new kitchen, which is going in before we remodel. It’s very pretty as well as being perfectly functional, but I’m going to keep you in suspense about in precisely what way it’s pretty so I can gush about it on the main page when it finally turns up.

  3. you could tag me. My five for 2006 are:
    doing the washing up at least once

    stop warping microwave containers

    buy some walnut oil

    work out how to use my new iron

    learn to cook something other than soup and chili

  4. Rightyho, Ms Elephant – consider yourself tagged. Using the iron doesn’t count as cooking, incidentally – unless you’re using it to warm up poppadoms.

  5. As a subset of cakes, you should join me in my Viennese torte challenge and my make a successful genoise (and your dreams will come true) challenge.

    Knife skills: my mother in law can sharpen something as dull as a shank made in prison on the tiled edge of the kitchen counter into a precision instrument. Practice makes perfect, I guess.

  6. Yukky kitchens – don’t get me started!! Our landlord (and bless him, he is lovely) has never lived in our house (apart from possibly a very short period 10 years ago) and clearly has no idea that the kitchen violates the Geneva Convention. We have three (count ’em!) teensy cupboards for all our food & utensils, all at floor level, and 2 are in corners, making them kind of L-shaped. So not only do you have to crouch like Gollum to get down to cupboard level, you also have to have double-jointed elbows and a dolphin’s sonar to see and reach what’s stored at the back. The cooker is so minuscule that my baking sheet will only fit if you remove the oven shelf and slide tha baking sheet into the grooves where the shelf was. The lino is a) constantly at a temperature of Absolute Zero and b) in a shade carefully desgned to camouflage any stray cat-vomit.

    Do I need to contiue??! :o) So rest assured, you have my sympathy in the kitchen department!!

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