My Cooking Odyssey: One-Year Later

It was one year ago today that I opened up a cookbook (How to Cook Everything by Mark Bitman–received as a gift from my mother over 9 years ago) and started my Cooking Odyssey.  Prior to this, “cooking” to me was heating up a Trader Joe’s meal or maybe hard-boiling an egg.

Of course, I’ve followed a few recipes and made a few things prior to my Cooking Odyssey. But really I was known as non-cook and my well-supplied kitchen was more of a museum. I had visions of becoming a gourmet cook when we registered for wedding gifts.  I’ve used them all now! It just took 7 years 😛

I can’t pinpoint what made me  decide that I can and should cook. Something clicked inside me and not only did I decide to cook, I also decided to document every recipe I made in a journal. In a year, I made 433 unique recipes. I finished #433 —Maple-Walnut Scones from Baked in the nick of time at 11:30 pm on 3/7/09.

I didn’t start Pink Stripes until August 2008. Because I didn’t cook, I didn’t realize the world of food blogging was so big and widespread and truly global.

The very first recipe I made was Roasted Buttered Nuts from How to Cook Everything. Very simple, very straight forward and the perfect food to start off my journey: Nuts + melted butter+ salt & pepper, stirred together and thrown in the oven to roast.

Soon, I discovered food magazines and shortly there after epicurious.com which led me to food blogs and Google Reader.  I started to bring in treats to work for my co-workers. Now everything has changed. It’s expected that I bring in goodies and when I don’t they start to squirm. 😛

I did take pictures of things I made prior to starting a blog, but for some reason in a fit of cleaning I’ve deleted them all. Which kind of sucks, but really I would only use them for this post so I guess it’s okay. 🙂

Here is a chronological list of some of my favorite and adventurous (for me) things I’ve made since I started cooking and baking:

  • Scrambled Eggs–okay everyone knows how to cook scrambled eggs, but I really learned how to make them great. The secret is slow-cooking them. Turn the burner to low and you get the creamiest most delectable eggs. Its the only way I cook them now.
  • Pasta with Browned Butter and Sage–again, very simple. It’s something I can turn to in a jiffy. I always have butter, Parm cheese, and pasta at home. If I have sage, even better.
  • Strawberries with Balsamic Vinegar & Cracked Black Pepper–OMG, so good and easy.
  • Pizza Dough–so easy and simple and so much better than frozen pizzas. It’s the only pizza at home I eat now.
  • Scones–I love making scones. You don’t have to wait for ingredients to come to room temperature and they are so quick to throw together.
  • Veggie Burgers–I’ve made all types: potato and pea, black bean, sweet potato, bulgur, etc. Again, better than frozen store bought
  • Mayonnaise–The first time I made my own mayo it took me four attempts. I tried the food processor, the blender, the immersion blender, and finally had success making it by hand. Now, when I make it, I only do it by hand because I know it works for me.
  • Chocolate Eclairs–These are my husband’s favorite pastry. When the San Francisco Chronicle food section published a recipe for them on his birthday, I knew I had to make them that night for him. He loved them and said they were the best birthday gift ever.
  • Graham Crackers–Who doesn’t love graham crackers?
  • Cheese Soufflé
  • Macaroni and Cheese
  • Garam Masala, Curry, Chili Powder–making spice mixtures at home makes the kitchen smell so good.
  • Sour Cherry PieI can’t believe I made this. The crust was so flaky and delicious.
  • Pesto–I didn’t realize how easy it is to make.
  • French Bread–I still haven’t achieved the perfect hard crust, but I’m still trying.
  • Pita
  • French Toast made with Challah
  • Ice Cream, Sorbet, Gelato–I made ice cream before starting my Cooking Odyssey. We received the maker as a gift when we got married. We made ice cream a few times soon after and then didn’t use it for years and years. Now I make ice cream at least once a week, sometimes twice. I love homemade ice cream a lot. I’ve written about 15 different posts about ice cream. You can see them all HERE. My most surprising favorite flavor is Sweet Basil Ice Cream, so good.
  • Granola–I always have homemade granola in my pantry now. It’s my go-to quick breakfast.
  • Vegetable Pot Pie
  • Caramels
  • Flour Tortillas
  • Foccacia
  • English Muffins
  • Ciabatta
  • Challah–I now make challah just for French Toast. How ridiculous is that?
  • Crème Brûlée–I bought a torch, I burnt the sugar!
  • Layer Cakes–I still need to work on my decorating skills. These are not pretty, but I’m getting better every time.
  • Biscotti
  • Old-Fashioned White Bread
  • Cheesecake
  • French Yule Log
  • Pretzels
  • French Pear Tart
  • Fougasse
  • Nine-Grain Whole Wheat Harvest Bread
  • CROISSANTSMy biggest achievement to date. These were a lot of work, but worth every minute of it.
  • Whole-Grain Cooking–in general, I love all the new to me grains I’ve been cooking.
  • Vegan Baking–so far I’ve made chocolate chip cookies, lemon bars, jelly doughnut muffins, carrot-pineapple sunshine muffins, almond-quinoa muffins, and chocolate raspberry cookies.  It’s fun, I love it.
  • Apricot, Almond, and Chocolate Coffee Cake
  • Brioche Raisin Snails

And here’s a list of food I want to make for the first time during year 2 of my Cooking Odyssey:

  • Bagels
  • Doughnuts
  • Pasta, from scratch homemade
  • Sourdough, with my own starter
  • Soft-boiled egg (I’ve never soft-cooked an egg)
  • Sushi
  • Falafel
  • Tamales
  • Ricotta

Is there anything else I should have on my list?

I also learned to scuba this year. I'm the second from the right.

I also learned to scuba this year. I'm the second from the right.

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