I know how easy it is to fall into a cooking rut but food and meals are far too important to slip into such a rut. You want your loved ones to both enjoy your meals and to remember them – after they’ve walked away from the table. Which is why it’s a shame that any of us (and, let’s be honest, we’ve all been in the rut before – whether we set up camp or crawled immediately back out, none of us can say we haven’t laid eyes on the tasteless food rut!)
Below are just a few quick ideas to help you avoid the culinary pit of misery (nothing dilly dilly about it):
- Try new international cuisines. You could make one night of the week the one where you try new recipes – they might just become your favorites. When I home-schooled our three daughters, We’d “eat” our way through whatever country we were studying at the time. Friday nights were chosen to try different favorite ingredients and recipes from the region of the moment. We often, understandably “Americanize” many cuisines of the world – but if you delve into the ingredients used IN these countries and the favorite foods of their people, you’ll uncover a whole new world of flavor. Literally. Find recipes online or check Amazon for regional cookbooks. Mark Bittman has a wonderful cookbook appropriately titled “The Best Recipes in the World” and it would be an IDEAL place to start.
- Try new sauces and seasonings. When my husband and I visited a favorite restaurant, I tried a sauce they had on the table (it’s the Cajun Power Garlic Sauce pictured to the left). It was so wonderful I checked Amazon then and there for it. Fortunately I found it right off the bat, tossed it into my cart, and had my own bottle on its way to my house before we even left the restaurant. Ahhh, technology. I also recently came across a new favorite seasoning (Cavender’s Greek Seasoning) and I’ve been putting it on everything from Greek Fries to pork. Spend a little more time in the grocery store than usual – really look around (yes, beyond the salt, pepper, and garlic powder!). Try new seasonings, spices, herbs, produce, sauces, etc. It’s delicious fun AND it’ll make you a better cook.
- Watch the Food Network and Cooking Channel for inspiration. Okay, before going any further, I have to get this off of my chest: I miss the Food Network of old! I miss Emeril, Rachael Ray’s 30 Minute Meals, Good Eats, and Mexican Made Easy. Thank goodness for Farmhouse Rules and The Pioneer Woman – they’re two of the only actual “cooking shows” left. Everything these days is some sort of a competition or contest… and every contestant seems to speak in questions! Yes, I am the sort of nut that notices things like that – but, check them out. They do. “I’m going to make a roast? And it will have onions? And carrots? I love carrots?” I honestly can’t even watch these shows, I spend more time arguing with them (Stop ending everything as a question! You either know or you don’t!) than is healthy. Sigh. Anyway, I miss actual cooking shows that are entertaining. However, if you can find Pioneer Woman and Farmhouse Rules (or elusive reruns of others), watch them for entertainment and inspiration. You can also find endless cooking videos online, of course. You can get a lot of ideas as well as good old-fashioned know how from watching others.