(I know, I know. I said I’d *try*, not that I’d manage it!)
I hate cooking at this time of year. All the usual recipes are boring, and there’s no garden or farm market for interesting ingredients or to spark creativity.
There is, however, Pinterest.
I’ve been a Pinterest hold-out for a long time. From how I’d heard other people describe it, it was a huge time suck that I didn’t need, and a lot of it seemed too twee or Better Homes and Gardens to be of much use to me. But another time suck (that I’d also resisted and ultimately succumbed to) brought me back to it.
You wouldn’t think that a site predominantly directed to art and fandom would have much relevance to the Pinterest community. I certainly didn’t. But I follow a bunch of fannish people who are also really into food. There were a lot of good recipes showing up on my dashboard. After I’d favorited a dozen and then couldn’t find them amongst all the other stuff I’d favorited, I realized I needed a better way to keep track of these. I hate printing out recipes that I’m not going to keep, as they just clutter up my already cluttered recipe box.
Pinterest boards seemed to be the solution. I’ve created boards for a bunch of different categories: the four basic meat groups, but also soups, sandwiches, “hand” foods, pasta, crockpot, even canning. Then when I menu, I print out just the recipe(s) I’m going to try that cycle. If we like them, they go into the recipe box. If we don’t, they go into the recycling.
Then every menu cycle, I make sure to schedule at least two meals from new recipes. It really helps with the winter doldrums. My menu is pretty tightly structured, so I only have a couple of slots for the new things. Monday is always spaghetti/pasta night, Wednesdays is always mac and cheese. It used to be the other way around, but Morgan cooks the mac and cheese (better than I do now), and he has class on Monday night, so we swapped it. Then Tuesdays are sandwich nights to work around Xander’s robotics team, and Friday is always homemade pizza and usually movie night (we’re working our way through the Marvel Cinematic Universe at the moment). Sundays are soup days. So I basically have Thursdays and Saturdays to try new big things, and sandwich experiments for Tuesdays. Not a lot of room, but there’s some.
So far, we’ve tried crockpot cheesesteaks, a really good pork carnitas recipe (and I learned the magic of shredding meat in the Kitchenaid!), an a baked chicken and potatoes casserole. There was also a really great Mongolian beef recipe that we snarfed through before I could get a picture. But it was pretty. And yummy. The kids have gone crazy for lasagna roll-ups, which I need to make a ton of and freeze. And the crockpot tikka masala was gorgeous. Oh, and just for fun Hero and I tried making ice cream bread.
(For the record, that was made with Ben & Jerry’s Half Baked ice cream. Vanilla and chocolate ice cream with brownie AND cookie dough chunks. REALLY good.)
It’s menuing time again, so I need to figure out what new thing I’ll try in the next two weeks. I want to experiment with making (and hopefully canning) beef stock for the first time. Not sure what else I’ll try. Have to see what holes I need to fill in the beef/fish/chicken/pork rota as I build the menu.
I was joking with Nikki that I should start doing Pinteresting posts whenever I try something new. Who knows, maybe I will. I’m certainly using it enough to do it!