Cooking From Scratch: Week Two

We have made it through yet another week of 2017 and lived to tell the tale! I’m telling you guys, this year will be a piece of cake compared to last year (mmmmmm, cake). Of course, it’s still too early to know for sure, but I am having good feelings about it. And with the new year has come my resolution to start cooking from scratch.

Last week, I tackled breads and a few hearty dinners. I had plenty of bread left over, so this week I got to try out some new things. Namely, I worked on building my meat cooking skills.

When we first moved into the apartment, I largely ate vegetarian because a) meat was expensive, and b) dishes involving meat usually involved other expensive ingredients like wines and special spices. This was good in that it forced me to build my repertoire of vegetarian meals, but bad in that I never learned how to cook meat properly. I figured 2017 was a good time to change that.

I bought the meat locally, which is another one of my resolutions. It came from a small store in Eagle River, Alaska called Mike’s Quality Meats, where I also bought a bunch of other stuff that I convinced myself I needed (hey, when you see cranberry-stuffed salami, you can’t not buy it).

I used to get really nervous about buying meat from an actual meat store, for some reason. Maybe because it doesn’t have that detached anonymity that you get at Wal-Mart. At meat stores, they actually ask you questions and talk to you like human beings (gross). I tried to channel my inner Ina Garten, whom I had watched buy seafood on her show a million times. It seemed to work pretty well, and no one suspected that I was a total noob.

I purchased filet mignon, because I believe in going big or going home, but I only bought one medallion of it because I’m too poor to go that big. I also purchased a few flank steak pinwheels and some bacon (in case I screwed up the filet mignon and decided to have breakfast for dinner instead). Overall, it was a diverse and relatively inexpensive crowd that I was proud to have in my fridge.

The experience was new and a little bit awkward, and it was exactly what I wanted when I started this journey. I wanted to get out there and find new businesses in town and try new things. I wanted to support my fellow Alaskans and treat myself at the same time, and I feel like I accomplished that. Plus, it made me feel very grown up.

The Best Things I Made This Week

  1. Filet Mignon. As mentioned, the filet mignon that I purchased turned out wonderfully, and the recipe that I used will be included in January’s Recipe Round-Up. It was soft and it soaked up the really deep flavors of the red wine sauce like a sponge. The outside had a salty crunch to it and the inside was perfectly tender. I adored everything about it.
  2. Marshmallow Fondant. I had made marshmallow fondant prior to this, but always with some help along the way. This past week, I made it on my own for the first time and used it to top a soft and spongey white cake that I made. It turned out hideous. I went in for a bite hoping that the taste exceeded the presentation, and then remembered why I don’t like fondant. Most of the cake wound up in the trash, and I made brownies as a replacement (oh no, what a shame).
  3. Coq Au Vin. My favorite thing about this whole adventure has been discovering recipes that I never even knew existed before. If you had asked me two months ago what Coq Au Vin was, I would have assumed that it was a perfume. Now, I know that it’s a savory dish made with chicken that has been marinated in wine. It’s warming and a bit sweet with a lot of soul packed in. The only thing I would change next time is to season the meat more, I think I skimped a bit on the salt.
  4. Lemon Bars. Shameless plug on my own blog, but I baked my tried-and-true lemon bar recipe this week for a future post and they were as amazing as ever. Expect the post the first week of February.

As you can tell, I have been eating very well lately, and have learned more about cooking than I had in almost the whole of 2016. I think I could use to this lifestyle of 3-course dinners and decadent desserts lying around my counter. It feels so novel right now, but I’m sure soon it will settle into a more routine part of my existence. Or maybe it will be exciting forever. I wouldn’t mind that.

I hope that everyone else is also eating well right now, no matter what that may mean to you. If you have a recipe that you’ve been making a lot lately that you want to share, leave a link to it in the comments below and I’ll probably try it out.

Until next time, keep cooking.


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