The Girl Can Cook

December has escaped me… well and truly.  It has disappeared in a whirlwind of work and festive goodness.  But it has been good, and fun and worth it, even now as I sit here and type with heavy eyes, a full stomach and with one Christmas dinner to go.  I have also learnt some things this December and impressed myself a little in the process.

This December has been a month of cooking so I thought I would take a moment to brag a little because I really am quite proud of myself.  I think one of the reasons I am so proud is while I am not a bad cook, I am not a confident cook.   Cooking and baking take me a long time, I am meticulous with recipes and even then things don’t always turn out all that well… in fact you can read about some of my past kitchen adventures here… anyway, this year as part of my list I added a couple of cooking challenges and throughout the year I have been able to cross a few off the list

2.  Make my own Ice Cream
Ice Cream
13. Make Breakfast Muffins
Breakfast Muffins
16. Make meringues
35. Make a mocktail
83. Bake something for work

But at the beginning of December there were still a few left… some of them on purpose, but not all… And while all the cooking things on the list were things I had wanted to do for a while, or things I felt might stretch me and my skills… and hopefully increase my confidence in the kitchen, in December I got my chance to shine… This month I have been able to knock another 4 cooking things off the list…

41. Try 1 recipe from each of my Donna Hay Subscription Magazines
This one has taken all year, mostly because it was a yearlong subscription… but it has been fun.  I still lean towards baking biscuits and sweets rather than dishes and meals, but I have tried to vary it up a little and this was the result:Donna Hay

54. Use every appliance in my kitchen at least once
I don’t have pictures of every appliance so you will just have to trust me that I did… and it was fun…

93. Make a gingerbread house
This is probably the one I am most proud of, if I am honest.  Previously even just the gingerbread alone has been a disaster… missing ingredients and not tasting all that good.  But not only was the gingerbread delicious, but the house went together and stayed together… and looked pretty good too, even if I say so myself…Gingerbread

100. Have a dinner Party
I am also very happy about this one… this year I hosted Christmas dinner at my house, with my Dad, my brothers and my sister-in-law, and it went well… nothing was a disaster, all had a good time, and it all came together perfectly… dinner party complete.

So after it has all been crossed of the list, how do I feel about my cooking skills? Well… pretty good.  I can cook… I can cook good food and amazing dessert.  Of course, I am not chef quality and it still takes me a while, but I feel like I have proved to myself that if I just give it a go I can do it, even the more challenging ones… the skills are definitely there and it can only get better from here.

Cooking Tips

A regular part of my old blogs was ‘Cooking Tips with Emma’ a segment in which I learnt from my mistakes as I attempted to make myself proficient in the kitchen. Now don’t be confused… When I say proficient… I really mean just scraping through, enough to live and provide a meal ever now and then, but that’s pretty much as high as the bar was set.

However, I would like to inform you that I believe since then I have come a long way… in fact since stepping in to my new role as wife, I have even conquered a few things. Don’t believe me… well here is some pictorial evidence, I know you can’t taste these because they are just pictures, but I reckon that they look pretty flipping good…

Anyway the reason I share this is because I have a new tip… but before I get to that perhaps you need a refresher of the tips to date…

TIP 1: A Blender is not an appropriate substitute for a food processer

TIP 2: When you have visitors…Stick with what you know!

TIP 3: Read the signs…if the oven is in Fahrenheit and the mixers blow up…give up, it’s not worth the stress.

TIP 4: Make sure you always have a mixing bowl. Saucepans are not as good a swap as they appear

Tip 5: Silicon baking trays are risky!

Now granted most of these are based out of disaster… but today’s tip is on a more successful note… A couple of weeks ago Jake and his girlfriend came over for tea and I decided that I would cook for them something that they would not have had before, knowing very well, that they were both fairly ‘safe’ eaters and at times selective. During the afternoon I asked them how adventurous they were feeling and after ensuring me that they were up for something different, I began preparing a dish that I had been taught be some very good mates of mine, Kirsten and Pheebs. A dish which has become a favourite of mine and in fact I would even go as far as to say it is a George Family Favourite… Roast Vegetable and Cous Cous salad, although this one had chicken added as Jake’s girlfriend requires meat with all of her dishes. Despite my apprehension while preparing and even serving up, mainly due to the excessive amount of vegetables and this new ingredient for them of cous cous, it appeared to be a hit, as they both finished their bowls and Jake not only went back for seconds, but mentioned it on his blog… So there you go, I think a pretty successful story… vegetables and a delicious meal were consumed… which leads me to tip 6… which not only comes out of this story, but also out of all those dishes that have gone before…

Tip 6: Even bad cooks can make yummy things with practice

So… if you are feeling a little incompetent in the kitchen, take heart… coz with practice… you might even make something edible… coz I think I have come a long way from my basic cooking course with Claire, all they back in 2006, to mastering A George Family recipe… ‘Red Meat Casserole’ this year… even if I say so myself.