Holly Ebel: Resolve to make your kitchen a better place
Here we go again: It's time for new year's resolutions.
If you fall off the exercise or weight-loss wagon, there's one place your resolutions are easier to stick with — your kitchen.
Nothing radical here, just good, common sense, and fun suggestions that might make your space more efficient or make you a more interesting cook.
No pressure, just look these over:
• Yes, the Internet has all the recipes you will ever need, but don't forget your cookbooks. Pull one out from time to time and make something from it. There are a lot of treasures in those pages.
• So much is being written about the many different grains and how good they are for you. Try a recipe with one that is unfamiliar. For the best selection and advice on how to prepare it, head over to People's Food Co-op.
• Stretch your cooking expertise — make a souffle. Julia Child has a great recipe for a cheese version explained step by step. You'll be surprised at how easy it is and how impressive when you take it out of the oven.
• Those recipes you cut out and stuck in a drawer that is now overflowing? Buy some colorful file folders, label them (appetizers, soups, etc.) and put those recipes in the proper category. I just did that, and what a difference. It only took me years and two moves to get to it.
• Has holiday cooking left you with little bits of this and that in the refrigerator? Now is the time to get rid of them. Clean it all out, and while you're at it, reorganize the contents so that you can see where things are. Consider throwing out that jar with barely anything in it, like jam or relish. They are taking up valuable space.
• Bake some bread from scratch. Don't be afraid — all it takes is flour, water, yeast, a little salt and a recipe. You will be surprised at how easy it is, your house will smell like the best bakery, and you will have a great feeling of accomplishment. Plus, your family will love you for it.
• Try an ethnic food you have never had before — maybe at a restaurant, either Indian or Vietnamese. Go to an ethnic grocery store and explore the options there. It could give you a whole new take on foods that are available in town from other cultures.
• Take a cooking class. You might learn some new techniques and have fun doing it. Cook's Pantry and Community Ed have great options.
• Bring that slow cooker in from the garage. Trust me, it can make your life a lot easier. In the morning, put the ingredients in, turn it on, and go about your day. Dinner is ready when you want it. There is almost nothing you can't cook in it.
• Do your pots and pans come tumbling out when you reach for one in a cabinet? It's time to take inventory. Donate ones you seldom use to a shelter where they will be used and appreciated.
• We all put this off — clean your oven. Seriously, after all the holiday cooking it's time. Sometimes the odor of food that has spilled and burned on the bottom can affect the taste of other things that bake. Not pleasant. How hard is it? Most ovens are self-cleaning anyway.
• One last thing: While you wouldn't miss a summer Saturday at the Rochester Downtown Farmers Market , it is going strong through the winter at the Olmsted County Fairgrounds, Building 41, some Saturdays from 9 a.m. to noon. The next one is Jan. 10. It's a great way to start the weekend and keep supplied with some wonderful meats and vegetables, as well as baked goods.