Jan08

Our Top 10 Kitchen Resolutions

Everyone knows the New Year brings new resolutions –whether it’s to eat more healthfully, exercise, or spend less.  We at Above & Beyond have another idea…this year why not make a few Kitchen Resolutions too? Here’s our 2014 list for inspiration:

1. Get organized: Clear clutter from counters, ditch dusty old spices, sort that tangle of pot lids, clean up your catch-all drawer and add dividers…you know where your cluttered spots are! A few easy improvements can make all the difference–and a more organized space is a pleasure to cook in.

2. Pick up new tricks: Make this the year you finally take that cooking class. Whether it’s at a local supermarket, restaurant, or cooking school; you’re sure to add some skills to your repertoire . Don’t forget to take notes! (Bonus points for using what you’ve learned at home within a week of taking the class.)

3. Play with your toys: You know all those great kitchen gadgets that somehow never get any use? Pull them out of the cabinet, read their instruction manuals, and get playing. Practice makes perfect!

For ideas on how to use your gear all year see our article “Give yourself a gift this year.”

4. Set a tony table: Whether you’re the Queen of Takeout or a Home Chef Extraordinaire, make more of an effort this year to set a beautiful table. Don’t tuck your china away until the next big holiday – use it to make everyday dinners more special. Another easy idea? Spruce up your everyday dishes with the easy addition of cloth napkins, chargers, pretty placemats, and candles. (See our videos Dressing the Table, Dress Up Your Everyday Dishes, and Three Beautiful Ways to Use Your Fine China) for a variety of looks.)

5. Hit the books (& magazines): Don’t let cookbooks collect dust on your shelve,s or toss your uncracked cooking magazines straight in the recycle bin. Sit down with one each weekend and peruse for a dish that inspires you. (Or at least check out the new recipes from us at Above & Beyond!) Write a shopping list immediately and pick up the ingredients on your next trip. You’ll be excited to keep trying new dishes each week.

6. Do something that scares you: This inspirational advice works for living an adventurous life…why not translate that to the kitchen? Be it cooking shellfish, making fresh pasta or dumplings, or using a freaky new ingredient like freekeh –resolve to give it a go this year.  There are excellent online tutorials to follow; or see our recipes for Chinese New Year Crispy Pork Dumplings or Freekeh Peach & Goat Cheese Salad for an easy in.

7. Get fresh:  If you’re not yet cooking with fresh garlic, ginger, and herbs resolve to start! They add an amazing jolt of flavor to all your dishes and can take your cooking from blah to wow. While you’re at it…why not plant a small countertop herb garden? Another option: join a local CSA and have fresh produce delivered every week. It’ll get you cooking fresh more frequently.

8. Throw more parties: If it’s been years since you’ve even had friends over for dinner resolve to throw one party a season this year.  It doesn’t have to be difficult! See our column “Make it a Party” for easy ideas to get your hosting juices flowing. Or start with a simple Brunch – here’s how: (link to Get Your Brunch on article)

9. Spruce up your space: A kitchen renovation doesn’t have to mean permits and contractors. Repaint the walls; add some art, roll out a new rug, or even just replace those tattered old dishtowels and hot mitts.  A pretty, welcoming kitchen can make all the difference to get you cooking.

10. Master your mainstays: Practice your family’s favorite dishes over and over so you can make them from memory. Be it Chicken Soup, Grandma’s Meatballs, or an Empty the Fridge Fritatta; having a few go-to’s down will make busy weeknight meals a snap.

No matter which resolutions you choose –they’re sure to inspire you to get in the kitchen and get cooking more this year! And that’s always a good thing in our book.

Julie Hartigan

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