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tackling the unknown; challenges, learning, and I had to brag about the food ;)

I was never a good cook. All through college I survived on hamburger helper, frozen food, fast food, and baked potatoes. 

Around the time I met FI I decided to go on a mission to become a good cook so that I could make healthy/delicious things for myself and enjoy them, so pretty much every time he and I hung out we would experiment and learn and try to cook something new together which was really fun! I have a cousin who's a pro chef in Aspen so I would call him all the time for pointers and other than that I would just try tons of recipes and try to pick up on the basic things like making a roux for sauces, etc. There were a lot of mistakes and disasters, but most of the stuff I made turned out delicious and I kept surprising myself with these new capabilities.

Last night was my ultimate accomplishment so far. I didn't follow a recipe, I made up my own. I made shrimp (which stayed tender and juicy) with gnocchi and then made a garlic-Parmesan cream sauce from scratch (which turned out perfect and was exactly the right consistency) with bacon (I used the bacon fat to make the roux for the sauce and also used a little bacon fat to saute the red onions that I mixed in) and wilted spinach. It was so. Fucking. Good. FI even said "Wow there are no words for how awesome this is!" I was so proud of myself! 

I love love love learning and trying new things, and am always looking for ways to improve myself. Last year I took classes in MMA fighting because it was way out of my comfort zone and it was so awesome and so fun and so empowering! 

I want to know: What are some new things you guys have learned recently or new challenges you've tackled? I'm looking for some inspiration to keep going and maybe pick up another new thing! Time to brag, knotties :) 
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Re: tackling the unknown; challenges, learning, and I had to brag about the food ;)

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    I looooooove sauteing veggies in bacon fat. I keep cans of it in my freezer. 
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    I finally perfected making a nice, thin pizza crust. After years of struggling with recipes and trying to work the dough, I got it right. I've gotten my italian food basics down to the point where it's almost meditative to make everything.

    My goals for the coming year are to lose weight, actually run my cooking blog, and to get into a routine with my artwork. I will be really proud of myself if I can get those things going.
    --

    I'm the fuck
    out.

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    @beethery Do you mind sharing your dough recipe? I am in need. 
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    You go, girl! 

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    Well, I've started taking spin. I kind of suck, but I'm hoping to get better. Same with skiing. Last year was my first time. I'm hoping this year I'll get a lot better. I want to be able to keep up with H, and he's really good. 
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    I was never a good cook. All through college I survived on hamburger helper, frozen food, fast food, and baked potatoes. 

    Around the time I met FI I decided to go on a mission to become a good cook so that I could make healthy/delicious things for myself and enjoy them, so pretty much every time he and I hung out we would experiment and learn and try to cook something new together which was really fun! I have a cousin who's a pro chef in Aspen so I would call him all the time for pointers and other than that I would just try tons of recipes and try to pick up on the basic things like making a roux for sauces, etc. There were a lot of mistakes and disasters, but most of the stuff I made turned out delicious and I kept surprising myself with these new capabilities.

    Last night was my ultimate accomplishment so far. I didn't follow a recipe, I made up my own. I made shrimp (which stayed tender and juicy) with gnocchi and then made a garlic-Parmesan cream sauce from scratch (which turned out perfect and was exactly the right consistency) with bacon (I used the bacon fat to make the roux for the sauce and also used a little bacon fat to saute the red onions that I mixed in) and wilted spinach. It was so. Fucking. Good. FI even said "Wow there are no words for how awesome this is!" I was so proud of myself! 

    I love love love learning and trying new things, and am always looking for ways to improve myself. Last year I took classes in MMA fighting because it was way out of my comfort zone and it was so awesome and so fun and so empowering! 

    I want to know: What are some new things you guys have learned recently or new challenges you've tackled? I'm looking for some inspiration to keep going and maybe pick up another new thing! Time to brag, knotties :) 
    The bolded is awesome!  I would love to do something like that.  The most significant challenge that I can think of that I have done is learning how to ski.  I know that there are some avid skiiers that post here, but I'm so uncoordinated, and not athletic, and for years FI asked me to go skiing with him (he snowboards actually, but you know what I mean) and I was too scared.  Then finally about 3 years ago I went with him and his buddies to Keystone in Colorado and we have been every year since.  I am still learning, but it's gotten to where it is fun for me now.  We are planning to go somewhere close to home this season since I don't have much time off, so if any of you skiiers have any suggestions of good ski places close to TN let me know!
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    that sounds so good! Some of the best dishes I do have stemmed from different recipes and combing them together to use what I have instead of going to the store. 

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    Pics or it didn't happen!

    I got a new job recently, so I'm learning all sorts of fabulous stuff.
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    Yay novella! Cooking only gets easier. It is one of my passions. Last night I made Chicken Piccata with roasted garlic, parmesan mashed potatoes. It was heavenly.

     

    My current goals are to be 100% debt free by this time next year. I've crunched all the numbers and I think it will be a very real possibility which make me super happy. I also want to work on my patience because I tend to have very little and have caught myself snapping at H a couple of times and I want to make sure that doesn't become a habit. I'm also challenging myself to read at least 6 new books in 2015.

    Daisypath Anniversary tickers
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    I started cycling this year. At first, I would only ride with H because I was intimidated to go alone. My longest ride so far is 51 miles, and I did that solo. Then with wedding planning, I kind of fell behind in my training (also, I didn't want to get tan lines before the wedding. Shallow, I know).

    Now that wedding planning is over, I've gotten back on the saddle and have been riding 4-5 days a week, although I am confined to riding inside on my trainer M-F. My goal is to complete my first century ride by February or early March.
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    Yay novella! Cooking only gets easier. It is one of my passions. Last night I made Chicken Piccata with roasted garlic, parmesan mashed potatoes. It was heavenly.

     

    My current goals are to be 100% debt free by this time next year. I've crunched all the numbers and I think it will be a very real possibility which make me super happy. I also want to work on my patience because I tend to have very little and have caught myself snapping at H a couple of times and I want to make sure that doesn't become a habit. I'm also challenging myself to read at least 6 new books in 2015.

    Chicken Piccata is one of the things FI always asks me to make! It's soooo good. And how amazing does it smell when garlic AND shallots are simmering in butter?! omg! 
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    My biggest cooking challenge is chicken on the stove. I always seem to overcook and/or undercook. I think I've finally gotten to a good place, and the other week I made some baller chicken fajitas that were seasoned and cooked perfectly.

    I can't really say I've learned anything too new recently, which is quite sad! I am learning lots about planning a wedding, and the conclusion I'm drawing is that I don't care for it. I can't wait to be my FI's wife, and I know the wedding itself will be awesome, but I'm also looking forward to not having to plan it anymore.
    Wedding Countdown Ticker

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    Oh, also, new challenge I'm tackling: move to a new state! Like, officially this time. Last time I just stayed with my great aunt for a summer and don't really consider it "moving." 
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    beetherybeethery member
    First Comment First Anniversary First Answer 5 Love Its
    edited December 2014
    @maeday2 I use this recipe (CLICK). It's a cheese bread recipe, but I use it for pizza dough, chicken bakes, and calzones. I'm going to make it straight from the recipe next week and make croutons out of it. I have made additions and notes for when I make it for use as pizza crust etc.

    I get the three-cheese blend in a bag from market basket. Asiago, Romano, and Parmesan. I typically use extra cheese. I've made it with cheddar before and it was fucking awesome. 

    I also add some olive oil to the dough to get it not to rise too much while it's baking (good for when not used as strictly bread). Let it rise overnight for the best results, and DEFINITELY oil the bowl it's going to be in. I par-bake the crusts a day ahead so that I'm not dicking around waiting for them to be done.

    If you're going to make pizza dough out of it, one batch with the dough ball cut into 2 pieces will make 2 16" diameter pizza crusts. Next time I make crusts out of it, I'm going to cut it into thirds so that I'll have smaller pizzas to work with.

    It takes really well to being rolled out with a rolling pin. I press some cornmeal into it, then flip it over. Then, I put it on the pizza stone, brush the outside edge with egg wash, and sprinkle some more cheese on there. Bake it until the cheese bits in the dough get a nice golden brown. It smells amaaaaaazing.

    I'm going to make some more soon and freeze them for future use.

    The really big task I have ahead of me will be making my own pasta. I've never done that before.

    --

    I'm the fuck
    out.

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    I've been trying to teach myself to Crochet.  IT's not going well.

    I am, however, AWESOME at doing the rainbow loom thanks to my step kids haha
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    beethery said:
    @maeday2 I use this recipe (CLICK). It's a cheese bread recipe, but I use it for pizza dough, chicken bakes, and calzones. I'm going to make it straight from the recipe next week and make croutons out of it. I have made additions and notes for when I make it for use as pizza crust etc.

    I get the three-cheese blend in a bag from market basket. Asiago, Romano, and Parmesan. I typically use extra cheese. I've made it with cheddar before and it was fucking awesome. 

    I also add some olive oil to the dough to get it not to rise too much while it's baking (good for when not used as strictly bread). Let it rise overnight for the best results, and DEFINITELY oil the bowl it's going to be in. I par-bake the crusts a day ahead so that I'm not dicking around waiting for them to be done.

    If you're going to make pizza dough out of it, one batch with the dough ball cut into 2 pieces will make 2 16" diameter pizza crusts. Next time I make crusts out of it, I'm going to cut it into thirds so that I'll have smaller pizzas to work with.

    It takes really well to being rolled out with a rolling pin. I press some cornmeal into it, then flip it over. Then, I put it on the pizza stone, brush the outside edge with egg wash, and sprinkle some more cheese on there. Bake it until the cheese bits in the dough get a nice golden brown. It smells amaaaaaazing.

    I'm going to make some more soon and freeze them for future use.

    The really big task I have ahead of me will be making my own pasta. I've never done that before.
    You're a freaking dough encyclopedia. That all sounds delish. Printing all the notes to make tasties. 'Preciate it! 

    We registered for one of the badass Ninja's with the food processor that claims to be equally as badass in kneading dough. I found too good of a deal on it and just bought the damn thing and I've been eager to see what it can do. Lazy Sunday pizza day coming up. 
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    @maeday2 I use my kitchenaid with the dough hook for mixing all the stuff, and I usually end up kneading the cheese in by hand. I think it stresses the motor too much and I get nervous so I've just made that a habit.

    Oh and a tip for heating up the milk/butter! Get a BIG measuring cup (like a 2 or 3 cup one), put the milk in like the recipe says, and then chop up the butter and add it to the milk. Microwave it for about a minute, then check the temp with a candy thermometer. It's just more convenient to do it that way, and I am lazy as shit so I'm aaaaaaalll about convenience.

    Novella, did you make your own gnocchi? I am interested in doing that at some point.
    --

    I'm the fuck
    out.

    image
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    beethery said:
    @maeday2 I use my kitchenaid with the dough hook for mixing all the stuff, and I usually end up kneading the cheese in by hand. I think it stresses the motor too much and I get nervous so I've just made that a habit.

    Oh and a tip for heating up the milk/butter! Get a BIG measuring cup (like a 2 or 3 cup one), put the milk in like the recipe says, and then chop up the butter and add it to the milk. Microwave it for about a minute, then check the temp with a candy thermometer. It's just more convenient to do it that way, and I am lazy as shit so I'm aaaaaaalll about convenience.

    Novella, did you make your own gnocchi? I am interested in doing that at some point.
    No, unfortunately I wasn't ready to tackle that yet but I've heard it's not too difficult! Soon... 
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    maeday2 said:
    @beethery Do you mind sharing your dough recipe? I am in need. 
    Ditto.
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    edited December 2014
    Tackling cooking has also been MY major accomplishment.  My idea of "cooking" was adding milk to my cereal, the occasional grilled cheese, and french toast.

    A few years after college I wanted to make healthier food choices and you can't really do that at restaurants and fast food joints so I just started cooking.  It wasn't nearly as hard as I'd made it out to be! 

    I was making a bbq sauce / glaze for ribs last weekend and it was just way too thin- I was so proud of myself for thinking of adding a little corn starch to thicken it up. 

    I still prefer to cook mostly from recipes, but I'm getting a little better at "winging" it.

    ETA:  I'm thinking my next challenge will be learning to play the mandolin.  Have to give that some thought.  I'm only awake after work from 6:30 - 10:00 and I spend most of that time now at the gym, cooking dinner, and prepping my lunch and stuff for the next day.  Not sure when I'd fit in my practice time... 


    ETF:  Spelling 
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    Tackling cooking has also been MY major accomplishment.  My idea of "cooking" was adding mild to my cereal, the occasional grilled cheese, and french toast.

    A few years after college I wanted to make healthier food choices and you can't really do that at restaurants and fast food joints so I just started cooking.  It wasn't nearly as hard as I'd made it out to be! 

    I was making a bbq sauce / glaze for ribs last weekend and it was just way too thin- I was so proud of myself for thinking of adding a little corn starch to thicken it up. 

    I still prefer to cook mostly from recipes, but I'm getting a little better at "winging" it.

    ETA:  I'm thinking my next challenge will be learning to play the mandolin.  Have to give that some thought.  I'm only awake after work from 6:30 - 10:00 and I spend most of that time now at the gym, cooking dinner, and prepping my lunch and stuff for the next day.  Not sure when I'd fit in my practice time... 
    I have this big secret goal in life to learn to play the banjo cuz I'm OBSESSED with it and I love love love bluegrass. I taught myself how to play the piano as a kid and I used to take guitar lessons so I feel like the banjo is possible, maybe. But I don't have the time to devote to it right now either, or the money to spend buying one. Some day... 
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    Tackling cooking has also been MY major accomplishment.  My idea of "cooking" was adding mild to my cereal, the occasional grilled cheese, and french toast.

    A few years after college I wanted to make healthier food choices and you can't really do that at restaurants and fast food joints so I just started cooking.  It wasn't nearly as hard as I'd made it out to be! 

    I was making a bbq sauce / glaze for ribs last weekend and it was just way too thin- I was so proud of myself for thinking of adding a little corn starch to thicken it up. 

    I still prefer to cook mostly from recipes, but I'm getting a little better at "winging" it.

    ETA:  I'm thinking my next challenge will be learning to play the mandolin.  Have to give that some thought.  I'm only awake after work from 6:30 - 10:00 and I spend most of that time now at the gym, cooking dinner, and prepping my lunch and stuff for the next day.  Not sure when I'd fit in my practice time... 
    I have this big secret goal in life to learn to play the banjo cuz I'm OBSESSED with it and I love love love bluegrass. I taught myself how to play the piano as a kid and I used to take guitar lessons so I feel like the banjo is possible, maybe. But I don't have the time to devote to it right now either, or the money to spend buying one. Some day... 
    I also toyed around with learning banjo- it was that or the mandolin, and I heard form a lot of people that banjo is simply harder to learn.

    In early high school I wanted to learn to play guitar and my parents kindly bought me an electric one and lessons, but I quit after a few months because my hands were simply too small to deal with that neck- even on an electric guitar.

    With the smaller necks on banjos and mandolins, I figured I'd be able to do it.

    Still waiting for your blue grass recommendations!
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    Tackling cooking has also been MY major accomplishment.  My idea of "cooking" was adding mild to my cereal, the occasional grilled cheese, and french toast.

    A few years after college I wanted to make healthier food choices and you can't really do that at restaurants and fast food joints so I just started cooking.  It wasn't nearly as hard as I'd made it out to be! 

    I was making a bbq sauce / glaze for ribs last weekend and it was just way too thin- I was so proud of myself for thinking of adding a little corn starch to thicken it up. 

    I still prefer to cook mostly from recipes, but I'm getting a little better at "winging" it.

    ETA:  I'm thinking my next challenge will be learning to play the mandolin.  Have to give that some thought.  I'm only awake after work from 6:30 - 10:00 and I spend most of that time now at the gym, cooking dinner, and prepping my lunch and stuff for the next day.  Not sure when I'd fit in my practice time... 
    I have this big secret goal in life to learn to play the banjo cuz I'm OBSESSED with it and I love love love bluegrass. I taught myself how to play the piano as a kid and I used to take guitar lessons so I feel like the banjo is possible, maybe. But I don't have the time to devote to it right now either, or the money to spend buying one. Some day... 
    I also toyed around with learning banjo- it was that or the mandolin, and I heard form a lot of people that banjo is simply harder to learn.

    In early high school I wanted to learn to play guitar and my parents kindly bought me an electric one and lessons, but I quit after a few months because my hands were simply too small to deal with that neck- even on an electric guitar.

    With the smaller necks on banjos and mandolins, I figured I'd be able to do it.

    Still waiting for your blue grass recommendations!
    I posted them in the "getting to know you" thread! Hang on, lemme find it and I'll copy and paste over here 
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    novella1186novella1186 member
    First Anniversary First Comment First Answer 5 Love Its
    edited December 2014
    Here they are! 
    I love Old Crow Medicine Show,
    Dehlia Lowe
    The Dillards 
    Nickel Creek
    The Avett Brothers (although they've gotten really popular on normal radio stations which for some reason bugs me)
    Chatham County Line 
    Trampled by Turtles 
    Johnny Flynn
    The Dhuks 

    Also, I had the small hands problem too when I was learning the guitar. It helps if you can find a smaller guitar (they do make smaller ones) and use Spanish strings, which sound a little different but it still has a very pretty sound and the strings are softer so it's easier on tiny fingers that can't reach as far. 

    ETA: these are just the bands/artists I could think of off the top of my head. There's so many good ones out there! 
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    Here they are! 
    I love Old Crow Medicine Show,
    Dehlia Lowe
    The Dillards 
    Nickel Creek
    The Avett Brothers (although they've gotten really popular on normal radio stations which for some reason bugs me)
    Chatham County Line 
    Trampled by Turtles 
    Johnny Flynn
    The Dhuks 

    Also, I had the small hands problem too when I was learning the guitar. It helps if you can find a smaller guitar (they do make smaller ones) and use Spanish strings, which sound a little different but it still has a very pretty sound and the strings are softer so it's easier on tiny fingers that can't reach as far. 

    ETA: these are just the bands/artists I could think of off the top of my head. There's so many good ones out there! 
    AWESOME!  Thank you!  Screen-shotting now!

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    Speaking of learning new things: 

    I just gif'd!!!! 

    lol I have been trying to figure that shit out for MONTHS. 
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