The word “resolution” seems so big and intimidating, and I feel like most people who made New Year’s Resolutions have probably already fallen off the boat by now, three weeks into the year.
Personally, I find things stick much better when I make a list of smaller, way more attainable goals. (Am I gonna lose twenty pounds this year? HAH! Not likely. But can I run a 10k? Okay, that’s totally doable.)
(Of course, I’m the kind of dork who puts together a spreadsheet of my goals, and checks them off daily. It works for me, but I understand if most of you aren’t nearly so nerdy.)
This year, I’ve decided I want to become a better cook. As glamorously delicious as my life may seem from my food blogs and Instagram (*snort*), most meals around here consist of roasted veggies, rice, and whatever meat we happen to have on hand. Or cereal. I eat an embarrassing amount of cereal for dinner.
So I made a list of goals for 2015:
- improve knife skills
- learn how to use pressure cooker
- cook something new every week
- cook a larger variety of flavors and techniques
- find a go-to chili recipe
- make proper bolognese lasagna
- use waffle maker
- make gumbo
- learn to cook more spontaneously, whatever’s good
- make more dumplings
- make it a habit to clean as I go
- learn how to brown butter
- clean out freezer and pantry
- make ramen from scratch
- cook soft shell crabs when they’re in season
- cook a larger variety of seafood
- cook more limited-availability ingredients when they’re in season (like meyer lemons)
I don’t expect to complete them all (I’ve already failed on #3), but when I’m trying to plan out my week, or at a loss as to what to make for dinner, the list has definitely helped nudge me in one way or another.
This butternut squash recipe, from the January 2015 issue of Bon Appetit, was my first attempt at satisfying goal #4 – make more exotic foods. And a very delicious attempt it was! I’ve already made it three or four times, and I have more butternut squash cut up in the fridge, waiting for the gochujang treatment.
If you’re sensitive to spice, you may want to halve the sauce recipe, as it can be quite spicy. That’s also why I prefer to cube my butternut squash, rather than slicing it as directed by the original recipe – more squash per bite results in a slightly less spicy dish. Regardless, it’s delicious, and I highly recommend it! Would go great with any sort of grilled meats, especially galbi or steak.
Gochujang is a spicy Korean fermented soy bean paste, and can be found at many Asian supermarkets. If you can’t find it near you, this is the Gochujang that I use. (Affiliate link)
By the way… anyone have a good chili recipe? 😀
Butternut Squash with Gochujang and Sesame, from Bon Appetit
- 2 tbsp sesame seeds
- 2 tbsp vegetable oil
- 1 tbsp gochujang (Korean hot pepper paste)
- 2 tsp shoyu (soy sauce)
- 1 medium butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cubed
- green onions, thinly sliced
- flaky sea salt
- Preheat to 425°F.
- Whisk sesame seeds, oil, gochujang, and shoyu in a large bowl until combined. Add butternut squash and toss to coat.
- Transfer the butternut squash to a rimmed baking sheet, and arrange it in a single layer.
- Roast for about 25–30 minutes, rotating the baking sheet halfway through, until tender and browned on some edges.
- Serve topped with green onions and salt.