Tuesday, January 12, 2010

January Food Blahs!

In my last post, I gave you a recipe for Mocha Muffins – a rather delicious taste to brighten your breakfast or a coffee break.

I don’t know about you, but I find January a tough month to cook, bake and even enjoy food. I think my taste buds get over stimulated in December. There is so much food that is specifically eaten around the holidays that is hard to enjoy the everyday fare that we consume the rest of the year. We have spent the previous month – or more – sampling appetizers, dips, salads, sauces, side dishes, main courses, countless desserts and other sweet treats. Oh and let’s not forget all those festive beverages!

After all that, it is no wonder our taste buds are feeling overwhelmed. They need a break to recover. The problem is that after all that stimulation, everything from our normal diet seems bland. To complicate matters is the fact that there is a lack of local fresh produce in our winter climate. Well, okay there is still fresh produce available but except for root vegetables and produce that stores well such as apples, the rest is all imported from thousands of miles away and we pay a hefty premium for those items.

That hefty premium isn’t always worth the money though as some southern climates also face extreme weather at this time of year and the quality of what is shipped just isn't the same. Add to that our pinched pocketbooks from holiday spending and our choices are rather limited.

I don’t tend to buy a lot of salad fixings this time of year. One of the grocery stores I usually go to, does have Romaine on sale this week for $.96 which is an incredibly good price for this time of year - even if it is small! I cringe at paying more than a dollar for Romaine or Leaf lettuce at the best of times. I occasionally see head lettuce on sale, but frankly all it has going for it is the crunch – not much nutritional value. I did buy Romaine to serve in a salad for a dinner in December and paid $1.49 – OUCH! Even the tomatoes on the vine are well over $2/lb at the moment. No, if I am having a salad this time of year, it is apt to be a cole slaw. Better yet just some raw veggies such as carrots, celery, red pepper and mushrooms with a light or fat free dip.

For me, January usually means a lot of oven meals. Turning on the oven to cook your dinner is also a great way to cut your heating costs. It is amazing how much a room can heat up while a delicious meal is cooking in the oven – not to mention how good it smells! That is assuming that I actually feel like cooking. I spent a LOT of time in the kitchen in November and December doing Christmas and Holiday baking and frankly I’m pretty tired of cooking around this time of year.

I generally enjoy cooking and baking. I like trying new recipes, but this time of year? Forget it! If it isn’t simple, fast and tasty without being fattening – odds are I won’t be trying it. I just can’t get enthused about being in the kitchen right now. I did try a couple of recipes in the last couple of weeks - recipes that had been on my “try” radar for quite a while. They were okay i guess, but just didn’t have that yum quality that I was hoping for. Mind you, they both tasted better warned up the next day so I’m not throwing them out, I’m just setting them aside until I have more patience and energy to play with them.

I went through my deep freeze a few days ago to do a post Christmas inventory. My supply of frozen meats and vegetables is doing well and my breakfast muffins are good through spring. Even my supply of baked goods for snacks and company isn’t too bad at the moment. I don’t really have to start baking till sometime in February.

It’s not that I won’t bake or cook in the next while; it’s just nice to know that I don’t HAVE to!

So at least for now, I’ll be relying on my old standbys. The meals and treats that I can make without a lot of effort or planning. The things that satisfy my taste buds without overwhelming them. The things that are easy to prepare and don’t cost a fortune. The comfort foods that make me feel good without the guilt of too many calories.

Of course there will be a few chocolate treats in there. After all, I am human!


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