#1 – A Simplicious Challenge: Cooking 306 Recipes

I love cookbooks. I own nearly 80 of them (including around 25 eBooks) – and I would own a lot more if I gave into every whim and desire I had to buy them. I also have a large collection of food magazines. But despite my fondness, or perhaps because of it, I have a bad habit of cooking only a handful of recipes from each book – returning to the same, familiar and appealing ones, while ignoring the recipes I think I won’t like.

Because of this, I’ve always fancied the idea of doing a Julie and Julia style challenge: to deliberately cook every single recipe in a cookbook. If ever a book was worthy of this challenge, I reckon Simplicious by Sarah Wilson is the one, with a whopping 306 recipes.

Cover of Simplicious by Sarah Wilson

As soon I as started flicking through this book, the idea of doing this challenge started to grow on me. I was a bit worried I would do my usual: go straight to the gummy lollies and chocolate cardamom tarts, and never look back to the veggie-packed salads and meaty stews. Ultimately though, it wasn’t just the appealing recipes that encouraged me to consider this challenge.

Simplicious isn’t just a cookbook – it’s a call to action, to examine the way we consume and waste food; and to develop more responsible habits. Last week, I saw a perfectly happy bunch of kale in my fridge, and considered throwing it out, as I had no immediate plans to use it. Worse – when I subsequently thought, ‘I shouldn’t do that’, I consciously considered leaving it in the fridge a few more days until it started to go bad, so then I could ‘legitimately’ throw it out. I’m lazy. Most of the time, I make an effort to use leftovers. Not as efficiently or as effectively as I could though, and not very creatively. I tend to resort to same-same stir-fries or scrambled eggs with grated vegetables. I could do with a challenge that pushes me to be more proactive.

Allow me to state here: This is not about Sarah Wilson. Or about I Quit Sugar. Although I’m an Ambassador for the IQS 8 Week Program, I don’t receive payment for this and don’t write ‘sponsored posts’ on their behalf. Sure, I’m a fan of Sarah Wilson. I’m grateful that she paved the way for a low-sugar movement, because I, my family, and some of my friends, have directly benefited from improved health and quality of life by adopting a low-sugar lifestyle.

This challenge, is about the potential impact that Simplicious could have on the way I buy, cook and consume food, both for myself and my family. I’m intrigued. Can it be done at a family level (luckily I have a giant freezer!)? I’m anticipating that this challenge will help me to push through my socially-acceptable laziness in wasting food, to use my leftovers in ways I actually enjoy eating; to learn how to prepare, preserve and cook better; and of course, to eat delicious food. Hopefully I’ll save some money on grocery bills while I’m at it.

I’m committing to cook at least a few recipes from Simplicious each week, and estimate this will take me around 12 – 18 months to finish. I hope I don’t get hit by a bus before I reach the end. (I also hope I don’t ever get hit by a bus). I’ll report back here monthly with an update.

I considered buying 306 tiny post-its to tag every recipe in the book, and then removing each one as I completed each recipe. Then I realised that this would be an extraordinary WASTE OF TIME; time I could spend watching Netflix, and I decided I would just tick them off with a pen instead.

Because I couldn’t wait, I’ve already kicked it off over the last couple of days with a few recipes from the book:

  • Pretty Spring Risotto, with Powerhouse Dressing (pictured below): A gorgeous vegetarian lunch, that left me feeling good – not bloated, like ‘real’ risotto sometimes does. It packs a nutritional punch with five different vegetables, plus strawberries, herbs and a gut-friendly dressing. I made the dressing using the murky dregs of my bottle of Apple Cider Vinegar – which I had recently considered chucking…
  • Good For Your Guts Garlic: A fermented garlic – which is still in the fermentation process. I’ll let you know how it goes in the next update!
  • Homemade Chicken Stock: Made with bones from a previous roast chicken and the recent KFC Chicken Drumsticks from the IQS8WP mealplan, along with frozen vegetable offcuts (I’m not all bad!).

That’s four down. Only around 300 to go.

Pretty Spring Risotto

Pretty Spring Risotto with Powerhouse Dressing from Simplicious

Read the next post – #2 A Simplicious Challenge: The Battle with Laziness.

4 Comments

  1. ladyredspecs says:

    What a fabulous project Erin, a project to focus your mind. I loathe food waste and almost never throw out anything. I won’t jump on my soapbox. Yes a freezer helps, but so does a little planning before you shop. Deciding what to serve for dinner, planning leftovers to incorporate into another dish, planning to use the same ingredient eg kale in a few different dishes so it all gets used all adds to thrifty housekeeping. I make bottom of the fridge soups and salads at the end of the week so fresh ingredients left languishing don’t get consigned to the bin. The money you save you could spend on cookbooks…..

    • Erin says:

      Thanks Sandra, I love these tips! I might have to hit you up for some more along the way – I like the idea of ‘bottom of the fridge soup’ 🙂

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