Did you see the movie Julie and Julia? It was an unexpected favorite of ours when it came out, and we envisioned becoming the Julia Child of our group of friends. Without a kitchen that's a little bit hard to do, so you could say that dream is on hold for us. But one woman took the inspiration from that movie and created her own cooking challenge over the summer with something many of us find challenging – sustainable seafood.
Karen Rosenzweig cooked all 75 recipes in the Good Fish cookbook by Becky Selengut between the Memorial Day and Labor Day holidays last summer (that's 97 days for those of you counting). Not only that, but she documented her efforts at www.GoodFishGoodCook.com, complete with funny stories about her screwups, how she kept her partner from getting tired of fish every night for three months, and what she learned about cooking, sustainable seafood, and accomplishing a big goal in a very public way. The pictures will make your mouth water.
Be sure to check out the resources to this week's issue in the sidebar if you are interested in trying a similar project. We won't blame you if you get hungry before you finish reading this issue. In fact, we think we're going to Try Something New right now…to eat!
Until next time, we hope you try something new.
(my apologies for the video – it seems the interwebs were a little hazy in Thailand the day we recorded. But the audio is great and so is the info, so just turn up your speakers, minimize the video, and go about your business as you listen along)
What Karen did right:
She picked an interesting and challenging cookbook with a variety of seafoods
She set an end date, which kept her motivated and kept people interested in her project (which reinforced her motivation)
She invited people over to help eat the food and so she could cook multiple items at once
What Karen wished she had done:
She should have clarified the project better with her vegetarian/pescetarian partner who didn't want to eat that much fish
She would have gotten her friends involved sooner in the project so she didn't have to eat so much of it herself
What did she get out of it?:
Focus. She said she has trouble finishing project and the public accountability gave her the focus to finish.
Flexibility. Because not every ingredient was available and things didn't always go according to plan, she had to rely on Plan B or C and learn to adjust. She says this is not a strong component of her personality, so it was a big challenge for her.
Details. Karen learned the importance of small things in both cooking and photography and how those little things can completely change a dish or the way it looks.
Better cooking skills. Karen used to be a personal chef, cooking foods in people's homes and freezing them. She has never done this type of cooking before where garnish and presentation matter and she's there for the actual consumption of the meal. She learned why recipes call for a certain ingredients, sizes, and techniques.
Preparation. She learned to be prepared for her meals instead of opening the cupboards at 6 pm and wondering what to make for dinner.
Photography. Karen learned much more about food photography, plating, and presentation of food, which will come in handy in her business of social media consultant for food companies (you should follow her Twitter stream @KarenRosenzweig to see what I mean).
What Karen would recommend for you if you want to try this:
Pick a cookbook with enough variety and challenge to keep you interested.
Get your family's buy-in so everyone is supportive of the project – they'll be the ones eating it!
Set a date to make it a challenge. When you do, you stay on task and your friends get excited about it.
Learn to plate your food and present it well and always take a photo of the finished product before you dive in
Write about it immediately and make the stories interesting. You can keep a blog or a personal journal, but don't let the writing fall behind or you'll never catch up (as well as forget little details)
Invite other people over to share in the food and tell them about your project
Would she do it again?
Karen says it didn't cost her any more to do this project than her normal grocery bills, even buying sustainable fish. In fact, she says she saved on her eating out budget because she simply didn't have time to go out in the evenings if she wanted to finish the challenge in time, so she just invited friends over to her house instead. She said it deepened her relationships with some people and created new ones over the shared interest in cooking.
Karen said after the Good Fish project was completed she needed 2 weeks of no cooking or blogging to recoup, but now she's ready for another challenge. She already has her eye on a holiday cookbook coming out soon, and she thinks it will be fun to try cooking it during that timeframe. To find out more about Karen, visit her website at One Smart Cookie Marketing.
Could you become similarly addicted to cooking every recipe in a cookbook? Only one way to find out…
Trying Something New on a regular basis is key to living the good life. If you want to know how to save the cash to try something *really* big that you've always dreamed of, then this is the book for you. As a subscriber to this ezine you get a $10 discount just for using the code DREAM. What are you waiting for? That dream isn't going to fund itself!
We believe the key to an extraordinary life is to try something new on a regular basis. What you'll get from this ezine is a regular dose of a beginner trying something new – from the easy to the very difficult – and information on how you can try it, too. You may not want to try everything, but we think you'll gain some insight about courage, curiosity and personal strength from reading about each experience. What do you want to try next, *|FNAME|*?
Resources for this issue
The cookbook that started Karen's challenge. Learn how to find, buy and cook sustainable seafood of five different types with recipes from beginner to expert in each category. Then log on to Karen's website to see how she did it!
Learn to write about food in a way people want to read, whether you are writing a cookbook, blog, magazine article, or even a future bestseller (remember that Julie and Julia was a blog before it was a book before it was a hit movie starring Meryl Streep).
Reduce the learning curve and take stunning pictures of your culinary creations with tips from a professional food photographer. (You should probably only read this on a full stomach.)
Need help creating a blog? We know a handsome fella who can do that for you no matter where you are in the world. Check out his work at MWL Development.
All photos are copyright of Karen Rosenzweig and used with permission. See more great food photos at Good Fish, Good Cook