From left: Chatelaine Cross-Canada Test Kitchen contributors Tara O'Brady, Julie Van Rosendaal, Diala Canelo and Suzanne Barr. (Photo illustration by Sun Ngo)
While we’re not big on diet-culture-style resolutions when it comes to a new year, January does present an ideal time to take stock of our lives in food: from shopping for it to cooking it to feeding ourselves and others. We asked some of our Cross-Canada Test Kitchen contributors for their own ideas about cooking differently in 2023.
One of the things I’ve missed the most in recent years is cooking with people. We learn so much from each other when we spend time in the kitchen together. In 2023, I’m going to have more friends over for dinner—and make sure they’re in the kitchen for the cooking part, not just at the table for the eating part. I’m also going to make a point of cooking out of a cookbook each week. In my kitchen now: Diasporican: A Puerto Rican Cookbook by Illyanna Maisonet and The Vegan Chinese Kitchen: Recipes and Modern Stories from a Thousand-Year-Old Tradition by Hannah Che. And I’ll be devoting more time to addressing food insecurity in public schools. Kids have far fewer options when it comes to food supports than adults, and there’s no reason so many kids should be hungry every day.
Most of the time, my meals rely on inspiration and on ingredients I bring from my travels. This year I’ll be changing things a bit, and even though my meals will always be inspired by my travels, I intend to do more meal planning. Not only is meal planning great for cutting on food waste, but it’s also a good opportunity to crack open every cookbook I own and try new recipes every week—especially plant-based ones.
As a chef and mother, I typically prepare quick, yummy meals—but when it comes to myself I eat leftovers and whatever is available on-the-go. As I start the new year, I’m welcoming into my routine and kitchen more intentional eating, the practice of fasting more regularly, and taking the time to enjoy the act of slow cooking and using new ingredients. A greater appreciation for nutrient-rich foods, and avoiding overindulgence in foods that are heavily processed. Nyam!
After all the preparation and entertaining over the holidays, I try to hold cooking burnout at bay by finding fresh inspiration in the cookbooks that closed the year. Some recent favourites are Black Power Kitchen from Bronx-based culinary collective Ghetto Gastro, with mostly plant-based recipes in riotous celebration of Black food and culture. The Woks of Life: Recipes to know and love from a Chinese American Family by Bill, Judy, Sarah and Kaitlin Leung is the story of the Leungs told through food. From traditional Chinese dishes to restaurant cooking to the weeknight, one-pan meals that get us through our busiest days, this collection is heartfelt and plate-filling.
This year, I'm cooking more for myself and less for everyone else. I had my first kid two years after I finished university. Now, I'm a mom of three, and I've spent my whole adult life prioritizing what my children and husband like to eat. And it's honestly been a pleasure—feeding others is my love language—but with the conflicting preferences of five people, I just can't make everyone at the table happy anymore. On top of that, our 3-year-old often picks dinnertime as his meltdown hour. I have reached a tipping point as a caregiver where I want to fill my own cup back up by cooking and eating more for my own appetite.
I'm happy to welcome soup back into my life. (My husband hates soup. How does anybody hate soup? Good thing he's cute.) And lots of fish (sorry, Everett) and salads (Miles gets his deconstructed). They get enough nutrition and foods they like throughout the day, plus, there's always a fruit basket on the counter that nobody has to ask permission to eat. Nobody's going to starve. And I'm feeling great!
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