Spice Up Your Home Cooking Journey | Encouragement for New Homecooks

Have you found yourself in the kitchen a whole lot more than you used to be before? Are you openly or secretly starting to enjoy it, or do you feel a bit intimidated by the consistency of it?

Cooking doesn’t have to be or feel overwhelming, though I can understand (and remember) how it could seem so for newcomers to the kitchen. It can be fun without needing to involve a whole production. It can be relaxing, therapeutic, exhilarating, creatively inspiring and soul stimulating.

In today’s post, we’ll walk through steps to spice up your home cooking journey, and I’ll share some doable meal ideas to help anyone struggling to build a repertoire of tasty, healthy dishes to introduce into your home.

Oh, and also coming up is a link to another blog sharing about Morocco’s innovative food combinations so be sure to check that out too. It’s an interesting read with beautiful visuals and a culinary history lesson in the mix.

Cooking from scratch‘ is a new phrase for me – to hear and use. Coming from The Caribbean where basically every meal starts with some kind of oil, garlic and onion and involves herbs, spices, greens, plus tree and ground provisions (from breadfruit and yams to eddoes and sweet potatoes) I’ll be offering recipe ideas that match that foundation.

Creamed potato, sweet pumpkin, ‘stew gungo peas,’ sautéed spinach and fried plantain

Soups are a good start if you’re now getting acquainted with the kitchen, and are open to rustling up a one-pot something filled with peas, (ground) provisions, fresh herbs and flavour-filled spices. Making a delicious bowl involves a lot of peeling, washing, slicing, dicing and sprinkling but once most or all of the ingredients and simmering in the pot, you can pretty-much leave it til it’s ready to be served. That takes away any pressure that can come with the vigilance it takes to monitor some meals while they’re being made.

Is every dish gonna come out fabulously every single time? Possibly not. Will that change the price of rice wherever you are? Keep trying and you’ll improve as you learn intuitively, from mistakes made, and with help from the many skilled chefs and cooks sharing their tips through blogs, books and videos.

One light note: stay enthusiastic, light-hearted and make a conscious decision that you will not invite stress into your cooking space or add a bad mood to your meals or the ones you prep for others. You’re making a dish someone else will eat so let’s cook lightly. A bad mood can’t survive or thrive in a calm kitchen.

If we’re conscious about the food we’re putting into our bodies, thoughts count too.

Not quite a soup – made some Grenadian-inspired ‘oildown’ (vegetarian-style).)

What’s your favourite kind of soup? Try learning to decipher the ingredients you taste and try it out at home for yourself and family or friends.

Start with one pot meals, if you like, then pitch for multiple dishes.

Tip: a colourful plate usually means different flavours and textures, but your meal doesn’t have to be colourful to be healthy and enjoyable. I’m not a nutritionist, dietician, or pro chef so not here to dish out any advice on food combos – just here to encourage you to be innovative in the kitchen (or outdoor cooking area) and to share some meal ideas that can help you:

  • spruce up your preset grocery list
  • make use of what you already have
  • get creative with any leftovers generated along the way
  • enjoy the experience of cooking at home more

Today’s partner post is by Yoair.com featuring an article on Morocco’s culinary journey

Morocco’s Innovative Food Combinations

You could have the most ‘clean’ – seeming meal plan, eating food prepared outside of your home and not be aware of the mood the meal is being made with. Just like customer service can influence our buying patterns, it matters when you can account for how your meals are made. (By the way, I enjoy good street food/restaurant/deli meals like many do too.)

If you’ve ever watched or listened to a gardener or chef describe the joy of picking and cooking with homegrown fruit or veg, you already have a sense of what it can feel and be like when you reach a place where you enjoy being a part of the meal-making and receiving process in your home.

lightly-seasoned sweet potato chips, veggie red rice with curry channa & fried plantain

We might not always feel up to cooking at the time our tummies start grumbling, but even our mood while making food matters. Set a pace and ambience that works well for you.

STEPS TO Spice up your homecooking journey:

  • add some new spices to your collection (research which ones meet your health needs or mission in this season)
  • buy small quantities of fresh fruit and veg you’ve been meaning to try
  • get a pretty bowl to remind and inspire you to make your favourite kind of soup
  • stock up on a variety of peas and beans
  • finely-dice onions, chives, cucumbers, sweet peppers or fresh herbs to sprinkle on your plated meal (if you’re not into fresh salad.) Add a lettuce leaf or two to the side of your plate and scoop up some food to make sure you get some greens. Ideally though, boost your veg intake
  • try making a healthy alternative to a snack or treat you know you could do with a break from buying
  • set the ambience you cook lightest in (soft or peppy music in the background – family in the mix – quiet house sounds – devotional, podcast, YT video or language lesson playing – your personal prayer time – listening to birdsongs through the window?)
Trini buss-up-shut with black lentil Korma, sautéed mushroom with spinach and boiled corn.

As you start making more meals at home, you’ll get better at portion setting (or guess-timating.) If you have a l’il extra boiled rice, potato or peas after dinner, store well, set it in the fridge overnight and you can do a remix to add to the next meal by adding some veg and make fried rice, patties, pies or ital ‘fries.’

Some food staples to keep at home that can come in handy in a multitude of ways:

  • fruit (coconuts and all your seasonal favourites)
  • spices (tasty and naturally medicinal flavours)
  • veg (onions, garlic, greens etc.)
  • peas (dhal, soups, stews, patties)
  • flour – whichever kind you use (roti, wraps, naan bread, baked goods)
  • provisions (for pies, staples, patties, fillings)
  • rice

If you have even a small amount of each of these at any given time, it’s a good start to make more than a few dishes you can try out, improve on, be nourished by and serve others.

This is your home cooking journey; it doesn’t have to look like anyone else’s and it’s not up for public grading. Take any pressure you might feel off and write (or type) a fresh grocery list, remembering to include your cupboard, garden, village shop, and favourite farmer’s market too when considering where you’ll gather those ingredients and supplies to spice up your home cooking journey.

It’s an honour (not a headache) to make a meal for loved ones and visitors.

Homecooking might not be on the list of trending things to do for ‘today’s woman’ (so what?) but it can be a calming and sweet addition to each gifted day. If you’re already feeling enthusiastic about your upcoming kitchen adventures, keep that momentum and go make a meal with that bright smile.

Meals made with love taste so much better!

basmati rice, red lentil dhal, boiled plantain and okra with spinach
Buttered eddoes and sweet potato mash, green lentil korma, slice of boiled sweet potato, fried + boiled plantain and zaboca (avocado)

Are you on Instagram? Come over to my cooking page @gentle.honey.spice.curry for healthy, tasty tropical meals, recipes & real-time cooking.

peaceful mornings, cosy kitchen and hot drink

Thanks for coming by and reading today’s post. Your visit to itsjoywithin.com means a lot. In this 9-year journey of blogging, there have been over 300 articles with online writing steps, work at home tips, creative career talks, recipes, encouragement and multimedia refreshment content. Joyful Life | On Purpose is listed on the ‘Top 45 Caribbean Lifestyle Blogs & Websites To Follow‘ by FeedSpot (for two years now) and is a labour of love. There is no behind the scenes interference, secret billionaire shareholders or message influencers so the posts that reach you are shared with love using whatever resources and access I have. If you’re inspired to support this blog whether with a $1. today or more monthly, the PayPal email address is itsjoywithin@gmail.com – thanks very much and hope to see you in the next post.

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Greetings, if you're ready to purposefully adjust the pace and volume of your life for the better and live lighter, there's plenty of resources and inspiration here. Join songwriter, singer, homecooking gardener and creative entrepreneur, Indra from Barbados for refreshing reminders, nature adventures, freedom songs and tropical recipes here on what has organically blossomed into one of the leading 'Caribbean Lifestyle Blogs & Websites to Follow in 2022' by FeedSpot.

7 thoughts on “Spice Up Your Home Cooking Journey | Encouragement for New Homecooks

  1. I love the ease of leaving a pot of soup to cook and not having to be vigilant of it like with other foods. My fav kind of soup is potato soup. You make a great point that our mood and the ambience matter when we’re cooking. The food in the pics looks delish! Do you have a favorite rice to cook with?

    1. Oooo, potato soup. I’ve only heard of that but haven’t ever tried it. Thanks for be kind words on my food pics, and interesting question about the rice ‘cause I just recently learned about and made red rice and black rice, which was different from cooking basmati (which is my current favourite to make.) If you want to share your potato soup recipe as a featured guest, feel free to say and thanks for coming by and sharing the love.

      1. It’s really delicious! I don’t know that it’s healthy since it has lots of dairy products like cheese and cream. I personally don’t mind it. My pleasure! And nice! I don’t think I’ve ever tried cooking with either. I appreciate you for the cooking inspo and your invite to guest post. I use recipes from the internet for the potato soup. If I ever give the recipes my own original twist, for sure I’ll let you know. You’re welcome, and have a wonderful week!

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