2014 Bucket List

I no longer make “resolutions” the word itself seems to set me up for failure.  I prefer, ‘Progress not Perfection’. Each year I make a ‘Bucket List’ of things I would like to learn, accomplish and things I need to improve upon.

At the beginning of 2013 I decided I needed to start my own blog.  I have been blogging on Allrecipes since 2010 and it was time to build my own ‘soap box’.   By August, with the help of a couple of good friends and YouTube, “Baking Nana’s ,Kitchen” became a reality.  It has been an experience building this site from the ground up.  It still isn’t exactly the way I want it but I have learned a great deal.  I am sure that 2014 will bring more ‘learning experiences’. Thank you all for your support and for putting up with my learning experiences!

What is in store for 2014?

My quest to help families get out of the drive-thru and into the kitchen will continue. Moving away from relying on overly processed ‘food like products’ will lead to better awareness and ultimately better health for the entire family.  Remember, progress not perfection.

The goal for Baking Nana’s Kitchen is to add a menu planner to help with planning and organizing budget friendly meals.  Also, on the horizon is the hope that ‘users’ will be able to add their own recipes. and maybe shopping lists.  Wish me luck!

“Good cooks are not born, they are made.”
Being able to create something out of ‘nothing’ makes you a good cook!  We will be exploring various methods and techniques ~ from basic to advanced ~ and learning to create wonderful meals without a ‘recipe’.

Broccoli A  ‘Cooking with Kids’ segment is in the forecast.  I am of the firm belief that getting kids into the garden and kitchen brings them closer to their food and opens up an appreciation for ‘real’ food.

One thing is for sure, I spend a lot of money on food.  I consider myself a frugal shopper, I know prices and can spot a deal when I see it.  That said, having a freezer full of ‘deals’ doesn’t do us much good if I don’t put those ‘deals’ to use.  In January you will see me cooking my way through the freezer. With the exception of milk and fresh vegetables I am going to attempt to avoid heading to the market.  I need to use what I have on hand.

My ‘bucket’ of things I want to learn:

    • Smoking – No, not cigarettes! I want to really master the art of smoking various meats.  I do not own a smoker so I will be researching those and consulting with a few people who I consider ‘Masters’ in the art of smoking.
    • Making Bacon – I have plenty of pork belly in the freezer waiting for me.  In 2013 I bought a pig, yes a whole pig.  The butcher offered to make bacon for me and I declined as I really want to make bacon. We have worked our way through most of the meat and now I need to deal with the pork belly and the lard.
    • Pressure canning –  I don’t own a pressure canner.  I have been looking at them, researching them and putting off buying one for a couple of years.  This is something I would like to learn, I am just not sure how much I would use it.  Then I think, freezing is great BUT it would be so much easier to open a jar of soup & heat it rather than defrost (which I seem to always forget to do) and heat it.  I would actually use more homemade broth & soups.  If you have a chance stop by Petey’s blog, Range to Range.  Petey is absolutely inspiring!  She is certainly my inspiration to learn to pressure can my own soups and broth.  She lives so far from ‘anywhere’ that drive-thru isn’t an option and neither is a ‘quick’ run to the market.

With all that said, what would YOU like to see on ‘Baking Nana’s Kitchen’?  What are you hoping to learn this year?  What kind of content would you like to see? I would love to hear your goals and expectations.

Wishing you all well, thank you for your support!

Posted in Real Food permalink

About Baking Nana

Each morning my granddaughter Sarah calls to ask, "Watcha doing, Nana? Are you baking Nana?" Hence my "name" Baking Nana. I am a mother to three wonderful children and a grandmother to 12 very hungry grandkids. I don't bake fancy cakes but I do make wonderful yeast bread and home cooked meals made with love.


2014 Bucket List — 22 Comments

  1. Good Morning, Baking Nana, My husband owns 3 smokers. He has an electric smoker, a gas smoker and a charcoal smoker. The best flavor comes from the charcoal smoker. When it is windy and cold, my husband prefers the electric smoker. All use some wood. I prefer the apple flavored wood. There is a lot to learn about smoking meats. Using too much wood, makes the meat to smokey for me. I prefer a more mellow taste. I wish you luck in getting a smoker. I also bought him a digital thermometer for smokers. He loves it. The thermometer seems to be more accurate than each of the smoker’s dial for the temperature. Good luck on fulfilling your Bucket List. http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00CAZFKIU/ref=oh_details_o06_s00_i02?ie=UTF8&psc=1

    • Great information, Lela. I know I like the charcoal ‘flavor’ and applewood is so great! I will not get an electric smoker – electric rates here are outrageous and I would feel very guilty running an electric smoker all night. In fact, I have used my gas BBQ as an oven to slow roast pork instead of using the electric oven.
      I am putting a digital thermometer on my list! Perfect. 🙂
      Thanks so much!

  2. BN: I am flabbergasted by the lack of interest the younger generations have with cooking! Okay, that’s a bit of a generalization. There are many young people that enjoy spending time in the kitchen, but it seems that the vast majority aren’t really interested. I have dragged my kids, kicking and screaming, into the kitchen. I don’t think they love it, but in spite of themselves, they’ve learned a few things. I won’t give up, because I’m all about educational opportunities. I have several coworkers who are crazy about their Treager Smokers. (Once in a while, they bring their Foodie coworker a delicious sample!) I’m not going to publicly announce this is on my Bucket List because I’ll probably fail, but I think learning to use a pressure cooker would help with the problems where we have overcommitted ourselves. I think you could get some good meals on the table in a fraction of the normal time. Because it’s pretty difficult to feed the family when you’re gone 14 1/2 hours a day…or night.

    • Good Morning, Bikerfamily.
      I am going to google Treager Smokers so I know what to look for when I go to hunt down the perfect smoker. Searching online is fine but I really like to be able to see what I am buying.
      I was checking out pressure cookers at Bed Bath and Beyond the other day. They only had 2, both the same brand and no pressure canners. I think you are right, learning to master the art of pressure cooking would really cut down the time it takes to get dinner on the table. In the trusted resources section I have links to a couple of pressure cooker sites.
      As for kids in the kitchen, even if they never fall in love with cooking everyone should be able to feed themselves. I think it is a shame that Home Ec has gone be the wayside. Years ago my son took Home Ec is high school, the big attraction for him was being able to EAT in class. Part of the year was devoted to sewing and he did make some shirts for himself. I don’t think he ever sewed anything again, but he does know how to sew on a button!

      • I highly recommend the All American pressure canners. They don’t require a seal, they are safer and easier to use, and are American made. They become a family heirloom, being quality enough to be passed from generation to generation and are still moderately priced at around $200. A small investment once you realize how much time and money you are saving by canning food 🙂

  3. As mom of two little ones, I can relate to what Brenda is saying. We just stock up on whatever is on sale, and I am learning how to be creative with what’s on hand. On the other hand, I feel like I haven’t been able to be a step ahead of the game. I would like to learn from you, as a mom who has raised her kids, how to be more organized with my meal planning.

    • Hi Laura,
      It is a challenge for sure and takes dedicated commitment. Together, we can share ideas and suggestions. I know that there is no ONE answer for all of us.
      My hope is that together we can find a way out of the jungle of processed / fast food and lead our kids to recognize and appreicate “real” food.
      It isn’t a small task, that is for sure.
      Thanks for stopping in!

  4. Wow BN, you’ve said a mouthful!! And I “amen” every word – especially in the area of “kids” being encouraged to learn to cook/bake. The point we have gotten to in this generation actually started a couple generations ago when we, as a society, bought into the belief that every household had to be a 2 income household. And moms started going to work everyday and coming home too tired to scratch cook – much less have the energy to teach it. So now, we’ve raised a couple of generations of kids that don’t know what scratch cooking is and there’s no one to teach them. So we’ve got to get back to basics – and that means take the time to cook and teach. And this isn’t directed to just moms – – maybe you’re a grandmother or grandfather or an aunt or uncle or a neighbor/friend – – give the gift of yourself – and be a mentor. My personal goal is to do a “cooking class” at my church that will be open to anyone that wants to learn to cook – – “whosoever will. . let them come.” I’m not some fancy expert by a long shot – but I do know how to cook/bake and I’ll share the knowledge I have. The AR website and your website have been immensely beneficial in helping me learn more – – and you are absolutely right about Petey – she is a “master” at canning. That woman does it all – raises her own food, grows her garden, milks the cow for all her dairy products- and more – WHEW!!
    As far as any additions to your website – – hmmmm . . . I guess I would like to see a “quick fix” corner – – if something is too salty, then add some lemon juice to tame the salt (real “fixers” – not myths) – how do I thicken a gravy? (add a roux or slurry)- – what are seasonings that would make a good rub for chicken or beef or pork? (and give a combo seasoning list that compliments each). But mostly I just want to say “THANK YOU” for being there – you encourage us, help us, pick us up when we fail, dust us off and remind us that we CAN DO IT!!

    • Thanks so much, Pam. You have always been a wonderful cheerleader!
      I love the idea of a cooking class at church! I wish our local food bank had a cooking class, it is so desperately needed.
      One thing I noticed when I helped to launch the Allrecipes Italy site is the lack of processed ingredients and the lack of detail involved in most of the recipes. Much like I learned to cook, a recipe is merely a guideline. It is assumed that basic techniques are already in place because they are! It was a wonderfully refreshing adventure.
      I like the idea of the “Quick Fix Corner”.
      Together WE can and will make a difference to curb the processed / fast food mentality.
      🙂 Thanks so much for your support!

  5. Take an afternoon off and go to the Bass Pro Shop. On the second floor there they have quite the display of smokers and accessories. I have an old three piece one that I’ve had for about 25 years. I think it’s time for a new one since I’ve pretty much burned mine up. I prefer a water smoker with easy access for replacing coals and wood. Smoking is one of the easiest ways to cook food. Heck, if you need someone to tag along let me know. We can go to Toby Keith’s for some deep fried mac & cheese.

    • Sounds like a plan! Although I think I will pass on the deep fried mac and cheese…
      I can’t wait to learn how to do this. I am happy to know that I have an expert in my corner!

  6. Good morning Baking Nana, I agree about your goal for not using the drive thru. When I worked I used my slow cooker a lot, wonderful aroma when you walk into the house. Very easy supper just add a veggie. and a salad. Now I’m retired and for the most part so is the slow cooker. I enjoy the fact that I can actually take the time to make a meal start to finish. Just 2 of us now with the girls on their own, I find it so hard cooking for 2. Like you I plan on cooking out of the freezer We have much to be thankful for, a full freezer being one of them. Looking forward to reading your blogs. Have a great day.

    • Good morning manella. I know so many people who love their slow cookers. I have a few recipes that I like done exclusively in the slow cooker but most of the time I use them to keep food warm and ready to serve. I really do understand the time constraints of families with children at home. It is a tough juggling act getting dinner made and the kids all to their activities, let alone working a full time job.
      Thanks for stopping in. I look forward to hearing about your blessings from the freezer!

  7. Your goal of getting families out of the drive-thru is a good one, but I think one of the biggest problems to overcome is time. So many people are over-committed and overwhelmed. The drive-thru seems to be an easy answer, and I’m sure moms kind of close their eyes in desperation to the nutritional aspect of this kind of lifestyle. Good food requires time. I know that in my case, I have great plans for cooking ahead, but I’m often so exhausted I can’t bring plans to fruition. I have a smoker, but I seldom have the time to mind it. I need you to come cook for us, Baking Nana!

    • Hi Brenda,
      I agree, it is so hard to come home and start dinner, especially when there are hungry cranky kids waiting. My kids always got very cranky when they were hungry (still do actually).
      Most of my clients that I cook for as a private chef are actually in their 50’s two careers and no time. Add kids to the mix and it gets really difficult.
      I wish we lived closer – I would cook for you and learn to use that smoker of yours.

      • Lack of time is one of the things that makes canning such a great deal. YOu can make several meals at one time, and there won’t be any wait on thawing them out. Chili’s, stews, soups and shredded meats for sandwiches and burritos, plus canned chicken, turkey or beef to throw together quick casseroles are the payoff.

        My ex used to work for a butcher and did a lot of smoking. I wish I had their recipes because I would like to start making bacon and hams too! Let me know how it goes if you get there before I do! 🙂

        • Thanks for stopping in Kim! You are the busiest person I know – what you manage to accomplish is absolutely amazing. I will let you know if I ever decide on a pressure canner – the ‘pressure’ is on now that I have put it in down in writing!
          I am going to have to stop by your blog and read up on rendering lard as well.
          I can’t wait to try my hand at smoking. The best ribs I ever ate were smoked low and slow for a long time – there wasn’t a drop of BBQ sauce on them and they were fabulous!
          Have a wonderful 2014!

  8. I think a bucket last is a great idea idea will have to follow suit! I have a friend who has a smoker and he was just saying the other day that he to wants to make his own bacon. Good luck! Oh, and I am glad you started your blog!

    • Thank You, Shelby. I am glad I started my blog too, but boy it sure takes a lot of time. I have had more than a few hiccups along the way.
      Let me know if your friend has any good tips on making bacon!

  9. Very nice! I’ll be watching that research into the smoking of meats! My neighbor (not very communicative and now short-term because of moving) sometimes smokes meat and the aroma (not smell) drives me insane! I’m totally ready for 2014! Thanks, Baking Nana!

    • Isn’t that the most amazing aroma? Some mornings I get up and know that my neighbor has been smoking all night. OMG – amazing! I MUST learn this art – and yes, it is an art! One of my best resources for smoking meat just moved to Kuwait! ACK – I missed learning from them!

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