As a part of my 30×30, I made the decision to cook my way through an entire cookbook. After going back and forth between Weeknights with Giada and Jamie’s Food Revolution (and initially selecting Jamie’s Food Revolution), I settled on Weeknights with Giada. I love both cookbooks, and have cooked a few recipes from each that have been fantastic.

The first choice

At first I chose Food Revolution because a main theme of the book is sharing and passing on the recipes found inside. In the introduction, Jamie asks readers to pass it on by ” … pledging to learn just one recipe from each chapter of this book. Master these in your own home first, and then pass it on by teaching at least two people (preferably four) how to cook them, too.” In a pay-it-forward type of way, those that learn the recipes are then asked, again, to pass it on.

As someone who loves to cook, and loves to cook for others, I appreciate the sentiment. In my family(s) – both the one I grew up in and the one I joined by marriage – cooking at home and eating as a family is an integral part of everyday life. Food is a language of love with us, and I want to continue this tradition. With readily available convenient fast/takeout food, it seems that the art of everyday cooking has become somewhat lost; we’ve begun to believe that it is something best saved for the weekend, or when more time is available.

That said, as I began going through the cookbook to map out my cooking schedule, I realized that there was no way I was getting through that cookbook by my birthday. There are a ton of great recipes that I can’t wait to try, and I highly recommend the book; however, I didn’t want to set myself up for failure from the get-go.

The ultimate choice

So in the end I’ll be cooking my way through Weeknights with Giada. It’s funny, and fitting, because of the Food Network Stars, she was never my favorite until quite recently. It’s not that I didn’t like her recipes, or even her as a host. It was that something made me very uncomfortable with the way she really enjoyed her tasting bites at the end of the show. I know, it’s weird of me, but I always felt like I was interrupting a very intimate moment. Recently I’ve become a fan of Giada. One of the shows that Nick and I watch together is the Next Food Network Star, and seeing her mentor on it really made me appreciate her more. Nick, on the other hand, has always loved Giada. And it’s not just that she’s gorgeous, and Italian, and a fantastic chef. I’m pretty sure it’s in part because he too loves to take very loud, savoring bites as he eats; I have actually called it “Giadaing” since the first time I noticed him doing it.

As I mentioned earlier, I’ve cooked a few recipes from the cookbook before, and they’ve all been great. As I was mapping out my cooking plan, I started to get pretty excited about the food we’ll be eating in the next couple of months. The dishes are packed full of flavors and ingredients that we love, and shouldn’t be too heavy. In fact, that’s another element that I really like about this book: The food is all pretty healthy and utilizes fresh ingredients. Perfect for cooking in Grenada!

The rules

So now that I’ve picked the cookbook, what are the “rules”? I’m not going to apply many, because I don’t want to back myself into an impossible corner, get frustrated, and just give up altogether. I’d like to cook five dinners a week out of the book, leaving us two other meals to cook our regular favorites. One of the chapters in the book is “Breakfast for Dinner”, but instead of using that as an evening meal I’m going to make brunch on Saturday or Sunday using a recipe from the chapter. Nick and I are both fairly adventurous eaters that are willing to give anything a try; however, we do both have things that we’re not huge fans of. He, for instance, hates cucumber, and I am not such a fan of sweet potato (but I’m starting to come around). That, paired with the fact that we can’t always find specific ingredients here, means I need to give myself a little flexibility. With that in mind, I’ll probably end up taking some liberties with the recipes and edit as necessary. I think that’s a good point to keep in mind with any recipe. Just because you can’t find certain things, or don’t enjoy certain things, doesn’t mean you can’t tweak it to your needs. Creativity is one of the best parts of cooking!

I’m sure as we go I’ll make adjustments to the plan, and may occasionally want to add or reduce the numbers of recipes I use on a weekly basis. I’ll be starting next week. If you were to cook your way through a cookbook, which would you choose?