My New Flavor Every Month List for 2013

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Here's my list for a monthly "challenge" to break up my cooking habits as I mentioned in my New Year's Kitchen Resolutions for 2013. It seems that two kids is a lot harder than one, and my cooking has gotten into a rut. Mind you, a good rut. I've enjoyed it. But I think the twice-a-week broccoli might be getting old. So I feel like a new flavor every month is about all I can muster. Plus, some of these might get expensive. And our goal is still to keep our cost of living down so I can stay home with the kids as long as possible.

  • Sesame Oil I've been wanting to try cooking with this for a really long time. I've done this thing at the grocery store. Pick it up, look it over, put it back, pick it up again . . . But it never came home with me. Now it will have to!
  • Thyme My friend, Jennie, got me a Thyme plant as my baby shower present for Peter. But I didn't get it in the ground soon enough and it didn't survive. I'm hoping to make it work this time and see how it can liven up a dish.
  • Walnut Oil I'm a little nervous trying this. I like walnuts, but find them bitter on occasion. This is a clear test of trying to find a way to cook with something I'm kinda scared of.
  • Marjoram I know precious little about this herb and what it's best used for. It's time to learn!
  • Sage I really like sage. But I've only ever had it dried and mixed with other herbs. I'd really like to have an opportunity to see how it can stand alone when used fresh.
  • Caraway Seeds I quite enjoy caraway seeds in a good rye bread. But I've never cooked with it on my own. Pretty silly, huh?
  • Truffle Oil I hear it's a delicacy. And since most "delicacies" are non-vegetarian, it would be nice to try something that special. It's generally expensive, but I've seen some on occasion at Homegoods or TJMaxx.
  • Jicama I think jicama is mostly tasteless, so we'll consider this a texture instead of a flavor to try.
  • Garam Masala OK, honestly, I'm gonna have to look up exactly what this is. I know it has to do with Indian food. The yummy flatbreads that are served with this spice are available at Costco. So next I have to find a recipe that helps me understand it a little better and hopefully enjoy eating it a lot.
  • Shallots This is an item I've actually purchased before, but didn't have a proper recipe for use. So I just cooked them instead of onions. I think they have a much better purpose than that. This year I'll be on a mission to find it.
  • Porcini Mushrooms While I mostly enjoy the flavor mushrooms provide, I don't enjoy their texture. So we're starting with small, nicely flavored mushrooms. . .preferably blended. Smile.
  • Saffron OK, I've tried this once before. But I felt like all it did was color the couscous yellow. So, we're going to put forth serious effort to try it again. And technically, this helps with the "Clean out the herb rack" kitchen resolution.
  • Do you have recipe recommendations on how to use any of these new flavors? Please share them!