Everyday inspiration for the home cook
Popular reality cooking shows, such as MasterChef Australia, initiatives like Good Food Month in Brisbane, Canberra, Melbourne and Sydney, as well as blogs and social media are all great places to find some inspiration for your daily home cooking.
Spicing up everyday meals can be easy if you know where to begin. Popular cooking reality television shows have completely changed the way many Australians view home cooking . While the classic 'meat and three veg' is still a staple in many homesii, taking the time to get creative in the kitchen can be a fun way to broaden your culinary horizon.
Food festivals have become a popular way to sample cuisines and cooking techniques from many different cultures. Australia's largest food festival, Good Food Month, celebrates everything Australian and international cuisine has to offer. This year, the festival started in Brisbane, then heads to Sydney and Canberra in October and then on to Melbourne in November. The Sydney event incorporates the three-week Night Noodle Markets, transforming Hyde Park into a bustling Asian-style hawker marketplace, so don't miss out on sampling delicious foods and get inspired.
Australia is a melting pot of many different nationalities that have introduced their own recipes, ingredients and cooking styles into Australian food cultureii. It's not easy to pick a truly Australian dish that doesn't derive its origins from another country. Use this to your advantage next time the urge to create a new dish strikes. Why not visit a speciality Asian, Indian or European food store in your neighbourhood to find new ingredients to add to your everyday meals? Don't be afraid to ask the shop owners and assistants for advice on how to prepare an authentic meal from their country of origin, which spices and ingredients work well together, and which cooking appliances you may need.
The Internet and social media are also great tools for finding new and exciting meals to try. There are numerous blogs, websites, and social media pages dedicated to helping the home cook think outside of the box. Just type in the search term "recipes" on image-sharing site Pinterest and you will instantly find hundreds of new ideas to tempt your taste buds.
Food blogs are another great way to discover new recipes. A good place to start could be the winner of the 2013 Best Australian Blogs Competition in the Lifestyle/Hobby category, Cook Republic. Many of the well-known celebrity chefs including Curtis Stone, Jamie Oliver and Donna Hay all have their own websites or blogs, featuring some of their most popular dishes.
What you need to get started
Ultimately, the equipment you choose to buy should depend on what you already have and what type of cooking you will be doing. Having a few pieces of speciality cookware in your cupboards will make getting creative in the kitchen easy. For example, dishes like Chinese pork buns or dumplings turn out well in a bamboo steamer, which you can get from homeware shops and Asian speciality stores. A wok makes it easy to create a nice stir fry; fresh ingredients will add to the taste, so why not head out to a farmer's market on the weekend to stock up on fresh, seasonable vegetables.
For lovers of the Italian cuisine, a baking stone will be of good use to bake pizzas with a perfectly browned crust, melted cheese and toasty toppings; and using a pasta machine to make your own spaghetti and fettuccine is sure to impress the next time you invite friends over for a pasta feast.
Many of today's modern appliances, such as blenders and food processors perform similar functions, so you may not need to purchase both. A blender is perfect for preparing a large variety of delicious soups, healthy smoothies or tasty pesto, and is one of the key appliances to your upcoming cooking adventures. Waiting for sale times around Christmas, Mother's Day and yearly stocktakes can help to keep your costs to a minimum.
Adding an extra 'wow' factor to your cooking doesn't have to be complicated or time consuming. With a bit of planning and creative inspiration, you will be cooking up a storm before you know it!