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Sunday, May 10, 2009

the rating system

fairly early in our marriage, we instituted a rating system for my cooking at my request. now, this may sound masochistic to some of you who aren't confident in your cooking yet, but i wasn't confident in my cooking at that point either. consider the following benefits of instituting your own rating system:
  • it can help your cooking confidence - it will help you realize your strengths and your weaknesses in cooking so you can magnify the 1st and work on the latter.
  • you'll never make anything (twice) your husband doesn't like - i would hate to love something and find out after years of making it once a month that my husband only thought it was a 5 out of 10. bummer.
  • it gives you a goal - it's no fun to just cook day after day and never have any feedback or anywhere to improve or anywhere to go. i had a week of all 9's once. it was amazing!! what a cooking rush. i felt totally motivated to keep creating.
in addition to the benefits above, here are a few tips for creating a rating system:
  • have tough skin - just because your husband didn't love something you cooked doesn't mean he doesn't love you. he just didn't like that dish. it's okay - just make something different tomorrow!
  • make your system consistent - my husbands 1 to 10 system is based not just on taste, but on how often he'd like to eat it. sushi is a 10 for him and he'd eat it every day (and no, i've never gotten a ten - he's totally obsessed with sushi), but i've gotten lots of 9's that i think hold their own against sushi. :)
  • ask for the rating, and then for feedback - it helps you learn to take constructive criticism. i love to ask my husband what i could do to make an 8 into a 9.
i've been really craving asian food for some reason (making my hubby thrilled to say the least), but i've never really cooked anything authentically asian until this. it was so worth the extra ingredients i bought (and will definitely keep using - i'm hooked!). this one got a 9!!

chicken lo mein
mostly based on recipes here and here
4-6 servings

marinate 1 boneless, skinless chicken breast sliced into small pieces in the following for at least 1 hour:
3/4 tablespoon rice vinegar
1/8 cup soy sauce
1 1/2 teaspoons white sugar
1 tablespoon chicken broth

1/4 cup soy sauce
1 teaspoon sugar
1 1/2 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 1/4 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup water
1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch

3/4 lb linguini pasta, cooked
2 tablespoons fresh minced garlic
crushed red pepper (optional)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 1/2 cups broccoli florets
1 red/orange bell pepper, chopped
4 green onions, sliced into 1/2 inch pieces
(change up the veggies according to what you have - you can use anything that sounds good. mushrooms and snow peas are two others i'd suggest)
1 1/2 tablespoons oyster sauce
1 teaspoon sesame oil

1. after marinating chicken as instructed above, combine all sauce ingredients in a medium bowl. in a separate small bowl, dissolve the cornstarch with some of this mixture and slowly add to the bulk of the mixture, stirring well. set aside.
2. heat 1 tablespoon olive oil with a dash of crushed red pepper (optional - may leave out or adjust depending on how spicy you want it) in a wok or large saucepan over high heat until it starts to smoke. add the marinated chicken and leftover marinade from chicken and stir-fry for 4 to 5 minutes, or until browned. add your garlic and veggies (the ones above or your choice) to wok. mix well and then stir fry veggies for a few minutes.

3. add the reserved sauce mixture and oyster sauce. simmer until the sauce begins to thicken and
veggies are steamed to your liking (i like them crisp tender, about 3+ minutes). when veggies are done, you may add a few teaspoonfuls of cornstarch to thicken sauce.
4. add the cooked pasta and 1 teaspoon of sesame seed oil over the top of the pasta. toss gently, coating everything well with the sauce.


Meghan said...

I LOVE the idea of the rating system!!! I always tell my husband to be brutally honest about my cooking - how else will I ever improve?! Like you said, I don't want to find out I've been making something for years that he secretly doesn't like. I am going to start the rating system in our house! Your chicken lo mein looks so delicious. I love lo mein but it's always so greasy when we get it for take out, so making it at home is great idea. And I forgot to say on your last post - congrats on the move being finished. Looking forward to many great dishes prepared in your new fabulous kitchen :)

Sharon said...

I can see why this received a 9! I think a rating system is a fabulous idea. I just don't know if I can slave away in the kitchen and still deal with honesty :)

Super Angie said...

Mmmmmmmmm, this looks yummy! Definitely on my list of recipes to try.

BrittWilk said...

i'm sure you'll both love the rating system, meghan! go for it! and yes, the greasy thing is my normal problem with lo mein too - problem solved here!

and sharon, your food always looks so delicious i can't imagine you'd get anything but 9s or 10s from hubby!

and thanks angie!

Kacey said...

I made this for dinner tonight and my husband and I agree that it is a 9! Great recipe. I had to laugh about the rating system because we have one too. It all started when it came out that he didn't like my spaghetti and meatballs. I had (have) a problem with timing the different parts of meals so they are all hot and ready at the same time. Apparently, either my meatballs or my spaghetti were always cold but he didn't have the heart to tell me or help me figure out how to get it all on the table HOT! I couldn't believe he had made it through a year of marriage without complaining or at least commenting!

BrittWilk said...

haha... kacey, i love it!! that is a hilarious (and useful) way to get a rating system!! glad you all liked the lo mein! thanks for trying it!

Clare said...

I love lo mein, so I'm definitely going to have to try this one. The way that I measure whether or not Clint likes what I make is, "Would you like me to make it again?" Since he'll eat anything and everything whether he likes it or not, that's the true test.

Mark & Bek said...

Made this last night. Very very yummy

healthy cooking on a budget

disclaimer: i don't claim to be an expert on cooking, weight loss or even healthy eating, but i do love to cook, find healthy, taste bud-friendly tricks and most of all, i love to eat!

qualifications: what qualifies me to blog on cooking healthy on a small budget? well, as my husband is still a student, my budget is not what you'd call large. and as for the healthy part, when i was 10 i was diagnosed with pancreatitus - a disease that doesn't effect me much anymore unless i eat food that is too greasy or has too much fat (in which case, well, let's just say i get really sick). this had steered my experience and limited cooking expertise in a health-conscious direction.

please feel free to comment, criticise, rate recipes, try ideas and make requests for future posts!