This is a picture of Thursday's dinner. It's pork chop parmesan and it was pretty good. I snapped a picture because I was really proud of how it turned out, for two reasons:

1. This was my first time, ever, cooking pork chops. My family just didn't really eat a lot of pork while I was growing up.

2. The breading DIDN'T FALL OFF. Usually, when I try to bread and cook meat, the breading slides off regardless of whether or not I use egg or some other binder.

When Adam came in the kitchen to get his plate, he looked at the recipe that I'd copied to the white board on the fridge, and asked, "What did you change?"

"Nothing," I replied.

"Oh," he answered, sounding a bit surprised.

"I was too nervous about the pork chops to mess with it," I admitted. "Maybe I'll mess with it next time."

I tend to not really follow recipes exactly. I have a hard time getting through most recipes without tweaking them somehow; I just decide along the way that this ingredient would be better than that one, or that we don't really need that in the dish, or that a little more of this would be great. It was new territory to cook pork and to leave a recipe alone.

I've known for a while now that I really enjoy cooking and baking. I love making food. But I tend to get stuck in ruts and stick to the meals I can make without looking at the recipe. When I make cookies, they're almost always chocolate chip and I only get the recipe out to double-check myself. I have it nearly memorized already.

But I have a whole shelf of cookbooks (like, two dozen, maybe?) and the internet at my fingertips. I've been realizing that I need to stretch myself a little more in the kitchen. I want to. It doesn't mean that I want to start spending four hours on every dinner and have something new every night. I think my mental goal right now is to cook or bake at least one new recipe a week. It could be a dinner. It could be a dessert.

It could be a staple food. For all my time in the kitchen, bread still terrifies me. Yeast-breads make me nervous. I have a pasta press that I've used...twice? I have a pastry blade for cutting the butter into the flour that I've used...not once.

In my first apartment after I got married, my excuse was space. I really didn't have room to spread out ingredients and it was a lot easier to just make things I didn't have to think about. But now I have a little more space and the boys still sleep too much to count as a real excuse.

So, one new recipe a week? I can try that. I hesitate to say I'm committing to that because I'm as afraid of failure as I am of baking yeast breads. But it's good to be challenged and I'm willing to say I'll try.

And in a few months, some of those recipes will be baby food. :-D