Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Kitchen Resolutions 2009

In 1997 I resolved to quit smoking. I haven't smoked since. No other resolution has been so unequivocally successful, but some have done better than others. The problem is that I don't have a good record of what I resolved or when. I know better than to make resolutions that take the shape of, "In this year I resolve to ___ better."

A second problem with resolutions -- they aren't always such great ideas. For me it is scope. They reach too far or are too modest. "I'm going to bring my lunch to work every day!" or "I am going to bake a loaf of bread every day!" Both would be stupid ideas. My work cafeteria offers a good variety and is reasonably priced. I could save money if I made better use of the food at home and threw out less. I love the idea of baking more bread, but my family often has trouble finishing the bread I bake. Should I resolve to clean up the home office? Boy, that will lead to some pride next December! But I am unwilling to give up on resolutions.

Part of my Christmas haul included How to Eat Supper by Lynne Rossetto Kasper & Sally Swift, The America's Test Kitchen Family Baking Book and a cooking apron. Cooking supplies and cookbooks are typical and well appreciated. A resolution recommended in How to Eat Supper was to cook through a cookbook that interests you. Part of the idea is to get inside a cuisine or at least a talented cook. I am going to take them up on that, but my head and kitchen are both too busy to stop with one resolution. I'll give myself a few and at the end of 2009 we'll see what I've learned and what I could stick with:

Kitchen Resolutions 2009
  1. Cook through How to Eat Supper (at least 80% with no obligation to cook any seafood -- an obligation to my spouse).
  2. Go through every shelf, cupboard and work surface at least once. Clean and discard as needed. This is a big commitment, low on bragging rights resolution.
  3. Learn to manage the burgeoning herb/spice collection (nearly 100!). The consequence of learning to cook east African, and from Silk Road Cooking has meant some curious additions such as sumac and black cumin.
  4. Keep a kitchen food journal so that I can figure out what works (and doesn't). This is a "be careful" type of resolution. Some meals could have essays attached, others just "It was ok."
  5. Bread baking. I have played around with baguettes or crusty French bread for some time now. I've looked at Mark Bittman and Shirley Corriher. I need to branch out. For 2009 I would like to try making bagels, loaves of sandwich bread, ciabatta and at least a couple others. I like what I see in Amy's Bread and Baking with Julia.
  6. Fridge management. Do you want to hear about a plan?
  7. Leftovers. I've got to figure out a way to make bringing leftovers more appealing as a lunch alternative. I bought a few better containers which are mostly going to work with my wife now. I think one or two more . . . This will be the last wimpy bragging rights resolution.
  8. Blog more. I wince when I see bloggers apologize for not having written in a while. I need to work, study, feed my family and cook for survival not for the blogoshere. But I enjoy writing. That irritating little guilt tug brings more variety to my kitchen table too.

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