Sunday, December 27, 2009

Looking Back on 2009 Resolutions

When I made my kitchen resolutions in 2009 I had a different outlook: I was working for a large food manufacturing company; I was a part-time student crawling unenthusiastically toward an Accounting degree, and my financial situation was, if not enviable, certainly stable. As I plan for 2010, my perspective is much different: I lost my job. I've discovered there are few aspects of business I care less about than Accounting, financially life is more precarious. I decided to finish my business degree in Marketing and am pursuing it full-time. My 2009 kitchen resolutions were fun to pursue however. Some missed the mark, but I will repeat / re-resolve a few for 2010.

Here is what I put down for 2009 and the results:

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).
I've never cooked in any year more than I cooked in 2009, and this book is largely the reason. Unfortunately, unemployment was reason number two. Because I cooked from so many cookbooks in 2009, completely skipped all seafood, and didn't cook much in soup season, I didn't hit 80%. I counted my marginal notes and delved into my memories as I paged through my copy. It looks like I only got to 30 or so recipes. But that means Lynne and Sally visited our house about every two weeks. I guess there will be no blockbuster movie Bruce & Lynne (& Sally).

When shopping for cookbooks for the Mini Chef, I noticed How to Eat Supper didn't get as great a promotional push this year as last, which is a shame. I recommend it highly as a cosmopolitan style cookbook. It doesn't suffer from fussy or obscure ingredients or difficult techniques. Besides the great recipes, the book's strength is in the practical advice found on every other page. Littered with gems like, "Walk in the house and turn the oven to 450° F. Even if you have no idea what you are going to be eating this single act starts supper ... "

2. Go through every shelf, cupboard and work surface at least once.

Our kitchen is cleaner. Enough said.

3. Learn to manage the burgeoning herb/spice collection.

I'll repeat this resolution again for 2010. Economy of scale evolved into a dangerous habit. I bought a larger pestle and mortar for seeds, pepper corns etc. I've also figured out some of the more shelf stable spices, I now have a pound of turmeric and 2 1/2 pounds of hot pepper flakes (kimchee!).

4. Keep a kitchen food journal so that I can figure out what works (and doesn't).

This resolution I've kept in a half-hearted way. My sense is that, barring plans of putting out my own cookbook, minor notes should suffice. My desire is to learn how to cook. If I have a difficult recipe, hints should suffice once technique is mastered.

5. Bread baking. I have played around with baguettes or crusty French bread for some time now. I need to branch out.

I spent a lot of time baking in 2009. I imagined branching out to mean adding two or three types of bread to my repertoire. Last week I tried a Finnish pulla, a foccachia, and a semolina loaf (per Baking with Julia). I made dozens of loaves of white sandwich bread (also B w/ J). I bought, experimented with and eventually developed an intense adverse reaction every time I saw Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day. I made my first loaf of challah, rye and even played around with Injera (unsuccessfully). If anyone knows an Ethiopian/East African baker who would be willing to teach me ...

6. Fridge management.

Do you care?

7. Leftovers. I've got to figure out a way to make bringing leftovers more appealing as a lunch alternative.

I've come to rely much less on my work cafeteria since I lost my job.

8. Blog more.

From a marketing perspective (remember, I'm a marketing guy now), I know daily postings would be best. Unfortunately, I am a slow writer. I type slowly. I edit as I go along and then go back and edit some more. I have bad writing habits that make papers and projects stretch out longer than necessary. Nevertheless, I managed to write almost 30 posts, in nine months (I didn't blog at all in October, November and December while I was a full-time student). I started nearly as many pieces that never were posted. We'll see if I can correct that for 2010.

I look forward to writing about all the food topics I put aside while pretending to study.


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Term Papers said...

I recommend it highly as a cosmopolitan style cookbook. It doesn't suffer from fussy or obscure ingredients or difficult techniques.