Happy new year! We rang in 2012 with sparkling wine (cremant de Loire, to be precise, very nice) and Chinese food delivered to our door by a cheerful young woman who I hope was raking in good tips for the evening.
I know it sounds odd to talk about delivery on a cookbooks blog, which is exactly why I bring it up. I strongly believe that 99% of home-cooked food is better than 99% of restaurant-made or prepared food, at least in the price range that I can afford. Yet time and again we find ourselves getting Chinese delivery, takeout empanadas, deli sandwiches, and more. Well, OK, I also believe that 100% of deep-fried items that are prepared in a restaurant or industrial kitchen are easier to clean up after than 100% of deep-fried items I make myself. There’s that. Still, in the moment we make a choice based on convenience, or speed, or fatigue, and later I find myself second-guessing. Could I have managed it myself? (Not last night, I’m giving myself a break on that.) Could I have cooked something different that would have served our purposes?
So I thought I’d make a few new year’s resolutions for myself and the blog — for myself, to be expressed on the blog as much as possible.
1. I resolve to cook at home more often. Now to accomplish that, I need to first make another resolution: I resolve to keep track. I can’t measure “more” if I don’t know what the numbers are. And if my perceptions are clouded by guilt, they’re not going be an accurate measure of trends. So for at least January I’m going to be making notes: What did we eat for dinner, where was it cooked and by whom, and why did we do it that way? Any interesting insights that come out of this will show up in posts.
2. I resolve to keep up with the dishes. This is absolutely related to resolution 1, in that it’s hard to be motivated to cook even a quick meal at home if the sink is overflowing with last night’s messy plates and pots. But this is another area where perceptions are misleading, because I have noticed during the past few months that even a heaping sinkful does not actually take as long to wash and rinse as it looks like it will. Still, this is one of those jobs that’s easier to keep on top of if I don’t let things sit very long.
3. I resolve to try more new vegetable dishes. I think that’s where my real potential for culinary creativity lies. I’m just not as intrigued by the possibilities of another way to roast beef as I am by the many vegetables I haven’t used to their fullest. Also, the “try new” goal introduces an element of play, which sounds a lot more fun than just “eat more vegetables.”
4. I resolve to stop waiting for conditions to be perfect. Those of you who are perfectionists know what I’m talking about here. I could try that thing if only I had all of Saturday free. I could figure this out if only I had the right cooking pan. There are some things that require the right tools or circumstances — canning non-acidic foods requires a pressure cooker, for example, which in turn requires a functioning pressure gauge, which means that’s not happening for me right away. Other things just need improvisation or a little more courage.
5. I resolve to post here more often, with shorter posts as necessary. I don’t always have time to cook a full meal, photograph it, process every photo and put it all together. But I can share my thoughts about what’s going on in the news, or take mobile photos of things I saw at a diner or a cafe. Not everything has to (or should) be a New Yorker essay.
6. I resolve not to beat myself up about falling short of the mark. I don’t think that one needs any explanation. If you don’t know what I mean, you’re only fooling yourself.
What are your resolutions for 2012, cooking or otherwise?