Thursday, January 27, 2011

culinary resolutions 2011

eat more cheese
I always keep a list of things I'd like to cook (and there are several cooking goals on my Life List), but this year I thought I'd make a list of culinary resolutions, a la the guys from The Bitten Word.

As I was jotting my resolutions down, I found myself writing Eat more cheese. Wait a minute... It wasn't intentional and by eat more cheese, I don't mean stuffing my face with cheddar all day. The resolution was actually inspired by the Wine & Cheese Party we hosted for New Year's Eve. I had so much fun looking at all the international cheeses at the store and even more fun eating really good cheese at the party. So what I really mean is Eat more (new/exotic/delicious) cheeses. Especially during the summer, I can see Larry and I sitting at the picnic table in our backyard, sharing a bottle of wine and a hunk of good cheese. (And if he has anything to say about it, also a hunk of grilled meat.)
2010_06_05 d
Anyway, without further ado, here are my Culinary Resolutions for 2011. (Note: Most of them are working against my personal resolution to eliminate my fat ass in 2011. I mean seriously, Rachel, Make Cinnamon Rolls? Did you not see that commercial a few years ago with the girl and her cinnamon bun butt???)

1. Make pretzels, bagels, donuts, ravioli, cinnamon rolls, crepes, and ketchup from scratch.
Evidently, I'm planning on an all-carb diet in 2011? Yikes. I'll blame the fact that it is winter (my most hated season) right now, and carbs and sugar are comforting.

2. Bake bread once a month.
Again with the carbs. But there is nothing better than homemade bread, and I haven't made it in such a long time. (I recently saw a resolution to bake a cake a month and thought "Yes! I should do that!", but bread seems slightly healthier than cake.)

3. Eat more fish.
Every time Larry and I cook fish, we say that we should make it more often. It's healthy, delicious, and a good way to reduce the amount of meat in your diet. (This may be the first resolution that is somewhat healthy, too.) We don't do it as often as we should because the fish counter in our local grocery store is sketchy, so we have to go out of our way to buy fresh fish.

4. Eat more cheeses.
Splurge on the good stuff every once in a while. There are two cheese shops in the DC area that I've always wanted to visit - Cowgirl Creamery and Cheesetique.

5. Mix cocktails.
I can cobble together my three stand-bys - gin & tonic, pineapple juice & coconut rum, and baileys & milk, and I also make a mean sangria, but I'd like to mix some real showstopping cocktails this year.

6. Make use of our new kitchen tools: pizza stone, mandoline, potato ricer.
Ok, I know what to do with the pizza stone and am hoping to improve my pizza-making techniques this year. As for the mandoline and the potato ricer - I'm not sure what to make with those and am open to suggestions. Potato chips? Gnocchi?

7. Cook an international meal each month.
Inspired by the success of our New Year's Eve party and the challenge of cooking food from foreign countries, I'm hoping that Larry and I can pick a new country each month and make a meal that includes wine and food from that country. I'm really looking forward to this.

8. Eat outside whenever possible.
We have a beautiful patio and a picnic table for eating in our yard. Also, taking meals with us when we go on hikes or going to a nearby park for lunch, dinner, or even grilling are good ways to dine al fresco. We could even sit on our front porch or spread a picnic blanket across the front yard. (There's too much dog poo for picnicking in the backyard...)

9. Have a gourmet picnic.
To expand on the resolutions above - would be great to take some hunks of good cheeses and other treats and eat outside. This one was actually inspired by our trip to the beach in September - in the evenings, our group of friends would set up a table on the beach and drink wine by the ocean. It was fantastic, and while we don't have the ocean here, we could still find a pretty outdoor setting and drink wine (if we're sneaky) and relax with friends.

10. Attend wine events. Drink wine (and learn more about it).
We have a local wine shop down the street called Red, White, & Blue that has wine tastings on the weekends. It's fantastic and I'd like to go more often. I'd also like to go to a Virginia winery this year.

11. Go berry picking again. Cook lots of things using the bounty.
Picking blueberries in July was one of the best things we did last summer and I made a ton of new recipes that month. Can't wait to do it again - this time with strawberries?

12. Go to the farmers' market in the fall.
We love our local farmers' market and go almost every Saturday during the summer. It stays open in the fall, but for some reason come Labor Day we always stop going. Need to change that.

13. Cook recipes from cookbooks and food mags.
We did way better with this in 2010 than we have in the past. I've been using my cookbooks and we've made several good recipes out of Food & Wine. It's easy for me to look at the pretty pictures in the magazines, fold down the corners of pages that catch my attention, and then the magazine gets stashed in a pile with L.L. Bean catalogs and the recipes that caught my attention get forgotten. Hopefully, that won't happen this year.

14. Have more dinner parties.
Food is so much more delicious when it's shared. Larry and I both love to cook, so we need to remember to have people over and share our table and our meals with friends and family more often.

15. Organize the kitchen and transform the mudroom into a pantry.
My big project is transforming our mudroom into a big walk-in pantry. I need the extra space for storing kitchen equipment (such as the ice cream maker, bread machine, etc) and to visibly display all the jarred ingredients and canned goods that get hidden in cabinets and in my current little pantry.

Larry's goal would be to make more food in his smoker. I've also toyed with the idea of entering a recipe contest, but I don't think I'll commit to that for 2011, since the above list is pretty ambitious. I actually made the beet cake as a taste test for entering the Scharrfen Berger Chocolate Adventure Contest, but quickly realized that creating my own recipe (for baking no less - that would require a lot of trial and error and a lot of cupcake eating) at the same time as preparing for the holidays was just not going to happen!

P.S. The EAT MORE CHEESE print is available in my shop.


Abby said...

Rachel -- I'm so impressed with all your 2011 ambition! I only wish we lived closer to take more advantage of all the good things you'll be making this year. Can't wait to hear of your culinary exploits!

P.S. Cheese is currently Jane's favorite food. Smart 9 month old!

Funnelcloud Rachel said...

Hi Abby - I wish you were closer, too! I love that Jane loves cheese. (And I can't believe she's already a cheese-eating 9 month old - it seems like she was just a tiny pink newborn!)

Larry said...

I'm totally firing up the smoker as soon as I can this spring. Yay for smoked meat!