Culinary New Year’s Resolutions v.3.0

For the past two years, early in January, I wrote posts describing my culinary resolutions for the coming year, and since they were so much fun the first two times, here I am again. As before, these resolutions deal not just with the kitchen, but also with this blog, my writing, and life in general.

The first year I wrote my resolutions, one of my biggest ones was to cook more Thai food and blog about it, which I did accomplish. Last year, I resolved to work on my book proposal, which I utterly failed at, because I discovered that postpartum depression is more pernicious than at first it seems, and it can trigger a latent genetic tendency to depression. This is not fun, but I refuse to let depression sap me of my will to create and write. So, this year, I am back to the drawing board on the book proposals. (Yes, in the plural. I have another idea for a book–a cookbook this time….finally!)

So, what are my culinary resolutions for the coming year?

To continue to be creative at coming up with dinner specials that fit the theme of Restaurant Salaam, which not only keep food costs down and work within the limitations of our kitchen, but which beguile the senses of our guests, enliven their imaginations, and keep them coming back for more. I also want to keep writing about my experiences in the restaurant kitchen; I think that readers are interested in what goes on behind the scenes, and what it takes to make food come to life in a restaurant setting. It is certainly different than working in a home kitchen, but not entirely. To do well in a professional kitchen, not only does one have to be skilled–and that is something that ever cook or chef works to improve constantly–everyone wants to absorb new techniques and ideas–but you also have to have love and passion. Food cooked without love or passion lacks soul no matter if you are cooking at home or in a restaurant. It may be technically beautiful, its presentation may be divinely inspired, and its flavors may be interesting and complex, but without love, something is always missing.

One of my goals is to get that feeling of cooking with love across to my readers this year.

Another resolution is to continue writing about the glories of the local food scene here in Athens. Recently, after the story about Tigers & Strawberries appeared in the local newspaper, expatriates of Athens have written emails to me telling me that they are thrilled to find out about my blog and want to hear more about what is going on in Athens in regards to food. That is great–because exciting things are happening, and I have quite a few good posts lined up to highlight these new developments. And while looking at the new in Athens, I want to write about the old, as well–here in Appalachia, traditions change slowly, if at all, and I like to share our foodways with my readers, from fishing, hunting and gathering food in the wilds, to gardening, to canning and beyond, I will continue to write about the local food traditions that are still extent in my home.

Another resolution is to spend more time and energy on making vegetarian and vegan meals that are not only healthy for my family and sustainable for the earth, but also delicious and satisfying. As I get older, I like to eat less meat, and I find that both Zak and Morganna are becoming more apt to be happy with meatless meals, so I hope to showcase more of them in the future, particularly those based on recipes from Asia.

Speaking of Asia, I also want to keep writing more informative pieces on individual ingredients or classes of ingredients as well as reviewing cookbooks for the many cuisines of Asia. This has been the focus of my blog from the beginning and I want to continue to offer my personal explorations in the foods of China, India, Thailand, Vietnam and Korea to the delectation of my readers.

I also want to do more informative posts on individual ingredients and spices–just to help along some of my readers who are just dipping their toes into the realm of highly-flavored cookery. Spices, in particular, can be daunting to a new cook, and I want to do anything in my power to make a neophyte as comfortable with spice cookery as possible.

Finally–I will continue to write essays on subjects relating to food, health, cooking, cookbooks, agriculture and culture as my will to write them arises.

Now–it is everyone else’s turn: first, what else would you like to see me cover in Tigers & Strawberries in the coming months, and secondly–what are -your- culinary New Year’s resolutions? What are you going to do to stretch your food horizons in the coming twelve months?


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  1. Barbara –
    I found your blog searching for articles wok/stir-frying technique. I’ve stuck around because of the fantastic ideas that you communicate well. I also enjoy reading because you’re in Athens – you mentioned buying potatoes from Art Gish the other day and I laughed when I read it. My parents lived in a converted Chicken Coop on Art’s Farm for the first few months of my life and after we moved away we still visited when I was kid. I have a picture somewhere of me driving a tractor sitting on Art’s Lap at about 4 years old and fond memories of talking theology while picking cilantro…

    I love the food ideas that are far removed from my vocabulary of spices and flavours (I bought Pomegranate Molasses yesterday!) but I also enjoy reading the personal touches and hearing about Athens. Keep it up…

    Comment by metapundit — January 4, 2008 #

  2. I would *love* for you to do a series on Indian spices. I’m trying to learn more about Indian cooking — I just don’t have a good feel for the spices. I’ve been buying more of them (ajwain, fenugeek, mango powder, asafoetida, etc) as a try out different recipes. However I don’t yet have a good feel for what each individual spice is adding.

    I tried your recipe for korma chicken. It turned out well, but taught me that I need a spice grinder — my food processor just doesn’t cut it. My sumeet is one the way!

    As for cooking this year. My main focus is on trying new beef dishes and blogging about it. I bought half a side of beef from a local farm, so I have plenty of meat to work with.

    Comment by Rebecca — January 4, 2008 #

  3. We’re starting the year with South Beach phase 1. So I guess I’m mostly looking for new ways to spice up our chicken, turkey, salmon and veggie dishes right now…

    Comment by donna — January 5, 2008 #

  4. Happy New Year, Barbara!

    Looking forward to your spice series!

    Comment by Maninas — January 5, 2008 #

  5. Happy New Year, Barbara!

    Looking forward to your spice series!

    Comment by Maninas — January 5, 2008 #

  6. Barbara,
    Firstly you have a lovely website. I am a passionate though young foodie and your site really inspired me to venture more into the foods of the east. I myself eat very little meat in my diet and I would love to see you focus more on the “exotic” fruits and vegetables of Asia used as a main dish. Some ways I want to broden my food horizones this year are learning how to create Indian sweets and apitizers. I also would like to incorporate more tofu into my diet and actually have it come out tasting good (something I find hard to achieve). This year I hope to learn some Thai and Korean dishes to achieve this tofu goal. Well happy new year and I look forward to your future posts.

    Comment by Jess — January 5, 2008 #

  7. I like it all — the local foodways, the cooking techniques for various cultures’ food, the spices, the Katblogging, the opinion pieces, etc.

    One topic I’d be interested in reading your take on, if you haven’t already blogged on it: cleaning up after cooking. For me (and I suspect for a lot of other people), this is the big reason why I don’t cook more adventurously at home — I don’t mind doing the prep work and the actual cooking, but after all’s cooked and the food’s eaten, there’s still the pots and pans and knives to be washed, the stove and counters to be wiped, etc. There’s a lot of things I avoid cooking (e.g. anything that involves the blender or food processor, anything that involves cutting raw meat) because of the extra complications to cleanup. How does one clean up reasonably quickly, efficiently, and safely?

    My 2008 food resolutions are to keep going to the farmer’s market regularly, to use the stuff I put in the freezer before it keels over from old age, and to figure out some more things I can make to pack for my lunches.

    Comment by Castiron — January 7, 2008 #

  8. i like your reaolutions and look forward to reading the results. as for me, my two culinary resolutions – keep up the cooking and blogging; and reinstate world cuisine and Indian regional cuisine weeks at home – haven’t managed either this year between fulltime work and a small baby.

    Comment by Birdseyeview — January 11, 2008 #

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