Since we’ve launched Flavors NOW, I’ve shied away from infusing the posts with any hint of my own personality, preferring instead to include words from other bloggers, food writers and chefs, moving behind the scenes, and certainly not writing in first person. But, as I’ve cast a critical eye to the online content I love and look forward to reading, one thing stands out: what’s most compelling tends to be personal.
So, while I won’t regale you with my personal resolutions (dance more, worry less, eat more veggies, etc...), I want to share some of my culinary resolutions for 2012, hoping that they might inspire you to set some food-related goals for yourself. I’d love to know what yours are in the comments below. And, if you have specific culinary questions, post them here or send me an email (jennifer at flavorsmagazine dot com), and we’ll see if we can help you on your way to growth in the kitchen in 2012.
Let It Rise
I’ve made bread in one of those clunky automatic bread makers into which you dump a bunch of ingredients, push a button and your hunk of baked dough emerges an hour or so later. While the product is passable as homemade bread (sort of), this isn’t the sort of “auto” experience I’m after. In 2012, I want to learn the finer points of making really great, crusty-on-the-outside-chewy-on-the-inside bread. I want to learn how to judge how the Georgia humidity will effect a baguette, how to knead the dough, proof it and bake it into something wonderful.
Bake Biscuits... from Scratch
I mentioned the desire to bake some biscuits to my husband, to which he replied, “Bisquick.” Again, that’s not the kind of semi-homemade experience I’m looking for. I’m talking about the kind of made-from-scratch biscuits that culinary chemist Shirley Corriher shares in her BakeWise cookbook and demonstrates how to make here, with tried and true tips such as “Low-protein flour like White Lily helps make tender, moist biscuits,” and “a very wet dough makes more steam in a hot oven and creates lighter biscuits.” My mouth is watering just thinking about her aptly named "Touch of Grace Biscuits."
A Family History... of Food
Close your eyes and think of the family recipes that evoke heart-warming memories from your growing up years. For me it’s sugary pecan pralines, my great-grandmother’s recipe for walnut apple cake, my mom’s favorite lemon chess pie, a surprisingly delicious lentil-nut roast that passed as Thanksgiving dinner during my feeble teenage attempt at becoming a vegetarian and my paternal grandmother’s “heavenly hash,” a dish that seems to simply be an excuse to eat dessert in the middle of the savory part of a meal.
The food we eat is part of our history, part of what completes our memories and teaches us that good food is best enjoyed with the ones we love. This year, I aim to compile those recipes into a family cookbook (a rather daunting undertaking of typing up the mountain of recipes from the giant manila folder my mother has kept since she was a teenager) and print it with a company like Blurb, so that my grandmother, my mom and I will have copies of the recipes that have meant so much to our family. I'll award bonus points if I make the recipes and photograph the finished dishes as illustrations, but I will settle for just the text.
Try New Things
Once a week or so, I want to try a new recipe. Now, this shouldn’t be difficult, with all of the great recipes Flavors showcases (in our quarterly, printed version, our cookbook and the original recipes on Flavors NOW), but for me personally, it’s easy to get into a rut, making things over and over, for which I need no recipe. I’m determined to use 2012 to broaden my horizons and expand my repertoire in the kitchen. Perhaps I'll even add the very best recipes I discover to the family cookbook.
Easy as Pie
One of the only desserts my husband really loves is apple pie (I sort of envy his absence of a sweet tooth; that indifference toward sweets would make my personal resolution of healthier eating so much easier!), so I try to make it regularly for family functions and special dinners throughout the year. My favorite recipe is from the Food Network’s Ina Garten with spices and citrus zest and juice. I’ve tweaked it some to make it my own (adding lime and ginger), but I always chicken out of making the crust from scratch, choosing instead to use the oh-so-convenient and always reliable refrigerated store-bought variety. This year, all of that changes, and I will conquer pie crust!
So now you know my 2012 culinary resolutions. What are yours? Happy New Year!