I read a piece of advice for people trying to make friends in a new place: say yes to every invitation. My immediate response to that was: no, thanks. It’s hard enough for an introvert to say yes to any invitation, but accepting all invitations? Impossible. Still, I recognized that the author had a point—in a new environment, the more you can get out and experience different things and meet different people, the more likely you are to find a way to feel connected. With that in mind, I try really hard to say yes to stuff. When a friend invited Ed and me to attend a painting night to learn more about the Springfield Art Association, my first thoughts were, strangers? painting (I’m terrible)? No. Can’t. Won’t. The friend also said—unprompted, which I appreciated—that I shouldn’t worry about not being a good painter and we’d know at least a couple other people there. That was just enough to tip the scales. I said yes.
It might be a little weird to wish someone a happy new year in late January, but we’ve decided it’s still a totally acceptable time to share our 2016 resolutions. Better late than never, right? In 2015, we both focused on adjusting to the many changes that 2014 brought us. It was a year of riding the waves of our new normals, settling in, and appreciating small joys. We had many great moments in 2015, but one thing we both wished we’d done more of is blogging. We miss the routine and rhythm that comes from regularly posting, so our first and most important cooking resolution is to post here at least once a week in 2016. And we’re already off to a great start.
As for 2015’s resolutions…we had so-so results. We totally blew off our joint resolution to make use of our fancy cookbooks. Neither of us got around to it during the year and by the end of 2015, we found that we not only lacked the time to carry out an over-the-top project, but we also lacked the interest. It’s fascinating to read in detail about how star chefs create spectacular restaurant dishes, but the far flung ingredients and endless steps didn’t exactly inspire us to rush to the kitchen and dust off the chinois and immersion circulator. We did achieve some of our 2015 goals, though, and we’ve each set some very realistic ones for 2016 below.
Sometimes there’s nothing more fun than taking a whole day (in the middle of a huge snow storm, for example?) to make a spiffy and time consuming recipe. I do it almost every time we have a Saturday dinner party, half wondering why in the heck it takes me a whole day to make dinner and half absolutely loving it. But sometimes you want something that feels really special and doesn’t crowd everything else off of your to-do list. For those times, this weeknight porchetta–a pork loin wrapped in bacon and seasoned with fresh rosemary and garlic–has got you perfectly covered.
Way back on January 1st 2014, Laura started a project of posting a picture to Instagram every single day. She did it in part to chronicle the huge changes 2014 had in store (moving from Boston to central Illinois, quitting her day job, building a house) and in part just because. Jessica loved seeing a little daily slice of Laura’s life so much that she decided to follow suit for 2015 with a picture a day project of her own. We’ve found the practice and the results to be so addictive and rewarding that we’re already two weeks deep into our 2016 collections.
The project is really inspiring and we’ve appreciated the way it makes us pay extra close attention to all of the beautiful, interesting, and silly things we come across every day. Yes, sometimes we find ourselves feeling like there’s nothing to photograph and thinking about just snapping a pic of a banana and calling it a day, but for the most part we love our daily Instas, and especially the glimpses into each other’s lives that they bring. Unsurprisingly, a ton of those glimpses are of food. Food we make at home, food we love when we’re out and about, food we share when we’re lucky enough to be together. We thought it would be fun to share our five favorite food pics each from 2015 so that you can have a glimpse of our culinary lives outside of the blog, too.
Last summer, I started volunteering with a local non-profit that encourages children to eat healthier and move more. The lessons are built around a community garden and teaching how to “grow your grub.” Let me tell you, it is fun—both for the kiddos and for me. There have been so many highlight reel moments. Kids squealing with excitement over finding a ripe watermelon. Proud mini-miners showing off their absurdly large sweet potatoes. Tiny fingers poking seeds into soil, one by one. Needless to say, Thursday with genHkids has become a favorite part of my week.
I know this is going to sound absolutely bonkers, but I think you should add something to your to-do list this week. You should make eggnog. An eggnog that will take a (very) little effort over the next few days, and will reward you with something impressive and delicious and chock full o’ Christmas spirit (and also just chock full o’ spirits, let’s be real). I understand that eggnog is a very divisive treat, and I know a lot of folks assume they hate it / would never want to try it, but this is an eggnog to change hearts and minds. The recipe comes from my maternal grandmother Mary Taylor, takes three days to make, and requires ungodly amounts of eggs, dairy, and booze, but it is so deeply worth it.
Usually at this time of year, I’m eager to share a baking recipe: an old favorite sweet, a silly breakfast trick, or a big pile of cookies. I often have an idea that’s been in my back pocket and I wait until prime eating season to write about it. This year, in a shockingly savory turn of events, the holiday recipe I’m most excited about is…collard greens. Quite the opposite of staid, long-cooked greens, these are Vibrant, Spicy, Garlicky, Kick Down the Door of 2016 Collards.