For both of us, starting butter poached was one of the best aspects of our respective 2012’s. Spending more time in the kitchen and sharing stories here and with each other has been more fun and more rewarding than either of us could have hoped. Looking ahead to 2013, we’re excited to keep building this blog and to keep cooking. Over brunch the other day, we shared with each other our 2013 cooking resolutions. Some of ours are the same–expand our lists of go-to weeknight meals, keep experimenting and increasing our confidence, add to our collections of decorative tea towels–but as we brainstormed together we each came up with some specific goals for 2013. We’re already looking forward to sharing the results here. Happy New Year!
Laura’s Resolutions: I think 2013 is going to be one heck of a great year. This July, after living in DC for 10 years, I’ll be moving to Boston. About a month and a half later, Ed and I will get married. “Excited” doesn’t quite capture the constant feelings of glee and delight I have about the year to come. I’m also looking forward to the time I’ll be spending in the kitchen and on this site. The resolutions below are meant to help me stay grounded during a time when my head will be on a constant drift toward the clouds, but they also provide some challenges that will push me to become a better cook.
- Overcome My Fear of Cooking Fish. When it comes to cooking fish, I am a coward. My fear is two-fold: (1) I am worried that my apartment will smell fishy for days and (2) that I will completely botch the dish. I once cooked a piece of halibut so horribly that I can no longer enjoy halibut, no matter who makes it. The time has come for me to put aside my fears and pan sear some salmon.
- Make Pie Crusts that Don’t Shrink. I am really tired of making delicious pies with ugly, shrunken crusts. I resolve to do a little research, cut a lot of butter into flour, and learn to make a dough that will stand up to heat.
- Master a Homemade Pizza Recipe. For Christmas 2011, both my dad and Ed gave me pizza stones. My dad even made me a little kit with all the ingredients he remembered using during the pizza making class he took in the ’70’s at L’Acadamie de Cuisine. I tried making pizza dough from scratch once last year, but was so discouraged by my burned-yet-doughy results that I stashed those stones in the closet and haven’t touched them since. I can do better.
- Use My Cookbooks. This one will be the most fun. I love collecting cookbooks. I like to find used ones in my parents’ basement, I love unwrapping them as gifts, and on gloomy days, I sometimes treat myself to one. (Is there a more magical place than the Barnes & Noble cookbook section?). As I have become more serious about cooking, my cookbook library has grown from a proud half-a-shelf to stacks on stacks on stacks. In the back of my mind, I knew that I hadn’t cooked from a few books in those stacks, but I was shocked when I counted 32 books I have never used—nearly half my collection. The unused books range from The French Laundry to Are You Hungry Tonight? Elvis’ Favorite Recipes. I have read and admired all 32, but for whatever reason, I haven’t taken the leap to actually cook from them. My goal is to cook at least one recipe from each of those unused cookbooks before the end of 2013. And it starts today, as I’m making Hoppin’ John and collard greens from Bill Neal’s Southern Cooking.
Jessica’s Resolutions: Like Laura, I’m so excited for 2013 (and especially for her and Ed’s wedding!). I’m settled into an apartment I love in a neighborhood I’m continually thrilled by, I feel very lucky in my friends and family and in my work, and I’m looking forward to what the new year has in store. I’m hoping my resolutions will be a part of my continuing to increase the time I spend cooking (no small thing, living in a place where I could easily and happily eat out all of the time) and the joy I find in it.
- Master Two Cooking Fundamentals: Roast Chicken and Bread. This resolution is inspired by one of my favorite posts on one of my absolutely favorite blogs, Pink of Perfection. The image of Sarah roasting a chicken and baking bread every Sunday in college (so ahead of the game!) feels so perfectly homey to me. I’ve roasted a chicken exactly once, for Christmas dinner in 2009, and have never baked bread (other than sweet quick breads, which to me are much more like cakes). I’d like to become practiced enough with both that they feel soothing and restorative in the way that Sarah describes…and so that they yield consistently tasty results!
- Host a (At Least Fancy-ish) Dinner Party. I’ve had friends over for dinner since I moved to Brooklyn this summer, but never for what felt like a full out dinner party. I want to invite people in advance (maybe with a Paperless Post), daydream about a menu, dress up a little, and try at least one ambitious recipe. I already have the dessert picked out…
- Keep a Well Stocked Freezer. As I’ve said before, I get such a sense of satisfaction from having meals in my freezer. And I’d like to be a bit more intentional about it–to make double batches, to set aside a Sunday here and there to make a few dishes at a time, and to have frozen muffins at hand as often as possible.
- Brown More Butter. This may seem like a silly goal, but it represents getting more comfortable with specific skills. Whenever I brown butter, I wonder if I’ve let it go for as long as I could for maximum tastiness. I want to push it a bit more, and to be less worried about messing up, with this specifically and my cooking in general. And, after all, can one ever have enough browned butter?
- Make These. Because they are way outside of my comfort zone, the kind of recipe I’d not usually consider…and probably insanely tasty. Cheers to kitchen experiments in 2013!