We had big 2013’s: we both moved, Laura got married, Jessica got engaged, and lots of other things happened along the way. During some of the busier months in our personal lives, our blogging and cooking took a back seat to our life-living, but we always loved returning to this space. It looks like 2014 will be no less exciting, but just like last year, butter poached is top of mind for us as we look forward to the year ahead. We made mixed progress on last year’s resolutions (of course), but we’ve nevertheless crafted a new list of cooking things we are resolving to do.
Jessica’s Resolutions: In retrospect, I was dreaming pretty big with last year’s resolutions, but I’m still happy with my ratio of successes to skips. I cooked nary a loaf of bread, but did get confident enough with roast chicken to transfer my techniques (borrowed from my mom) to the big leagues: the Thanksgiving turkey. I didn’t host a dinner party exactly, but Hal and I did throw five parties that I cooked and baked like crazy for, so I’m calling that one a win. My freezer stayed nicely stocked, though I’m hoping this year will be more intentional cooking ahead and less just helpful leftovers. Perhaps not shockingly, I didn’t make chartreuse marshmallows, but I did brown a heck of a lot of butter, and got way more comfortable with the time it takes to get that perfect deep nutty flavor. And it made for a seriously tasty year. Here are some of the ways I’m hoping to keep pushing myself and having fun in the kitchen in 2014:
- Use my cookbooks. I’m straight up stealing this from Laura’s last year list, though my collection is nowhere near as impressive as hers. I got two especially beautiful new books this year–The Gramercy Tavern Cookbook and SPQR–and flipping through them got me thinking about how rarely I cook from actual books, and how much I want to step it up. Maybe not for weeknight meals, but definitely for weekend experimenting.
- Make a big ole meat main course. No matter how often I do it, cooking meat (other than sausage, which always seems easiest…which is probably why we eat so much sausage) still makes me nervous. I want to keep getting more confident that I’m not going to poison us with an undercooked chicken breast, but I also want to tackle my fear head on with something major. I’m thinking a pot roast, brisket, or a pork shoulder. This should take care of last year’s dinner party resolution, too.
- More weekly meal planning. It is embarrassing how easy it is for me not to cook on a given day, or even in a given week. Real life real talk: it is not uncommon for me to grab a protein drink from one of the dozen stores I pass on my way to the subway in the morning, eat something at my desk for lunch that I picked up to-go, and then go out to dinner. Easy and often fun, but not the healthiest or most cost effective way to go. I want to do more weekend planning to make the rest of my week easier, ideally with big grocery deliveries on Sundays.
- Take a cooking class. I’ve been browsing and daydreaming about the classes at The Brooklyn Kitchen for about two years now. This year, I finally pull the trigger. My top choices right now are Knife Skills, Fresh Pasta Making, and Thai Street Food.
Laura’s Resolutions: I did pret-ty well on last year’s resolutions. I didn’t totally overcome my fear of cooking fish, but I did more of it with good results, so the fear is fading. My pie crusts finally stopped shrinking (though now I’m using a recipe with a bit of shortening, so maybe that’s cheating. It’s delicious, though). Ed and I were working steadily on the home-cooked pizza dough until we moved less than one block from the best pizza either of us has ever had…and now we’ve lost all drive to perfect our own crust. As for cooking at least one recipe from all of my cookbooks, I didn’t quite get there, but I’ve definitely gotten better about using my cookbooks. This year, my goals are loosely themed around exploration: of books, Boston, and my kitchen.
- Keep Reading Good Food Books. Last fall, I took a terrific course on reading and writing food memoir through Boston University’s Gastronomy program. We read Ruth Reichl, Jacques Pépin, MFK Fisher, Diana Abu-Jaber, and others. It was a challenge to get through that much reading, but it was worth it. I loved hearing all of these different voices share their stories, values, and perspectives on food. Reading these authors has helped me start to find my own voice, and I want to continue learning from the best. I haven’t picked my next book, but it will probably be My Berlin Kitchen, which Jessica highly recommended.
- Bake a Soufflé (or two). We received beautiful porcelain soufflé dishes for our wedding, so I no longer have an excuse for not trying to make one of my favorite foods. I’d like to try a savory and a sweet soufflé at least once before the end of 2014.
- Try More of Boston’s Restaurants. Ed and I don’t usually have to remind ourselves to try restaurants, but something about being new to the city has made us much less adventurous than we were in D.C. We’ve gotten very cozy with all of the take-out spots in our neighborhood, but we’ve just started exploring what else the city has to offer. We’ve found some gems so far: fresh scooped butter and house-made bread from Troquet, knock-out margaritas from Lone Star, heaven-fried beignets from Dante, irresistible dan dan noodles from Myers + Chang, and, um, everything from Coppa. But there is SO much more to explore. I haven’t even had any Boston Cream Pie yet!
- Make Something Butter Poached. Because it’s about time.
Happy New Year to all of you and let us know if you have any kitchen resolutions for 2014.