Jessica’s Resolutions: Overall, I’m really happy with how my 2016 resolutions turned out. The trick my aunt Carolyn suggested totally did help with Gramercy Tavern’s German chocolate cake, and I finally made it without all of the layers falling apart. I still haven’t succeeded in making it particularly photogenic, but it’s so tasty it hardly matters.
I didn’t do as well with my “Sundays well spent” goal, but that’s one I imagine I’ll have to just keeping working on. I need to remember how much getting things set and prepped and organized on Sunday sets me up to have a good week, and go from there. Onward and upward!
The resolution success I’m most pleased about is my goal to have people over for dinner once a month. I didn’t quite make once a month–I can’t in good conscience count June, when I had a friend over for silly tv and mimosas, and November zoomed by with exactly no hosting. But we had folks over for dinner at least once in every other month, and in a couple of months managed two or three times, which I think balances everything out. And it made me so happy! We had fancy Saturday dinners for six, and really chill weeknight dinners where I made salad and dessert but just ordered pizza for the main course, and I want to do more of each in 2017.
It’s been a little bit tricky for me to focus on my bpoached 2017 resolutions so far, because I’ve been doing something very out of the ordinary with my eating that’s taken up all of my available food related mental space: I’m doing a month of Whole 30. But as I round the corner on this particular experiment, I’m eager to take some of what I’ve been doing this month forward into my regular cooking, and eager to toss some of it out the window and get back to bread. In the interest of both of those impulses, here are my resolutions for this year:
1. More ambitious cooking projects. When Laura listed this goal last year I thought to myself, “ooh that’s a good one.” So this year I’m giving it a try myself. We got a couple of really gorgeous new cookbooks last fall–most especially Naomi Pomeroy’s Taste & Technique–and I want to lose a whole Saturday to trying to follow her wonderfully detailed instructions, and (hopefully!) create something really wow.
2. More weekly meal planning, and most especially more shopping for the week on Sunday. This is an updated version of a 2014 goal, and the second part really is key for me. At the various times during the last year when I felt frustrated and/or bored by weeknight cooking, I really tried to pin point what in particular I didn’t like. And I think a big part of it is daily food shopping and shlepping. Sometimes going right from a crowded subway into a crowded grocery store and lugging my food home just kills any joy I might have felt in making my dinner. So I want to do more planning ahead, and actually act on that planning. Happily, Whole 30 has made this a necessity, so I’m off to a great start. Now let’s see if I can keep it up!
Laura’s Resolutions: I did pretty well with my goals last year. I definitely had fun doing more cooking projects (like testing so much of The Food Lab and baking layer cakes). I also added to the list of local eateries I’ve tried. Some of the more memorable spots were one of the oldest restaurants on Route 66, a midwestern gas station chain famous for its breakfast pizza, and Springfield’s only African and Caribbean restaurant. All told, I’m pleased with my effort.
The year took a very happy turn for me this fall, when I not only got a new job, but found out I was pregnant. Both things had a huge impact on my relationship with food. Suddenly, I found myself back in the weeknight dinner-after-work game, but with an unfortunate twist: I hated almost all food for about eight weeks. I’d come home exhausted and too grossed out by the thought of dealing with raw meat to cook much of anything. I ate a lot of macaroni and cheese during those woozy weeks…from a box, from the freezer, from the hot bar at the grocery store. I didn’t have it nearly as rough as many women do, but it was a bummer for me to hate food so much. But like clockwork, when that second trimester hit, my appetite came roaring back (just in time for the holidays!). Now I’m inching closer to my third trimester and I’m finally feeling like I’m getting back into a weeknight cooking rhythm. My goals this year are designed to help me keep and enjoy that cooking rhythm…even if it gets totally destroyed again when baby girl arrives in May.
1. Maintain a spark in the kitchen. As I said, the pregnancy and returning to work knocked me way off my cooking game. The nausea + fatigue + busyness trifecta made cooking miserable for me for the first time ever. Unlike the light switch of my appetite returning, my joy for cooking has been slower to return. I had fun during the holidays making celebratory meals, but daily cooking has felt way more like a grind than it ever has in the past. In recent weeks, I’ve started to find pleasure in front of the stove again, but I think there are things I can do to help me get more excited about cooking. I used to read a lot more about food – online, in books, in magazines – and I’ve let that slip out of my life too much. So much of what I look at now are slideshows and listicles about easy weeknight dinners…and that stuff is so boring. I’ve started dipping back into the more substantial worlds of food writing that I love and it’s been inspiring. There are other places to look for inspiration, too: tv (I might be the only person who actually enjoyed “The Great American Baking Show,” but it made me want to bake, bake, bake), friends, and dining out. Here’s to getting after all of that and getting inspired.
2. Get into a weeknight groove: a/k/a Jessica’s second resolution. For the past two weeks, I’ve forced myself to plan a week of meals and do the grocery shopping on Sunday and it’s made all of the difference in my attitude about weeknight cooking. Although I don’t have to deal with a crowded subway, crowded grocery store, or shlep like Jessica does, I still hate grocery shopping after work and then coming home to cook. When I get home, I like to have a snack, rest, and then get into the kitchen. I’m in a better mood, feel better, and actually enjoy the process. Another trick that’s been helping start the week well is to cook something big and a bit involved on Sunday and eat the leftovers on Monday. I never, ever want to cook on Mondays, but reheating something extra delicious is doable and satisfying. I’m off to a great start with this resolution, but the hard part is keeping it going. I’m thinking that success will take developing good lists of go-to dinners, resisting laziness, and making sure I succeed in my first goal of staying inspired.
Happy 2017, everyone!