Is it odd that, in plotting personal goals for 2014, some of the first things that come to mind are dishes I want to make? Maybe. I’ve stumbled upon the “culinary bucket lists” of others, though, so I know I’m not the only one. (Odd yes, alone no.)
If the historical pattern holds, some of these goals are destined to end up as one-shot experiences – Shrimp & Grits was a good example – a nice detour, but not something I intend to add to my permanent repertoire.
Occasionally, though, I experiment with something that fundamentally changes me for-ev-er. On a molecular level. Case in point: Whipped Chocolate Ganache.
Which has truly changed me on a molecular level.
Sorry not sorry.
So, in true stream-of-consciousness style, I put fingers to keyboard to plot the mountains (or molehills) I’d like to tackle in my kitchen for 2014:
This one is coming sooner rather than later. I watched Ina Garten concoct this a few weeks ago and – combined with a memory of the one I consumed on our anniversary dinner – I have the bug now. I’ve already scoped out a tutorial and purchased my supply of Arborio.
Not quite sure why I feel the need to try to make fresh pasta, but I do. Maybe it’s old Grape Festival memories tugging at my sense of nostalgia. Maybe it’s the dwindling selection of Barilla at my local Supercenter. (Sidebar: Hey, Walmart Bixby, what’s up with that? You used to carry 25 kinds of Barilla and know you’re down to six. Not cool.) In any case, I rather doubt this will become a regular thing, but I feel I ought to try it at least once.
The man of the house went dove hunting for the first time a few months ago and returned with 30-something little dove-cicles that are now in our freezer. (Apparently, none of the other hunters wanted their share of the kill, so we got it all.) Anyway, I have no notion of how to prepare said carcasses. Nevertheless. Carpe dovem.
Continuing with the game theme, I suppose. But this goal is pending the availability of deer meat from a husband who hasn’t gone deer hunting since he married me. In other words: grain of salt.
I’ve been making caramel for a while now, but I can’t seem to achieve consistency. Sometimes my caramel is silky-smooth and perfect an sometimes its grainy and obnoxious. This tutorial has been a great guide, but I’m such an imprecise cook, it’s hit-or-miss. Obviously, I need more practice.
A definite weak point of mine. Unless I’m making something that already has its stipulated complements, I never remember to plan for or prepare appropriate side dishes. Specifically vegetable ones. I can bang out starches all day long, but if it ain’t a salad, I flub the veggie test. Which I’d like to change. Preferably with some recipes that appeal to my kiddos. Shoot for the moon, right?
Speaking of the unattainable: pie crust. I’m kinda a Pillsbury disciple. Every time I’ve attempted a from-scratch recipe, I’m disappointed. All that work to make a pie crust and it just isn’t as… perfect as I think it should be. Even if I never made a homemade pie crust again, I’d still like to master the process so that at least I could… if I ever wanted to.
I admit: this one is probably “Least Likely to Succeed.” Or, frankly, to happen at all. It’s time-consuming and involved. It takes a specialized product I’m not even sure I can get. But how cool would it be to bottle homemade liqueur? So I’m pondering it.
Make it Better & Healthier
We’ve been married almost fifteen years. When I reflect on the cook I was in the beginning, I shudder a little. Yikes. Time, experience and much trail-and-error have done their work. But I still have lots to improve. Technique, knowledge, taste. I want to be better.
As to the second part, I’m too much of a comfort foodie to completely convert to the kale-chip, raw-milk, free-range, locally-sourced side of things. I’m too cheap to buy organic stuff most of the time. I run a gluten-rich household. Animals are tasty. Animal fats are tasty, too. But I’d like to do it healthier this year: make more from scratch, eat more whole and slow foods and less processed or fast foods. It’s far too easy to appease my (hereditary) picky eaters with convenience food; I should be teaching them good nutrition – and to enjoy trying unfamiliar foods – by example. And if I can start phasing in better staple ingredients into the bargain, great.
Do you have a culinary bucket list for the New Year? I’d love to read it.
Wishing you a delicious 2014,