I make the same two resolutions every year: be a nicer person (it’s not always sunshine and rainbows around here) and take more pictures.
Last year I added: remember to send friends and family birthday cards. And I did pretty well.
This year, I’m going to add another—a challenge of sorts. I’m tackling 12 tasks I’ve always wanted to try in the kitchen. One per month, all year. I won’t make any promises, like which recipe I’ll try in which month, or which day I’ll post, but I promise to try my darndest to get them all finished. And no cheating blogger tricks like getting them all done and setting up the posts in advance.
Some of these may not seem as much of an undertaking as others, but my goal isn’t to become a member of the Daring Kitchen. I’m just setting out to do some things that I’ve never done before. So here I am, ready to meet these challenges head on!
The list, in absolutely no particular order whatsoever:
1. Fry something! Namely, onion rings. I bought a candy/oil thermometer and we all know I’m now the proud owner of a Dutch oven. So what am I waiting for? Perhaps it’s to answer the age-old debate…thick or thin? When that’s a question of Ina vs. P-Dub, I really don’t know what (or whom) to choose!
2. Meringues. These come from Joy the Baker, and they are stunning. My mother-in-law makes this crazy-giant meringue cake and it is out of this world. So take the normal trepidation with which one might approach making these confections and triple it. But they’re melt-in-your-mouth irresistible, and I must learn to make them for myself.
3. Make fresh pasta. Period.
4. Along those lines, I want to make gnocchi from scratch as well. Gnocchi is my go-to food in restaurants, because I like to order things I can’t make myself. I have about 20 different recipes for it, but have been holding back. Again, don’t quite know where to start. Giada? Lidia? Mario?
5. Find a good use for the dough-hook on my mixer. To date, I’ve only used the whisk and paddle attachments.
6. Master the Art of French Cooking. No, not like Julie and Julia. Like Ina. Her Barefoot in Paris cookbook is the least-touched of my volumes. I’m aiming to make 10 recipes from the book in one month this year. I know that’s a lofty goal, but it’s worth a shot.
8. Take a cooking class. I have always, always, always wanted to do this, but may have to wait until grad school ends in July.
9. Make truffles. Difficult? No, it shouldn’t be, but I have several recipes calling my name. Truffles are just another one of those recipes that are just sitting in a folder gathering dust. I need a little kick in the right direction to make my own.
10. Go wine-tasting. It doesn’t have to be in Napa Valley, although that wouldn’t be too terrible. Just a local winery that can teach me a thing or two how to put what I drink with what I eat.
11. Stop buying chicken stock! Everyone swears by homemade and it’s a habit I’ve been wanting to get into. I don’t know if I’m quite ready to cut up the bones to release the marrow, but I can take baby steps to start. Love and Olive Oil just published a photo-filled, step-by-step guide, so I no longer have any excuses.
12. Make something out of phyllo. My first try at Spanikopita was a bit of a disaster, and I need a second go-round with a dough that dries out in seconds. This time, I will emerge victorious.
12.5 Okay, I know I said 12, but I have a bonus. I’m sure I’ll be feeling ambitious at least one of the months of the year. I want to pop my own popcorn, too! My mom and I used to do it when I was little with the Jiffy Pop skillet, but I’m going to pop it for real this year.
Just looking at this list is overwhelming! Do I start with what’s easy and build on my successes? Or do I tackle something truly challenging, before the stress of the spring semester sets in? You’ll just have to wait and see.