Food resolutions for the new year

“The New Year will be like the old one if you keep on doing the same old things.” – Susmita Baral

We have all made those resolutions that promise to do it better, loose it right and take care of it well. Yes, we all have vowed to take off the pounds, read the book and visit the great uncle. To this I say, “Whoa.”

I have been told by many nurturing friends that New Year’s resolutions should be positive. One should vow to do something new and enjoy it. When making these resolutions, one shouldn’t promise to give up what you enjoy but to do what you enjoy. As a foodie, this year I will, again, list my “go up, do up, eat up and enjoy” resolutions for 2014.

1. Visit the French Laundry Restaurant in Napa Valley, Calif. Deemed “the most exciting place to eat in the United States” by The New York Times, this year it is rated the number one best restaurant in the United States on Trip Advisor. It has had a five star rating for 15 years straight on Forbes’ travel recommendations. It has made my resolution list for three years running. True, I didn’t go last year, but I’m making progress. I purchased the cookbook signed by Thomas Keller, the chef and proprietor. The cookbook dazzles with Keller’s simple methods for squeezing the moisture from the skin on fish so it sautes beautifully; poaching eggs in a deep pot of water for perfect shape; and washing bones for stock to get the best tastes. It’s interesting but I still want to go and taste the real thing. I think I can deal with the eight-week reservation waiting period but I’m not quite sure how to deal with the 2,303-mile trip.

2. Know my food. For years I have taught students to carefully read labels, to learn what is mandatory to be put on labels. Today we need to know more. I want to know if the vegetables in my canned soup were farmed in Brazil or Boise. I want to know why Farm Aid fosters the “Good Food” Movement. I want to understand food production and transportation, as well as preparation. I want to support ways to improve, enhance and protect our food for the future.

3. Complete all 55 courses in the Top Chef University online course. Yep, I’m a fan of Top Chef, so I got duped into joining the university skill course through a Groupon discount. The chefs are familiar. The courses are informative and fun but the program is a bit more involved than expected. If you are interested, there is a free app with fewer lessons that works just as well.

4. Make a perfect macaroon cookie. Unfortunately this isn’t a skill set in TC University. I love macaroons. I particularly love the macaroons served at the Gore Mountain cafeteria. I have purchased a few pounds of coconut and I am practicing with a few recipes. I will share when I get it mastered.

5. Lose 15 pounds. I had to add it because I really need to lose it.

6. Learn to use my shiny new three-speed hand-held immersion blender and master its four attachments. I love gadgets. Typically with a gadget, I try it, use it for a while and forget it, opting to use my tried-and-true French knife. This year I will embrace my stainless steel stick blender and whip, blend, immerse, mix, chop and stir multiple recipes of soups, salads, stews and sauces.

7. Alphabetize my spices. OK, I do this every month or so but I never maintain it. Life is so easy when I do.

8. Make a cookbook of my standard recipes to give as a 2014 Christmas gift. Oh busboy, we all have so many favorite recipes stored in boxes, dog-eared in cookbooks or written on the backs of envelopes. I want to take the ones I use most and like best, type them up and maybe recount some history (Audrey’s chocolate cake, Anna’s fudge, etc. ), then give them to my kids and their cousins.

9. Make a pot of soup every week and freeze half. Soups are thrifty, nutritious, a good use of leftovers, good for lunch, creative and delicious. If I make one pot a week I figure I have covered nutrition, surprise company, “sick of sandwiches” lunches and busy day dinners. It’s a perfect time to use my shiny new stainless steel emersion blender.

10. Most of all, I resolve to clean the attic, buy new shelves for the garage, call my cousins, get new windows for the kitchen – oops, I forgot this is a food column.

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