For the foodie, creating a list of New Year’s resolutions is a must, and it’s one to carry over from year to year. That’s because we can enjoy so much more of the world than ever before, thanks to the international markets in our community and the availability of fresh produce we’ve never encountered before.
We’d like to hear what you’re thinking about as the new year approaches, and any resolutions you’ve decided to make.
In the meantime, here are a few goals we at SavorSA would like to set forth. Some are simple, others require time and patience. All are worthwhile in your kitchen. In no particular order:
- Eat less processed food. Head for the fresh produce, meat and seafood section for more of the foods you’ll prepare this year. Or to the farmers markets in your area. Some of them have gone year-round.
- Prepare at least one more meal at home each week. Nothing beats home cooking.
- Try a new cooking technique or recipe at least once a month. If you’ve never made pasta at home, or a pie crust, or pesto, what are you waiting for? The more you vary your repertoire, the easier it gets to be in the kitchen.
- Give yourself more time for more elaborate dishes. Ever put off making osso buco, rack of lamb or vegetarian terrine because the recipe seemed too elaborate? Dust off that recipe and dedicate some time and, yes, money to preparing the dish. Turn the preparation into a celebration.
- Break out of your habit of picking up the same things in the produce department. Once a week, or even once a month, pick up a fruit or vegetable you’re not familiar with. Check out your books or the Internet to see good ways to prepare it.
- While you’re pursuing No. 5, you can be adding more fruits and vegetables to your diet.
- Eat more breakfasts. It really is the most important meal of the day.
- Vary your approach. At least once, try a new way of preparing a family favorite, whether it’s migas or meatloaf. Your family will let you know whether the new version is better or whether they really appreciate the old standard.
- Try new wines and see how they match with food. When was the last time you had a spicy Zinfandel with a bowl of posole? Or lamb with a robust Syrah? Pinot Noir and steak is a pairing you hear less often than Cabernet Sauvignon with steak, yet the two are a great pair.
- Dust off a neglected or unused appliance and put it to work. When was the last time you used your hand blender, your juicer or waffle maker?
- Make a new dessert at least once a month. Try layer cakes if you always make bundt cakes, or vice versa. Go beyond cake mixes and do everything from scratch. Temper your own chocolate for truffles. Again, give yourself some time, keeping in mind that the end results are worth it.
- There are more cheeses in the world than Velveeta, American, Monterey Jack and Cheddar. Find out what they are and what foods go with them.
- Make a loaf of homemade bread.
- Eat more locally grown food.
- Prepare more international food. Don’t stick with a regional style simply because it’s what you grew up with. Explore the flavors that the world has to offer.
- Organize your recipe files. Go through all of your magazine clippings and categorize them by course or ingredient. Do the same for all of the online recipes you’ve saved off the internet.
- Go through your cookbook collection. If you have them handy on kitchen shelves, keep them dusted. If you haven’t looked at one for years, take it down and open it up. It’s a nice way to spend an hour on a rainy afternoon and you just might get inspired.
- Make a clean sweep. Refresh your spice drawer. Most spices lose their flavor after one year; consider washing out the old jars and refilling them with bulk spices, which can be fresher and cheaper. Go through your pantry and throw away expired foods; with more space, you can rearrange your pantry to make it easier to find your ingredients when you want them.
- Consider organic produce; few chemicals result in a healthier you as well as those who grow the food.
- Be more aware of ways of keeping your kitchen clean. Make sure you don’t contaminate anyone by re-using cutting boards without washing them or use utensils that have touched raw meat to be used elsewhere without washing.
- Celebrate more with your friends and family over a home-cooked meal. It’s a way of thanking them for the blessings they bring to your life.
- Bring a younger person or inexperienced cook into the kitchen with you, and pass on your good skills and knowledge. Or, take them to a cooking class with you. Not all parents have time to teach this vital skill.
- Remember that many of San Antonio’s citizens are in need of support when it comes to putting food on their tables. If your church has a food bank, be generous. Also, remember the Food Bank also always takes donations.
- Enjoy yourself in the kitchen. Cooking really is fun. Sure, it can be challenging, but think of how much fun it is to master something new. Ask friends over to have a cooking party.
Happy New Year!
Bonnie Walker, Kristina Mistry and John Griffin contributed to this report.