While many people use this time of year to think about how they want to better their lives in the coming year, I like to think about how I can challenge myself in the kitchen. To be clear, this is not to say that I don't also focus on improving myself and my life in other areas. As a perfectionist, I do this constantly in my everyday life.
Before launching into my 2015 food goals, let's see how I did on my 2014 goals.
- Lasagna -- done! While I thought I might go for a more out-of-the-box variation like butternut squash and béchamel, I wound up with this basic, traditional, amazing lasagna.
- Gnocchi -- also done! Though I didn't blog about it, I did make some pumpkin ricotta gnocchi with a creamy mushroom sauce. Mine ended up a little dense, but they were quite tasty, and I felt so accomplished after making them.
- Cook more often -- this one was not terribly successful, but not a total flop either. I hardly cooked at all this summer (I blame grad school), but cold weather always seems to inspire me with endless possibilities of soup, casseroles, roasted vegetables, and all things pumpkin and squash.
- Stovetop popcorn -- I make this regularly now, and it's super easy! Here's a good tutorial from Cookie and Kate. I like to use coconut oil instead of vegetable oil, and my go-to flavoring to sprinkle on top is Penzey's Sicilian salad seasoning.
- Tomatillos -- this didn't happen.
- Fresh herbs -- this goal didn't go well. Most of my indoor herbs died pretty quickly or got really shrimpy (sadly, I did not inherit my granddad's gardening skills), and when most herbs are at their peak in the summer is when I was hardly cooking at all.
- Recipe index page -- ta-dah!
And now, here are my 2015 food goals. Apparently the letter P was inspiring me as I compiled my list.
- Paella -- I've never actually eaten paella, so I'm not even sure I'll like it. But it keeps popping up in various places including a food blog I follow, a computer game, and a TV show. So I'm going to try it. Because who doesn't want their menu to be influenced by silly computer games?
- Panna cotta -- Liz on the Splendid Table podcast raves about how easy panna cotta is, but the contestants on MasterChef seemed to have a harder time with it (maybe that was more because of time constraints than technique?). I'd like to find out for myself. Besides, my desserts are usually more gooey and homey (or cookies) rather than fancy and refined, so it will be nice to add something a little more upscale to my repertoire.
- Pasta -- a couple friends discovered they had two old-school pasta rollers, so they shared one of them with me. I'm looking forward to trying it out!
- Poach an egg -- this seems like one of those hard-but-basic cooking techniques that every competent cook ought to know how to do.
- Polenta -- I've eaten it a couple times and really liked it, and I tried making it myself once with grits and it just wasn't the same. So the real deal needs to happen on my stove this year.
- Prickly pear jelly -- confession: canning terrifies me. It seems really intricate and dangerous if you don't do it correctly. But there's still a ton of prickly pear juice in my freezer, and I plan to harvest more in August, so gifting homemade prickly pear jelly to my friends sounds like a marvelous idea.
How about you? What foods or techniques do you hope to try out this year?