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Okay, let’s start with a simple, incontrovertible fact: I sucked at this in 2013. After blasting out of the gate with 23 posts in the first 2.5 months of the year I totally screwed the pooch and barely managed to scrape out one recipe for something as basic as marinara sauce. Part of that is that work picked up and part of it is having a 5 year old. So this year I am going to set slightly more modest goals in hopes of under promising and over delivering.

Things I should have blogged about if I had had the time

  • In 20+ years of cooking, I had cut myself once when Jeff Kellogg told me a joke while I was cutting tomatoes. Because the only cutting board in the house was being used to trim the pork loin, I was cutting the tomatoes with a serrated knife while holding them over the sink. In the interest of finding a silver lining in everything I was actually able to see that there really is a bone in my thumb.
    This July I was making marinara sauce at 2am and I cut myself a second time when I sliced off half of the tip of my left index finger, finger nail and all, while chiffonading the basil at the bitter end of the process. The finger tip has grown back with no visible sign of the 2 hours of hilarity that ensued as I tried to stop the bleeding with medical grade super glue and restore the kitchen to something that did not resemble a slaughterhouse floor at just hours before we had to leave to get to the airport at 6am to fly across the country for my step sister’s wedding. Not fun at the time, but it makes for a very funny story and is actually cooking related.
  • Until this November, I had never seriously burned myself cooking. That all changed when I was draining the Brussels sprouts for Thanksgiving dinner. The burn is really not the interesting part. Faced with kosher vegetarians, I was forced into cooking without the benefit of butter and had to figure out what to do about the fact that my goto recipe for Brussels sprouts hinges on the use of copious amounts of pancetta. Wild mushrooms saved the day.
  • Mashed potatoes. Really I could just leave it there but in the interest of not sounding insane I’ll say that in September I suddenly developed an obsession with making mashed potatoes. I believe I saw something on TV about Thomas Keller making mashed potatoes that with a 1:1 ratio of butter to potatoes (I can hear dairy farmers and cardiologists everywhere opening their boat catalogues). I think I’m getting to the point where I may actually have something to contribute to the vast pantheon of mashed potato literature (see below) but for the record, I am not striving for Thomas Keller’s mashed potatoes though some would argue I am not far off.

2013 New Year’s Resolution Redux

I am going to go for a do over on last year’s new year’s resolution. I had resolved to try one new thing to eat or drink (shocking how that seemed to lean towards drinking so often) and write about it. This is partly an effort to push myself out of some ruts (Stella Artois, Stella Artois, Stella Artois, Stella Artois, …) and partly because I got tired of reading nothing but glowing reviews about everything that is ever reviewed anywhere. Something like 80% of all companies fail so it’s highly unlikely that 100% of everything that exists on the shelves of our retail establishments is flawless. Here’s the deal: I won’t accept stuff for free to review. I will buy it, use it, and either laud or lament as I see fit.

I will probably start with wine because back in June I discovered Naked Wines which is a pretty awesome service for buying wine at really reasonable prices. We’re on our 6th or so case and while there have been some real stinkers: this year I learned that I generally loathe Zinfandels  and the sauvignon blancs have been generally disappointing; there have also been some really impressive finds: I did not know that viognier existed and am sad that I have been drinking for 32 years without that knowledge and Dry Creek Valley is apparently incapable of producing anything that is not awesome as it is home to the only zinfandel I have tried that I not only enjoyed, but which was so good I ordered more even before I finished the first glass.

I wanted to sign up for the Reserve Society at the Bruery to get in on some fancy beers to review but I missed out this year and will have to add this to my list of things to do around Thanksgiving next year. Instead I joined the Preservation Society which is exactly $6 per quarter not quite as cool as the Reserve Society but it does include a bottle of the nearly impossible to get Black Tuesday which was the inspiration for looking into it in the first place.

2014 New Year’s Resolution

My blog related resolution this year is going to be simply to pull together one recipe with photos per week. This should keep me engaged without burning me out. After coming to the realization that people who pump out blogs on a daily basis have staff to help them, it occurred to me that I have what might be described as anti-staff which is to say people who expect me to do things that are productive and helpful in the real world as opposed to posting recipes with pretty pictures on the internet.

On the Other Hand…

The one thing that I did figure out is that having a cooking blog kind of rocks from the point of view of actually cooking. For one thing, the recipes I use most often are now in one convenient place. I don’t have to go thumbing through falling apart cookbooks and stuff I’ve printed out from various cooking sites and then try to decipher the crappy notes I wrote about the changes I made because it’s all there as soon as I want to get to it. And if I decide to make a change to a recipe that I use a lot, I simply make the change on the blog and voila! I not only have the updated recipe at my beck and call but I feel as though I’ve accomplished something to boot! Also, it’s a hell of a lot easier to send a friend a recipe.

Where Do We Go from Here?

Santa and my in laws were very good to me this xmas and I came away with a convection smoker and a deep fryer as well as a couple of new cookbooks. I’m going to try my hand at tempura this week (shrimp, green beans, and zucchini, and possibly asparagus) and I’ve already found a good starting point for roasting a chicken in the smoker which I’m going to pair with the slightly insane sounding idea of smoking mashed potatoes. In fact there are a number of things that I would like to try roasting in the smoker. How awesome does the idea of smoked roasted garlic sound? We will see if the reality manages to live up to the perceived potential. I also read about smoking butter which (in my sick mind) gave me the highly disturbing visual of something done after copulation by the kind of person who would eat deep fried butter at a state fair. We also have the annual gardening planting just over the horizon. After a pretty productive 2013, the wheels in my head have been churning away like some crazy out of control Rube Goldberg contraption. Not that that’s anything new.

Hopefully some of this will end up being blogworthy and I won’t end up starting off the year the same lame way I ended it.

Stay tuned …