Tuesday, December 29, 2009

My favorite recipes of 2009 and the one New Year's resolution I actually kept

I wasn’t planning on having any concrete resolutions for 2009. In general, I find them to be either contrived or overambitious – it seems that everyone either wants to lose 10 pounds or do something absurd like run twelve marathons and find the meaning of life on a steamboat in the Congo.

As much as I enjoy absurdities (when they are happening to someone else), I don’t subscribe to unrealistic expectations or the belief that a new year requires me to make great changes to my life. Why should a silly number make me want to suddenly give up refined sugar, alcohol and “The Hills?” Because years are passing me by? The clock is ticking? I’m one day closer to 30?

But then everybody started buzzing about this whole 101 goals in 1001 days thing, whereby, as the title suggests, the resolving person makes a list of 101 goals they want to complete in 1001 days. The point of the ordeal (and it is an ordeal) is to allow more time to accomplish the unrealistic and absurd goals, as well as to allow for the inclusion of more mundane ones, like finding a pair of boots that don’t make one’s ankles look fat. (I’m still looking.)

So I decided to do it.

Well, sort of do it.

By “do it,” I really mean come up with 23 goals and then give up because I’m a Gen Y-er and have no attention span.

While most of my goals like “Join the Daring Baker’s” and “Take a rock-climbing class” were quickly shunned and forgotten; and others, like “Publish another article” and “Vacation with my college friends” were pushed toward the later end of the 1001 days; my goal to try at least two new recipes a month was one that I actually felt compelled to complete.

Not only was I sick to death of my standby dinners -- chicken marsala , veggie stir-fry and grilled cheese – but I felt like if I attempted this one thing, I could justify ignoring everything else on my list. Especially the one requiring me to say “yes” to an invite even when I want to say “no” just for the sake of being social.

Seriously, who wants to be social when there are such things as cable and sweatpants and central air?

So I set about to make as many new recipes as my sanity and food budget would allow. And, I, for the most part (I lost track around April), stuck with my 101 goal to try at least two new ones a month. While many of the recipes did involve ingredients I was already comfortable with (ahem, quinoa), others challenged me to take on less familiar food products like butternut squash, tempeh and persimmons.

Not everything I made was a success this year (eggs continue to be a problem area), but at the very least, I feel that I succeeded in growing as a cook, chef or whatever title is appropriate for what I do when I’m alone in the kitchen with knives. Overall, it was a fun year, and as I look back over my favorite recipes of 2009 – the recipes I found myself craving again and again – I can’t wait to continue with my goal in 2010.

Orzo Soup


Bianca said...

I think your dishes look great! I commend you for creating your own dishes because I still follow the book for the most part. Happy 2010 to you!

yutjangsah said...

Im making that orzo soup but i'm not making any resolutions either cuz we gen xers dont do stuff like that.

Anna A. said...

Looks like everything I'd like to eat! This year, I resolved to use more quinoa, amen sista friend!

Esi said...

The DBers are intense...I am still questioning my membership a year and a half later!! Lots of great recipes in this bunch and I know because I have had some of them :)

Diana said...

Bianca - Some of these recipes are actually from other sources - Smitten Kitchen, 101 Cookbooks, Bon Appetit. I have only recently gotten brave enough to create my own dishes like all the quinoa salads and the cookies. I'm sure you will get there at some point too! :) Happy 2010!

Sook - I way overdosed on that soup this year. I made it every time I was feeling sick or cranky or in need of comfort. It's also great with some broc chopped in!

Anna - And I resolve to use quinoa less this year! ;)

Esi - I know, I was thinking that! The leeky geen beans, the orzo soup, raspberry buttermilk cake... great minds! ;)

Jenn said...

Definitely in the new year I'll be trying on quinoa.

Cinnamon-Girl Reeni♥ said...

You made some delicious dishes! I don't think I could think of 101 things I want to do - but I could think of 101 recipes I want to try. That could work.

Food, she thought. said...

I have to thank you for inspiring the biggest food movement in my house in 2009...quinoa risotto. It is now made chez FST at least once a week with various ingredients. However, despite my love of experimentation in the kitchen, your original recipe with chicken and shiitake mushrooms remains my favorite. I wonder what I will put in it tonight?

Diana said...

Jenn - Good call! Let me know if you need any recipe ideas! ;)

Reeni - I could come up with 1001 recipes I want to try! For one, most of the ones on your site!

Liz - Butternut squash? Brussel sprouts and bacon? Pray tell! So glad you have enjoyed the recipe as much as I have this year.