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Top-5 Cooking Goals for 2009

These are my Top-5 things I’d like to master (or get as close to mastering, meaning more improvement) during the next year. I’m probably not as experienced as most here, but these are my modest goals. I already know I will try and improve many other recipes, but these…well they are urgently calling me to do better.

1. I’d like to make really great Kimchi
2. I so want to make a great Baguette it is killing me
3. I want to make caramelized onion bread because I love it
4. Seafood (fish) carpaccio
5. Candy, toffee nut candy, specifically

Do you have goals like this? If so, what are your top five cooking goals for 2009? I’d love to hear them. Thx

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  1. fantastic topic!

    i need some time to think about the rest of my list, but i did mention just yesterday that i'd like to create a good, gluten-free bialy...however, that may turn out to be more of a pipe dream than a realized goal or mastery ;).

    3 Replies
    1. re: goodhealthgourmet

      Thanks, I'd love to hear your choices! You are well respected on this board, I know. I'm interested in what you'd pick? I thought I'd limit it to five because that's hard. I can think of 20 things I'd like to master or do better. But what's THE most desired. I hope to hear your Top-5

      1. re: Rocky Road

        ok, so i've given it quite a bit of thought, and i really only have one other food-related goal for 2009 besides my GF bread mission...but it's a rather lofty goal, so i think it counts as several :)

        i'd like to *finally* get the investment capital i need to open a certified GF kitchen so i can make my products available to more people than just my friends, family, and clients!

        1. re: goodhealthgourmet

          ok, i actually thought of another two:

          - though my basic knife skills are pretty darn good - i can slice, dice, chop & brunoise with the best of 'em - i'd like to learn how to bone & fillet a fish really well

          - improve my butchering skills now that i'm once again a carnivore. after 21 years as a vegetarian, i haven't exactly had much practice working with whole poultry and larger cuts of meat.

    2. Mine are a bit more modest. I'd like to take a stab at bread - the kind with yeast and kneading and all that jazz. I'd like to learn the basics of Indian cooking. I want to try making gnocchi, and find the recipe for the world's most perfect gingerbread.

      10 Replies
      1. re: mordacity

        I took a stab at bread (white bread) in 08. I think I make a good one now. Yours is a worthy goal! Fresh bread is awesome. Two of my five are bread, so I mean what I say. Baking bread is really fun and satisfying. Good luck to you.

        1. re: mordacity

          A good beginner's bread book is "Beard on Bread", by James Beard. There are plenty of thorough, exhaustive bread baking books out there. But I find Beard's to be the least intimidating one I own for the beginner, and after many loaves, it's still often the one I turn to first for advice.

          And after reading an article about the cookbook editor Judith Jones, I was inspired to try "Madhur Jaffrey's Indian Cooking". I tried the lamb with spinach, followed the recipe to the letter, and it tasted just as good as what I've ordered in a restaurant. It sometimes (only sometimes) seems that mastering a foreign cuisine is as much a matter of finding the right ingredients, and I am fortunate to have an Indian foods store a block away from my apartment. But the technique was so simple.

          1. re: weem

            Beard on Bread (I hope it is still in print) is an excellent beginner's bread book because it explains why each ingredient is in the recipe and the recipes in the book are good, but not complicated. After you master that there are many others.
            I want to explore Indian food, an other curries. I really want to learn how to make a good (Thai) yellow curry.

          2. re: mordacity

            You'll love breadmaking! It's a treat for every sense and you get that rush of doing something timeless and fundamental.

            Start with any one of Peter Reinhart's books but "Whole Grain Breads" will give you great results with hearty and healthy whole grains with almost as much ease as Jim Lahey's no-knead method.

            1. re: mordacity

              If you want to master Indian cooking, get a copy of Madhur Jaffrey's "An Invitation to Indian Cooking". It is probably out of print, but available on Ebay, Amazon or other book sites. It is the best. I have been cooking Indian from this one for 30 years or so and it is the best still.

              1. re: mordacity

                Gingerbread -- Haven't tried it, but have wanted to -- There's a delicious-sounding recipe in "The Art of Eating" by MFK Fisher (don't remember which part of the book). If I were to try it, that's where I'd go!

                1. re: juster

                  The Joy of Cooking has the best recipe for gingerbread ever. My mother made it while I was growing up, and I've made it on my own for 40 years -- it's great, especially with the lemon sauce.

                  1. re: pikawicca


                    I would be interested to know how the Joy version compares to the Gramercy Tavern's gingerbread that is often touted on this board. Have you tried it?

                2. re: mordacity

                  mordacity: The best gingerbread I've ever made/tasted was Claudia Flemming's Oatmeal Stout Gingerbread. It's online somewhere if you search for it. Moist, flavorful, wonderful.

                  1. re: oakjoan

                    I'll have to give that one a try. My best find so far is the Gramercy Tavern recipe with Guinness, though I did punch up the spices from the original recipe.

                3. In no particular order

                  1. Learn how to can, either preserves or pickles
                  2. Make French onion soup. i love this, but for some reason I've never made it
                  3. Make a really good pizza
                  4. Make frozen yogurt this summer
                  5. Plant more herbs in the garden to use in the kitchen.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: northside food

                    I like your list northside....I am going to copy it, with one minor change...

                    1. I will start using my pressure canner. I am already pretty good at canning and pickling...if you want to read about my canning escapades, check them out here:


                    Hope it inspires you as your post inspired me!

                    1. re: northside food

                      Julia Child's recipe for F onion soup is awesome!

                      1. re: northside food

                        I have a very simple recipe for French Onion soup if you are interested in this. =)


                      2. 1. Start using the bread machine my grandmother left me. I'm picking it up next week.
                        2. Get more use out of my slow cooker.
                        3. Find out how to make my favorite Vietnamese and Thai foods.
                        4. Resurrect my family's recipes - the ones that my grandparents used to make or grew up on but no one makes anymore. The ones everyone talks about and get misty-eyed. Ashkenazi foods can't be found anywhere but cookbooks and stories (of which both are plentiful) in my family anymore. I inherited too many cookbooks to count from my grandmother but towards the end, she just collected and didn't cook. It makes my grandfather so happy to know that someone is putting them to a good use.
                        5. Start using more local produce - I have to learn how too.

                        In case you couldn't tell, the overall theme is cooking at home and using what is available - economical and educational. I hope my Nanny and Bubbe would be proud.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: TampaAurora

                          It started out intimidating, but I've come to love my weekly trip to the farmers' market. There's always some new vegetable or variety I've never heard of, and the sellers are always brimming with information on what it is, where it came from and what to do with it.

                          1. re: mordacity

                            It's very intimidating! But I'm looking forward to it, if only to play in the kitchen and to get some more variety in our diets.

                        2. Love the topic! In no order.

                          1. Make homemade Pho - solid addiction of mine
                          2. Make a "great" kimchi - I can eat it at every meal
                          3. Attempt baked alaska
                          4. Make fresh handmade bread at least once every week of the year - already going for 6 months.
                          5. Learn how to preserve and can vegetables.

                          I have a few others, but those are probably my big desires.

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: raidar

                            1. Failed horribly so far. Can't nail a broth with so much depth. More of a long shot goal now.
                            2. Getting there, after 10 or so homemade attempts it's close, but I may need to consult someone.
                            3. Failed. Haven't even tried yet..
                            4. Major success - I'm baking at least 4 times a week, and doing the BBA challenge.
                            5. I've read a bit, but still hoping to have a go in the fall.

                            Still hopeful.

                            1. re: raidar

                              Four times a week!? What do you do with so much bread?

                              1. re: mordacity

                                Ah the gift of bread. I forced myself into bread baking, and discovered an absolute joy. The end result pays off now for family and friends! :)

                          2. Learn healthier low fat and lower meat cooking. Learn Indian cooking. Eat well while losing 40 pounds.

                            That last one's not a joke. I've lost 40 and want to lose another 40 in the process of eating better.

                            11 Replies
                            1. re: rainey

                              It may seem weird, but I completed that goal last year (80 pounds gone) while indulging myself in healthier cooking. Keep it up!

                                1. re: raidar

                                  Good for you! Mind if I use you for inspiration?

                                  LOVE to hear what worked for you too.

                                  1. re: rainey

                                    I'm planning to do the same thing this coming year: my goal is to lose 60 pounds by a year from now, but I want to do so by eating less, but better, and exercising more. I want to stress fresh and seasonal produce and good fish and meats, and less sugar and starches, except whole grains.

                                    So if anyone wants company, I'm there with you!

                                    1. re: rainey

                                      You are more than welcome, inspiration for undertaking a lifestyle change like that is definitely free for the taking! To sum it up quickly, as we are digressing from the original post, - Understanding food portions, quality of food, cutting back on liquid calories, and indulging only when it is something really great. For me, I started to weigh my foods, from my oatmeal to chicken breasts. I really had no idea how much food I was putting in my body and it was eye opening. I also mark everything down in a food diary..everything. I don't skip marking something down because it's bad or the portion was too large, that only cheats myself and doesn't change anything. I always say it's not a diet or fad, it's a lifestyle change! I'd be more than happy to answer any other questions about it.

                                  2. re: rainey

                                    I've been doing the same thing. I cook more than I ever did before, but I've lost 20 pounds. Though, I do think part of it is fewer meals out and less junk food.

                                    1. re: rainey

                                      It really does work. I lost a great deal of weight last year by cooking high quality food often. Food that tastes great satisfies in smaller amounts. I rarely substituted "light" ingredients, either. Best of luck to you!

                                      1. re: rainey

                                        I've lost about 75 lbs this year, not just from cooking, but it's a big part of making a more maintainable weight loss. I find myself not even wanting to eat out, really - I have better food at home. Plus it's about an hour every night I'm standing and cooking instead of sitting and watching tv/surfing the internet.

                                        I might also suggest tracking your food intake - it can help tremendously. There's some online places that you can do this - Spark People is free (but has a lot of annoying emails) and Calorie King (which has a fee associated with it).

                                        1. re: mortini

                                          Yes, SparkPeople is a great website to help lose weight, I'm on it but I never get any emails. You may need to set your mail controls. Lots of great recipes too.

                                        2. re: rainey

                                          When I first saw this thread my thoughts were the same as yours. Good luck to us both! I just bought a very nice gas grill. I think this will help. Less butter, oil, etc. Planning to plant more herbs to keep up the flavor and reduce the salt! They goes my grey and hawaiian sea salts! Keeping up the flavor is key to keeping me satisfied and disciplined.

                                          1. re: dcdavis

                                            DCDavis, I don't think you have to give up sea salt completely. When I studied cooking in Paris, we were taught to simply sprinkle a little on at the end of cooking. Salt stimulates the taste buds; it is not supposed to be a flavor in and of itself, even though an entire snack food industry has been built on that idea. Try cutting your salt back a little at a time and see if you miss it.

                                        3. I'd like to learn how to use a pastry bag and decorating tips, instead of having to limit myself always, it seems, to merely "drizzling" stuff out of a baggie with the corner snipped off.

                                          This is about the only time of year when I bake a lot of sweets, so I won't get much practice re pastry, but even if I could do it on some savory dishes, mashed potatoes, purees, etc.

                                          3 Replies
                                          1. re: Steady Habits

                                            I have a pastry bag with tips that I would like to learn to use properly. I loaded it up with ganache Sunday night to ice some cookies, and the results were disasterous - chocolate everywhere!

                                            1. re: Antithesisofpop

                                              :-D Sorry, maybe I shouldn't be smiling at that, after all. It's just that it's happened to me a few times, too--without the pastry bag! But with the sweets and savory dishes, I think profiency with it would make some tasks so much more efficient and improve presentation so much.

                                              1. re: Antithesisofpop

                                                Pastry piping was a goal for this year for me. Still learning, but I have discovered consistency of what is being piped is critical. Too stiff (possibly due to temperature) and it will fail, possibly rupturing the bag. Too thin and it won't hold form. The ganache I have made in the past would be too thin to be effectively piped.

                                                Even so, my daughter and I had stuff all over. :) Wilton makes some great tools, aids, practice boards with patterns and books. I find a good selection at my local Michael's craft store. They also have classes, but I wasn't able to navigate their schedule, nor get any assitance in doing so.

                                            2. I want to learn how to make bread.
                                              Make my own yoghurt
                                              Use summer produce and freeze for use during the winter months.

                                              1. 1. Learn the basic flavor combinations/recipes/techniques of some different cuisines
                                                2. Try to use those basics to be creative in the kitchen
                                                3. Strive to perfect two or three original dishes
                                                4. Gain confidence with the basics of baking
                                                5. Use more grass fed beef and free range poultry

                                                2 Replies
                                                1. re: ewallace001

                                                  e, if you don't have a copy of Culinary Artistry, see if you can get ahold of one. It has extensive listings of flavors and foods that work well together, plus lists of flavors/ingredients that are common in many international cuisines.

                                                  1. re: Steady Habits

                                                    absolutely wonderful book! Getting it was my inspiration for my goals!!! To elaborate on my dorkiness... I am thinking of making flashcards to study so that when I am in the store/market I can remember different components.

                                                2. Such a great topic!

                                                  1. Expand my bread baking knowledge -- I've been a fan of the no-knead bread since the recipe came out and recently made my first loaf of challah. I want to keep that going.

                                                  2. Cook with a variety of seafood -- I generally only cook shrimp but would love to include crabs, scallops, lobsters etc. into my rotation

                                                  3. Make more fancy desserts -- when i make dessert i usually making cookies or brownies. I want to make the fancy things out of Martha Stewart's baking handbook!

                                                  4. Make more Mexican food and be adventurous about it -- I have about three Mexican cookbooks and find that I only make dishes that i'm familiar with (enchiladas, chillaquiles etc), I want to branch out a bit more.

                                                  5. Use my ice cream maker in the winter! Seriously, why do I ONLY use it during the summer?


                                                  6 Replies
                                                  1. re: wontonfm

                                                    After reading some more posts I would like to add to my list...

                                                    - making pie crust
                                                    - join my local CSA or visit my Farmers Market more often

                                                    1. re: wontonfm

                                                      I had to laugh out loud here--I can't make pie crust. I have tried every "easy" recipe under the sun and they are all bad, bad, bad.
                                                      Absolutely agree with you on the CSA. We have 2 new ones in this area.

                                                      1. re: pepperqueen

                                                        It took me YEARS to get the hang of pie crust because a recipe only takes you so far. Temperature and moisture are crucial and vary everywhere and every day, so you really have to do it over and over to get a feel for when the dough is just right. My other tips are to use shortening in the place of some of the butter - it's less temperamental - and to roll it out on a floured sheet of parchment so you can just flip it into the pan and peel the parchment off the back.

                                                        1. re: mordacity

                                                          Strange, but I've found all butter dough much easier to work with than shortening dough, and it tastes better. For years I struggled with Crisco dough then I started using all butter and Rose Levy Beranbaum's recipes and it handled much easier. I figured this "shortening is easier" meme came from Crisco propaganda from the time when food companies did all they could to convince house wives that cooking from scratch or with traditional ingredients was much too hard.

                                                          1. re: fran124

                                                            I've always found the dough is more elastic and doesn't get as sticky with shortening. Flavor certainly takes a hit though, so I generally use a combination of the two.

                                                    2. re: wontonfm

                                                      I'm with you on the seafood. I know what to do with shrimp and scallops and a salmon fillet, but that's about it. Scallops are so easy - just spice them and sear them, and that's it! To get you started on your fancy dessert quest, I'd recommend learning about custard. A simple mix of eggs, milk and sugar turns into all sorts of things, from pie filling to creme brulee. Cheesecakes are another good place to start - they're sure to impress but a cinch to make.

                                                    3. This is a great post! I am sitting here, waiting for christmas dinner to cook (guinea hen, vichy carrots, robuchon mashed potatoes, green beans) and we think...
                                                      1. gnocchi! (because it's hard to get great gnocchi in restaurants, although all recommendations accepted with glee, of course)
                                                      2. chinese dumplings
                                                      3. pastry (crust, that is)
                                                      4. japanese pickles (aka tsukemono)
                                                      5. gravy. really GREAT gravy. from a roast.

                                                      Yum yum! Merry Christmas all, and happy Chanukah!

                                                      1 Reply
                                                      1. re: linengirl

                                                        Pastry crust is not something I do!! Chinese dumplings are very easy if you use won-ton wrappers (the round ones work best).

                                                        I made a great gravy tonight--we had a standing rib roast and Yorkshire pudding. When you buy a roast, get a bit of extra suet and cut into little cubes and strew around your roast. When roast is done (and you put it to rest for about 30 min.) take about 4 TBSP. of fat from the roasting pan and put in a small sauce pan, add 4 TBSP. flour and cook until the roux is medium brown. Add a can of beef broth, a tsp. of worstershire sauce, a little garlic powder. Cook until it is the consistency you like.

                                                      2. Not cooking specific, but def all about food!
                                                        1. Keep it simple- instead of loading up a meal with 7 exquisite ingred, pick one or two and make it shine. (How many risottos did I make this past year that were overdone because I was working on duck, side, dessert and a sauce all at the same time!). This also includes being more mindful of the company- Do we need a 5 course meal for a Celtics game watching party???? Do my friends appreciate the effort enough to make it worth my while(not meant to sound bitter at all- just some folks appreciate different things...)
                                                        2. Sign up for a CSA that offers more variety.
                                                        3. Take a cake decorating class.
                                                        4. Master puff pastry.
                                                        5. Make my partner teach me how to smoke a chicken the way he does- his techinque and seasoning can't be beat!

                                                        2 Replies
                                                        1. re: Bunnyfood

                                                          I'd really like to learn to make:

                                                          1. Pie Crust
                                                          2. Fresh Cherry Pie
                                                          3. Apple Pie
                                                          4. Blueberry Pie
                                                          5. Spinach souffle

                                                          Does it sound like I want to make pie????

                                                          1. re: DaisyM

                                                            sounds like you need friends to eat the pies. call us when it is in the oven =)

                                                        2. 1) learn to cook leafy greens so they taste good, not just healthy
                                                          2) expand my understanding of whole grains: what else is there besides brown rice and couscous?
                                                          3) adjust my buying so that I don't buy so much and then end up throwing it away.
                                                          4) add more fruits and veg each day.

                                                          14 Replies
                                                          1. re: brendastarlet

                                                            I've been experimenting with variations on sauteeing leafy greens for several months now. Here's a basic guideline (Not really a recipe, because it's not that specific): Basically, you need 3 things to make tasty greens - the greens, aromatics and something acidic.

                                                            You need some leafy greens - not lettuce, anything that can stand up - spinach, kale, swiss chard. The bagged frozen spinach works pretty well - I'm not so thrilled with the frozen spinach that comes in a box.

                                                            My usual aromatic is 4-5 cloves of garlic and a small onion cut however you like it. I add this to the pan first, and let sautee for a few minutes until they're slightly cooked.

                                                            For an acid, you can use Lemon or some sort of Vinegar. Last night, I discovered the best way to do this - put some brown sugar (I used about 2 tbsp) in a pan along with some vinegar (I used a bit more than a cup), and let it reduce by about 1/2. An important note about the acid is that it needs to be added at the last moment before serving/eating - if it's longer than that, the flavor goes away.

                                                            With fresh leafy greens, I find they wilt faster if there's a small amount of liquid. I've used wine, water and chicken stock. A few tablespoons of a reduced chicken stock will add a nice 'full flavor' to the greens and make them wilt faster.

                                                            So, the basic progression is to sautee aromatics in oil, add the greens, add small amount of liquid if desired to speed wilting process, finally add acid. And serve.

                                                            1. re: mortini

                                                              Yum! I do something similar. Sautee garlic and cut up pieces of bacon. Deglaze pan with a bit of balsalmic vinegar. Wilt greens over this, and add salt. Voila!

                                                            2. re: brendastarlet

                                                              Cous cous is not a whole grain; it's just a tiny pasta. There are, of course, whole wheat and whole grain versions available now.
                                                              If you like its size and texture, check out quinoa. It's great on its own, but I also toss it in w/white rice every time I steam some. Served w/Asian food that includes a sauce, its presence has little effect on flavor.

                                                              1. re: maestra

                                                                "...couscous granules are made from semolina (coarsely ground durum wheat)..." Wikipedia.

                                                                1. re: maestra

                                                                  I've never cooked/eaten quinoa. How? If you're on a high protein diet, this might be good, right? since it's high in protein.

                                                                  1. re: walker

                                                                    It is a great (ie easy) grain to cook with. It follows the basic 2:1 water ratio and can be done in a swift 15 minutes. I would suggest rinsing the quinoa first (some people taste the bitter coating that nature puts on) or try toasting in a pan before finishing. Delicious for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

                                                                    1. re: raidar

                                                                      Or with a pressure cooker, up to pressure, one minute at high pressure, and natural pressure release!

                                                                    2. re: walker

                                                                      It's got the highest protein content of any grain. You could probably sustain yourself off of it for quite a while, it is just an amazing grain and very tasty with a wide variety of sauces.

                                                                      1. re: foodsmith

                                                                        I've tried--really tried--to like quinoa. The "non bitter" versions too. Husband won't eat it (reminds him of college quinoa and Braggs). I ate the entire pound of it (more than once, different brands), reluctantly (don't like having things go to waste). But it's not tasty. Regardless of what you make it with, put on it, try to hide the flavor/texture with.

                                                                        I tried, and failed.

                                                                        1. re: Caralien

                                                                          I've been pondering the shelf space being taken up by an old box of couscous. I don't think I'm going to eat the entire box. I'll check the expiration date and then donate or toss. It's my quinoa (which I've also had, but wouldn't have bought a box of).

                                                                    3. re: maestra

                                                                      I just did the mixed rice trick last night and it was great.

                                                                      I went to the bulk aisle at WF to sample some new grains (cheaper than buying box or each) - quinoa, millet and wheat berries. I added about 1/2 cup of each with 1 cup of white rice in the rice cooker and it came out perfect. Chewy, nutty with still the nice backdrop of the white rice - even my husband liked it!

                                                                      I also bought Ezekial bread for the first time and LOVE it. I am a total convert now. toasted with some olive oil spread and jam - hoping it will help me cut out baguettes for a while, and I was getting very sick of whole wheat english muffins

                                                                    4. re: brendastarlet

                                                                      Brenda, another great wholegrain that you may want to try is hulled barley. (pearl barley is NOT considered a wholegrain) It was difficult for me to find, but I did find it at Whole Foods. I use Alton Brown's Baked Barley recipe for it.

                                                                      1. re: Val

                                                                        whole buckwheat groats (a.k.a. "kasha") are another great, hearty whole grain.

                                                                        and don't forget oats! steel-cut are the most nutritious, followed by regular rolled (not instant) oats.

                                                                      2. re: brendastarlet

                                                                        Try some HEMP bread. We get ours from Whole Foods. I'm not sure how to make it, but try it first and see if you like it. We adore it. TONS of fiber. You can probably find the following grains at any health food store in bulk so you can buy just a little and look for a basic recipe online.

                                                                        Also consider these 12 grains for the new year:
                                                                        1) buckwheat (Kasha) hearty and robust (gluten free)
                                                                        2) pearl barley- subtle and sweet
                                                                        3) spelt- rich, full flavored
                                                                        4) millet- tiny but nutty (gluten free)
                                                                        5) white quinoa- delicate/slightly nutty (gluten free)
                                                                        6) kamut- buttery!
                                                                        7) red quinoa - heartier than white (gluten free)
                                                                        8) teff- sweet like chestnuts (gluten free)
                                                                        9) amaranth- peppery!! (gluten free)
                                                                        10) bulgar- toasty, light and quick cooking
                                                                        11) purple (AKA black) barley- robust texture/taste
                                                                        12) farro- very intense nuttiness

                                                                      3. 1. Make Duck Confit
                                                                        2. Use that Duck Confit to make a Cassoulet (never done either)
                                                                        3. I started canning homemade jam this summer... I want to expand that to pickles
                                                                        4. Make Mole
                                                                        5. Expand my grilling repertoire

                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                        1. re: Jennalynn

                                                                          1. Great idea on the confit! Did duck for the first time this Christmas and was stunned how good and easy it was at home. Confit is definitely at the top of the list for next year now.
                                                                          2. Make stock more often. Something else I've done a ton of over the holidays and boy does it make a difference.
                                                                          3. Learn to use more cuts of meat. I really need to break out of my chicken breast/pork loin/steak/sausage rut. More stews and braising are definitely on the list for this winter.
                                                                          4. Eat more seasonally. To do that: plant a garden.
                                                                          5. Learn more about wine.

                                                                        2. These aren't quite "Recipe" goals but they're more cooking in general goals since I don't quite have a kitchen to work in at the moment:

                                                                          1- I'd like to master using the slow cooker
                                                                          2- I'd also like to master using my electric pressure cooker
                                                                          3- I want to make smoothies on a daily basis
                                                                          4- I just wanna cook and bake!
                                                                          5- I want to make cheese (mozarella maybe and traditional ethnic cheeses)!

                                                                          2 Replies
                                                                          1. re: BamiaWruz

                                                                            I just pictured my mom allowing us to help her make "farmer's cheese" when we lived on our ranch and had tons of fresh milk. She would let it sour on the counter top in big glass jars and then have us kids go out into the ditches to find these yellow seed pods that did the same thing as rennet tablets nowadays. She'd get out her cast iron pot and start cooking that stuff on the stove watching it curdle and then separating the whey. She'd toss big chunks of it onto our tiled island near the stove. We kids got to pat out the hot cheese into circles. We had little bowls of cold water to keep our fingers from burning. Dad called it asadero cheese, but known as farmer's cheese too. There was nothing like the taste of that fresh cheese. Believe it or not, but sometimes I even have dreams about it! LOL We would place little plastic sheets between each asadero circle and make quesadillas with it. My absolute favorite way, however, was to put it in the microwave for 30 seconds and melt it down again.

                                                                            1. re: wrlinton

                                                                              Sounds delightful!!!

                                                                              Revisiting my goals above I've pretty much accomplished all of them, since I now have a large spacious kitchen (didn't even have a kitchen at all at the time!)

                                                                              Still have to make that cheese.

                                                                          2. In 2009, I would like to:

                                                                            -better organize my small kitchen to minimize aggravation
                                                                            -make more fresh pasta
                                                                            -make perfect vanilla gelato (like I had in Italy)
                                                                            -try out some of the more unusual produce available at the markets
                                                                            -learn more about various cuts of meat

                                                                            Edited to add: making decent pizza at home has been a goal for a while. I've been reading some of the threads about home pizza making so I'll be giving it my best shot!

                                                                            3 Replies
                                                                            1. re: ms. clicquot

                                                                              I have a funny fresh pasta story... the first time I tried to make it I failed miserably. Mostly this is because I can't tell time, or rather I hadn't properly set the clock on my kitchen timer. I was home alone with a couple of hours to kill so I thought hey I'll try this out, and if it works I'll try to repeat it tomorrow for my wife. So I get everything out and set up, when I glance at my timer that is stuck above the stove. It says it's 5:20, and I freak because I am meeting friends at 6. So, I rush through the pasta making and fail miserably. In defeat and frustration I grab a box of dried spaghetti and cook enough for myself with a jar of store-made sauce since I didn't think I had time to make some. When it is done, I sit down in the living room (our table doubles as the counter in my apartment kitchen) and discover that it is really only 4 pm. Had I not been laughing so hard at myself I might have cried. I haven't tried it again since... but dammit I will soon!

                                                                              1. re: ms. clicquot

                                                                                Just following up now that summer is at an end. I did organize my pantry and spices a bit. The situation is better but I really need a bigger kitchen! I made vanilla gelato the other day and it was excellent. I added a hint of lemon zest to the custard before straining and it was very similar to the Italian version I enjoyed so much. I've been visiting the farmer's markets each week and cooked with artichokes for the first time. I also picked up some kale the other day which I've never used before (I realize that these veg aren't exactly exotic but they're new to my repertoire). I plan to make pasta now that the weather is turning cool but I still have a lot to learn about meat. I was looking at some books about meat the other day so I may pick one up. Oh, and I made some pretty good pizza on the grill this summer (after ruining a few rounds of dough I finally got the hang of it). So I'm making progress. How is everyone else doing?

                                                                                1. re: ms. clicquot

                                                                                  I hear the River Cottage Meat Book (available on Amazon) is a good read.
                                                                                  I want to pick it up myself.

                                                                                  Grilled pizza was also one of my summer successes. It wasn't on my original 5, though.

                                                                              2. In 2009 my culinary goals are:
                                                                                1. Make bread on a weekly basis and master making baguettes and a country loaf like Poilaine.
                                                                                2. Actually use my cookbooks to cook from and stop just reading them and then doing the same old thing.
                                                                                3. Wrest more of the cooking away from my DH and try to cook more healthily to get those pounds off.
                                                                                4. Use a greater variety of vegetables.
                                                                                5. Get my son more involved in the kitchen -- he wants to be, but I am usually in a rush to get things done and don't take the time to instruct him.

                                                                                1. mine is bread- make more of it for everyday eating
                                                                                  chocolate and candies (toffee and chocolate making with molds and luster dust things creative ways to eat veggies
                                                                                  Ice cream so no more ben and jerry's
                                                                                  making real demi glace for veal/beef and chicken.

                                                                                  there is obiously more but this is a start *_*

                                                                                  1. No specific goals but regarding your 5, I made sesame chews this week and they were a big hit. I used the recipe from "My Sweet Vegan" by Hannah Kaminsky, substituting xylitol for the sugar and pecan pieces for the almonds. They weren't very difficult.

                                                                                    1. I got the KitchenAid mixer of my dreams for Christmas. I wanted it so I could make bread.
                                                                                      - I got the book Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day, and I want to use it.
                                                                                      - New York Style Bagels and play around with different flavors.
                                                                                      - crusty rolls - good ones that don't need any butter or jam.
                                                                                      - gateau de crepe
                                                                                      - pizza


                                                                                      3 Replies
                                                                                      1. re: puppymomma

                                                                                        I'm still thinking about what my goals are, but I think that Artisan Bread is a great way to start making bread (no need for your mixer, sadly!). I know that one of my goals is to start making bread that needs to be kneaded and see how the results compare to the Artisan Bread ones that I've tried.

                                                                                        1. re: puppymomma

                                                                                          I've had Artisan Baking in 5 Minutes a Day for a while. It is a great book, but you almost don't need a mixer for the recipes! I have a baguette in the oven now (using the rest of the dough I used for rolls for Xmas dinner) and I have two brioche loaves waiting to go in, the rest of the dough I used to make beignets for Xmas breakfast. Enjoy the book -- while it is not the best bread you will ever make/eat, it is heads and shoulders above any commercial bread you are likely to find in most places.

                                                                                          1. re: puppymomma

                                                                                            I know it's a debatable point, but I think the KA Mixer is just about indispensable for kneading bread.

                                                                                          2. What a great topic!! My top 5:

                                                                                            1-use more fresh herbs
                                                                                            2-think of 100 more things to do with chicken
                                                                                            3-roast a whole pig for 4th of July(I know, lofty)
                                                                                            4-start making my own sausage
                                                                                            5-not cooking, more just about chowing-go to the Beaufort shrimp festival Oct 2009!

                                                                                            1. Mine are relatively simple, but I would love to accomplish:

                                                                                              - Like some others above, losing some more weight while eating extremely well

                                                                                              - Overcoming my ridiculous fear of ovens -- whether with big roasts or baking

                                                                                              - Break in my brand new All-Clad sauté pan (got it for Christmas!) and get a good cast-iron pan...and maybe a good Dutch oven, too.

                                                                                              - Experiment with different dishes and cuisines, in order to get the SO to like eggplant, mushrooms, and seafood

                                                                                              - Learn more family recipes

                                                                                              1. Honestly, my new year's resolutions should encourage less cooking, not more - I have too many other things to get done this year! That said, I think I'm drifting towards learning how to make good pie crust. I'd also like to rediscover some of my grandmothers' recipes, and resurrect the deserts my father is nostalgic about, like blueberry grunt.

                                                                                                Also, I know this is weird, but I want to come up with some way to approximate the proper, British, Heinz baked beans. They're so expensive in Canada (the imported ones, that is) and and I miss having them handy for breakfast, baked potatoes, etc.

                                                                                                1. 1. Improve my meager bread baking and master pain de mie and baguette
                                                                                                  2. make my own ricotta and mozzarella- a friend insists it is easy and fun!
                                                                                                  3. use all my leftover orange peels to make candied orange peels, as suggested in a previous post, and find other interesting uses
                                                                                                  4. invite a bunch of friends over and roast a whole artic char (come over!)
                                                                                                  5. be organized enough to make veal stock often enough to always have it on hand

                                                                                                  1. 1. Cook without unnecessary fat, more veggies.
                                                                                                    2. Get better with pastry and pasta dough.
                                                                                                    3. Make a full Sunday Suppers menu EXACTLY as written.
                                                                                                    4. Make more Vietnamese food.
                                                                                                    5. Visit the farmers' market more often.
                                                                                                    6. Make stock more often.

                                                                                                    1. What a lovely topic! I have several food goals for the year, including:

                                                                                                      1. Make cheese (I bet there are some good resources on this site)
                                                                                                      2. Use my gorgeous cookbooks -- I have so many of them, and I plan to pick one a week, randomly open it, and make something that my eye falls upon
                                                                                                      3. Learn how to make and use fond (I thought it was just for meat-eaters -- I'm excited to have the option open to me now)
                                                                                                      4. Snag a book deal for the food book I've been working on (stay tuned -- I'll let you know)
                                                                                                      5. Really understand bread -- how fermenting times and techniques enhance or overwhelm flavor, how the amount of gluten in different flours works -- and be able to use what I've gathered to make a beautiful, fragrant, airy loaf.

                                                                                                      Thanks for starting this thread, Rocky Road. I love hearing what other cooks are thinking about.

                                                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                                                      1. re: BeckyAndTheBeanstock

                                                                                                        I've loved reading them too. I just got back from the holidays and no internet and its nice to read all of these. Bread appears to be a majority goal. I know that's a biggie for me. Got white down and lots of quick breads, so I'm ready, in 2009, to tackle the more complicated breads. Thanks all for letting us know your goals!

                                                                                                      2. What a great thread! All of your ideas are so inspiring, especially those who have learned to lose weight and still eat better. That would probably be goal one, but since it is for the next year and beyond I'm not going to count it on this list.

                                                                                                        1. Use garden results better – through canning /freezing
                                                                                                        2 Actually use the stuff I can & freeze – not just happen upon it a year later, wonder what it is…or was at one point… and throw it out
                                                                                                        3. More veggies, fewer meat & potato dinners
                                                                                                        4. Organize recipes, all those printouts from my computer folders that get stuffed in piles in the cupboard that drive DH crazy. Any suggestions? Anyone out there have a good system? I’ve tried three ring binders but there are so many recipes that overlap categories. Having a copy of my Gingered Beef in beef/entrée but also in my crockpot file?
                                                                                                        5. Less work on weekends, more time for playing in the kitchen so I can fool around with breads and other time consuming recipies.

                                                                                                        Getting back to all of those inspirational and supporting goals dealing with better eating and living, is there a way that we could start an ongoing thread or post or something on Chow where we could all share, recipies, ideas and support each other?
                                                                                                        Would that come under Home Cooking? I'm too much of a Luddite and technophobe to know this stuff. Anyone else interested?

                                                                                                        3 Replies
                                                                                                        1. re: ajcraig

                                                                                                          Ah yes, AJCraig, I'd have to add a 6th goal to my list now. Like you, I want to USE what I can/preserve (I'm kind of weird that way - I don't want to "use it up" so... I end up not using it at all, which obviously makes "using it all up" a moot point anyway) and I also want to waste less fresh produce. I read a statistic recently about how much food actually gets thrown out in this country and it's embarrassing. So my goal is to not contribute to that statistic in 2009.

                                                                                                          I like your idea too of having an ongoing thread where we can post recipes, etc. I don't know if Chowhound would be the place, but it's a cool notion. There seems to be a lot of inspiration in this thread and also a lot of similar thinking.

                                                                                                          1. re: ajcraig

                                                                                                            ajcraig, with the New Year nearly upon us, I'm sure there would be plenty of people interested in a thread where you posted about your healthy recipe discoveries.

                                                                                                            As for my 2009 cooking goals:

                                                                                                            1. Continue with the healthy eating ---focus on whole grains, more vegetables, lean proteins--I started in 2008
                                                                                                            2. Expand my repertoire of "favorite" recipes to include more quick/weeknight meals. I still find that I rely very heavily on pasta for weeknight dinners.
                                                                                                            3. Gain greater comfort cooking seafood
                                                                                                            4. Cook from my unused cookbooks
                                                                                                            5. Gain greater comfort with pressure cooking and pressure canning (both of which I tried in 2008 for the first time)


                                                                                                            1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                              Pressure cookers are great - thanks for inspiring me...I am going to start another thread on that.

                                                                                                          2. I'd like to use my juicer, pressure cooker and ice cream makers more.
                                                                                                            I want to bake more, I can cook well but have problems with pastry.

                                                                                                            1. 1) Learn to be more frugal with the ingredients I buy and use up leftovers in creative ways.

                                                                                                              2) learn to make homemade mozzarella cheese.

                                                                                                              3) learn better knife skills - I'm slow when I hold the knife correctly.

                                                                                                              4) make a perfectly cooked prime roast beef with yorkshire pudding.

                                                                                                              5) make a really tasty veggie stock
                                                                                                              I've tried the "just throw any leftover veg into the pot and simmer" and it doesn't come out very flavorful. Ive tried using just a nice mirepoix. I've tried adding sweeter veggies like corn husks or butternut squash. I know to avoid strongly flavored vegetables like cabbage. But still Swansons vegetable stock is better than what I make.

                                                                                                              2 Replies
                                                                                                              1. re: Mellicita

                                                                                                                I had never thought much about making vegetable stock until I saw this recipe:


                                                                                                                I tried it and it was SO simple, easy, and delicious, and very affordable to make. I highly recommend it!

                                                                                                                1. re: Mellicita

                                                                                                                  I'm a bit late to this, but oh well - try adding a couple of Tbsp of miso to your vegetable stock. I think it adds some depth to the flavour that is otherwise missing.

                                                                                                                2. Having learned the basics for barbeque & canning this year (and bread when I was a HS freshman), this is what I would like to tackle in 2009:

                                                                                                                  1. Cook, prepare, and serve more of the food I love, as I know I can do it so much better than what I've had at my new local places, as well as many of our non-local places
                                                                                                                  2. Locate a good source for truffles
                                                                                                                  3. Find more uses for the crock pot (aside from stock and pumpkin)
                                                                                                                  4. Make better dog treats which are less time consuming to make, less delicate, and more long lasting without needing refrigeration
                                                                                                                  5. Considering that I'm a lazy little this and that cook, figure out how to replicate one of my own recipes so that I can add some to the family book

                                                                                                                  that said, beer might be on the agenda too, but the above takes up less space and is not as combustible

                                                                                                                  3 Replies
                                                                                                                  1. re: Caralien

                                                                                                                    I'm curious - what do you do with pumpkin in a crock pot?

                                                                                                                    1. re: Allison_

                                                                                                                      After steaming or baking pumpkins, reduce it to make pumpkin puree (for pies, custard, and soup) and pumpkin water (natural internal cleanser and dog dewormer).

                                                                                                                    2. re: Caralien

                                                                                                                      Progress thus far:
                                                                                                                      1: doing okay; the move has put a damper on cooking, but my kitchen is becoming accessible again (did well through April when the house project became all-consuming)
                                                                                                                      2: Oregon Wild Edibles
                                                                                                                      3: Braised bison (with onion soup) & vichyssoise
                                                                                                                      4. haven't even attempted another batch
                                                                                                                      5. not much progress here, although I may be able to add roasted chicken, roast beef, pate, and a few others; everyone on my husband's side has moved over the past few years, so that project may be shelved a little longer

                                                                                                                    3. Not exactly a cooking goal, or a dietary change.. but something still important to me: I'd like to eat slower and learn to chew my food so that I can savour the flavours because I have a habit of eating very quickly.

                                                                                                                      1. I make a few breads well, but got a nice bread baking book for Christmas that has recipes for more challenging breads, so I am excited to get going making different breads.
                                                                                                                        Use the dehydrator I got last year, this year.
                                                                                                                        Make pasta from scratch- the wonderful kind...
                                                                                                                        And lastly, use my pastry bag and growing collection of decorating tips and tools.

                                                                                                                        6 Replies
                                                                                                                        1. re: chef chicklet

                                                                                                                          I am with you on using the dehydrator. Mine has only been used to make apple fruit leather, dried cherries and beef jerky. Does anyone else use their dehydrator often?

                                                                                                                          1. re: TampaAurora

                                                                                                                            Well you got me beat, I did take it out of the box, bugged everyone on CH for ideas on what to make with it, and promptly put it back in the box. And alas there it sits out on a shelf in the gee-rahge. I am truly looking forward to making dried tomatoes and peppers for all kinds of uses, and then get started on some outrageously spicy jerky!

                                                                                                                          2. re: chef chicklet

                                                                                                                            Gee looking back I sure didn't put much pressure on myself.
                                                                                                                            breads, any new ones? nope
                                                                                                                            Use the dehydrator... nope again
                                                                                                                            make pasta, Yes! and it's easier than you'd think
                                                                                                                            Get out the pastry bag and start working with the decorating tips and tools...nope

                                                                                                                            I have done one thing, it's important that I knock at least one more to do off of my list. To bust open the dehydrator would be the easiest, but for some reason is the least interesting to me at the moment.

                                                                                                                            1. re: chef chicklet

                                                                                                                              With the bounty of summer fruits and vegetables, the dehydrator may have the perfect moment to make its debut! Besides, dehydrated produce takes up a lot less space than canned goods.

                                                                                                                            2. re: chef chicklet

                                                                                                                              As far as my bread book, I have spent time off and on this year reading it. It's a huge book that covers a vast amount of breads. I started to bake from it and once I cracked it open I realized, holy cow, there's quite a bit to learn! So I haven't baked from it yet. I hope to make at least one of the breads by the end of the year. Who knew that bread was so complicated! So many different starters for one.
                                                                                                                              I didn't get the dehydrator out. Kicking myself.
                                                                                                                              But I did make pasta! That's the one thing I'm pretty proud of myself for, it's a lot easier than I thought it would be. So good too!
                                                                                                                              My pastry bag, nope. If I were just more into desserts... I can see myself making cannoli, filling them with a lucious pastry cream...
                                                                                                                              Great idea for a party coming up/ Glad I saw this thread come back around!

                                                                                                                            3. What an awesome thread.

                                                                                                                              1. I would like to be able to cook faster, so improve my knifework and multitasking in the kitchen.
                                                                                                                              2. Learn more about and develop my technique with spices. I often over-spice dishes, and don't really have a great sense of how to work with them without recipe measurements.
                                                                                                                              3. Preserve stuff.
                                                                                                                              4. Don't know if it counts, BUT we are starting a kitchen renovation in the first quarter of next year. I'd be thrilled if a really functional kitchen built within our budget is the result.
                                                                                                                              5. Find a good consistent supplier of humanely raised and slaughtered meat in Brisbane, Australia, tips appreciated.

                                                                                                                              1. 1) As others have said, to bake bread (or pizza) at least once a week.
                                                                                                                                2) To pack breakfasts and lunches for my husband so he doesn't have to go all day without eating, or spend money on restaurant meals.
                                                                                                                                3) To waste less food.
                                                                                                                                4) To get better at making something from nothing--delicious dinners from inexpensive staple ingredients.
                                                                                                                                5) To learn to make healthy baby food when the time comes for solid foods.

                                                                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                                                                1. re: butterfat

                                                                                                                                  Do you have a hand/stick blender? These are great for making baby food (my grandparents told us that back in the day (through the 1940's, at least), babies would get whatever their parents ate, pureed; using this idea but with fresh or thawed foods might help too for healthy, less preserved, home-prepared baby food!)

                                                                                                                                2. 1. Find a gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free cookie recipe that tastes good.

                                                                                                                                  2. De-clutter my cabinets. Get rid of all the equipment and utensils that I haven't used in years.

                                                                                                                                  3. Improve my soup-making -- specifically pea soup and lentils.

                                                                                                                                  4. Cook leafy greens several times a week.

                                                                                                                                  5. Develop some meatless meals that will please both myself and my husband.

                                                                                                                                  7 Replies
                                                                                                                                  1. re: val ann c

                                                                                                                                    val_ann, i do a lot of GF vegan baking. cookies aren't in my regular rotation (my specialties are muffins, quick breads & granola), but if i come up with a *really* good recipe one of these days i'd be happy to share.

                                                                                                                                    in the meantime, have you ever tried adding a small proportion of mesquite flour to your cookie recipes?

                                                                                                                                    1. re: val ann c

                                                                                                                                      Oh man, I like the de-clutter my cabinets. I need to do that also. Good one!

                                                                                                                                      1. re: val ann c

                                                                                                                                        We like the Pumpkin Cookie recipe from "The All-Natural Allergy Cookbook: Dairy-Free, Gluten-Free" by Jeanne Marie Martin, "Minty Carob Kisses" (we substitute cocoa for the carob) from Rawthentic Recipes by the James Schafer Family (which sound a lot like the "Awesome No-Bake Choclate Cookies" (which we haven't yet) from The Gluten-Free Vegan by Susan O'Brien , "Sesame Chews" (more like candy than cookies) and "Peanut-Plus Cookies" (they contain red lentils) from "My Sweet Vegan" by Hannah Kaminsky.

                                                                                                                                        "ExtraVeganZa" by Laura Matthias is not GF but we have easily converted the following: Carob Pecan Cookies, Chocolate Orange Hazelnut Cookies, Triple Almond Cookies, Anise Almond Poppyseed Cookies, Almond Apricot Rice Flour Cookies. We use various combinations of brown rice flour, quinoa flour, millet flour, amaranth flour, and buckwheat flour (which we grind ourselves with our VitaMix or a small coffee/spice grinder) and add 1 tsp of xanthan gum for up to 3 cups of GF flour.

                                                                                                                                        1. re: val ann c

                                                                                                                                          Someone posted about wanting to find ways to cook greens so they're tasty in addition to being healthy. Remove steam if too thick, cut into ribbons, steam the greens (we like collard and kale, sometimes chard) but not too long, then top with tamari or lemon juice or balsamic vinegar or hummus or a mixture of peanut butter and salsa.

                                                                                                                                          1. re: lgss

                                                                                                                                            We steam greens and then top with MALT vinegar I get from wal-mart. So very very tasty.

                                                                                                                                            1. re: wrlinton

                                                                                                                                              I'm gluten-free so no malt vinegar for me.

                                                                                                                                          2. re: val ann c

                                                                                                                                            My mom's recipe for lentils was very simple and very tasty but, being a typical great cooking mom, she never measured anything...so do what you can with this "recipe".

                                                                                                                                            Rinse lentils then place in pot on medium to high heat. Let water boil for no more than 10 minutes more then turn off heat. Salt to taste. Add fresh chopped cilantro, fresh diced tomatoes and onions into the pot. Put lid on pot and let it cook with whatever remaining heat is left. The lentil should remain somewhat firm when compared to most other lentil recipes/soups etc I've had elsewhere, but certainly not hard. Mom cooked this for us on cold winter afternoons or kept it in the crockpot the next day. We loved it and I cook it for my family too. Hope it works out for you if you try it.

                                                                                                                                          3. What a delightful thread!!

                                                                                                                                            1. Eat what I want, not what I think I'm supposed to eat
                                                                                                                                            2. Perfect my technique for making chile relleno
                                                                                                                                            3. Improve my fish cooking skills
                                                                                                                                            4. Use up the stash of assorted ingredients that I've brought back from Mexico so I can bring back a new (i.e. fresher) batch of ingredients
                                                                                                                                            5. Finish transcribing a 1936 dessert cookbook that belonged to my grandmother, and then test the recipes and adjust and update as needed.

                                                                                                                                            1. Pretty much the same as last year

                                                                                                                                              1) eat/cook more prime beef next year than I ate/cooked this year
                                                                                                                                              2) use my smoker even more than I did this year
                                                                                                                                              3) eat /cook more crab than I did last year
                                                                                                                                              4) continue including my daughter in cooking, grocery shopping, etc.
                                                                                                                                              5) continue to experiment with new recipes/cusines

                                                                                                                                              1. 1. Make a double batch of something once a week to have in the freezer for nights when time is short.
                                                                                                                                                2. Keep teaching my 8 yr old about cooking/food. She bakes quite a bit already.
                                                                                                                                                3. Learn how to cook scallops-Why do I only eat them out?
                                                                                                                                                4. Make a standing rib roast as delicious as my mother does.
                                                                                                                                                5. Improve/expand the sauces I make. I'm in a rut, they all have sherry, madiera or marsala in them.

                                                                                                                                                1. 1. To start to cook soups in my crock pot. (I fess up, I've never cooked soup so this is a true beginning for me)
                                                                                                                                                  2. To figure out more dishes that taste good that are low calorie/low fat. Right now I really only have 1 dish that I would serve to others that fit this criteria.
                                                                                                                                                  3. To use my crock pot more and make more meals at home rather than go out as much.

                                                                                                                                                  1. Reading others' goals have inspired me.
                                                                                                                                                    1. Use dehydrator
                                                                                                                                                    2. Shop at Farmer's Market more often
                                                                                                                                                    3. Invite a few more people over for meals (now that we've renovated the kitchen!)
                                                                                                                                                    4. Teach at least one client a few more healthy recipes
                                                                                                                                                    5. figure out what my fifth goal was

                                                                                                                                                    1. 5. Grow more herbs in our garden window!

                                                                                                                                                      6 Replies
                                                                                                                                                      1. re: lgss

                                                                                                                                                        We're still failing in that endeavour, after 2 years of multiple attempts. Even our rosemary Christmas bush has died (leaving us with a bounty of rosemary, but it's sad that we can't keep any plant alive here!).

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Caralien

                                                                                                                                                          We managed to grow some basil, a little parsley, and a few other things in the old garden window in years past. We plant a hot pepper plant in a planter outside each year and hope to start it inside this year to have an even longer season. It was cayenne for 2008, not sure if we'll continue with that for 2009 or try another variety. We grew waxy (Hungarian?) peppers one summer but they were quite mild. We've grown habaneros one or two years.

                                                                                                                                                        2. re: lgss

                                                                                                                                                          I received the AeroGarden Herb Garden for Christmas for this very purpose. I have an outdoor herb garden but have discovered that if I do not have it handy I forget to use it and it ends up growing wild. (In the Pacific NW you can't really kill most herbs they even use rosemary for hedges!) I have been successful in growing rosemary, thyme, parsley (flat and curly), sage, chives, and oregano. I kill Dill every time I plant it. We got hit by a couple weeks of snow which is unusual for us and so everything will likely be dead when it thaws. Glad to have a new garden to try indoor.

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: atwistedlime

                                                                                                                                                            Whoa! I believe you on the rosemary hedges...I'm in SW FL and almost have a huge bush of it here...I mean, drought (winter)....monsoon (summer)...you name it, that sucker is just going wild and can withstand ANYthing!!!! It probably WILL be a hedge soon! I should put a sign out at my curb.."Please help yourself to fresh rosemary in front of house."

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: atwistedlime

                                                                                                                                                              I love my aerogarden! I highly recommend it for herbs especially those basils. I do a lot of Thai cooking and Thai cooking uses holy basil, which is peppery. I was lucky to find an aerogarden for 1/2 price at my local Linens & Things going out of business sale.

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: wrlinton

                                                                                                                                                                I've wasted a lot of $$ ordering one from the company -- the kind to grow your own seeds. Spent about $250 and got 4 Japanese cukes, 4 cherry tomatoes. I started a new one of just cukes and so far have leaves, lots of yellow flowers (most falling off) and no cukes. Maybe I'll give up and just grow herbs but I really kick myself for wasting so much $$.

                                                                                                                                                          2. great thread! i'm going to have a hard time narrowing it down to 5...

                                                                                                                                                            1- learn more about technique, spice mixtures and ingredients for different ethnic cuisines (as opposed to cooking from recipes)

                                                                                                                                                            2- mastering homemade seitan + a spicy tomato BBQ sauce! (inspired by a local newly-opened restaurant)

                                                                                                                                                            3- master the crab pretzel and unleash its gooey goodness on the streets of philadelphia! (i'd love to open up a comfort-food service of some sort one day)

                                                                                                                                                            4- make a really great ethiopian lentil stew + injera

                                                                                                                                                            5- take a chow tour of thailand or vietnam

                                                                                                                                                            3 Replies
                                                                                                                                                            1. re: rabidog

                                                                                                                                                              Wow rabidog. Your #5 goal is like still a dream to me. Those are my two desired places as well, but I can't put it as a 2009 goal for now. I have begun researching a chow tour like this however, which means maybe in a few years of saving it will be a realistic goal for whatever year I feel I can do it. Good luck in that!

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Rocky Road

                                                                                                                                                                good luck with it! i lived out my 2008 dream of a (self-guided, low-budget) chow tour of india and it was SUPERB - quite possibly the highlight of my entire life. i learned so much about the culture and the differences between regions... and i ate SO well!!!

                                                                                                                                                              2. re: rabidog

                                                                                                                                                                got to add another to my list... combo food + home improvement project... in the spring, i want to build my own urban garden/green roof, and grow the best tomatoes in the city on it, using natural fertilizer from my worm composting bin! (a great way to reduce the amount of garbage as well as fertilize your plants free and naturally, for all you home-cookers!!). expanding on this, i want to learn to jar my own tomatoes for winter. i spend far too much money on tomatoes, fresh and canned, as it is.

                                                                                                                                                              3. 1. Learn to make bread, and make it often enough that it becomes second nature.
                                                                                                                                                                2. "Subscribe" to a local farm in order to get fresh, organic produce almost year round.
                                                                                                                                                                3. Finally attempt to make some jaw-dropping cakes--not necessarily fancy or decorated, but just tall and luscious.
                                                                                                                                                                4. Make home made sausage.
                                                                                                                                                                5. Attempt to make one "out of my comfort/experience zone" meal a month, with the result being some of the dishes becoming part of my repertoire.

                                                                                                                                                                1. 1. Cook more meat (roasts, in particular)
                                                                                                                                                                  2. Cook more seafood (fish & shellfish, including prep, cleaning/filleting, etc)
                                                                                                                                                                  3. Come up with new gelatin flavors (came into possession of a "food industry" size canister of Knox gelatin... don't ask how)
                                                                                                                                                                  4. Make more use of my KA ice cream maker attachment
                                                                                                                                                                  5. Canning/preserving/vinegar making
                                                                                                                                                                  6. Come up with something good to make with the Purple Condiment I couldn't resist while shopping at Surfas. Gotta love that name... Purple Condiment.
                                                                                                                                                                  7. Shop the farmer's market more
                                                                                                                                                                  8. Try my hand at cheesemaking

                                                                                                                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: soniabegonia

                                                                                                                                                                    i miss Surfas :(

                                                                                                                                                                    that Purple Condiment sounds good! if you need some inspiration, another distributor mentions some ideas on the product page on their website...


                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                                                                                                                                      Yeah, Surfas rocks. 15 bucks! At least I didn't overpay... it was $10 at Surfas. I saw it and thought to myself, "purple condiment?! What the heck is that? But I'm sure I need some."

                                                                                                                                                                      I think it would be good on meats, duck.. maybe even spread on a cracker and topped with cheese.

                                                                                                                                                                  2. I really like this idea. I have not made these types of goals before but I think I will start... right now:

                                                                                                                                                                    1. I will learn how to make my favorite Indian and Thai foods. I live in an area where I can
                                                                                                                                                                    2. Learn to can. (I am borrowing this from someone else but already bought the jars. Just ned to DO IT!)
                                                                                                                                                                    3. Learn new herbs. I have gotten to know several herbs and seasonings but I need to expand my knowledge. I am adding several new things to my herb garden.

                                                                                                                                                                    Thank you for this thread. I know when I set goals I am more likely to do things. :-)

                                                                                                                                                                    1. 1. Stop over-buying veggies, just get enough to eat so less waste
                                                                                                                                                                      2. Increase whole grains in diet
                                                                                                                                                                      3. Improve filleting skills
                                                                                                                                                                      4. Begin making sausages, then move towards curing meat
                                                                                                                                                                      5. Learn to use the smoker that was given to me

                                                                                                                                                                      3 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: meatn3

                                                                                                                                                                        I've made progress on 1, 2 & 3. Waiting for fall to work on 4 & 5.

                                                                                                                                                                        I've ended up having a stronger health focus this year. I'm not a milk drinker, so have been working on a focus of calcium rich foods daily. Concentrating on calories which are nutritionally dense. Having a wide array of fruits, vegetable, grains and salads prepped has it easier to make a good choice when time is short.

                                                                                                                                                                        To reduce produce waste I now jot down the ideas I have when I succumb to lovely produce not on my shopping list. The produce inventory and menu ideas get posted on the fridge for easy reference/inspiration. A lot less is getting buried and forgotten now!

                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: meatn3

                                                                                                                                                                          hey meatn3:

                                                                                                                                                                          what a great idea to revisit your food goals and review the progress made.


                                                                                                                                                                          i'm going to do the same...

                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: lifespan

                                                                                                                                                                            Thanks, but I can't take credit...it looked like others were doing it and that prompted me to revisit. A good exercise either way!

                                                                                                                                                                      2. 1) Organize my meals, shopping, storing for less waste and more efficiency taking advantage of local produce and vendors.

                                                                                                                                                                        2). Learn to bake excellent southern style biscuits so my husband will stop going to Bojangles on the sly.

                                                                                                                                                                        3) Learn how to make a good Thai papaya salad and Thai pho.

                                                                                                                                                                        4) Learn to make a good masa for tamales with ingredients found here in Greenville, SC!

                                                                                                                                                                        5) Learn how to can and freeze local produce so we can have it all year long!

                                                                                                                                                                        1. Ok, this makes seven but a couple of you inspired me!

                                                                                                                                                                          1. Confit duck
                                                                                                                                                                          2. Make cheese at home- I've got everything for a "farmhouse" cheddar( more like condo cheddar in my case!). I made a mozzerella and riccotta with great sucess(took a class from at a local cremery), but then forgot all about what fun it is to make your own cheese...

                                                                                                                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Bunnyfood

                                                                                                                                                                            Where was this local creamery? I was curious and looks like you're in New England.

                                                                                                                                                                          2. 1. Take a bread-baking lesson from my mom
                                                                                                                                                                            2. I'm trying to eat more vegetables, so I need to find more interesting ways to cook vegetables
                                                                                                                                                                            3. Host a wine tasting party
                                                                                                                                                                            4. Perfect my cappuccino foam-ing skill
                                                                                                                                                                            5. We've been threatening to dig a pit and roast a goat... I'd like to make that party happen this summer

                                                                                                                                                                            - and Mr. Rabbit wants to smoke a pork shoulder!

                                                                                                                                                                            1. To put my Christmas presents to good use, i.e. the Moroccan tagine (I've never used one), the paella pan (I've made paella before but not in a 'proper' pan); to try out the 50 gorgeous Indian curries by Camelia Panjabi whose book I got given and generally to try many foods I have not yet had a chance to do, as varied as possible.

                                                                                                                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Paula76

                                                                                                                                                                                I have Camelia Panjabi's book. its absolutely fantastic. the curries are all 'finger lickin' good" (apologies to the Colonel). Its my go to book for curries. Recently i tried to find the larger book something about curries around the world in india but no luck so will attempt to find this on amazon.

                                                                                                                                                                              2. I have way more than five, but here's a start:

                                                                                                                                                                                1- Make yeast bread, preferably with whole grain flours.
                                                                                                                                                                                2- Cook vegetables more often, instead of eating them all raw before I get around to it.
                                                                                                                                                                                3- Prepare more meals to share with the (non-veg) boyfriend.
                                                                                                                                                                                4- Broaden soup repertoire, instead of always making veggie minestrone or mushroom soup. Learn to make hot and sour soup.
                                                                                                                                                                                5- Create the perfect bran muffin recipe: light, but not too moist, with a defined top and a fairly grainy crumb. Must be healthy - no cakes in disguise.

                                                                                                                                                                                2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: piccola

                                                                                                                                                                                  1 - Find/make authentic italian recipes for ribolitta and ragu
                                                                                                                                                                                  2- Find tasty recipes for vegetables so I increase the amount I eat
                                                                                                                                                                                  3 - Cook more often
                                                                                                                                                                                  4-Make stock
                                                                                                                                                                                  5-Waste less food

                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: italy531

                                                                                                                                                                                    stock is SO FUN to make! and it makes the house smell lovely. i make HUGE batches and i freeze a few ice-cube trays of it... so when i'm sauteeing veggies, i can toss in a cube or two instead of more oil :)

                                                                                                                                                                                2. Fun question!

                                                                                                                                                                                  Create EASY weeknight meal “menus” that use lots of veggies.
                                                                                                                                                                                  Make big pots of chili and bean soup to take to work for lunch.
                                                                                                                                                                                  Get good at making curries.
                                                                                                                                                                                  Learn FINALLY how to cook rice.
                                                                                                                                                                                  Prepare fun spreads (like tapenades) to have on hand for easy appetizers in an effort toward making every day a party day.

                                                                                                                                                                                  1. I think I see some of this in the responses. In 2009 I'd like to tackle a few things that require some patience . . . I'm thinking:
                                                                                                                                                                                    1) Sourdough bread from a home raised starter.
                                                                                                                                                                                    2) Growing my own beansprouts
                                                                                                                                                                                    3) Growing some mushrooms from spore
                                                                                                                                                                                    4) Buying a case of wine for consumption down the road a piece

                                                                                                                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Alacrity59

                                                                                                                                                                                      oooh, i've been reading about the homemade starters lately, too! that sounds like an inexpensive rainy sunday project for me.

                                                                                                                                                                                    2. Some of my goals are in response to my husband having a heart attack in '08. Since he is skinny and now losing weight getting a good balance of low fat low cholesterol calories into every meal while providing me with low calorie meals so I can lose weight (Jack Sprat and his wife-that's who we are!). Also with a 2 plus hour commute each way having an organized plan for meals is also a priority. I also want to learn to make Pho this year.

                                                                                                                                                                                      4 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: AGM_Cape_Cod

                                                                                                                                                                                        Avocado and flaxseed are healthy fats.

                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: lgss

                                                                                                                                                                                          here's a yummy avocado recipe for you:
                                                                                                                                                                                          Chocolate Velvet (it's like a chocolate pudding)
                                                                                                                                                                                          1 ripe avocado
                                                                                                                                                                                          6 Tablespoons of unsweetened cocoa powder
                                                                                                                                                                                          1/4 cup agave syrup (I buy it at Trader Joe's)
                                                                                                                                                                                          dash of cinnamon
                                                                                                                                                                                          2 Tablespoons of water

                                                                                                                                                                                          Process with S-shaped blade in food processor until smooth.
                                                                                                                                                                                          Add additional water, for a chocolate sauce for fruit or ice cream topping.

                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Cynsa

                                                                                                                                                                                            I'm intrigued. Must try this recipe!


                                                                                                                                                                                        2. re: AGM_Cape_Cod

                                                                                                                                                                                          If you and husband are avoiding beef for health reasons, i think pho made with chicken is easier and faster.

                                                                                                                                                                                        3. I attained one of my biggest goals last year, when I started culinary school at the age of 42. As a full time student in a pastry and baking program, I cross things off my list everyday.

                                                                                                                                                                                          This year my goal(s) are simple, to keep learning, and exploring all there is to learn.
                                                                                                                                                                                          on a more personal level, I want to learn more about ethnic foods. As a good old WASP from New England I mastered the art of overcooking, boiling, and bland early. I could use practise with all the spices....

                                                                                                                                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                          1. 1) cook more with beans and lentils
                                                                                                                                                                                            2) preserve/pickle something
                                                                                                                                                                                            3) don't get too ambitious with my garden. last year, i got overzealous and over-planted. it was very counter-productive
                                                                                                                                                                                            4) have one meat-free meal per week (from basically 0 now)
                                                                                                                                                                                            5) waste less food

                                                                                                                                                                                            #5 is probably the most important. even though i've improved, I'm still finding myself chucking vegetables into the compost (at least it's in not in the garbage). i don't like wasting money or food in a world where a lot of people go hungry.

                                                                                                                                                                                            10 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: grandgourmand

                                                                                                                                                                                              #5 needs an ancillary then...... #6 make soup [or a veggie broth] every week with less-than-fresh veggies. Add beans or lentils with some herbs and fresher vegetables, and you have made a start to accomplishing #1.

                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: smtucker

                                                                                                                                                                                                Definitely. And I've been doing more of that lately. Unfortunately, running out of freezer space for the excess stock. So I think the lesson should also be "buy less". I have definite eyes bigger than stomach syndrome, combined with cooking ADD ('oh, i'll make that and that, etc.")

                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: grandgourmand

                                                                                                                                                                                                  Me too! Small freezer, so I have trouble finding room for excess soups and such. And I have such good intentions when I see lovely produce.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: meatn3

                                                                                                                                                                                                    I am guitly of that too, I see really beautiful stuff at the market and I cannot help but buy it all. With just two men in the house, even with the best intentions, some nights we just opt for pizza and beer and the tv, leaving all that lovely veg slowly decaying in the fridge, taunting me when I open the door the next morning...

                                                                                                                                                                                                  2. re: grandgourmand

                                                                                                                                                                                                    Cooking ADD - I love that term! I get many great ideas at the grocery store and then promptly forget half of them by the time I get home. I have been working hard to make a plan and then follow it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: TampaAurora

                                                                                                                                                                                                      This happens to me too. Now I have started to jot down the ideas formed at the grocery onto the back of my grocery list, I then clip the idea list to the fridge once I'm home. This one change in my routine has decreased my food waste dramatically.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: meatn3

                                                                                                                                                                                                        I've started doing that too, and also walking in with a list. Now the problem seems to be actually cooking what is on the list before it goes bad. Every time I have a list that goes beyond 3-4 days, I end up with some event or illness that prevents me from cooking. Case in point, I went shopping on Sunday for the upcoming holiday weekend and promptly came down with a severe sinus infection that had me in bed for a good part of the week and the entire weekend. I even missed services! Now I've learned, buy on Sunday to eat through Thursday. The weekend is up for grabs.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: TampaAurora

                                                                                                                                                                                                          My life is very similar! I keep a well stocked pantry so I can make quick stops for fresh food several times a week. My life just doesn't lend itself to a week long menu.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          Hope you are feeling better. Happy New Year!

                                                                                                                                                                                                2. re: grandgourmand

                                                                                                                                                                                                  #4 was my goal for many years and now we eat a few vegetarian meals during the week. infact the meals with meat are spaced out well so we can eat whatever we feel like since the quantity of meat that i cook is small. good luck, hope you can achieve your goal in '09

                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: grandgourmand

                                                                                                                                                                                                    1) Moderately successful. Definitely on the right track
                                                                                                                                                                                                    2) Again, moderately successful. Then again, we're just in the season for preserving, so there's work to be done.
                                                                                                                                                                                                    3) Did pretty well. Focused approach yielded better results. Too bad about the weather, though.
                                                                                                                                                                                                    4) D-
                                                                                                                                                                                                    5) Doing pretty well, but still room for improvement

                                                                                                                                                                                                  2. My cooking goals for 09 are modest, and in no particular order:

                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. Hold up my end of the bargain to prepare two nutritious, home-cooked dinners during the week. Thankfully, I will be on the receiving end of two dinners, as well. The weekends are up for grabs.
                                                                                                                                                                                                    2. Shop for the highest quality and/or most nutritious ingredients available. And, do this with an eye for economy.
                                                                                                                                                                                                    3. Use the new Le Creuset artfully and often.
                                                                                                                                                                                                    4. Be calm and mindful at all times in the kitchen... (Let cooking be my practice?)
                                                                                                                                                                                                    5. Don't let cooking be a time drain - there are other things I like to do (and benefit from) as well.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    That's about it!

                                                                                                                                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: lifespan

                                                                                                                                                                                                      My goals really WERE modest. And, I think I'm on track.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    2. *******Cook at home more often************
                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. Refine my Jerk Chicken recipe to the point where I am satisfied with it every time.
                                                                                                                                                                                                      2. Learn to make my own hot sauce
                                                                                                                                                                                                      3. Start smoking on the BBQ (Tried it twice with good results but I would like to experiment more)
                                                                                                                                                                                                      4. Branch out into Indian and Japanese cooking. I am specifically interested in Indian Curries and Japanese noodle recipes.
                                                                                                                                                                                                      5. Attempt to cook Mole. I am curious about Mole because it seems like such a complex thing to make and I would really like to learn how to do it correctly. I am specifically interested in a Vera Cruz type of Mole.
                                                                                                                                                                                                      5a Perhaps take a class or two to help me fulfill these goals.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: ChickenBrocandZiti

                                                                                                                                                                                                        I don´t think mole is difficult to make at all....you just need a good blender. I know about mole poblano, mole oaxaqueño, mole almendrado....but when i go to veracruz i eat red snapper a la veracruzana or mondongo...i´ve never tried the mole..There are 66 ingredients in traditional mole poblano. First i start boiling the chicken or turkey pieces. My kids won´t eat hot food so i make it with these ingredients: plantains, onion, garlic, raisins, corn torilla, peanuts (you can use peanut butter), almonds, peeled pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds and dried ancho chiles which are spicy but not hot. All of these are fried, one by one, separatly and put it in the blender. Then add Mexican chocolate (i once used Hershey´s syrup and omit the animal crackers, it tasted good), cumin, cinamon, black pepper, salt, animal crakers and chicken broth, blend everything very well and keep tasteing and adjusting. Pour the sauce over the pan where the chicken is boiling and leave it there on med temp until thicken, Serve, sprinkle some tosted sesame seeds and place some white rice on the side (guarnición) Other alternative is to fried the mole sauce with pork fat and then place the chicken pieces....but this turns out to be too heavy to us...If you like hot food you can add guajillo and chipotle dried chiles.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Xacinta

                                                                                                                                                                                                          ?Oye, quien sea el papi de tus hijitos si no se comen lo picante?

                                                                                                                                                                                                      2. 1. Completely master a handful of great Indian vegetarian dishes (I'm trying aloo gobi and dal masoor tonight).
                                                                                                                                                                                                        2. Cut down on food waste big-time.
                                                                                                                                                                                                        3. Eat more fresh fruit.
                                                                                                                                                                                                        4. Start growing my own herbs again (this is motivation for me to move).
                                                                                                                                                                                                        5. Continue not eating processed foods (I've been about 98% all-natural since September).

                                                                                                                                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. 1. I will be selling a Album (Yes WAX) collection of 3000 different pieces of Vinyl to pay for a BBQ Smoker on a Trailer. I want to start my own weekend festival circuit smoker that gets people addicted to real bbq.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          2. Have a understanding that transcends knowing a recipe for making great BBQ Rub.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          3. The perfect Pancake.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          4. Figuring out how well a steak is done by touch.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          5. Home made Mozzarella.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. Great thread!

                                                                                                                                                                                                            In 2009 I'd like to figure out how to:

                                                                                                                                                                                                            1.) Replicate my favorite sourdough bread at home
                                                                                                                                                                                                            2.) Make homemade mozzerella and ricotta
                                                                                                                                                                                                            3.) Duplicate the stuffed pork loin dish Mr. B and I fell in love over
                                                                                                                                                                                                            4.) Can my own tomato sauce with tomatos from the garden
                                                                                                                                                                                                            5.) Learn the French master sauces


                                                                                                                                                                                                            2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Phoo_d

                                                                                                                                                                                                              In 2009 I'd like to figure out how to:

                                                                                                                                                                                                              1) Not to abuse my apprentices (at least until they are out of the kitchen)

                                                                                                                                                                                                              2) Increase my repetoir of légume dishes

                                                                                                                                                                                                              3) Make better soba noodles

                                                                                                                                                                                                              4) not have that urgent desire to heat dishes to the point that it is funny to watch servers pick them up

                                                                                                                                                                                                              5) to be more understanding when it comes to servers critisizing my food (I mean really...what do they know)

                                                                                                                                                                                                              Oh yeah, my staff keeps asking if I am ever going to get a sense of humour...lol

                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: bigfellow

                                                                                                                                                                                                                1) I still abuse my apprentices.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                2) I do a better bunch of legume dishes.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                3) My noodles are better!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                4) I still burn lazy servers. (It's a tradition!)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                5) I do understand servers better. That doesn't mean that I agree with them though!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                The bonus question....yeah, I can be really funny! I even laugh at myself.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            2. My top 5 cooking/food related goals are to:
                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. Eat slower at home and especially at work.
                                                                                                                                                                                                              2. Keep a bread starter alive for more than a month, hopefully the whole year.
                                                                                                                                                                                                              3. Expand my wine knowledge through study and taking chances on new bottles.
                                                                                                                                                                                                              4. Try to create some healthy but tasty baked goods.
                                                                                                                                                                                                              5. Make more complicated desserts at home.


                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. soup. a really good soup.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                a decent biscuit would be good, too.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. Welcome to JUNE!!!
                                                                                                                                                                                                                  It's 6 months later.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  How are you guys doing on your goals?
                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Any new ones?
                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Any "maybe I'm Notttt gonna do that again" ones?
                                                                                                                                                                                                                  How about dramatic success stories?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  And lifestyles-- how did you guys do on eating healthier,more at home, more Farmers' marketing, type pursuits??

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Do Tell!!!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  10 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Kris in Beijing

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I had to look back to see what I wrote! So far, not so good. My top priority was to organize my kitchen for more efficient cooking. I've organized all of my spices into labelled magnetic jars and stuck them on the side of my fridge (36 and counting so it was a bit of a job) but my pantry and cupboards are worse than ever. Maybe I'll tackle it on the next rainy day. I'll be working on my other goals (making gelato, experimenting with market produce, making more fresh pasta) as we move into summer.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Kris in Beijing

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I've made some progress, but not much. My search for the perfect gingerbread has turned out some excellent results, but is now on hold until cold weather returns. I've done some dabbling in Indian cooking, but my efforts are hampered by an inability to get my hands on some special ingredients. Bread and gnocchi-making have not happened yet. However, at the urging of my little sister I have started making my own granola to top my morning yogurt - cheaper, tastier, and healthier than what the grocery store has to offer.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Kris in Beijing

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. Use dehydrator
                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Not happening yet.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        2. Shop at Farmer's Market more often
                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Dealing with health so haven't been yet this season.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        3. Invite a few more people over for meals (now that we've renovated the kitchen!)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Ditto 2

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        4. Teach at least one client a few more healthy recipes
                                                                                                                                                                                                                        A client family asked me to share healthy veg recipes. Last week I took "Simply Vegan" cookbook for the mother to look at while the 10 y.o and I planted carrots and lettuce in their yard. The mother plans to check "Simply Vegan" out from the library and the 10 y.o. asked if the seeds we were planting were organic!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        5. Grow more herbs in our garden window!
                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Yesterday my husband transferred the jalapeno (I know how to get a tilda but I'm too lazy, tired) plants from the garden window to the half barrel on the front porch! We have basil growing in the garden window.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        A couple unexpected opportunities cropped up this spring (due to my health issues) to teach some mainstream docs about veganism, celiac, and galactosemia (a condition my niece has). I wouldn't recommend hospitalization or surgery w/ only local anesthesia as ways to accomplish this.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: juster

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            The squiggly line above the n. It's this (~) but I have no earthly idea how to make it work.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: TampaAurora

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Depends on the computer. On our mac we can switch to international keyboard mode, then pull up the correct foreign keyboard viewer to see which key makes the ñ. In Spanish the tilda is only used over the n to make the ny sound of canyon. Not sure how to use the one which actually appears on the keyboard itself.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Kris in Beijing

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. Cook more meat (roasts, in particular) - not happening yet... tho i'm cooking more pork
                                                                                                                                                                                                                          2. Cook more seafood (fish & shellfish, including prep, cleaning/filleting, etc) - not happening... poor ventilation system
                                                                                                                                                                                                                          3. Come up with new gelatin flavors (came into possession of a "food industry" size canister of Knox gelatin... don't ask how) - yes! I've done a lot with this - tea jelly, exotic panna cotta flavors, etc... even attempted XLB which was a complete failure
                                                                                                                                                                                                                          4. Make more use of my KA ice cream maker attachment - uh... not happening yet. Maybe in the summer months
                                                                                                                                                                                                                          5. Canning/preserving/vinegar making - nothing so far
                                                                                                                                                                                                                          6. Come up with something good to make with the Purple Condiment I couldn't resist while shopping at Surfas. Gotta love that name... Purple Condiment. - I opened the bottle but haven't used it on anything
                                                                                                                                                                                                                          7. Shop the farmer's market more - yes, this is definitely happening and it's costing me a lot of money!
                                                                                                                                                                                                                          8. Try my hand at cheesemaking - I made mozzarella (a marginal success) and have a lot of citric acid and rennet so I guess I'll have to keep making more...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I'm definitely cooking more and eating at home more... but that's more a function of having more free time now (changed jobs late last year).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: mordacity

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              haha. sorry, common acronym on the Los Angeles board. XLB - xiao long bao or soup dumplings aka Shanghai dumplings. They're dumplings with little bursts of broth inside - achieved by putting cubes of gelled broth in with the filling.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Kris in Beijing

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I've accomplished 3 & 4 on my list which was caramelized onion bread, and seafood carpaccio. It's funny, but I realize that I may lack the necessary equipment for candy and kimchi. I'm not really sure yet, but that has held me back.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I've learned a ton about cooking in the past year and I've cooked things I never thought I would thanks to this site. I wonder what my goals will be in 2010? We'll see.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          2. 1. Start using the bread machine my grandmother left me. I'm picking it up next week.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I've used it about once every other week for pizza dough, herb breads, and the dough for my my Challah.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            2. Get more use out of my slow cooker.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Before the Florida heat had set in, I was using in about once a week. Since late March when the temps began reaching the 80s, it became about once a month. I just haven't found many recipes that work in hot weather.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            3. Find out how to make my favorite Vietnamese and Thai foods.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I've experimented a bit, but only my Stirfried Chicken with Lemongrass, Peppers and Onions was a success. I just picked up some curry blends from a spice store to continue the quest. I have been experimenting with Indian foods, and am now in love with my Chicken Tikka Masala and Chana Masala. They are great as leftovers served in a whole wheat tortilla for a non-traditional but great meal on the go.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            4. Resurrect my family's recipes - the ones that my grandparents used to make or grew up on but no one makes anymore. The ones everyone talks about and get misty-eyed. Ashkenazi foods can't be found anywhere but cookbooks and stories (of which both are plentiful) in my family anymore. I inherited too many cookbooks to count from my grandmother but towards the end, she just collected and didn't cook. It makes my grandfather so happy to know that someone is putting them to a good use.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I've been able to resurrect the Matzo Ball Soup but without the chicken feet. I can't bring myself to using them after seeing a frozen chicken foot emerging from the center of the pot like the Night of the Living Dead. I've been making Challah often, although not every Friday like I would like. It's not my grandmothers, but my mom says it is like her grandmother's - pretty awesome considering it was from a Gil Marks cookbook. Other than that, this is my goal that has been left behind. I have been working on archiving recipes instead.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            5. Start using more local produce - I have to learn how too.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I went to the local Farmer's Market every other week (that's all my schedule would permit) until they were closed for the year last weekend. Now that its closed until November, I am thinking about heading over to the wholesale market to see what they have. Right now, I have Costco and Publix produce in the fridge but at least it's from Florida where I can find it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. 1. Be able to make a bunch of Asian food I like from memory.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              2. Get fluent with Asian veggies and herbs. (Am AWOL from Western produce at moment)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              3. Figure out how they made that hollow black sesame sweet bun at the Korean bakery, and perfect that.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              4. Get the pace of snack-making down, so that there is always something tasty in the fridge that does not require lots of work to turn into food, and does not come from a package.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              5. Condiments. I dream of having made my own great basics and vinegars, etc., and of course some liqueurs.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. So closing in on the end of the year I was wondering how people did on their goals.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I have learned several new spices, I should be trying to use them more frequently but I kinda took the summer off from cooking much. I also have learned how to make pad thai although I think it is far too much effort when so many places near me make it and make it better. :-)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I still need to can. I am glad I looked at this again. I will have to hop on it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. shrimp and grits.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  something worthy of a sunday football brunch.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. What a great post. Well, its almost 2010, but can I still play? ...but just five? I'm in the same boat as many before me:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1) Try making a fresh strawberry or raspberry soup (like dessert gazpacho) with chevre croutons and mint chiffonade.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    2) Master the five mother sauces.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    3) Learn to make any decent bread, preferrably sourdough.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    4) Try making homemade duck confit.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    5) Make a perfect slow-roast bird (chicken or turkey-- both of which I HATE,) good enough to make me like it. Eugh!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. You've all inspired me -- especially rainey -- so here goes mine:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1) Incredibly healthy home meals Monday through Friday, which supports my loss of 20 lbs
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      2) Spend less time in the kitchen (seriously), while still delivering 5 gourmet meals a week

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      It's funny - when I look back on 2009, it was one of excess in the kitchen and the wine category. I dedicated considerable time to discovering foods and producing classic dishes, and throwing dinner parties.