It's time again for one of my favorite posts of the year. I enjoy setting an intention for what I hope to accomplish as a home cook, and I refer back to these goals the year. In light of last week's big news, I'm trying to balance being aspirational with being realistic this year. While these goals are heavily influenced by trying to anticipate how life might change with the arrival of a new babe, I think the same goals would apply to any life change, like starting a new job, or taking on a new pursuit like a side project or marathon training.
My 2017 goals were ambitious to be sure but I did achieve many (but not all) of them. I made a concerted effort towards meal planning and got better at making one to two grains and roasting up a a bunch of vegetables to make midweek meals easier to pull together. I also joined a CSA, which I loved of course, but I found that it made my meal planning more complicated. I would get a huge bunch of vegetables on Wednesday, which was harder for me to manage than prepping on Sunday nights. Doug and I checked off waffles and homemade pasta (okay that one was technically after the New Year but I'm counting it anyway!) and I made my Christmas cookie dreams come true! So without further ado, here are my 2018 cooking goals:
- Fill the Freezer Before Baby Arrives ~ Before we found out that I'm pregnant, I saved this New York Times article about what to make and freeze before the arrival of a new baby. I'd never thought about doing this but it makes so much sense. During my first trimester, I was so exhausted that we relied on take out, which I got sick of quickly, and I'm hoping that having frozen meals on hand helps prevent an endless stretch of ordering dinner. I much prefer home-cooked meals, especially for dinner. One thing that I haven't figured out is which recipes are freezer-friendly but also appropriate for summer. I probably won't be craving hearty, heavy casseroles in June, so if you have any recommendations or resources please send them my way!
- Weekly Farmers Market Visit ~ I want to keep eating local, seasonal vegetables but I want to do so in a way that's more manageable than getting a huge haul of CSA veggies every week. Making regular visits to our local Greenmarket (NYC's version of farmers markets) seems like a reasonable way to do that. Part of me is tempted to just scale back our CSA to every other week (instead of weekly), but the other part of me thinks that's insane with a newborn baby arriving right before the season starts.
- Fine Tune a Well-Stocked Pantry ~ My guiding principle for this coming year is to be well prepared and to try to be efficient. To that end, I want to further refine which pantry staples to keep on hand to not only cover the basics (pasta, grains, classic spices) but also to support interesting and varied meals at a moments notice. To that end, I'd love to know which pantry items are must-haves for your cooking, especially if it's something unique or not readily apparent.
- Olive Oil Cake ~ I need at least one fanciful, inspiring and delicious item on my cooking goals list per year. It has to be something that isn't practical but that just makes me deliriously happy. Olive oil cake is that item for 2018. I've been itching for a few years to try my hand at olive oil cake because I daydream about the version at Rosemary's in the West Village.
- Christmas Cookies Redux ~ Thanks to my mom, I have a recipe for iced sugar cookies that I love love love. They're thick and flavorful cookies, rather than thin, crispy sugar cookies with royal icing which always look beautiful but aren't the most satisfying to eat, at least in my opinion. I'm so pleased that despite pregnancy fatigue I managed to make them last year, and I want to grow the tradition into a full fledged cookie party. I expect that with a new baby in the house, just maintaining this existing tradition will be a success in itself.
So that's it. It's a shorter list this year because I'm trying to set myself up for success. Do you have anything that you're hoping to learn to make for 2018? I'd love to hear about it!
p.s. Some things never change, like wanting to try my hand at homemade bread. Check out my 2016 cooking goals.