I only have one resolution - just one. The year 2014 is prime time for me to bow down to my Inner Cook. I want her to have the reverence she deserves.
I deliver a meal every evening to a very tough audience. My husband is vegetarian. My 6-year-old is pescatarian. My little one thinks cheese is a gift from the gods. My teenager hates cheese, except when it sits on a pizza. I am a full-fledged carnivore and 100% lactose intolerant. Confused yet? Imagine feeding this bunch.
It has been my practice to prepare one meal with several variations. On spaghetti night, everyone agrees to eat the noodles. Then vegetarians have a meat-free sauce. The meat lovers get the ground turkey. The cheese lovers go to town on the Parmesan. The cheese haters abstain. We all eat together and on very rare occasions, one of us enjoys the food. It's usually me.
I believe in making the good stuff. I take to heart the sentiment we are what we eat. I buy local. I buy organic. I grow food out back - avocados, figs, plums. And I decorate a well-balanced plate. Still cooking has been a miserable experience for me. I spend far too much energy waiting for an applause. Instead of the standing ovation anticipated, I typically get blank stares and lots of questions like, "What is this?" and "Why are you making us eat it?"
I haven't enjoyed the process, I realize, because I have been far too invested in the outcome. Eating is something we all have to do - two or three times a day. No wonder cooking can feel like a chore. I don't want to spend another year staring reluctantly at the stove. And I won't.
This is the year I will dance in my kitchen while throwing peas in the pot. I will try new recipes and only entertain ways to make them as flavorful and nutrient rich as possible. I will hang out at chefy spots like Sur La Table, Surfas, and Williams-Sonoma. I may even drag my husband out to a date night cooking class. Why not make it sexy?
I got a head start on this resolution at the end of 2013. Those not so religious Christmas cookies pictured above were made with my own hands. My Inner Cook delighted in pressing teeny Star Wars faces into homemade dough. These treats didn't last long after making their debut. Nobody questioned why Yoda was a holiday cookie or why they had to eat him. They just ate. And I moved onto the next recipe - a chicken soup with egg noodles, carrots, leeks, fresh herbs, in a broth made from scratch. When our college kids took this meal back to campus, my Inner Cook took note, but kept moving. I took a moment to laud her with praise, then sat down and ate the soup myself. I enjoyed it - as usual.
Share your favorite recipes in the Comments section. My Inner Cook will thank you!