Cook It and They Will Come

So back around the end of the holidays, I sat down as I do each dark December and scroll out a list of New Years Resolutions.

I know, I know.  Most people are anti-resolution.  Just get on with it and start today! Don’t wait for Jan 1, an Oprah-phyte might say.

However, this system works for me.  And I don’t just make 1 or 2.  I make a fothermucking list.

In 2011, I made an even 100, and I kept 75 of them.  Not bad.  The other 25 were ridiculous anyway.

This year, feeling sort of confused and discombobulated by the upcoming move to the North, and really not feeling as if making too many long-term plans was the greatest idea (ya gotta let it flow, brotha), I settled on 44.

One of the fun ones was #6:  Make a new recipe at least every two weeks or twice a month.  This has been a riot.

I’m a big fan of Jillian Michaels’ podcasts on iTunes, and one of the things she says when is chastising the overweight for not counting calories is, “How hard is it?  We all basically live on the same 15 meals.  We have 5 go-to breakfasts.  Five go-to lunches. And five go-to dinners.  That’s nothing.  Just count the calories of those once and you’re all set.”

As horrifying as it sounded to me, I quickly calculated in my head, and wow.  JM was right.  Except I didn’t even have 5 breakfasts. Oatmeal or a berry smoothie or cereal or frozen waffles.  That’s it.  I topped out the most important meal of the day with just 4 options.

Reeling from the disdain of this sad fact of my life, Resolution #6 was born. It was egged on by my brother-in-law, Brian, a great cook from deep in the heart of Texas, who, when I excitedly told him about my resolution, seemed non-plus.

“I never make the same thing twice. Never.”

Moving up to a Barrow, a place where it’s mostly full-on winter or stages of winter year round, a place where there are no trees, a place where one’s life is lived almost fully inside because the polar bears don’t know how to open doors, I need more than a handful of go-to meals.  There are no coffee shops, there are a handful of very expensive restaurants, and there are no bars, theaters, or bowling alleys.  Sounds like that it’s not going to be much of a social life. If life at the top of the world is not going to offer me a ton of stimulation, then I need to make sure that our kitchen is a place of flash and pizazz and good eats. Cuz if it is, then people will show up, wanting to share a great meal, and voila, I’ve got my social life.  I’m going to rock that “build it and they will come,” Field of Dreams attitude, but with a culinary slant. R’s co-workers and friends are as of yet unaware of my dastardly plan.  So is R, I think.

Anyway, I’ve been working at this res since the start of the year, getting back into reading my food blogs that I used to voraciously read all the time, plus I’ve been very active collecting recipes on Pinterest as well as Punchfork.

I’ve made a lentil bean curried soup from scratch with no recipe – a mad disaster because while it tasted delicious, the color, which looked like bathroom grout, made me vomit in my mouth a little when I went to reheat it, so that got dumped.

I’ve tried recreating an uber-pricey but oh-so-delicious pistachio curried cocoa bee energy bar I discovered when the local company, Flatiron Foodies, out of Boulder was giving away samples at Whole Foods.  It’s so yummy that I’d buy and eat one daily if only I had a large treasure chest of gold bars under the bed.  My virgin attempt worked acceptably, as the ingredients are listed on the label, but I think it will take me a few more batches to get the proportions just right.

I tried a new beet/arugula/walnut/gorgonzola salad my brother makes, and I recreated a really yummy green salad with carmelized peaches that I had at California Pizza Kitchen for lunch in January.

I tried an awesome potato side dish a friend from grad school concocted and posted on her blog,  Tart Little Piggy.

So I’m on track and kicking this resolution’s butt. Last night, I made a recipe from Serious Eats (though I first found it on  Spicy Peanut Noodles.  Delish.

Yep. Food on my mixer. I would freak out if someone else did this.

I changed up a few things.  The recipe called for Chinese noodles, and I had linguine.  What the heck?  Why not?  It worked. I didn’t have basil or cilantro.  I subbed Veri Veri Teriyaki (my fave condiment on this blue marble) for the sugar/honey, garlic, and soy sauce.  I skipped the hot peppers entirely as I didn’t have any in the house.   Also, I had no clue what they meant by cutting the scallions on a severe bias.  I did my best to interpret that, but I’m not sure – and I can’t tell from their pic – if I did it right.  It tasted great, though, and I’ll make it again.  I’ve made a variation before, one that called for whole wheat pasta, no hot sauce, and grated ginger.  They were similar, but this one was spicier.  That one I topped with toasted sesame seeds instead of the crushed peanuts.  Both are great, but I like how this one has all the extra veggies.  Three cheers for fiber, right?

This is a dish I’ll be recreating in the tundra for sure.

My new 13-C Kitchen Aid food processor arrived this week, and I unpacked it today.  I’m dying to try it, but I need to drive to the valley tomorrow and get food.  There’s a vegan chili recipe in one of the Moosewood cookbooks that I adore – the base is bulgar, which gives the chili the same texture as ground beef for my omnivorous partner.  However, it takes HOURS to prepare due to all the chopping that needs to be done: carrots, bell peppers, onions, tomatoes, mushrooms, celery, garlic.  Ugh.  It takes forevah.  Now with my new Kitchen-Aid, it will go SO much more quickly.

Still to be bought for my Barrow kitchen:

1) KPEX attachment for my Kitchen Aid stand mixer.  I keep checking on the site, but they are out of them, currently.

2) A new rolling pin for all the gluten-free bread I’ll be making!  The one really awful thing about living in the Rockies is I never found any good adjustments for baking at altitude.  All the high altitude cookbooks are for people who live in Denver – the lowlands, imho.  They’re a meager mile high, and I’m at 9000 feet, so those recipes don’t work up ’round these here parts.  I’ll be glad to be at sea-level, and reconvene my Sunday baking ritual that I started in Fairbanks (sea level), continued in Portland, Maine, (sea level) and the Caribbean (definitely sea level), but have now abandoned here in the mountains.  I’d make the bread for the week.  It was a thing.  A day. A meditation.  An event.  I loved it.  Happiness is a house that smells like warm bread.

3) A dehydrator.  I’ll be signing up for Full Circle’s CSA out of Seattle. They deliver to Barrow – crazy, right?  Yes, crazy and wonderful.  However, in the event that I get too much of one thing, I need a ways to preserve stuff.

4) Canner.  Reason?  See #3.

5) Grain mill.  I’m not really sure if I need this, as my Omega juicer might handle the job, but I do need to investigate it a bit more.

Those are my current kitchen fantasies.  Budget is an issue, of course, as I also need a sewing machine as well as a road bike and trainer so I can train for IronMan Madison in fall of 2013.  And I need to somehow get me, 3 dogs, 1 cat, at least 1 of 2 cars, and all of our stuff from the top of the mountain to the top of the world.

Well, I’m not going to worry about all that today.  Let’s just be happy about the new food processor.