15 Jan 2014

culinary resolutions for 2014


I am not one to reflect upon the year that was too deeply; by the time it comes to an end, I'm tired and glad to be rid of it and eager for a fresh start. Yet moving forward is never usually grandly planned out; a weekend to-do list of chores is about as proactive as I get.

However, last year I shared here some culinary resolutions, and it seems a good exercise to repeat. But first, let's review how I fared against 2013's wishes:
  • Yes I cooked eggplant, but was never really taken with it. I decided I liked zucchini better.
  • I cooked fish once - under dad's tutelage - and was so underwhelmed by my own efforts I decided to leave it to the expert. Dad.
  • The resolve to stop copying out recipes was weak; it was actually a massive fail. As was overcoming the fear of making caramel.
Not looking good so far, is it?

But I did make many more biscuits, especially in the last couple of months of the year. Prize for absolute favourite goes to the orange polenta biscuits; hard rounds of sunshine. The best.


In the garden, I did expand my vegie growing repertoire: I successfully grew PSB and loved it; a couple of weeks ago I harvested my garlic, and I can report that the grow bag was a great success for this; and I planted a passionfruit vine, which got hit hard by the late spring frosts and still seems to have no curly new tendrils on it ... but we'll see.

I didn't quite overcome my intense loathing of aphids, but I did resist (largely) drowning them in pyrethrum - and it turned out they disappeared of their own accord. I also noticed many more small birds around my garden - perhaps a coincidence, but an enchanting, melodic one.

So what should I do in 2014?
  • Stop using 'I work full time' and 'Hobart weather is dismal' as excuses for limited vegie gardening. Taking part in the Garden Share Collective has been thoroughly inspiring, and I've already drawn up a wish list of vegies to try this year.
  • Work my away thru my cupcake paper collection.
  • Make more pizza!
  • Make a chocolate caramel slice. Or maybe just the caramel and chocolate bits.
  • Make old fashioned baked custard. Mum makes a silky, creamy, oh-my-wow one ... in the microwave. Every time I have a spoonful I swoon and resolve to make it myself. This year I will! 
  • Eat more potato. I tend to favour pasta, quinoa, brown rice and chickpeas for the carby part of my meals. I have delicious roasties at my parents' place, bring back a bag of spuds, only to forget them and open the bag months later to a tangle of potato-octopus with long pale tendrils. So let's make rich dauphinoise, parmesanny baked spuds and garlicky mash!
  • Learn to make my own asian-style sauce for stir fries. Mostly I eat Italian flavours, but occasionally I crave ginger, garlic and soy, so buy one of those simmer sauce pouches. The last one was delicious, but I thought, surely I can make my own. Especially when I looked at the packet and read it was made in ... Poland.
Which leads me to probably my most serious goal, not just to try once or twice, but to create a proper, permanent change in my kitchen:
  •  Buy local. If not Tasmanian, then Australian. And not just fresh fruit and veg, but pantry goods like olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and tinned stuff I eat regularly. The last bag of rice I finished was from Thailand. A box of sultanas I almost bought was from Turkey. It's truly shocking that Australian dried apricots are ridiculously more expensive than imported ones and that I cannot find Australian dried apple at my local health food shop - and I live in a state that produces apricots and apples commercially. Sometimes there may be no quality local option; not only the dried apple, for example, but the plump super-sized capers I adore are from Spain (I guess the Spanish economy needs help too). And I find it impossible to give up the colourful 2.5 kilo tins of unbelievably rich Italian tomatoes; pasta sauce has never been the same since discovering those. But I shall be looking harder at labels this year, and trying to support our own farmers, growers and businesses.
So what about you? I would love to hear what you want to grow or cook or eat this year.

20 comments:

  1. Now these are resolutions I can relate to - make more pizza is so much more appealing than go to the gym more often!

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    1. oh gosh GD, 'going to the gym' never ever enters my consciousness, at any time of the year!!

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  2. Wow - please post the microwave custard recipe if you do it. That sounds awesome.
    Its sad that we produce so much, and yet buying Australian if not local is so difficult. It takes a concious effort NOT to buy overseas products, and as you say is more costly to buy closer to home. I think its worth it, though.
    My plan for this year is to expand my home cooking repertoir, as I find I cook the same meals all the time and need a little more food related excitement in my life. So I'm doing a 'Recipe Repertoir' weekly post and will be cooking a new recipe from my cookbook collection.

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    1. maybe i'll nudge the custard recipe closer to the top of the list. i'm heading down to my parents' this weekend so will sort it out then, bek.
      and yes, you really do need to be conscious about your purchasing to get australian stuff. it's nto yet a real habit with me - sometimes i do it once i get home... it's a start though.
      and i think we all resolve to work our way thru our recipe collections!

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  3. Agree with the buy local mantra. I don't want fruit that requires a passport particularly when it's falling from our backyard trees...American lemons, seriously?

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    1. hi louise, and welcome to Dig In. the US lemons infuriate me too!!! as you say, when they are in season here and if you're lucky enough to have backyard tree. it makes me wonder how it all got to this.
      now i sound like a grumpy old woman :-)

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  4. What a great idea e, culinary resolutions! I don't really love eggplant either, funny stuff isn't it? Local is always best, not necessarily always the easiest option though is it? Chocolate and caramel slice and more pizza, I agree with that too! Happy blogging for 2014 x

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    1. choc caramel slice and pizza - it sounds like i want to be incredibly unhealthy this year! thank you jane - and you too :-)

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  5. I thought I was setting my self a high standard to bake bread this year, your culinary resolutions are incredible. Mind you, I am not sure I can pass up proper italian tinned tomatoes - Mind you we don't buy them very often as we grow our own toms. Will look forward to seeing what aussie products you find over the year, might get to see a few new brands from Tassie.

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    1. ah lizzie, in a couple of months we will hopefully have a glut of homegrown toms, but the season is woefully short and unpredictable here in tas.
      and as someone who has a difficult relationship with yeast, i think your wish to bake your own bread is something way beyond my own pedestrian dreams!

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  6. Some great culinary resolutions here … one thing i should not do is eat more potato (would eat it morning, noon and night, if i had a choice!) and you've just reminded me of my mam's caramel slice. She used to make trays of it when i was a kid - great, big trays - and i never particularly liked it. By the time i got a taste for it, i was moving out of home! Must try to get the recipe, from her. Will share it with you, if i do x

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    1. thanks FS! i love the idea of 'great big trays' of choc caramel slice. a heavenly image, all that gooey rich middle caramel :-)

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  7. I agree wholeheartedly with the buy Austraian as much as possible bit. But you're right, you need to check everything, and it is definetly more expensive. Especially if you're also looking for organic items as much as you can. It's just ridiculous. Products from your own country should be subsidised to be able to be competitive. Or something!!! Happy New Year to you too and look forward to following you this year! xx

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    1. thank you carla - you too! yes, trying to work out the economics of *why* imports are cheaper or more available than our own produce is crazy. i'm sure it has to do with the fact we pay our workers decent wages and working conditions, and i would not deny that to anyone. but it still doesn't make sense.

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  8. Welcome back E...I've missed your blog.

    I like the thought of a new year - new start, as we tend to
    re-evaluate our lives and personal journeys.

    Last year was a shocker for me so I have decided to wipe the slate clean and start again. I am starting to believe that happiness is a mindset and I am quite surprised by the difference.

    My new years resolution is to Listen to my heart, grab opportunities with open arms and most definitely not give into fear - a biggie for me.

    So pizza, caramel and baked custard. I am purring on the inside.

    My wish list is to learn to cook meals in mini cocottes. They look so pretty on a plate. Recently, I had the best little fish pot pie in bechamel sauce with mashed potato on top. OMG! Perhaps your dad could give us some tips too.

    I like that you refuse to make any excuses as I also believe that we must do the best with what we have and that anything is possible.

    Buying local is also wonderful. I always try to support small local businesses as I fear that one day they will be a thing of the past. We must support them now.

    Here is to a wonderful and very happy new year. xx





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    1. hi sb, thankyou for your kind words! it's nice to be missed :-)
      oooh,your mini cocottes sound pretty. i can imagin your fish pie - with a fresh leafy green salad on the side? and the plus is that they are perfect portion control - or rather, an instant, ready aportioned serving !
      and i agree withyour logical stpe on supporting small businesses too. i always feel rather guilty when i make an online purchase that i'm not supporting a small local business.
      happy 2014 to you too SB :-)

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  9. I have custard in my list as well. I don't make it at home often, but love it! Culinary resolutions are much better than say, loosing weight ones...lol!

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    1. oh yes, paula, makign resolutions about caramel and custard are much lovelier!! well said!

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  10. Wonderful resolutions for the year. I love to buy local. It can take some time and research to actually find but it is worth the effort. those orange polenta biscuits sound amazing. Have a fabulous year. I look forward to following your garden progress as the year rolls on :-)

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  11. thank you kyrstie! do try the orange biscuits! i made them again over the holidays and didn't bake them quite as long - so they weren't quite as hard - but still very morish.
    it's great to hear others are trying to buy local too. we can all go mad together as we find polish-made asian sauces!

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I've had to turn word-verification back on - the robot-spammers are loving my orange pudding too much at the moment! I hope you understand - and I hope you'll still leave a comment at Dig In. I love hearing your thoughts, knowing someone is reading, and will always reply. Unless you're a robot-spammer.