Tuesday, January 08, 2008

HAPPY NEW COOKING YEAR!


Just one of the many trays of homemade Christmas cookies I was fortunate enough to encounter during the holidays.

I hope you all had a lovely holiday. I enjoyed my visit to Minnesota, where I dined happily upon my parents' incomparable homemade pizza, plus lefse, about a million cookies, Davanni's deep-dish pizza with mushrooms and pink sauce (an off-menu treat consisting of the usual red sauce mixed with the garlicky sauce used on their white pizzas), sushi at Saji-Ya, salad at Cafe Latte, kothe (pan-fried pork momos) at Everest on Grand, Honeycrisp apples (which don't seem to have made it to California), and many perfect mugs of Tea Source tea. I did a lot of cooking before the holidays (cookies, jam, etc.) that never got written down here, but I hope to do a better job at documenting things in the new year. In the meantime, let's take a look back at 2007....

BOOKCOOK’S FIVE BEST RECIPES OF 2007:
  1. Mac and cheese
  2. Roasted kale
  3. Pizza sausage
  4. Shrimp boil
  5. No-knead bread

BOOKCOOK’S FIVE FAVORITE FOOD/COOKING-RELATED THINGS OF 2007:
  1. My KitchenAid stand mixer
  2. My immersion blender
  3. Experimenting with new produce (including chard, kale, cabbage, tatsoi, broccoli rabe, arugula, parsnips, beets, and delicata and kabocha and red kuri squash) thanks to my CSA
  4. Photographing my food
  5. A wealth of new favorite food sites (see sidebar)

BOOKCOOK’S FIVE FAVORITE FOOD BOOKS READ IN 2007:
  1. The Kitchen Diaries, by Nigel Slater
  2. The United States of Arugula: How We Became a Gourmet Nation, by David Kamp
  3. The Amateur Gourmet: How to Shop, Chop, and Table-Hop Like a Pro, by Adam D. Roberts
  4. Alone in the Kitchen With an Eggplant: Confessions of Cooking for One and Dining Alone, edited by Jenni Ferrari-Adler
  5. Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life, by Barbara Kingsolver with Steven L. Hopp and Camille Kingsolver

LOOKING AHEAD TO 2008:
I received a passel of food-related Christmas gifts I’m really excited about. My new tea kettle and single-cup loose-tea infuser from my parents, plus the scads of Tea Source tea I picked up during my visit to Minnesota (Moon Over Madagascar, which is richly vanilla-flavored, and Winter Spice, which is…well, what it sounds like, are my current faves) ensure that I’ll be happily sipping tea all year long. A’s dad gave me a brand-new block of nice sharp knives that’ll make chopping and mincing a joy. A’s aunt gave me a silicone baking mat for rolling out dough, so I won’t have to slip and slide all over the counter on the cutting board anymore (I have a tiled counter, which is too uneven to roll out dough directly on it). A’s mom supplied a nifty sliding-top measuring spoon that allows me to measure odd quantities, like 1¼ teaspoons, all in one shot. I received a renewal of my Cooking Light subscription, plus the St. Paul Farmers’ Market Cookbook and several others, ensuring me a good supply of new recipes to try. I won a waffle iron, of all things, at my office holiday party, and I fired it up last weekend—chose a sugarless, “light and crispy” waffle recipes from the booklet that came with the waffle iron, and experienced the joyous one-two punch of employing my KitchenAid to beat egg whites until stiff while I mixed up the rest of the batter, then I folded the two together and the waffle iron worked its magic. I spread the waffles with the apple butter I made (and canned all by myself) for Christmas (recipe to be posted eventually), and it was heaven. I also received some food items: dark Mexican honey from one aunt and uncle, Harry and David pepper and onion relish from another, and French gray sea salt and Spanish smoked paprika that mom let me pick out during a visit to Penzeys in St. Paul (great store, but sadly, only one location in the entire great state of California). If you haven’t tried smoked paprika yet, it smells like really great barbecued potato chips and tastes even better. I tried some on a roast chicken last weekend (recipe forthcoming) and had to refrain from licking the chicken skin afterward.

I’m not going to make strict resolutions for the new year, but here are some general food-related wishes and hopes for 2008:

About Bookcook:

  1. I’d like to remember to post more often, with more photos.
  2. I want to recategorize the recipes on this site (this is already in progress, as you can see from the shambles of the sidebar) and make sure they’re all up to date and error-free.
  3. I’d like to see some comments from my readers, ahem ahem! Have you tried a recipe and loved or hated it? Do you have questions? Recipes to recommend? Just want to say hi? Let me know you’re out there every once in a while, hmm?
About cooking:
  1. I have yet to try the dough hook on the KitchenAid. More bread-baking, please!
  2. Possible tools to try/acquire: KitchenAid pasta-making attachment (I’m dying to make ravioli), kitchen scale (I like the cute Escali Primo, which has a small footprint and comes in a rainbow of colors), enameled cast-iron Dutch oven, new dishes (I’m coveting my friends’ Fiestaware collections), a food processor, a mandoline and a mortar and pestle (P just acquired both of these and I’m keeping an eye on her to see how she likes them).
  3. Just keep on trying new recipes and new ingredients (things I’d like to try making include pies and tarts, gnocchi, flour tortillas, pickles, more jams, and more muffins and cakes and bread and cookies).
About shopping and eating in general:
  1. Try more new restaurants. I'm definitely in a rut there.
  2. Recycle more of my trash, always use reusable bags when shopping (I’ve gotten into the habit of bringing them to the farmers’ market and my weekly grocery shopping, but I often forget on shorter or more spontaneous errands), and waste less food.
  3. Keep on striving to eat homemade, fresh, healthy, local, and organic as much as possible.

2 comments:

nathaniel said...

Keep up the great work, I highly enjoy reading someone with similar culinary interests.

-Nathaniel

J said...

Thanks! It's nice to hear from you.

--Bookcook