resolutions

review of a 2018 resolution-win or lose?

A year ago, in the early ambitious hours of January 2018, I challenged myself with a commitment to cook every recipe in Fine Cooking magazine. Twelve months later, let me update you on how that resolution turned out….well, it wasn’t a Super Bowl season but I definitely batted a better than .500 average. (mixed sports metaphors ‘cause that’s just me)

By the numbers, I feel like a failure. I completed only 124 new recipes out of 215. Remember that I was trying to complete EVERY recipe, which mean I was 91 short. The individual issue stats were as follows:

  • Dec 2017/Jan 2018: 81%

  • Feb/Mar 2018: 68%

  • Apr/May 2018: 65%

  • June/July 2018: 56%

  • Aug/Sept 2018: 51%

  • Oct/Nov 2018: 21% - ouch!

As with many resolutions, one’s adherence to a goal drops off over time. I grew tired of trying to incorporate new recipes with difficult-to-find ingredients into my weekly menus. Publishing and executing a new menu almost every week of the year is challenging enough without including recipes that I’ve never attempted. In summary, I DID NOT COMPLETE THIS GOAL.

But on the flip side, I

  • learned a fool-proof technique for making frites (french fries) on the stove without a deep-fryer, thermometer, or any other fancy double-fry method

  • incorporated Indian-inspired dishes onto the BG menu, having never dared before

  • tried (and failed miserably) making three different “inside-out” roasts where the stuffing was rolled on the outside of the beef, pork and lamb cuts—a costly experiment to be sure but fun, nonetheless

  • made Chashu Ramen from scratch and discovered the multiple days required with many different steps really wasn’t worth the end result (we’ll be eating ramen at a noodle house for the foreseeable future, thank you)

  • fell in love with homemade gnocchi

  • experimented with four new takes on pot pie, one of which has been permanently added to the BG rotation

  • ordered lobster from Maine to bring authentic lobster rolls to my menu

  • tested several cream pie recipes, much to the delight of my DH, whom I love to please with culinary treats

So was the resolution a bust? I don’t think so. The positives I gleaned from the process far outweigh the actual numbers. And who’s to say I cannot continue the endeavor? Why can’t I keep cooking my way through the magazines until I’ve made each and every recipe? I won’t put it at the top of my goals list for 2019 but it can still be a goal, right?

I’m including my favorite recipe from the year, Cold-fry Frites, in case you want to give it a whirl. Always be trying something new—it’s an opportunity for growth, change and fun!

Yield: 6-8

cold-fry frites

prep time: 20 minscook time: 30 minstotal time: 50 mins

Fries with a moist, creamy interior, an intense potato flavor, and a perfectly crisp, golden non oily exterior.

ingredients:

  • 3 lb. russet potatoes
  • 3 quarts sunflower, vegetable or canola oil
  • kosher salt
  • 3 quarts sunflower, vegetable or canola oil
  • kosher salt

instructions:

Rinse the potatoes, peel, and rinse again. Cut each potato lengthwise into disks about 3/8-inch-thick, then cut these disks lengthwise into sticks about 3/8-inch-thick. (Precision is not essential here: I love the tiny, crunchy, almost-burned bits that emerge from the fryer.)

Soak the potatoes in a bowl of cold water for about 5 minutes, changing the water when it becomes cloudy, until the water remains clear (at least three times). Drain the potatoes and put them in a single layer on a paper towel-lined baking sheet and pat dry with additional paper towels.

Transfer the potatoes to a 7 qt. Dutch oven and set it on the stove. Pour the oil over the potatoes. Do not cover the pot. Set the heat to high, and stirring the potatoes gently with a metal spoon to distribute and prevent sticking, bring the oil to a boil. (The oil should move from a peppy simmer to a boil in 7 to 9 minutes.) When the oil starts to boil, set a timer for 17 minutes. Stir the potatoes very gently every 3 to 4 minutes and lower the heat to medium, if necessary to keep the oil from boiling over the pot.

After 17 minutes, the potatoes should be slightly golden. Continue to cook for 4 minutes, stirring gently. Resist the urge to remove them from the oil too soon. When the fries are a deep golden brown, taste one to make sure they are crisp and firm on the outside with a creamy interior. Transfer the fries with the wire skimmer or slotted spoon to a paper towel–lined tray to drain. Season with salt and serve immediately.
Created using The Recipes Generator

In Pursuit of Patience

For the month of June, I’m finally getting around to calling out my problem with impatience. As evidenced by the pained look that appears on my face when I’m standing in the express line behind a woman writing a check. Even worse than the fact that I am utterly impatient is the fact that you can read it on my face. So I’m going to try to take calming breaths and assume a look of peace and tranquility.

But beyond my impatience with every day tasks, driving conditions and snail mail, I really need to learn to wait on life. On God to answer prayers. On solutions to dilemmas that will only be solved with time. I must acquire peace through stillness and inactivity. And. This. Is. So. Hard.

Sometimes we think we can make things happen quicker. That if we line up all the chickens, we will be flush in eggs. That if I pray the same prayer every morning, I must get the answer I am desiring. Unfortunately, we are NOT always in control and God may have a different plan. In June, I will try to let go of my expectations about timeframe, and even more difficult to do, let go of my demands for the outcome. I know I will find peace in this act of faith.

This doesn’t mean I will discontinue my prayers and hopes. As long as I’m not impatient and demanding and can remain peaceful. And that’s where I hope to be.

I hope that many of you are around this week to enjoy our fabulous menu. We will be cooking all of June and will be sporadic for most of July, then close completely for two weeks at the end of July and first part of August.

Blowing kisses in May

By golly, I’m going to get my act together. If my resolution in May doesn’t shape me up, it’ll kill me for sure. So, first my confession: I’m a bit of an aggressive driver. Impatient to a fault. Lead-foot. Not a tail-gater, but have been known to talk to the driver in front of me, gesturing with uplifted hands, smacking my head, hoping they are looking in their rear view mirror to register my annoyance, disgust or anger.

Well, this month my goal is to gesture in a completely different way when I’m cut off or delayed by the very cautious motorist in front of me. For May, I will try to blow a kiss to the subject of my irritation and utter this saying “I hope you arrive safely and on time to your destination.” I will attempt to murmur this blessing every time I feel the need to scream silently or when I feel my blood boil in righteous indignation.

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This may be my most difficult change to date. Please send help.

But seriously, if I can accomplish this goal, how much better will the roads be?! If we could all send out blessings instead of curses, the energy around us would completely change to a positive force of synchronized oneness from which all love would abound…yeah, right. Sorry, that’s just silly talk. Life is well, life. It’s messy and dirty and can be negative and ugly. For now, I’ll just be happy to change the 6’x6’ atmosphere inside my ride to a place of peace. Most of my commutes to the kitchen or the big box store are short and SURELY, I can blow kisses and whisper blessings for the 15 minutes I’m in the car each way.  I hope. I’ll try. Pray for me. :)

At the end of this week, we honor our mothers, whether honorary, adoptive, by birth, or by action. I am so blessed by my mom, Sadako, who brought me into the world and continues to be a Godly inspiration of sacrifice and service, and by Jeanette. my mother-in-law, a woman of limitless patience and discretion. I wish I could hug them both on Sunday and tell them in person what they mean to me, but a phone call will have to do. Be sure to tell your mother figures how important they are to you this week and as often as possible.

I have a special menu for those of you who want to make Mom’s day easy and tasty—you can find it here. If you are a mother on my list, know that I admire and respect you in your tireless devotion to your families.

Blessings and car kisses,

Ruth

April's Attitude of Gratitude

If you’ve been following along with the blog, you’ll know I’ve been working on monthly resolutions.

January – Ditch the Grudge

February – Pay it Forward

March – Plant Seeds of Optimism

This month’s theme was inspired by a talk from a young priest last month. He had spent his “spring break” on a mission trip to a third world country. He commented that as is so often on these outreach events, as the “missionary” you gain as much as, if not more than the people you intend to help. He described a young child who would hang around the job site as they built homes for these needy people and when he asked her to show him her toys she proudly brought out her prized doll. When he requested to see her other toys, she looked a little confused and replied, “This is my toy. Isn’t she pretty?” She was so happy with her one plaything, her one possession.

The young priest had an “a-ha” moment…a forehead-slapping humbling insight. We are all so caught up in our phones, iPads, laptops, and other things that we feel we cannot live without each day. We don’t feel grateful for the ease of our lives and the possessions that we take for granted. We forget that our children have never done without or had to worry about a safe roof over their heads or the accessibility of healthcare. Plentiful healthy meals, superior education and culture are a given in our neighborhoods. So his recommendation for the lenten season was to work to be grateful for what we already have rather than to sacrifice or “give up” a favorite food, beverage or activity.

During the month of April I am working to cultivate daily gratitude for my blessings, as well as my normal existence. I will try not to take for granted the things I have, the people in my life and least of all, this great state and country I call home. My goal is to see the beauty of my health, enjoy each new morning as it rises and sigh with a grateful heart at the end of each evening. Won’t you join me in my attitude of gratitude this month?

Other things to be thankful for:  sweet customers who make my work worthwhile, fresh produce in the markets to make delicious salads and soups, and ripe fruit for pie! Have a great week…be sure to check the order site for available items not listed on the posted menu. 

Raspberry Pie

Raspberry Pie

Planting Seeds in March

The Greenhouse of the Heart

If thoughts are seeds, what will you plant? As intelligent beings, we are most decidedly in control of the thoughts that cross our minds. Sure, a random thought can pop into the consciousness but where it goes from there…down a negative turn or an optimistic scenario is completely up to us. For example, my son was interviewing for a position in a new company and he had a very encouraging meeting. However, when he received the phone call informing him the company was choosing another candidate, he could have been filled with self doubt. Instead, he chose to be optimistic stating that the process had been a good learning experience. “Moving on!” he told us.

So let’s think of our hearts, which are swayed by our minds, as a greenhouse to be filled with lovely, growing things. And maybe one morning you spend a few moments recalling blessings and those thoughts produce roses. Whereas time spent dwelling on past disappointments create weeds that attack healthy plants.

For March, I’m going to work on filling my greenhouse with flowers, fruits and tender green grass. “Sow seeds of hope, enjoy optimism. Sow seeds of doubt and expect insecurity.” Max Lucado

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