New Year’s Food Thread

By Amanda Marcotte
Saturday, January 1, 2011 17:38 EDT
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Happy New Year! One thing I don’t particularly love about holidays is that I get kind of bored, with everything being closed and there being practically an obligation not to work. So, I’m spending some time, before we go to brunch, doing some cooking. Which, in turn, made me think it was a good time to start another food thread, since the CSA threads are now over.

New Year’s is a time for resolutions, of course, and a lot of them have to do with exercise, weight, and nutrition. I’m usually opposed to New Year’s resolutions, since most people don’t keep them. Resolutions are easier to stick to if you make them in response to individual realities about your life, not just a date on a calendar. But this is actually a good time for me to make some cooking and eating resolutions, outside of the new year. So, if I share mine here, will you share your cooking/eating plans and tips for the new year?

1) Concentrating on getting more whole grains in the diet.
This is for two reasons. One is that the lack of variety in seasonal vegetables available means that I can and should shift my focus from vegetables to grains, in terms of experimenting and learning new things. I want to learn to do more with quinoa, barley, and baking with whole wheat flour. I’m also interested in learning to cook with tempeh, so if you have suggestions, I’m all ears. The other reason I’m inspired to move this way is I read the quick and breezy Mark Bittman book Food Matters: A Guide to Conscious Eating with More Than 75 Recipes. If you’re looking to find ways to eat more sustainably and healthily, I cannot recommend this book enough. It’s built around the same concepts that Michael Pollan pushes in books like Food Rules: An Eater’s Manual, but Bittman gives you a much better sense of how to put his rules into action. A lot of people are intimidated by things like “vegan until 6″, but if you read this book, you’ll find that Bittman is big on everyone finding a style that works for them, but still achieves the goals of minimizing meat consumption and eating better in general. One thing I learned from this book is that refined grains aren’t really a whole lot better for you than refined sugar. So my goal for the new year is to phase out as many refined grains as I can from my diet, and start moving more towards whole grains.

2) Using my new food processors! My old food processor was a cheap piece of shit that finally died, after ten years or so, when I was using it to make some bread a few weeks ago. My mother gave me a fancy new one for Christmas that has a dough blade and disks for mandolin slicing and grating. So, that’s very exciting. My sister supplemented this gift with a mini-processor, which is actually a brilliant idea. That’s the one you haul out when you only have small stuff to chop. It means less dishes for you. I’ve currently got it in action chopping up a chocolate bar to make chocolate chips for chocolate chip cookies. I’m looking forward to a future of gratins, breads, and various other well-chopped dishes with my fancy new set-up.

3) Immersion blender. I just made my first soup with this immersion blender Marc’s mom bought me for Christmas. It was awesome—turned that mix of broccoli, veggie broth, and onions into pureed soup in like 60 seconds. No more cooling it off and hauling out the food processor and doing it bit by bit so as not to splash for me. Like Shani said, it’s a game changer. Now I’m stalking around the kitchen, blender in hand, looking for stuff to blend. Luckily, I found this blog post with a list of ideas for using the thing.

So, what about you? Food resolutions? Any resolutions? Suggestions for making cooking more fun/easier/healthier in 2011?

Amanda Marcotte
Amanda Marcotte
Amanda Marcotte is a freelance journalist born and bred in Texas, but now living in the writer reserve of Brooklyn. She focuses on feminism, national politics, and pop culture, with the order shifting depending on her mood and the state of the nation.
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