The New Year. Such a glittery bundle of opportunity and expectation. And pressure. There’s also pressure. At least for me, and so to avoid it I have decided not to resolve to anything this year, but instead to simply create some simple goals that I can work toward achieving (I know that’s not all that different than resolutions, but it makes me feel better.) Below are the goals that I felt aligned with mission of this blog: self-reflection and betterment through lots of good food and reading. I, of course, have other goals, but some of them are too personal, or simply mundane (i.e. brush Ernie the cat more, poor bastard), to list here.
So. right. This isn’t directly related to the topics I address on this blog, but it is directly related to my sanity, and thus the continuation of this blog. Hiking is pretty much the only time I don’t feel at least marginally nuts, so I should probably commit to doing more of it. The shot up at the top there was during a recent hike in glorious central Pennsylvania.
Find a good butcher.
A good deal of the following goals rely in my completion of this, much more important, goal. I have always wanted that idealized (just me?) close relationship with a good butcher, and am committed to making this happen in early 2014. Any advice on who to try in the Boston-area is appreciated, as well as any helpful tips to ingratiate myself.
Read more contemporary fiction.
Golly. This is a toughie. My particular brand of neurosis often doesn’t allow for much contemporary fiction reading; I too quickly fall down the rabbit hole of the given author’s inspiration/allusions and end up with a backlist of reading I feel needs to be completed first so as to fully appreciate said author’s work. The result being I never actually get to the book in which I was originally interested. It’s a vicious cycle I’m aiming to break. Given that, contemporary fiction recommendations are very welcome.
Successfully create a classic duck confit (and thus a proper cassoulet).
See where the butcher comes in? I love duck confit. I love cassoulets (and French food in general). I also love tradition and craftsmanship and learning new things. So there’s something really intriguing to me about confits, which require specialty ingredients (at least for me, you may use 4 cups of clarified duck fat on the regular), patience and rather antiquated methods of cooking. I’m still narrowing down the perfect recipe: this video of a very young Emeril Lagasse looks pretty good, and Tom Kerridge’s recipe was recently recommended to me on Twitter (Are you following me on Twitter? Why not? I’m adorable). Still, I’m open to input.
Read The Magic Mountain.
Every year I like to give myself a big ‘ole book to tackle. I’m still working my way through all of Proust, and I’ve got my eye on Musil, but for 2014, I thought it was time to return to Mann. I’ve read and thoroughly enjoyed Death in Venice and Buddenbrooks, and believe it’s time to take on The Magic Mountain (possibly in order to continue avoiding eye contact with Ulysses). So… you know… look forward to some German (or possibly Swiss?) food in your future.
Master another cheese.
In 2013 I learned how to make ricotta (post on this to come soon) and life was never the same. It was instead filled with creamy, cheesy goodness, and was thus a much better life. In 2014 I intend to expand on this groundbreaking knowledge by learning how to make yet ANOTHER cheese (just imagine how good my life is going to be!) I haven’t yet decided what cheese to make, so any and all guidance would be much appreciated.
Make a delicious pâté.
Here comes our need for a butcher again. This goal is fairly similar to the duck confit one above. I like pâté a great deal, and I like that the method of creating a good pate has altered very slightly, if at all, for hundreds of years. I myself attempted a pâté in 2013, but went for something too simple, wussing out on the proper ingredients and method. The result was basically what I deserved. Well! No more cutting corners in 2014 (oh gad, is that a new goal?) From now on, only really authentic pâté’s will do!
So there you have it! My goals for 2014 are laid out before you, and throughout the year I’ll share my progress with you, my successes and failures, honesty being, of course, a goal for every year. Until then, let’s cast off some of that New Year pressure with some perspective via song: Why Try To Change Me Now.