It almost goes without saying that most of us begin a new year with the resolve to lose weight and/or eat better. And we share this sentiment, too. But what about taking time to actually think about and enjoy our food? What does that even mean?
Over the past week, Tony, Gio and I have been talking about what we’d like to explore in the world of food for the new year, and we came up with a list of our top 15 food resolutions for 2015. Some are personal cooking goals, but most of them are just fun ways to expand our culinary horizons.
1. Try a new cheese each month
We could have stuck with our original idea of trying a new cheese every week, but what would happen if we missed a week? Our intention is to make these resolutions as reasonable, and achievable, as possible and we think we can manage at least one new cheese every month in 2015.
Fortunately, the new and improved Luna neighborhood café on south University Drive in Fargo has a fabulous cheese counter, and Peter Kelly, formerly of The Green Market, is the man behind it. Ryan Nitschke, the executive chef of the soon-to-be full-service restaurant also knows his way around the cheese counter, and we can’t wait to taste their recommendations for 2015. The fact that Luna is located just one block from our house makes this resolution almost too easy to achieve.
2. Eat together as a family more often
When I was growing up, my family had dinner together every single night and as I’ve grown older I’ve come to cherish that experience. But with our restaurant schedule, dining together just isn’t a regular possibility for our family and it’s easy to skimp out on preparing a proper home-cooked meal on our days off.
But our 10-year-old son, Gio, loves it when we sit down to enjoy a meal together at home, and we always feel closer as a family when we do. Once a week is a must for this one.
3. Use the good stuff
We have beautiful china that we rarely use, and our goal is to bring it out not just for special occasions, but anytime we dine together as a family. Even if we’re just serving pizza.
4. Try different oils
Extra virgin olive oil and canola oil are the staples in our house, but the world of oil is vast and we’d like to know it better. Tochi Products in north Fargo has a terrific assortment of oils to try, including grape seed, almond, sunflower, sesame and even white truffle oil.
5. Sharpen knives regularlyYou would think that professionals in the food industry would have the sharpest knives on the block, but the knives in our drawer at home could not be duller. Creative Kitchenat West Acres offers knife sharpening services for a nominal fee, and even hosts free events several times throughout the year. This is the year we’re going to get our knives sharpened, at least once.
6. Add more fish to our diet
Fish is so good for us, but is often left out of our regular diets – even though we’ve featured some great fish and seafood recipes here on the blog, including Poached Salmon in Leek Cream Sauce, Shrimp alla Carbonara, Parmesan & Pepper Walleye, Fish Cakes, Seafood Linguini and the famous Sarello’s Red Curry Scallops.
We need to take advantage of all the healthy benefits fish bring to our diets, and thankfully our local supermarkets and restaurants have an abundance of great seafood options to keep this challenge interesting and delicious.
7. Try new foods
This could be as simple as sweet pickles or those cute little red peppadew peppers in the olive bar, as interesting as using exotic spices like saffron or turmeric, or as complex as mastering boeuf bourgignon or foie gras, but the goal is to have fun tasting and making new foods.
8. Seek out new food experiences
In 2014 we were blessed to participate in several new food adventures, including our “Italy on the Prairie” dinner last summer at the Coteau des Prairies Lodge in southern North Dakota, the inaugural “Banquet in a Field” farm-to-table event in rural Cass County (ND), and
Tony even traveled to Santa Rosa, CA to enjoy a lark as a contestant on Food Network’s hit show, Guy’s Grocery Games!
These were amazingly fun events and we enthusiastically say “More, please!” For a simpler quest, you could step outside your comfort zone and try a new restaurant, take a cooking class, check out a health food store, visit a bakery, order something different at your favorite restaurant, or visit a town for its famed local specialty.
9. Master Biscuits and GravyJust because we love this classic southern specialty. I’ve made southern biscuits before, but am now in search of the perfect sausage gravy.
10. Bake once a week
Baking is like therapy for me, and I’m seeking some peace and calm in 2015. Baking once a week may be just what I need. I have some staples that I turn to when I just need to bake, like buttermilk brownies, angel food cake, Clipper Chippers (aka, the world’s best chocolate chip cookie) and almond friands, but I’m hoping to add some new items to my repertoire in 2015 and look forward to this challenge.
11. Make time to eat with friends
Food is a wonderful way to connect with others, but we rarely entertain in our home and often turn down dinner invitations, using our busy schedule as an excuse. It’s time for us to make more time to enjoy breaking bread with others.
12. Master a Roast ChickenGio was looking through a recent issue of Saveur magazine earlier this month and was practically salivating as he showed me a picture of a gorgeous roast chicken. This comfort food definitely needs to be added to our repertoire.
13. Use location for inspiration
Last summer we were challenged to create almost a dozen different appetizers, each one inspired by a North Dakota crop, for the inaugural Banquet in a Field event. We are grateful to live in an area that is abundant with agriculture, which should give us plenty of inspiration for 2015.
14. Drink better coffee
15. Use our cookbooks
We have a huge collection of cookbooks but tend to gravitate toward just a few favorites. We’re going to prepare a new recipe each month in 2015, using a different, and previously unused, cookbook each time.