Friday, December 30, 2011

New Resolutions, New Recipes

One year ago, I was formulating a project in which I would broaden my palate and challenge myself to cook and eat new foods. I had recently read Jeffrey Steingarten's The Man Who Ate Everything and thought his quest to become a less picky eater was not only admirable, but something I'd had a long time coming. I borrowed a phrase from him for a title and created a blog. Thus, "A Perfect Omnivore" was born.

As you might have noticed (or not, if you're new here), I missed very few days for the first four months of this project--only one to my recollection but I haven't gone back and checked--and only a few more in the second four months, though my "new foods" were at times a bit uncreative. When the third four months came, I fell off the blogosphere.

You see, cooking something new every day is hard. You knew that. But it's not just difficult to commit to culinary feats each night of the week; it's expensive, wasteful, fattening, time consuming, and just not very plausible. Even Julie Powell, whose book (and the movie based on it) were, admittedly, inspirations behind my food blogging (and probably 1,742 others out there, to make a conservative guess) did not cook French food every night in her quest to cook her way through Mastering the Art of French Cooking in a year. She had Eric's Spicy Thursdays, when he would make things involving jalapenos and hot sauce to cleanse all that rich creamery butter off her palate. She would get into funks and miss days because she felt like it. But I thought, Hey--she's working a 9-to-5 job in New York, with a long commute, and has way less time to commit to food than I do, so of course I can do it every day. She also had less of a fear of getting fat than I do (she gained, naturally, 20 pounds over the course of the project; I refuse to do the same). And, while I don't have a day job, I do write, and do various editing projects, and I'm learning to play the guitar and crochet and in a few days I start rehearsals on a play--et cetera.

Excuses, excuses, right?

But, I must admit, I have missed food blogging. I have missed having a "good excuse" to be obsessed with food, even if it was unhealthy for me. So I've come up with a new project for myself, which is not nearly so intense, but might result in better blog posts for you to read (I hope) and less mania on my end. I do want to keep cooking new foods and using the many (many many) cookbooks I have sitting on my shelves. I also want to use the culinary knowledge I've accrued over the years to create new recipes, if I can.

So I plan to post at least once a week, chronicling my more leisurely culinary experiments, and one of a more intense variety: About once a month, I plan to give myself a Chopped Challenge based on interesting foods in the grocery store and/or foods that have been lounging around in my fridge/cupboards. I will give myself three "mystery ingredients" and challenge myself to create a recipe from them--not in a twenty-minute time frame like on the show, but with a fair amount of planning and forethought, so it's not just a waste of food.