{the new year} condiments & small dinner parties

Editor’s Introductory Note: With this post we are officially back from our blogcation. Its good to be back. For the next two weeks, each one of us will share some food, garden or homesteading projects we want to undertake in 2012; whether it be growing a brand new crop, reading a few food policy related books, starting a community garden plot, tackling food products like beer or cheese-making, growing their food business, raising chickens or bees, or like Christine, hosting more small dinner parties. We are putting these lists, reflections and helpful links out onto the interwebs to keep ourselves accountable and hopefully, to inspire your food-related antics in 2012. I do hope you enjoy these more personal, and less instructive blog posts and that at least one contributor’s 2012 wish list resonates with you to do small things to bring you & your family closer to food, nature and your community. Happy New Year! -Christina

2011 was a big food year for me. I dabbled in cheesemaking, small-batch canning and pickling. I started food-swapping. I tried out a lot of new recipes thanks to the incredible inspiration collected here on From Scratch Club. Although it’s always been a priority for me, 2011 was the year I really launched myself full-force into investigatingwhere our food comes from, how it’s grown or produced and how best to cook it to maximize both flavor and nutrition. It was a good year, full of food discoveries and experiments. For 2012, I made a list of some food-related goals and projects I’ve got on my radar.

Getting creative with lunches. Our lunches are usually leftovers, which can be delicious and convenient, but sometimes that means I end up eating the same thing for 3 or 4 meals in a week. Boring. I’d love to brainstorm more lunch ideas that I can prepare ahead of time, pack up and bring to work. Bonus points if they don’t need to be reheated to be enjoyed, since my partner-in-crime often chows down his lunch on the go. I’m thinking about new Buddha Bowl recipes, better veggie wraps, more interesting sandwich combos and Bento-box style lunches. This is also a good excuse to finally buy one of those handy tiered tiffin lunch boxes.

Cutting back on dairy. I don’t feel great when I eat a lot of dairy, so I’m going to reduce my consumption a bit. (I know, right after I discovered cheesemaking! Bad timing!) A year or two ago this would have seemed too intimidating, but with so many awesome dairy-free dishes shared here and elsewhere, I’m not too worried. I hope to create a new pattern of cooking that doesn’t involve me covering every dish with a thick layer of three different cheeses. It will force me to be a bit more creative and to learn more about cooking, just like drastically reducing my meat consumption did last year. Even if I felt really awesome after eating dairy, it’s still nice to switch things up and look for non-traditional ingredients for your cooking.

Making more condiments. I had never made mustard before finally trying out the addictive Brown Sugar & Cranberry Mustard recipe in the From Scratch Holidays e-book. Now I’m hooked. I want to make homemade ketchup, barbeque sauce, chutneys, jams, hot sauce, vinegars, salad dressings, etc. 2012 will be the year of homemade condiments, I promise it.

Hosting small dinner parties. I’d like to get in the habit of regularly inviting just a few people over for dinner. Not a big, blow-out feast, but a chance to prepare a meal for only a few friends at once, with enough time and space to enjoy pre-dinner cocktails, linger over dinner and savor a tray of desserts. With a tiny guest list, the pressures of hosting ease up enough so you can focus on serving delicious, healthy and simple meals to friends and family. Open a bottle of wine, kick off your shoes and let dinner stretch for hours. Any takers?

Those are some of mine food resolutions for this year. I would love to hear about yours!

6 Comments Add yours

  1. What a wonderful list of projects for the new year… can’t wait to see what you’re up to! I agree, re the lunches… mine are always such a bore! In fact, that’s often the meal I skip and end up snacking all day!

    1. Christine says:

      Thanks! I’ve been known to throw just a hardboiled egg in my purse for lunch… that’s not only boring, but it’s smelly too. Here’s to a better year of lunches!

  2. Great post! I love the idea of a simple dinner party. I feel like I always put this “on the list” but it doesn’t really happen for me (although, on occasion, I’ll see my neighbors outside when I’m flipping pancakes or making waffles on a weekend morning. I’ll yell out the door for them to come over. Sometimes it’s just for coffee, sometime they sit down for breakfast. Either way, it’s great). I’m going to make entertaining more of a priority this year. I also have an awesome ketchup recipe if you’d like one to try out! Good luck with all your adventures this year!

    1. Christine says:

      Yup! Low-key, simple entertaining is always on my goal list, maybe this is the year I make it happen more!

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