I have to admit, I am a sucker for the whole new year, new me malarky. I paid over the odds for a new diary from Paperchase the other day and fantasied about all the new goals I could fill it with. Statistics say that more than 50% of people will break their resolutions at some point during the year, the majority before January has even ended. That’s why I set resolutions that will enrich my life, that I’ll want to keep.
Last year I pledged to cook a recipe I’d never made before each week. I embraced sitting down with a cup of tea in the evening flicking through my cookbook collection and deciding what to make each week. I’d pick up recipe cards and free magazines from supermarkets, I can highly recommend the Waitrose Food magazine, bursting with seasonal recipes and it’s free to myWaitrose card holders (it’s free to sign up!).
I started buying more cookbooks, often joking that I had an addiction, but I can definitely think of worse things to be addicted to. Some of my favourites from last year include:
The Little Sweedish Kitchen – Rachel Khoo
A Table in Venice – Skye McAlpine
Simple – Ottolenghi
Together – HRH The Duchess of Sussex
The Borough Market Cookbook – Ed Smith
Eat Happy – Melissa Hemsley
Jamie Cooks Italy – Jamie Oliver
Mowgli Street Food – Nisha Katona
For those of you thinking this sounds like a lot of hard work, yes, sometimes it was but I enjoyed it. Not every meal was fancy or took ages to prepare, in fact, one of the new recipes I made —chilli eggs with hoisin sauce, is so delicious and quick to make, it regularly makes an appearance at our table. I faced my fears and started baking and even offered to make desserts (I am a cook at heart). I did have disasters – a creme brulee cheesecake which didn’t set and slid out of the tin (the mushy mess still tasted good though) And I found my perfect dinner party dish — flaked cod with rose harissa and chickpeas, thank you Ottolenghi.
So what are my foodie resolutions or life enrichments for this year? Well I have a few. Although I may not be taking part in this years “Veganary” which challenges people to try a plant-based diet for the month of January, I will be making a conscious effort to reduce the amount of meat I consume, I enjoy eating meat but am aware of the strain it can place on our planet and that’s why I think campaigns such as #MeatFreeMondays are great for introducing a veggie day into your week, just search the hashtag and you’ll find loads of yummy inspiration.
I want to continue my support for local and independent businesses more, last year I saw an image stating “When you buy from a small business an actual person does a happy dance.” I thought this was lovely and it has stuck in my mind ever since. I always try to choose new independent restaurants and coffee shops, however, when it comes to buying my weekly food shop it is far easier and cheaper to go to my local supermarket. Although I’d love to shop at the local veg shop, butchers and fishmongers, right now it’s not really financially viable for me, but every now and again I will make an effort to pay them a visit. Last year I discovered our fishmonger sells clams, something that the supermarkets rarely have or if they do they come frozen, are small and tasteless, so last summer we enjoyed plates of delicious spaghetti vongole, saved us a trip to Italy.
This year I have set myself the challenge to learn more about different cuisines, I have proposed to my sisters that we will take it in turns to cook a meal from a country of our choice, I’ve totally stolen this idea from my Aunty Gail but I thought it was such a fabulous idea! My only rule being that it must be a cuisine you’re not familiar with, so at some point in the near future Steve and I will be cooking up an Antiguan feast, washed down with plenty of rum!
Whether you make new year resolutions or not we wish you a very happy and scrumptious 2019!