Ok, it’s one week into the new year, and I’ve finally decided on a few key resolutions:
1) Bake more. All the junk, sugar, corn syrup, indigestible wood pulp (added fiber! yuck) in store-bought breads, rolls, crackers etc – even in so-called whole wheat or whole grain varieties – seriously bums me out. I LOVE bread, and I require that it be awesome when I eat it. Otherwise, I’d just as soon skip it. I usually buy reasonably healthful whole grain or sprouted wheat bread for sandwiches and toast, but there are still often added sugars and more preservatives than I want. And now that ChefBaby has become ChefKid and is in school, I’m in need of wholesome snacks and lunch items more often. So, I’m breaking out the bread machine to do a lot of the mixing and kneading work, and will shoot for weekly baking sessions (with a bi-monthly fallback position that I will still consider a success). Muffins, rolls, bread, occasional cookies or snack cake – I’m looking forward to experimenting, especially with alternative grains, flours, seeds and nuts. And ChefKid likes helping, so there’s an activity AND a snack, all in one. I don’t think it’ll be a big time investment, and I’ll be happier knowing the bread I eat will be something I want to put in my body.
2) Pickle more. That’s the verb “pickle”, as in “to preserve in vinegar, brine, or a similar solution,” and arrive at a salty, vinegary, deliciously pickly little snack. Beans, cucumbers, peppers, beets, cabbage, maybe even eggs – having a little crunch to have next to a sandwich or with cheese for a snack will be a great way to use up extra veggies, as well as avoid excessively reaching for crackers or chips. Some resources that will help me: The Complete Book of Small-Batch Preserving and The Joy of Pickling. And my MIL gave me a great tip: save pickle jars and juice when store-bought pickles are gone, and just pop in a handful of whatever you have. (I’ve done this with radishes, baby Harukei turnips, green beans, and cucumbers, all with good results.) Wait a few days, and voila – instant no-effort pickles 🙂
3) Keep better track of what’s in my freezer. I know, this sounds totally boring, and probably is. BUT, since I am pretty good about stocking the freezer (anything from farm-raised meats from my CSA to extra servings of any home-prepared meal) then MUCH less good about remembering what’s in there, keeping track should help reduce waste and make mealtimes easier – and that will make me happy. Very exciting, no? Even in this time of limitless techno-gadgetry, I’m going with the tried-and-true method of a clipboard near the fridge. Whenever I vacuum-seal or wrap something for the freezer, I write it on the clipboard with the date. When it’s time to plan dinner, a quick scan of the clipboard lets me know what I have on hand. Case in point: last night, some brown rice/lentil mix I froze last month was added to two chopped chorizo sausages from the farm, and used to stuff two bell peppers that were just hanging out in the fridge. I also plan to inventory the current contents “soon”, so I’ll have a complete list. Woohoo! 2013 is going to ROCK!
Happy new year everyone 🙂