11 Food-Related Goals for 2011

by Sarah Henry on January 5, 2011 · 46 comments

in food book giveaways,food flotsam & jetsam

Sick of all these list posts yet?

Sorry, folks, last one for a while — promise — it’s just that all this goal setting for the year ahead and looking back on the year that’s gone appeals to my OCD-like tendencies.

Who among you, I ask, didn’t clear out a closet or overhaul the pantry during the recent holiday break? (Unless of course you were on a fabulous vacation/holiday somewhere, in which case, please tell me all about it in the comment section below so I can live vicariously and be green with envy.)

Let me be clear: This is NOT a New Year’s resolution post. Tried that last year and look what a pickle that one got me in. (Though, truth be told, it did make for some entertaining blog posts and lively commentary from you all.)

Since this is a very public space devoted to good food matters, I’m gonna keep this list strictly on topic — and realistic.

So you won’t find lofty goals like ending childhood hunger or personal aspirations like finding a rich doctor to hook up with. (That last one is a joke people, and comes courtesy of my ex-husband during a period when I was recovering from some unfun medical matters. He figured it was a surefire way to take care of my finances, health, and heart all in one package.  Call it gallows divorce humor. We thought it was hilarious at the time.)

What follows, just 11 modest food intentions for 2011.

Let’s see how many I actually end up meeting. Anyone want to guess?

11 Food Intentions for 2011

1. Ditch the ancient Teflon cookware. Check. (See, we’re down to 10, just like that.) My pal Marge was horrified I still had this stuff and has been urging me to get rid of it for years, for health reasons, of course. So it’s in a bag in my car ready for Goodwill drop off (is that okay?) and I’ve been running around town trying to find some more eco-friendly baking pans. Any recommendations?

2. Make a new meal at least once a month. Isn’t that the most pathetic little aspiration? You’d think that someone who writes as much about food as I do would be whipping up new dishes every day — or at least each week. But this isn’t a recipe site, per se, and I’m as guilty as every other time-stretched working parent of fixing the same favorite meals — over and over and over again.

3. Experiment with at least one recipe from each cookbook giveaway. Dovetails nicely with #2, don’t you think? Multi-tasking mama that I am I love a twofer. While I curate the books I give away I want to say something about the recipes within based on experience. (Note to self: Take care not to spill any ingredients on their pages.)

4. Sign up for a cooking class. Maybe I’ll get over my fear of canning. Or finally learn to cook some ethnic cuisine with a measure of authenticity. Works well with #2 too.

5. Try something new. It’s unfair to always harp on about this with kids if you don’t do it yourself. What sort of role model does that make you? I have never cooked a rutabaga, for instance, and I’m not entirely sure I’ve eaten one either.

Technically a parsnip, methinks, but close to a rutabaga.

6. Attend another underground dinner. They’re super fun and I love feeling vaguely adventurous showing up in some unknown person’s home to eat food by people you don’t know while sitting with folks you’ve never met.

7. Check out the restaurants on Chronicle critic Michael Bauer’s best of list. And make a best of list of my own, so that when people visit or someone local asks: “Where should we eat?” I’ll have my own handy dandy list.

8. Go to more conferences with food doers and fewer with food writers. A couple of years into this beat I feel like I know what a lot of other food writers are going to say (not that what they have to say isn’t interesting). It just appeals to my journalist sensibilities to cover events where people in the food field come together to talk shop. So hello Ecofarm and later BlogHer Food (for this year, at least.)

9. Find a regular, national outlet to write about all the great food news in my backyard. In the works. Stay tuned on that score. Don’t want to jinx myself on that one.

10. Plan ahead. Cook soup on the weekend. Make a pesto or sauce ahead. Fix a meal that might stretch to two. All that smart advice Vanessa Barrington offers here, which when followed, makes meal prep during the week a breeze.

11. Cook more. The simple truth is, the more I write about food, the less I seem to make it. I’d like to change that equation. Numbers 2-5 should help me get there. If you have any brilliant ideas, I’m all ears.

If you want to share your food goals for 2011, let me know in the space below.

Before I sign off I’ll leave you with a trio of links to recent list posts — set in the past, present, and future — that I’ve enjoyed and think you will too:

Happy New Year readers, here’s to a healthy 2011 for all.

You might also like:

Dinner Guests: What Makes a Good One?

How to Host a Dinner Party so Everyone Enjoys it

Stuck in a Dinner Rut? You’ve Got Company

Reassurance for Parents of Picky Eaters

Vanessa Barrington: The D.I.Y. Delicious Diva

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{ 39 comments… read them below or add one }

Sheryl January 5, 2011 at 10:09 am

These are great – something I wouldn’t otherwise think about. I did do one of these the other night – with parsnips. Cut them into sticks, mixed them with a bit of oil and roasted them. They tasted like french fries – but better. Really. Sweet and delish. My husband who swore he’d never eat one ended up taking handfuls.

The one food “resolution” I do make, now that I think of it, is cooking/planning ahead. But alas, I always fail. It would make my life SO much easier…Any good cookbooks, etc. to suggest for this failed plan?

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Sarah Henry January 5, 2011 at 12:44 pm

Love roasted parsnips too, Sheryl.

As for recipe book recommendations, dig in to some of the ones from my cookbook giveaway archives — Mollie Katzen’s Get Cooking, Vanessa Barrington’s D.I.Y. Delicious, and Robin Burnside’s The Homesteader’s Kitchen, from last year all come immediately to mind. Hope that helps.

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Alisa Bowman January 5, 2011 at 10:19 am

These are great. I’m going to steal them–esp the Teflon one. I have one of these left and I really need to replace it.
Alisa Bowman´s last [type] ..Live Regret Free- Day 3

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Sarah Henry January 5, 2011 at 12:45 pm

Glad I moved someone else to make the switch from Teflon, Alisa.

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merr January 5, 2011 at 10:24 am

I like this list because it’s transferrable to any city! Thanks for the ideas.

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Sarah Henry January 5, 2011 at 12:45 pm

Yep, Merr, pretty much can do this stuff anywhere you live.

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Rachel K January 5, 2011 at 10:45 am

Funnily enough I have just written my food resolutions for 2011 too and some of them are very similar. Try something new, get out of the culinary rut, plan more, plan often! I shall continue to find ways to be frugal, even if that means eating offal (what I believe you guys in America call “variety” meats) and I shall try to be thrifty (so long as it tastes good) and I want to learn new techniques as well as old, traditional (British) recipes.

Going to carry on shopping and cooking seasonally, while trying to be more sustainable. Going to have some fun with foraging (which since I live in a city, should be fun!) And I have just signed up with some volunteering groups to start a local food bank and create a small vegetable garden on reclaimed land.

I’m nicking your idea about getting involved with people who are interested in food, not just professional writers . . . I think importantly I am going to have some fun and turn my hobby and obsession into one that gives something back. Happy 2012!

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Sarah Henry January 5, 2011 at 12:48 pm

Hi Rachel K,

Nice to see you here. Funnily enough just back from interviewing a fellow Brit, preserver June Taylor, who turns out the most exquisite marmalades, conserves, fruit cheeses, and fruit syrups (more on her later this week).

And I love that you’re “nicking” one of my ideas and that you use a term that I don’t hear much in America but we use a lot in Australia.

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debbie @ words to eat by January 5, 2011 at 11:01 am

Love this list! So smart. And I love the word “intentions” rather than “resolutions.” Intentions can evolve based on what’s actually happening in your world, while resolutions don’t do much except make you feel guilty for not sticking to them.
debbie @ words to eat by´s last [type] ..Meyer Lemon Pasta

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Sarah Henry January 5, 2011 at 12:50 pm

I think I “nicked” the word “intentions” from a yoga instructor, who had a way with words. Whenever I talked about my “bad leg” she always referred to it as my “learning side.” Here’s to an intentional 2011, Debbie.

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NoPotCooking January 5, 2011 at 11:16 am

These are all great and most are (or should be) on my list. The most perplexing for me is ditching the Teflon. I love my nonstick pans so much and do not know how to face life with sticky, messy, baked on pans. I do use silpat and silicone for baking sheets, muffin tins, bread pans, and cake pans, I just am at a loss as to what to do for stove-top pans.
NoPotCooking´s last [type] ..Halibut with Rye Dip

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Sarah Henry January 5, 2011 at 12:52 pm

Good question, No Pot Cooking, and I’m not sure I have the answer. I use stainless steel and cast iron on the stove top, and don’t have too many clean-up issues.

Still wondering what to use to make crepes — but folks have been turning them out for centuries before non-stick was invented so I suspect there’s a simple solution that I’m not thinking of. Anyone want to offer some insight on that one?

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Casey@Good. Food. Stories. January 6, 2011 at 9:04 am

I think butter, butter, and more butter is the answer to stopping crepe stickage in a stainless pan. Or try it in a well-oiled cast-iron skillet and see if it does the trick!
Casey@Good. Food. Stories.´s last [type] ..Petite Tartines for the Oven-less

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Susan January 5, 2011 at 11:19 am

Love this list! Last year I bought a slow cooker and vowed to make one new slow cooker recipe per week so I’d expand my repertoire and have lots of tasty foods for the week ahead. Quite frankly, though, I’ve made sides and soups and even a few desserts but my boyfriend commented that slow cooker food starts to taste the same because a lot of them have the same mushy texture. So I guess I’ll have to branch out even more in 2011. So far I’m loving the hand blender my brother got me for Christmas.

Can’t wait to see what mystery outlets might publish your work in 2011! :)

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Sarah Henry January 5, 2011 at 12:53 pm

Thanks for the heads up on the slow cooker, Susan, I’d wondered about those and people either swear by them or aren’t too fussed.

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Marge January 5, 2011 at 3:08 pm

So if you’ve finally ditched the teflon, does that mean I have to ditch the microwave?

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Sarah Henry January 5, 2011 at 3:20 pm

You betcha, girly.

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Kerry January 5, 2011 at 3:41 pm

I’ve always found conferences of the people who do what I’m writing about (music) more interesting than writing conferences, so I will be interested to hear your experiences with that. Cheering you on with the place for your writing, as well.

Hadn’t thought of it, but you do not hear nick used that way in the US all that much — with all the Scottish, Canadian, and Irish folk in my life though, sounds quite right to me. interested to hear it’s common in Oz as well.
Kerry´s last [type] ..road trip music- American northwest

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Sarah Henry January 5, 2011 at 3:43 pm

Makes sense to me, Kerry, what you say on the music meet up score. I’ll report back at the end of the year to see if it proves true for food as well.

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Cheryl January 5, 2011 at 3:47 pm

Thanks for the linkage, Sarah. Much obliged. But please don’t learn how to can in 2011. I don’t want to be the only Californian who has never boarded that train. (Though if you do learn, please hold my hand while I make my initial foray.)
Cheryl´s last [type] ..The Most Superlative Food Trends List Anywhere

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Sarah Henry January 5, 2011 at 9:25 pm

I think you can can, my friend, but happy to hold your hand (metaphorically speaking, as I think you’ll need both to do the job, just guessing here) on your first attempt at preserving.

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june taylor January 6, 2011 at 2:26 am

I cook, almost exclusively, in La Chambra clay pots (not the jam though), and love cooking in clay rather than metal. I buy them from Global Exchange in Berkeley. Happy cooking.

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Sarah Henry January 6, 2011 at 8:56 am

Lovely to meet you, June, and to see you on the site. Thanks for the tip re La Chambra pots. I’ll go check these clay cookers out.

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Melanie @ Frugal Kiwi January 6, 2011 at 10:27 am

My main goal is to utilize my garden produce as fully as possible. We’ll see how I go with that given I’ve planted enough tomatoes to feed a cruise ship.
Melanie @ Frugal Kiwi´s last [type] ..Big Freaking Hole

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Sarah Henry January 6, 2011 at 10:59 am

Melanie, Just this morning I was lying in bed thinking: I should have added Grow More Food. Glad you weighed in with this one. I’ve got a Meyer lemon tree that just keeps giving, mushrooms growing on the window sill, and some out-of-control kale, chard, and nasturtiums in a much-overlooked veggie bed. Determined, when the weather is more accommodating, to remedy that situation. You’re such a role model.

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Melanie Haiken January 6, 2011 at 12:19 pm

I love the idea of making a new meal once a month; spacing it out like that makes it seem more doable! Also trying new foods… in 2010 I tried brussel sprouts for the first time (my mom had given them a bad rap) and now they’re a staple. I’ve also been experimenting with new kinds of beans and legumes. Thanks for the inspiration!

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Sarah Henry January 6, 2011 at 1:08 pm

Yes, M, doable is the goal. I note that on some roundup I read over the last few days that Michael Pollan vowed to cook something new once a week, so it seems that all of us, know matter how food focused, can get stuck in cooking ruts.

As for Brussels Sprouts. Love ‘em too. You may appreciate these recipes:
http://lettuceeatkale.com/2009/in-praise-of-brussels-sprouts/

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Susan January 8, 2011 at 9:56 am

I will echo Casey and say that well seasoned cast iron is the way to go. I have them in several sizes. It’s true that you must use a little more fat when cooking, but the clean up is easy.

My food intention is inspired by my very frugal daughter. This year I will cook my own dried beans and stop buying canned beans. Simple, but it’s still a learning curve. So far, I’ve produced perfect garbanzo beans for salad, but turned the lentils intended for salad into mush. They will soon be soup.

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Sarah Henry January 10, 2011 at 7:48 am

A worthy food intention, Susan. And lentil soup is just the thing for these long, cold nights.

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Lentil Breakdown January 8, 2011 at 1:45 pm

Happy New Year, Sarah. Fingers crossed for #9!

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Sarah Henry January 10, 2011 at 7:48 am

Why thank you, Lentil Breakdown, thanks for stopping by, and same to you.

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MyKidsEatSquid January 8, 2011 at 6:40 pm

Great food goals. One of my goals is to dust off my mandolin (stowed away in the basement) and finally figure out how to use the darn thing.

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Sarah Henry January 10, 2011 at 7:49 am

Nice, MKES. My friend has a fabo mandolin and he uses it constantly. Veggies always look so great. You’ve inspired me to dig out mine too.

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Shelly Waldman January 10, 2011 at 9:29 am

Hi Sarah,
We actually met on a flight from San Francisco to DC. I was heading to Italy and you were feverishly typing away perfecting a blog post. We got chatting and found out that we both live in the East Bay, I like photographing food while you like to write about it. We talked about Eat Real, Gather, and the many farmers’ markets in our area. I recently had a few of my farmers’ market images published in the Walnut Creek Magazine and thought about you.

Now after reading your 11 things to do in 2011 – I feel like I should come up with some food goals for the year. I love the idea of a new dish each month, cooking something you haven’t done before, and actually using the cookbooks I have to make meals rather than collect dust on my shelves.

I hope you’re well and I hope we meet up again this year.

Cheers!

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Sarah Henry January 10, 2011 at 11:54 am

Hi Shelly,

Lovely to see you here and congrats on your published farm photos. Glad to offer some inspiration to you on the cooking front at the start of the year — and had to laugh at that image of me on the plane — feels like I’m always frantically typing away;)

Trust that you and your husband had a wonderful time in Italy, ate good food, and I hope our paths across again in 2011 as well.

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Serena January 12, 2011 at 10:01 pm

Love your list Sarah!

I love unglazed stoneware too, (sometimes the pretty glazed stuff has lead in it, depending), and I’ve got a couple stainless steel baking things too. I love the selection and the folks’ know-how at Cultivate in Sebastopol next time you’re up.

Looking forward to seeing your #7!

On stretching meals, one thing I’ve been doing lately is making grain/legume pancakes using leftovers with egg-light batter. They quickly un-leftover themselves.

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Sarah Henry January 22, 2011 at 2:58 pm

Hi Serena, Nice to see you here and thanks for all the tips. Sebastopol is one of my favorite local towns, I’ll check out Cultivate the next time I’m there.

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Henway January 22, 2011 at 2:42 pm

I like your goals. For me, my food-related goal is to eat slower, and more mindfully. I often rush and think about other things (like money, or work) when I eat, and I know it hurts my digestion. I often eat at my desk too during lunch time when I could easily spend a hour or so eating out, or in the cafeteria..
Henway´s last [type] ..Murad Wiki

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Sarah Henry January 22, 2011 at 3:00 pm

Hi Henway, Thanks for chiming in here. I think your goal is such a simple yet so important one. Bolting down food is awful, really, and I’ve been guilty of gobbling something up if I’m on deadline or left it too late to eat and hunger takes over.

Can I crib this idea from you?

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