Post a Week 2011!

OK, so I just read about the Post A Day/Post A Week challenges for 2011… and as will be immediately clear to anyone looking back to see when (prior to yesterday) I last posted to this blog, I need all the help I can get if I’m going to revive this sorry thing from its comatose, never-made-it-past-the-start-line state. So Foodresolution is going to be renewed for 2011, and I’m signing up for the Post A Week challenge. I think I have more hope of getting somewhere with that than with the Post A Day one… we shall see. A post a month would be incredible compared to what I actually did last year!

So, here goes… I hereby pledge to writing at least one blog post per week on this thing for the duration of 2011!

OK… This scares the crap out of me, and yet makes me cackle evilly.

All at once:

Notes from the lair of Ruth Bourdain.

I’d never seen this site before. It is exceedingly frigging funny, though (although the freaky Bourdain-faced picture is just, well… freaky), and I have been driving the poor Husband nuts this evening reading out little excerpts for his (or rather, my) amusement.

Awesome.

Tamales. Yum.

OK, this is half to test out the “press this” feature that may or may not have existed many months ago when I last updated this blog, but… this:

(Almost) Grandma’s Tamales | In Search of Bees.

… looks like something I’m going to have to try. The Husband is a huge fan of tamales, but I’ve never tried to make them from scratch. If I make them myself, at least that way, no matter how they turn out, at least I’ll KNOW there’s some pork in the things, right? A couple of months back he excitedly brought back a bag of very authentic-looking frozen tamales from the Mexican section of our awesome local international supermarket. I lovingly steamed a basket of them for dinner one night, then when I deemed them to be done, we carefully unpeeled the corn husks and bit into them, all excited and full of anticipation, and…

… it turned out our tamales were made entirely of corn and nothing else. Masa, whatever it’s called. Blech. I’m sure this is considered a staple and someone, somewhere would actively want to dine on sticks of steamed squished-up cornmeal, but… well, that someone aint me. Far less so the Husband, carnivore that he is.

So, long story short… I am going to try this recipe. I might even take photos and post it on here, in the spirit with which I created the stupid blog in the first place!

I just need to get hold of some corn husks first. Although I do believe I have a bag of filling-free tamales in the freezer still, which should be able to supply me with all the cornhusks and masa I could possibly need…

How Long Has It Been?

Very nearly a year, that’s how long. Yikes.

I’m going to try again, this year… well, next. Maybe. I think. We’ll see.

Boxes in Boxes

So, our laptop lunch sets arrived yesterday, and here they are!

I have been hopelessly bad when it comes to my cooking resolution, and have spent most of the time I should have been making food looking at pictures of it and reading recipes. D’oh. Still, we did make enchiladas, mexican rice and refried beans (and more guacamole) last week, and then lived on it for the next several days. So it’s not all bad. This weekend we’re going grocery shopping, and buying plenty of stuff for making breakfasts, lunches and dinners for the next week or so.

I’m hopelessly excited about the laptop lunch sets – can’t wait to start using them (well, except for the fact that starting using them involves going to work, which is of course sucky), and have been daydreaming about all the yummy things I want to cram them with. Even the Husband seems impressed by them!

More later.

Hold That Thought…

So, this New Year’s resolution of mine hasn’t got off to a very good start, has it? I could attempt to use the excuse that we’ve been far too busy to be messing around with cooking, but that wouldn’t be strictly true. Actually, it wouldn’t be true in the slightest, as we haven’t been doing very much of anything at all, other than shopping for a lovely new mirror (now gracing the wall above our mantlepiece and generally beautifying our living room) and playing with the cats. We’ve not even gone back to work yet. So I have no excuse at all.

I did make some guacamole yesterday, in preparation for a dinner of enchiladas that didn’t quite happen. Enchilada night will be tonight, instead, but sans guacamole, alas. We eated it. Oops.

Lest my imaginary reader might think that I have been utterly useless, I would like to point out that I have at least been checking out lots of recipes and thinking up lots of menus I intend to cook over the next week or so. Shopping lists are being compiled, and a trip to Whole Foods is in my immediate-ish future, methinks. Tomorrow. Yes.

I’ve also made yet another resolution, and that is to start packing lunch on a regular basis rather than squandering fortunes on the unimpressive, samey fare my work cafeteria has to offer. The plan is also to pack lunch for the Husband, so that he can avoid squandering similar amounts at every fast-food outlet within a five mile radius of his workplace. Previous attempts to get into a lunch-packing routine have largely failed, so I’m hoping things will go better this time. In the past we’ve tried the “let’s stock up on microwaveable ready-meals so we’ll always have something to take for lunch” approach and the “let’s take our leftovers to work!” approach, neither of which seem to have stuck.

Firstly, the microwaveable ready-meal approach. The problem with this being that we’re thoroughly unimpressed with the range of ready-meals available in our local supermarkets. I must confess to a fondness for Stouffer’s frozen five-cheese lasagna, and their gloopy, coma-inducing macaroni cheese, but there’s only so many times in a week (indeed, in a lifetime) you can eat either of those before becoming heartily sick of them. Plus, Stouffers =Nestlé, and putting aside all the other very sound reasons to boycott Nestlé, I still haven’t forgiven them for doing away with foil KitKat wrappers. Bastards.

Where was I? Oh yes, ready meals. The majority of the packaged “convenience” meals I’ve seen seem to be either cheap, nasty, processed crap full of gristle and animal parts of dubious origin, or overpriced, uber-virtuous, uber-tasteless macrobiotic/vegan/whatever health foods. Not that I have anything against vegans, you understand, but I all but projectile-vomited across the kitchen a couple of days ago when I sneaked a spoonful of the “sour cream” I’d just bought from Whole Foods, and it was revealed (much to my taste buds’ horror) to be dairy-free soy-based sour cream subsitute. ACK!! Threw that stuff straight in the trash, and the vile flavor was still lingering an hour later. This led to an offhand comment that the only thing that would kill the taste might be a tequila shot, which led to us going out, which led to my breaking of my dinner-cooking resolution on the very first day of the New Year. Oh well. But my point is that those breathtakingly expensive micro-dinners containing soy, soy and more soy are just not for me. I’m only marginally more inclined to ingest them than I am the cheapy processed crap mentioned above. No, thank you.

The “let’s take our leftovers to work!” approach has had marginally more success, but only with a little more planning than I’ve previously been capable of. Making enough, say, Thai green chicken curry for six meals and then hastily cramming most of it into two giant Tupperware boxes usually results in a fridge full of the stuff going to waste. Even when we do grab one of those Tupperware boxes on our way out the door in the morning (and that’s assuming we don’t lose the will to live at the thought of lunching on an identical meal to the enormous one we ate a little over 12 hours previously), a lot of food inevitably goes to waste. All my own fault, granted, for not packaging the stuff into more manageable containers, and for not planning a little more carefully. But this is where my latest plan comes in… bento boxes.

I’ve been admiring various blogs and sites detailing other people’s bento-box-packing lunches for quite some time now, oohing and aahing over the pretty boxes and the creative and imaginative things people put in them. At the same time, I’ve thought that such things must be for people with far more time and money on their hands (not to mention a much more, um, organized, not to mention possibly OCD, nature) than I possess. I can’t quite picture myself devoting an entire evening to crafting an underwater scene from precisely-cut and arranged vegetables, for instance. I also assumed that bento boxes must be for people who don’t actually eat much. No matter how much I might admire a box containing an artfully-arranged landscape of cute cutout veggies, I can’t see myself feeling satisfied after scarfing the contents of said box. Call me a pig, but I’d need to go out for lunch afterwards just to stop myself fainting from hunger!

A little more research over the past couple of days revealed that many of these boxes are actually more than big enough to squeeze in something filling along with plenty of healthy stuff to nibble on in an attempt to satisfy my chronic snacking habit. I was particularly taken with the boxes made by Laptop Lunches; so taken, in fact, that I ordered a couple of bento sets from them for myself and the Husband. Now I’m all excited and have spent most of the day dreaming up ideas for our lunches. Just don’t expect to see me crafting alpine scenes from bits of hand-sculpted turnip anytime soon. Ah, if only I had half the patience or a quarter of the talent…

Right now, I’m bloody starving, though. Enchilada-making time, I think!

First Post

Hello, 2010.

I’m not usually much of a maker of New Year’s resolutions. But this year I have one (actually, I have several, semi-formulated though they may be) – I’m going to cook. I love cooking. I don’t claim to be especially good at it, but I’m enthusiastic. I enjoy it, lots. Lately, though, I seem to have been doing it less and less, and being less adventurous when I do cook. I tend to stick to my “old reliables”, the usual – for me – lineup of pasta, Indian, Thai, pasta, Indian, Thai. Even the pasta (note how I don’t even attempt to call my efforts “Italian”?), the Indian and the Thai doesn’t involve much in the way of variety; I mean, those three “genres” could encompass thousands of different dishes, right? Wrong. Not when I’m cooking them, lately, at least. I have become a creature of habit!

My unfailingly lovely husband maintains that I am “the best cook in the world” – bless him. I am very far from it, but like I said, I’m enthusiastic about it. I enjoy cooking. Really enjoy cooking. So my New Year’s resolution is going to be to do more of this thing that I really do love (see, it’s a good resolution – not forcing myself to do something I hate!), and to be a bit more daring about it. Try new things. Pick out some recipes that I like the look of each week, and see what happens.

Ah yes, recipes: I should mention that I am not always all that good with recipes. I have a tendency to rebel against the things. I’m an adherent to the “make it up as you go along, ad lib and substitute to your heart’s content” school of cooking. Which could explain why me and baking just do not get on, and why Nigel Slater’s Appetite is my favourite cookbook of all time. So when it comes to recipes, I am most likely going to be “customising” the ones I pick, but I do need to resist the urge to “customise” them to the extent that I miss out on trying or learning anything new. I think I’m going to lay down some ground rules for myself (not yet – I have to finish this post as we are going out for a drink!), to prevent myself from slipping right into what I’m comfortable with. What did I say about being a creature of habit?

Going to shut up, now. We have a date with some tequila shots up the street. More, later.