My 2011 Food (and Baking) Resolutions

So, I mentioned yesterday when I shared healthy recipes for the new year that I don’t count calories and I don’t really diet. So you’ll typically never find me making a New Year’s resolution to stop eating desserts, lose x number of pounds, give up something altogether or things like that. But that’s not to say that I don’t have food-related goals, both related to a healthier lifestyle and kitchen accomplishments. So I wanted to share with you the top 5 things that I hope to make good on in the kitchen this year. Maybe some of you have some of the same goals? I’d love to hear what your food and kitchen-related resolutions are for this year, so please share them in the comments below!

Without further ado, here they are!

1. Try to be more green. Now this isn’t really a food or baking specific goal, but there are a number of things I can do related to how I consume food and beverages and grocery shop to make an impact here. Two changes I made recently: First, I bought a BPA-free reusable travel tumbler that I can refill with water from a Brita filter instead of going through dozens of plastic bottles in a month. Even though I do recycle I think this is a better alternative. Second, I loaded up on reusable grocery bags and am keeping them in my car for my grocery runs instead of countless plastic bags piling up under the sink after each trip to the store.

2. Eat clean and eat local. This resolution was greatly influenced by watching Food, Inc. a couple of months ago. I am making a concerted effort to: #1 Eliminate processed foods from my diet. I won’t deny myself if I crave a pizza or Chinese, but if I can make the transition to eating clean 90% of the time I will consider that a success; and #2 Eat local. I want to plant a produce garden in the spring, shop at farmer’s markets, potentially join a CSA, and I have already arranged for an order of grass-fed beef from a local farm in late spring. I’m still on the hunt for a farm with local cage-free chickens that sells eggs.

3. Embrace canning. This sort of goes hand-in-hand with #2 above. With produce that I either grow myself or buy from local farmer’s markets or orchards, I want to preserve as much of the in-season ingredients that I can. I am thinking of jams, sauces, salsas to start off. If anyone has any great canning ideas, I would love to hear them!

4. Finally master sfogliatelle. Sfogliatelle are an Italian pastry with tons of flaky layers and filled with a sweetened ricotta filling. The Cake Boss refers to them as “lobster tails”. They are sold a local Italian bakery and are absolutely fantastic. I tried making them two Christmases ago (that would be Christmas of 2008) and they were about the size of my pinkie and what I would consider a failure. Take number 2 was during the summer of 2009 and was a marked improvement from my first attempt, but it still wasn’t there. 2011 will be the year of the sfogliatelle. Even if it kills me ;-)

5. Experiment more with ethnic foods. In the last couple of years I have branched out from Italian and Mexican as my staple ethnic food varieties. I have fallen in love with sushi, Chinese, and Thai food (Asian has definitely catapulted to my #1 or #2 favorite ethnic food), and want to experiment both with the foods I try and the foods I make at home. For Christmas my sister signed me up for a class on how to make sushi at home, and I can’t wait! I’d also like to try making some traditional Thai dishes at home. As far as trying new foods, I’d love to give Indian and Moroccan foods a try. Here’s to new flavors in the new year!