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Dream a little dream

April 9, 2009

I am a dreamer. Which you can probably tell from some of my previous posts. But I’m also pretty down-to-earth. I don’t just daydream, I make goals.

I recently joined epicurious.com, and while I find it lacking quite a bit as an online community, I do get to ogle a backlog of thousands of recipes from Gourmet magazine, which for the most part are surprisingly accessible. Oooh! And if you want to friend me or leave a note on my refridgerator (Epicurious’ version of Facebook’s wall, apparently) just look for vintagejenta (that’s me!).

I’ve also been lusting after many of the recipes over at Orangette, which I actually found through the author’s recently published book, which Amazon kindly made me aware of via a list of James Beard Foundation best food book of the year nominees.

The boy and I have been looking for little cottages to live in when I move out east, although one we thought was promising (not too expensive, up in the mountains, looked like it needed a little work, but maybe doable), turned out to be a total dump in the middle of an equally dumpy neighborhood criss-crossed with dangerous and steep dirt roads. Even the boy felt uncomfy in his Jeep and shuddered to think of what would happen come winter. *sigh* So we are still hunting.

Without a kitchen of my own at the moment, and without all my lovely kitchen tools and accessories, I’ve decided to make a list of practical (and some impractical) food goals for the coming year. So here they are, in no particular order:

  • Learn how to soak and cook dried beans and peas. These things are way cheaper than buying canned (not that that’s all that expensive, but let’s save it for the tomatoes and capers, eh?) and little time and preparation can go a long way.
  • Bake bread on a semi-regular basis. Dessert breads do not count.
  • Learn how to make an excellent madelaine. Then attempt to copy the Earl Grey White Tip madelaines they sometimes sell at Nichole’s Fine Pastry (where I used to work).
  • Learn how to roast and properly carve a decent chicken.
  • Buy more local produce and grass-fed/free-range/local beef, pork, chicken, and eggs. Moving to NY should help with this goal (though maybe not where I’m headed) as there are Amish and farmer’s markets and produce stands and orchards everywhere.
  • Learn how to make pie crust. Even *gulp* with Crisco.
  • Learn the all the cuts of meat (or, the cheap ones, anyway) and their uses and more importantly, how to cook them. Avoiding organ meat though (I’m a wuss, I know!).
  • Learn to make homemade pasta.
  • Learn to make sweet potato biscuits. And decent baking powder biscuits.
  • Keep and maintain pots of fresh herbs and/or plant a garden.
  • Try my hand at growing things from seed.
  • Eat less sugar and, possibly, more fat (to be accompanied by increase exercise, of course!).
  • Master the seasons of produce available in my area and use them to their best advantage.
  • Throw dinner parties/picnic get-togethers/funtimes with friends once a month (and possibly solicit free-will offerings if it becomes a regular occurance! Read about that once in a magazine: Foodies getting together, sometimes as strangers, at someone’s house, chipping in for the fabulous gourmet ingredients, and cooking/eating together. Doesn’t it sound wonderful?).
  • Learn to spice properly, including spices other than cinnamon, ginger, salt, pepper, garlic, dill, and onion, which are my current staples. Lol.
  • Learn how to can, both over-the-stove and someday with a pressure-cooker.
  • Buy a cast iron skillet and learn how to deglaze a pan for a delicious and proper sauce.
  • Learn how to make a decent white sauce without it tasting like flour and having the consistency of thin glue (as my previous attempt did).
  • Learn how to make a really good buttercream frosting. Italian, likely, as it’s the smoothest and the best. None of that confectioner’s sugar creamed into plain butter, or worse, Crisco. Ick!

There. Don’t you think those are some worthwhile goals? They are part old-fashioned rural and part gourmet, part practical and part fanciful.

Now if only I could dream myself up a cute little cottage to rent…

P.S. Tomorrow I empty my coffers to pay my taxes. I know it’s my duty as an American citizen, but I hate having done contract labor!

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