It's a New Year, indeed. Hope your holidays were fab. I enjoyed some really nice time away from work. Spent some of it lazing around the house, some of it working around the house, enjoyed some garden time (finally cleared out the summer garden remnants and planted more kale, yay!), read a ton, and had a wonderful visit with my whole family. Did some baking, too! The pizzelle baking has become an annual tradition now, as has the overconsumption of said pizzelles by the baker. Thank goodness for that other annual tradition, the January cleanse! Although truth be told, my regimen is not much of a cleanse this year. For this month I've cut out alcohol and am eating sensibly, avoiding most sugar, fried foods and the like. And I'm starting each day with an awesome smoothie made in my new Vitamix blender, OMG!!! It leaves all the other blenders in the dust. I have wanted one for the longest time. This thing can puree like nobody's business. Whole fruits and vegetables become smooth as butter. I've been using it to make shakes, juices, sauces, even coconut milk! It's the bomb and I am so so happy that I finally get to have my very own, courtesy of my brand new Grandma. Well, she's not exactly brand new, but rather new to me, by way of that sweet husband of mine. And what a gem she is. Besides being a kind and generous human being, she's also sharp as a tack. I miss my own grandparents a lot, and didn't get to enjoy them for nearly long enough before they left this world, so it's a treat to get to have a Grandma again at this stage of life. I appreciate her very much!
Besides the magical blender, I'm also the fortunate recipient of some really great cookbooks. The first was a gift from my friend Mel: My Calabria: Rustic Family Cooking from Italy's Undiscovered South, by Rosetta Costantino with Janet Fletcher. Although so far, I've only made one recipe from it, I'm sure that I'll be going back to this again and again. On Christmas, we made Polpette di Melanzane - crispy eggplant "meat"balls. They were such a hit, even the carnivores reached for seconds! I'm really excited to try many of the recipes in this book, like Spaghetti with Salt Cod and a Spicy Tomato Sauce, Creamy Chick Pea Soup with Shrimp and Anise Seed, and Fresh Tuna Pizzo Style with Wine Vinegar, Garlic, and Mint.
I also got Bi-Rite Market's Eat Good Food: A Grocer's Guide to Shopping, Cooking & Creating Community Through Food, by Sam Mogannam and Dabney Gough. Although I live in the Bay Area, I haven't been to the Bi-Rite Market proper. I have been to the Bi-Rite Creamery and do declare their ice cream to be some of the most incredible that I've ever had! The recipes in this book look great. I'm particularly excited to try the Red Quinoa and Tofu Salad with Ginger and Pickled Daikon, the Winter Lentil Salad with Roasted Root Veggies, and the Curried Coconut Sweet Potato Mash.
I'm also quite excited about Canning for a New Generation: Bold, Fresh Flavors for the Modern Pantry, by Liana Krissoff. I don't have much in the way of resolutions this year, but I do resolve to make more things from scratch, and I'm excited to fill my pantry (and my stomach!) with homemade things in pretty jars (well, the homemade things will go in the stomach, but not the jars!). Lots of inventive flavor combinations in this book - like Strawberry and Lemon Preserves, Pickled Sugar Snap Peas with Mint, and Cardamom Plum Jam.
Yes, 2012 is going to be the year of More Homemade around here. Here are just a few of the things I'm planning to make from scratch this year, some of them for the first time: yogurt, tofu, tempeh, tomato paste, mustard, and vinegar, and Dad's Sauce.
I can hardly believe that it's been a whole year (and then some!) since I watched my Dad make the family recipe for meat sauce, and I wrote it down, and I proclaimed here on this very blog that I was going to make it in the coming year. Well, the year came and the year went and I never did make it. Not gonna let another year pass without making it! I might even break out the pasta machine and make fresh pasta to go with it. Of course, this will have to happen after January, which already seems to be flying right by.
Wishing you many fine meals and happy, healthy times in 2012!