On Resolutions and Getting Out Of A Rut

First off, I would like to congratulate everyone who made it through 2016 intact. How are you? Do you need a glass of water? A hug? I know I do.

It has been, on every level, a hard year for a lot of us. Many point to the elections, but I would say that it goes far beyond that. Some of us have watched our towns go downhill due to unstable economies, some of us have lost loved ones, and some of us have suffered through bouts of depression. I, personally, have had all of these things happen, many of them around the same time.

And here we are, on the other side, a little worse for wear but still alright.

As 2017 approaches quickly, I’ve begun to think about what I want to make of the year. I believe in giving each year an intended theme, and then giving yourself specific, concrete goals to create that theme. Last year, the theme was health, both mental and physical. The specific resolutions were as follows: Eat all servings of fruit and vegetables each day and walk for at least half an hour (preferably outside) every day. For the most part, I have accomplished both of these relatively easy resolutions, save for a few off days here and there.

These simple things changed my life quite drastically. I felt better, ate better, cooked better than I ever had before. Looking back on my archives for this blog, I realize now that I have come so far. Back in the summer, I was ridiculously proud of myself for creating my Zucchini Chili recipe. Now, this recipe seems quite basic compared to the other things that I have gone on to create.

Which got me thinking; have I settled? Recently, with the stress of finals bearing down on me, I got into a rut of making the same few foods over and over again, never innovating or trying anything new. It was all bagged salads and sliced apples with peanut butter, every single day. It was probably good for my body, but not very good for my soul.

But at the end of the day, who had the time to create and experiment and test everything? I certainly didn’t. 

But now, as I wipe the sweat off my brow and stare down the upcoming year and the newfound free time that I have, I realize that it’s not about quantity time, it’s about quality time. And for the last month, quality has not been something that I have been overly concerned with. For 2017, I would like to change that.

My philosophy has always been that eating presents us with three opportunities for joy every single day. And yet, I began to treat it like three things I had to “get through” to move on with my day of studying and working. That doesn’t exactly jive with someone who has come to have the utmost respect and appreciation for cooking this year.

And so, for 2017, my goal is to have joy and adventure in the kitchen. I want to spend my time trying as many recipes – old and new, beginner and advanced, foreign and local – that I can get my hands on. Thinking realistically, I have decided that each week I will dedicate myself to a new recipe that I find, on top of innovating my own recipes and posting them here. This time next year, I want to look back at what I am doing now and think to myself, “That’s basic.”

To start off this resolution, I figured that it was appropriate to tackle something that has terrified me from the beginning: making my own bread products. I have never even met someone who made their own bread all the time, but it’s a challenge I’m willing to take on.

Henceforth, from now until…well, until I say it’s over, I refuse to buy anymore bread products from grocery stores. If I want bread, it will be made from scratch in my kitchen. That is one small component of a much larger resolution for the year. I will post here, along with pictures, about my foray into the from-scratch world. I suspect it will be kind of exciting but also kind of annoying, although only time will tell.

I don’t want to turn cooking into a chore, or a stunt to prove something to myself. But it seems to me that there comes a time in which we all have to decide whether we will push ourselves beyond the simple things and try something that is scary. I have made that decision today, and hopefully for the next 365 days.

I’m signing off now in 2016, and the next time that I post will be in the new year. I hope that all of you stay safe and have the most overwhelmingly wonderful New Years Eve you could imagine. Hug your loved ones and settle your disagreements. The calendar starts fresh soon.

Until next time, live (and cook) fearlessly.

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