Happy New Year!

As a fun way of starting off 2011, I thought it would be fitting to go back to my original list of culinary resolutions from last year. Read on to discover how I made out…

Include Michael Pollan’s idea of Meatless Mondays into my family’s eating habits
So we started the year off strong, but once we moved house it became a slippery slope back to carnivorism. I really enjoyed integrating the concept of Meatless Mondays into my family’s lifestyle and would like to re-embrace this weekly foray into vegetarian food in the New Year. For me the biggest challenges were finding inspiration for meals (I always seemed to get stumped unless I had a particular recipe in mind), and not relying so heavily on pasta dishes as a quick solution for a meatless dish.

I look forward to recommitting to Meatless Mondays for 2011 and would love for people to leave a comment with their favourite vegetarian cookbooks, recipe ideas and websites!

Make the monthly cover recipe of Bon Appétit Magazine for the entire year (and blog about my experiences)
I cannot tell you how much I enjoyed this challenge! At first glimpse of a new issue in my mailbox I would eagerly check out the front cover to see what I would be whipping up next. In terms of the recipes themselves, I would have to say the following:

My personal favourite: Eggplant Parmesan Rolls with Swiss Chard & Fresh Mint (March)

Mr. Spock’s favourite: Grilled Cheese & Short Rib Sandwich with Caramelized Onions (February)

Most inspiring: Caveman Porterhouse with Poblano Pan-Fry (July)

Most out of control crazy: Triple-Beef Cheeseburgers with Spiced Ketchup & Red Vinegar Pickles (September)

Worst results: Apple Torte with Breadcrumb-Hazelnut Crust (October)

(NOTE: November and December’s cover recipe results will be posted soon…forgive my tardiness. I blame the holidays).

For the last few weeks I’ve had a poll on my website asking readers to cast their vote for which magazine I should follow next. While the top three spots kept flip-flopping between Bon Appétit, Savuer and Food & Wine, it is the latter publication that came out on top! And you know what? I’m VERY excited as the cover recipe for their January issue features a breakfast sandwich. Does it get any better than that folks?! I think not…I think not.

Review Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Julia Child
Okay. Well I bought the book. I have even figured out which three recipes I want to test. What can I say?! She’s an icon and I’m intimidated.

Attempt to make ice cream for the first time ever!
Santa left an ice cream machine under our tree this year, so stay tuned for some exciting ice cream related adventures in 2011…

Go on a cooking vacation
While I did go to Chicago specifically to eat and revel in this amazing city’s food scene, I never actually went on a trip and took any cooking classes. Any suggestions for places I should go this year?

Interview Jamie Oliver
I have a feeling this will be on my list for awhile. (C’mon Jamie…I’m ready when you are baby!)

Find the PERFECT chocolate chip cookie recipe
After conducting numerous taste tests (including Angie Quaale’s addictive Bacon Chocolate Chunk Cookies), I feel that my search has ended. The recipe that emerged as the victor? Alice Medrich’s recipe for My Chocolate Chip Cookies instantly won all of our hearts. It provided everything we were looking for in this American classic; buttery, crisp exterior with rich and chewy center, the perfect amount of chocolate and sweetness.

Beat my friend Crystal in our family’s annual crepe off!
Nope – think I’ll just give up on this one as Crystal’s savoury crepes are just too delicious. Plus she kinda scares me.

Update my family cookbook and print one hard copy to keep on my VIP kitchen shelf
Ugh. While I have worked on this project there is still so much more to do before I am ready to print off a copy. But I am inspired to keep going! My fellow food blogger Shirley Blake recently self-published her book of recipes, entitled My Mother’s Cookbook. It is essentially a compilation of her mother’s recipes – some of which she reinvented and updated – put together in a beautiful book as a keepsake for her family. Shirley, you inspire me to keep going with my project!

Shop more frequently at our local farmers markets
Farmer markets for local cheeses, fresh fruit and veg, local non-medicated meat from our neighbourhood butcher, organic fresh baked bread from the bakery down the street, and superior quality fish from our favourite fish monger. That has been the pattern of our food shopping this past year and it has been amazing! Not going to lie though; shopping this way did increase our food bills rather significantly. I feel so fortunate to be able to afford this luxury and did not mind cutting costs elsewhere in order to make it work within our budget.

[Now as far as 2011 is concerned, the above amended list should keep me busy, but I would also like to add the following goals]:

Explore the food truck phenomenon already well established in cities like New York, Los Angeles, Portland and Austin. My hometown – Vancouver – has a burgeoning food truck scene that I would like to experience. Now if only I can convince Mr. Spock to tag along on my food truck adventure! Somehow I don’t think this will be hard to do…

Take a variety of authentic Asian cooking classes, a style of food I heartily enjoy but have not had much success with in the kitchen.

Make my own marshmallows from scratch! Over the holidays I feel in love with Pink Spatula’s handmade treats and don’t think I can go back to the commercial variety. I have been meaning to make my own marshmallows but have a feeling that my renewed addiction will be ample enough motivation!

Expand my website and invite a number of contributing writers to join my team of cookbook reviewers. (NOTE: this is already well underway…stay tuned for some exciting updates!)