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This is the last of the holiday/2013 posts. Time to stop lingering in the dawn of a new year; time to get back to posting about food.
Not all about food. But you get my meaning.
Anyway, resolutions. I don’t have so many of them this year. I’m hoping I can set them up as guidelines, with actual attainable goals, as necessary.
Resolution the first: write every day. This can include the blog – the blog goal is to write five posts per week, which is what I was doing through November and December. I’d like at least two of those weekly posts to be non-food related. I’m not sure what I’m going to write about on those days, so they might be a bit random until I do figure it out. I will hazard a guess that it will have something to do with babyloss and grief. I’d also like to work on novel-writing every day, but especially on days I’m not blogging. Saturday, in particular, will be a novel-writing day. Don’t expect any blogs on Saturdays. I’m going to make a point of leaving the house on Saturday to go somewhere and write.
Resolution the second: read. Last year, I used Goodreads to set a goal to read 50 books; I hit that goal in October. I’m still doing the 50-book goal, mainly because it’s a good, rounded number. Sometimes I didn’t read a book for two weeks, then I’d read two in a week. Sometimes three. It fluctuates. I’m also including a sub-goal: once a month, read a classic American novel. I focused almost entirely on British/European literature in my high school and college years, and I really don’t know a lot about classic American literature. I’d like to change that.
Resolution the third: get healthy for pregnancy. Yeah, losing weight would be great, but really, the focus is on having a healthy pregnancy. That means eating sensibly and moving around more. I’m not giving up any foods, because I don’t like the idea of depriving myself of a food I know I’ll miss (like meats or grains or dairy or whatever), so it’s really a simple matter of eating as well as I can and scaling back on portions, sugar, and fat. I can do that. It also means developing a work-out that I will not get bored of in a week and that I can do while pregnant. I hate exercise, and I really hate exercising just for the sake of exercising. It’s boring, and it does not make me feel good. This one’s going to be a challenge.
Resolution the fourth: continue to improve my cooking skills. Last year, I learned a lot about preparing and enjoying good food, and I want to keep doing that. There are definitely a couple of specific skills I want to attempt – such as making a soufflé, getting a hold of beef cheeks and making barbacoa, trying out more Chinese dishes since we can’t find a decent restaurant to satisfy such cravings, and working on pastry skills. Stuff like that. Also, in regards to Dorie Greenspan’s Around My French Table, I want to do some catching up to the French Friday group and make an additional recipe from the book every week. It’s such a fun book, and I’ve learned so much from it. I just want to keep going.
Resolution the fifth: attempt to get pregnant. I’m pretty sure this isn’t so much a resolution as it is an aspiration. It’s just something we want. But I’m including it with my resolutions, because it is something we need to work toward. There are a couple of things we need to do (like paint the hot pink bedroom) to get ready for a baby. This is nothing I haven’t talked about already, so I’m being brief about this. I want 2013 to be the year I have a healthy pregnancy that ends with us bringing home a healthy baby.
And that’s it. A simple list, I hope, with some attainable goals. Life, I have come to understand in this past year, is a day-to-day thing. Step by step, day by day, we keep moving forward. Even when we have to stop and gather our strength and think about the reasons to keep on going. The important thing is to try, to live as best we can. To have our bad days and accept them and try again the next day.
That’s what I hope to do. To keep going.
I mentioned yesterday that New Year’s isn’t my favorite holiday. It’s just not. Maybe because it has such the party reputation, and that’s not how I want to celebrate New Year’s. I like the Japanese traditions better, with time spent at home with family (or at the local shrine, with the community), reflecting on the past year and looking forward to the new year with hopeful expectation. There’s drinking, of course (it is Japan), but the party is not all that’s going on. The New Years I spent in Japan had a solemnity to them, a reverence. I liked that.
Tonight, Geordie and I aren’t doing much. I’m making mussels for dinner, a special and delicious way to end the year. We have champagne for midnight. And perhaps we’ll even sleep in a little tomorrow. It’ll be good to have a little time to reflect on the past year, to think about what we want from 2013. It’s a year we have high hopes for.
That’s all that New Year’s needs to be for us.
As for you guys out there, whether you’re staying at home or partying it up, have a safe and happy New Year’s Eve. May 2013 bring you all the comfort and happiness that you’re hoping for. May it be a wonderful year for everybody.
And now, because it’s Monday, a picture of two happy sleeping kittens.
Anything with almond paste is going to win me over. I’m sure there’s a way to screw it up, but I can’t help but think that you really have to try at it. Almond paste is, after all, the base for that most wonderful of delicious things – marzipan – and that can never go wrong.
But I don’t eat almond paste often. It’s not, I admit, the healthiest of foods. Nor is it the only delicious thing out there. So, I try to reserve it for special occasions. Which makes it perfect for this Yuletide season.
About a week ago, Geordie told me his office was having a big Christmas luncheon on the 14th and that it would be a pot-luck type of thing. That got my attention well enough. As someone who loves to cook, especially for other people, I love a nice potluck. The bad news was that employees’s families were not invited. The good news was that I could still make something and give it to him to take. I told him to just sign me up for something. Didn’t matter what. Whatever he chose, I’d make it. The next day, he came home and told me he’d signed me on for making a cake.
Some of Geordie’s co-workers already know me as the cupcake-maker. I’ve gotten into the habit of making cupcakes once a week (usually on Wednesday) and sending them to work with him. I’d already done cupcakes this week, so I wanted to do something slightly different. I wanted something that would last well overnight and still taste good the next day. I wanted something without frosting. I wanted something that at least felt seasonal. I wanted something made with almonds. And, of course, it had to be tasty.
I found this: an almond cake by David Lebovitz.
Of course I’ve heard of David Lebovitz, and I know about him and his blog and his books. But, for some reason, I’ve never tried one of his recipes. This one seemed a good place to start. It’s fast and easy – one by one, ingredients are added to a food processor and blended together. No mixing bowls are needed. The food processor does all the work for you.
As soon as I had everything assembled, though, I saw that I had a problem. No way was everything going to fit into my food processor. It’s a nice food processor, and I like it very much, but it’s not an overly large one. Well, simple enough to solve the problem. Instead of making one 10″ cake (because my 9″ springform pan seems to have fled from me), I would make two 8″ cakes. Half of the batter fit very nicely into my food processor, and both of the cakes came out beautifully.
And deliciously. Geordie and I split a piece for dessert (because no way could I send off a cake for others to eat when I had no idea how it tasted). I think I liked it more than Geordie did, but that’s not surprising. I adore almond cakes. I know I’ve mentioned this already, but it’s worth saying again.
This is a wonderful cake. It’s sweet, but not overly sweet. It needs only a light dusting of powdered sugar – though, had I been serving it at home, some spiced-poached apples would probably have gone very nicely with it. It has a wonderful, spongy crumb, moist but not wet, dense but not heavy. It had a lovely, old-fashioned feel to it, which was what I was hoping for. It was an enjoyable cake to eat, and as I have more almond paste, I am considering making another one for us, because I sent the rest of it off to work with Geordie, and it apparently disappeared quite quickly.
It might have to wait until after Christmas, though, as I’m moving merrily onto the next phase of my twelve treats – rum! What would the season’s festivities be without some homemade spiked eggnogg and a nice, big rum cake?
Only 10 days to go! Feeling festive yet?