I Resolve

January 2nd, 2013 · 42 Comments · Uncategorized

By Andy

What I resolve to do more of in 2013: Read fiction; pickle new stuff (jalapeno eggs, here I come); eat a proper breakfast – or least one that does not consist what is left of Phoebe’s everything bagel with cream cheese; generally make more of an effort to take a moment and appreciate what I have and not be so quick to complain about the dread of this or the nightmare of that, which is usually neither dreadful nor nightmarish; see Monsters University (“I love college”); get a Vitmax blender (see above re: healthy breakfast); deploy the phrase “the information superhighway” in conversation; sleep.

What I resolve to do less of: Edit in bed; be unfun, i.e., get all grumpy with the kids when they a) leave the house dressed like Tanner from Bad News Bears b) roll their new clothes into balls before inserting them into their drawers c) respond when challenged on something that is demonstrably false by saying “you can’t judge my opinion, Dad;” eat five Trader Joe’s fruit jellies every night after eating five handfuls of Trader Joe’s dark-chocolate-with-sea-salt almonds every night; resent things, to no good end; stare catatonically into my phone when the kids are around.

What I resolve not to say to my spouse: “Three-quarters of a pound of chicken for four of us?” And: “Wow, you looked so young back then!”

What I resolve not to say to my children: “Did you brush your teeth yet did you tie your shoes did you put your lunch in your backpack did you put your clothes away did you walk the dog did you put your green jersey in your soccer bag do you remember where you put your gloves the ones we just bought you?” And: “What do you want for your lunch tomorrow?” (Because 2013 is the year I’M GOING TO TEACH THEM TO MAKE THEIR OWN LUNCHES, SO HELP ME.)

What I resolve to eat less of: Raw spinach; the leftover frozen pizza on the kids’ plates; coconut M&Ms, which I really enjoy despite the fact that they taste an awful lot like Hawaiian tropic deep tanning oil; gratuitous pork (i.e. the “just a little bit of bacon” we seem to put in everything).

What I resolve to eat more of: Barley salads; cold, crunchy slaws (Asian red cabbage slaw, apple and fennel slaw with sunflower seeds, etc.); the four giant packages of Benton’s country ham that Jenny bought me for Christmas; gin.

What I resolve to learn how to cook: The seared bluefin tuna with grated radish and ponzu sauce that I ordered recently at Sushi Zen on 44th Street; a real Carbonara sauce that doesn’t taste like a Salmonella Special; a chutney, because I like a chutney, damn it.

What non-required reading I resolve to attend to: Dead Souls, by Gogol; Wild, by Cheryl Strayed; The Signal and the Noise, by Nate Silver; Life After Life, by Kate Atkinson, which is not out yet but which I hear is awesome; Jenny’s new book proposal.

What I resolve to convince my spouse to read: Orphan Master’s Son by Adam Johnson.

Restaurant I want to tryMission Chinese.

Restaurant I want to return toWoody’s All-Natural in Cornwall, NY, for the cheddar burger and the hand-cut fries with malt vinegar and the Mr. Pibb; Husk in Charleston, SC, for the ribs with mustard glaze and peanuts; ABC Kitchen in New York City, for literally everything on the menu; Jane in San Francisco, for the coffee and granola; Waffle House in Lumberton, NC, for the egg and cheese biscuit.

I resolve to finally try: To figure out a way – possibly even using some of those power tools that are in our basement, still in their box — to cover the wall behind Abby’s bed with corkboard. For real this time, I swear; to brine a bird; to run a marathon.

I resolve to teach my kids: That the Jets play football and the Yankees play baseball, and that backseats of cars, unlike ovens, are not self-cleaning; to body-surf; that it’s not okay to ask for “a glass of water on the rocks.”

I resolve to spend less money on: Data plans for devices I’m not even sure we have anymore; bourbon; the enrichment of Jeff Bezos.

I resolve to get Zen about: The hoodie and leggings situation. By which I mean, the fact that both daughters now refuse to leave the house in anything other than hoodies and leggings with holes in the knee. Makes me long for the Princess days. [Deeeeep breath.]

What I resolve to accomplish professionally: Have George Saunders recognized as one of America’s Greatest Living Writers. (Oh wait, that just happened!); stay employed; get home in time for dinner.

 

By Jenny

What I resolve to do in 2013: Have more confidence when using miso; Learn to cook vegetarian entrees that can be described as “enticing”; Make more green juices (related: somehow acquire Huron juicer that I didn’t get for Christmas in spite of heavy hint-dropping); Be a better friend, not get annoyed so easily, start mother-daughter book club, sign up for yoga, master fondant, teach self how to knit or make jam or some hobby that requires patience, sitting still, taking in the moment.

What I resolve to do less of in 2013: Sitting still and not being so lazy — must finish d@#m book proposal already!; think of retweeting Andy as a “romantic gesture;” mindless, time-sucking twitter and facebook trolling; repeating myself; texting instead of calling friends for check-in; shoveling handfuls of Abby’s cinnamon crunch cereal into mouth and justifying action by saying to self “at least it’s organic.”

What I resolve to not say to my spouse: “Are you running in the morning?” (Passive-aggressive married person code for: Are you going to wake me up and rob me of 45 minutes of weekday sleep-in time again?); “Huh. Couldn’t break the 7-minute mile this time?”

What I resolve not to say to my children: “Are you done with those fries?”

What I resolve to eat less of: French fries

What I resolve to eat more of: Water

What I resolve to learn how to cook: Bright, colorful blender sauces; large hunks of meat to perfect doneness; firm yet fluffy barley; a proper lasagna with homemade noodles and béchamel; that crazy-ass Nigella roast chicken with brandy and bacon; authentic Pad Thai; a new go-to showstopper for entertaining (suggestions welcome); brandade.

What non-required reading I resolve to tackle: IQ84, Wild, Wonder, Tenth of December, and The Hobbit, which is currently Phoebe’s favorite book and which I’d earn major Fun Mom points for discussing with her.

Restaurant I want to try: At least one of the following I’ve yet to check off the Life List: Masa, Lantern, Blackberry Farm, Lucques, Alinea, Noma, Chez Panisse, In-n-Out

Restaurant I want to return to: That seafood shack with the lobster rolls in Block Island right off the Ferry to the left; Prune, if only for the peas with horseradish and honey; Woody’s All-Natural in Cornwall, NY; Husk in Charleston; The plastic picnic table on Maenam Beach in Koh Samui, Thailand where we ate Pad Thai the way it’s supposed to be eaten (I can’t be too precise about the preparation, but I will say that having your toes in the sand ups the authenticity factor tremendously); Joe’s Café in Northampton, Mass with my girls; Oyster Bar counter in Grand Central with my Dad.

I resolve to finally try: Carrying a purse, moisturizing, administering eye make-up and “everyday” lipstick, scheduling regular haircuts instead of waiting until situation has reached dire status, and generally trying to do things that most grown women have been doing since they were 16; pay attention to poundage of meat at the butcher so we don’t end up with one silver dollar-size chicken thigh per diner.

I resolve to teach my kids: To cook one full dinner from start to finish all by themselves; topspin backhands

I resolve to spend less money on: Fancy BPA-free water bottles that I am convinced every time will get me to drink more water. (Ditto the ginger extract and Echinacea that I spent a week eye-dropping into the fancy bottle.)

I resolve to get Zen about: The hoodie and leggings situation.

What I resolve to accomplish professionally: Write another book; create a DALS App; Fill out the rest of that post that has been sitting in my queue for two years titled “One-Sentence Recipes;” Learn how to use more than the “food” setting on my camera (or at least figure out how to make the background of my food shots all blurry and cool looking); Get home in time for dinner.

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Clean Slate

January 3rd, 2011 · 31 Comments · Domestic Affairs, Posts by Andy, Rituals

Dear Andy,

In the spirit of the New Year, I, like everyone else, would like to make a few changes in the way I am cooking and eating. I think we are off to a good start — that crunchy Vietnamese salad you made with shrimp on the first day of 2011 rocked! — but before we go any further, in the interest of starting the year off right, I’d like to come clean on a few things that have been weighing on me. Make a confession or two, or five. I’m not sure how you’re going to feel about these admissions (or about me) once they are out there, but you know how strongly I feel about keeping things open in our house. And I don’t mean open in the way that Rex Ryan might mean it. I mean making sure we are communicating and hashing out everything for the sake of our family’s emotional health. Please keep this end goal in mind as you read the following.

Confession 1. I crowd the pan. Not just once or twice, but all the time. Even though every recipe warns about the dangers of its temperature-lowering effect on the pot, I keep doing it like some risk-addicted junkie. I’ve crammed together our poor chicken breasts, burgers, and pork chops for probably over a decade now but I sunk to lower, darker depths in 2010. (Put it this way: Great Grandma Turano was not smiling down on me when I browned — grayed? — her meatballs last March.) I tried to stop, I really did! But the homework beckoned or I started dinner later than I planned to, or, or, well…Cooking in Batches is a life I aspire to, but right now, I’m sorry to say, I am not woman enough to make it work. I know this might come as a shock to you and I apologize if you were not psychologically prepared to hear it today.

2. Remember that time you grabbed the iPod, pressed play, and found yourself in the middle of “You Belong With Me?” And remember how I told you Phoebe must have been listening to it with her friends earlier that day? Well, that wasn’t exactly the truth. I confess that I was listening to Taylor Swift by myself. I hadn’t been running to it like I had been with the whole Britney Spears incident of 2004. I was in the kitchen making lunch. For myself. There were no kids around. It was me and Taylor and you know what? Here’s the real confession: I really like her. In fact, I think I may even like her a little more than your beloved Drive-by Truckers. (I don’t think it’s entirely Abby’s fault that “Zip City” has now been replaced by “Speak Now” on our Most Played list.) Andy, I’m so sorry. I know how hard this must be for you to hear, but I promise you I am working on the problem. I only allow myself one karaoke performance of “Love Story” every day and even then, I always make sure one child under 10 is in the room with me.

3. You know how we resolved to redeem ourselves for our hedonistic December by going vegetarian (+fish) for at least the first two weeks of 2011? Well. I forgot about chicken broth. And therefore I wasn’t even strong enough to make it past noon on January 1, when I reheated that frozen stash of butternut squash soup from last month. It’s been almost 48 hours since then, and I feel firmly back on the wagon, but I wanted to make sure you knew.

4. Sometimes, when you head down to the basement to fetch us a bottle of wine, I add an extra pat of butter to the potatoes/quinoa/noodles/broccoli/risotto, even though, after your last cholesterol check, we vowed to cut back on butter and cheese. I’m sorry! Just that little bit makes it taste so much better. And think: One pat of butter divided by four mouths is like a little raindrop of bad fat, right? How could that even register?

5: Last April, I opened a bottle of Chardonnay thinking it was that special one from Burgundy that your old boss gave you, and savored a glass while I made dinner. But it was actually the Canadian Chardonnay that was left here after the pre-school potluck and that you had been meaning to throw away since 2005. I didn’t even notice til I put the bottle away and caught the bright orange $3.99 sale sticker affixed to the back.

Love, Jenny

Dear Jenny,

I, too, have some things I need to get off my chest. But first, I should respond to a few of your confessions, and thank you for your honesty. Don’t sweat the crowding the pan thing: God, on the spectrum of kitchen sins, this one hardly registers. I do the same thing: in fact, when I see a recipe that calls for browning things in batches, I practically take that as a dare to get as many meatballs or pork chops into the pan as possible. That’s just human nature. Taylor Swift, though?* For real? Without the kids around? Not to go all Kanye on you, but you’re in the danger zone there, possibly beyond help. You gonna start watching iCarly after the Today Show now? You gonna start resenting cheerleaders again? As for the sneaked-in pats of butter, nice. I’ll tell my cardiologist. What’s next, antifreeze in the fruit shake? Consider my eyes officially peeled. Now, as for my confessions…

Confession 1. Nothing makes my heart go colder than broccoli, though I promise to never admit this to our children. Every serving is a trial.

2. One glass of wine = two glasses of wine. I’m sorry, but it’s true. It’s so true, it should be a mathematical law.

3. You know that setting on the dial of our oven, the one right between “bake” and “broil”? It says “roast.” You know the one, right? I have no idea what it means, or what it does. I always thought baking was the same thing as roasting. Shouldn’t I know this?

4. Our silverware drawer makes me really crazy. I know you think the mismatched patterns and jumbled up slots, with the salad forks mixed in with the dinner forks, and the unpolished random pieces of silver and the disposal-chewed spoons that somehow ended up in our house even though we never bought them is “fun” and not “all matchy-matchy,” but I feel a twinge of true despair every time I open that drawer. One of these days, I am going to purge.

5. I was once, before we were married, The Guy Who Puts Hot Sauce on Almost Everything.

6. Our beloved cast iron skillet — perfectly seasoned! — kinda creeps me out. I’m just not a big fan of cooking everything in reheated lamb burger and salmon grease. So I scour it occasionally when you’re not looking. With soap, too. I’m sorry.

7. I know we’ve had our differences when it comes to the near godly status of dessert in our house, but thought you should know that I now start almost every day with one of those dark chocolate non-pareils from T. Joe’s that are always in our refrigerator. Before breakfast. Sometimes I have two. They’re so good.

8. I can’t tell you how how many times I’ve pretended not to notice that the dishwasher needs emptying.

9. I routinely pluck the pizza crusts our children leave behind from the garbage can, after you clean their plates. And then I eat them.

10. When you’re out, I squirt the Reddi-Wip straight into the kids’ mouths.

11. When you’re out, we don’t eat nearly as well. And other than the Reddi-Wip, we don’t have nearly as much fun.

Yours, in truth,

Andy

* P.S. It’s not THE iPod, by the way. It’s MY iPod! And it has Taylor Swift on it. That’s love.

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