I have one word to sum up 2020 and 2021 – Kuchisabishii. It’s Japanese for “eating when you’re not hungry but you eat because your mouth is lonely.” My mouth got so lonely so often that I gained 20 pounds of pandemic weight.
Is there a word for cooking when your heart is lonely?
Our kitchen, so often bustling with cooking classes, brunches, lunches or dinner parties, has been mostly empty. We’re lucky to be able to spend loads of time with my beautiful mother in Florida; I am profoundly grateful. Mike and I even rang in 2022 with mom, toasting with Veuve Clicquot at midnight while watching Betty White’s skits on SNL. (RIP Betty. I will always love you.)
Resolutions for 2022
Some people bake to procrastinate. I cook when I need to calm my mind and pretend my heart isn’t lonely. A sad news story can send me into the kitchen to conjure up something comforting. I can tell that 2021 was tough simply by the number of chickens I roasted and the mounds of potatoes I mashed.
Today, I’m looking forward. I’m working on a new series of online cooking classes. I had planned to debut them this week, but I broke my ankle in mid-December and I’ve decided to put them off until I’m out of my boot.
I’m also working as a consultant on a pitch for a TV show based on one of my books. I can’t talk about it yet (or maybe, never) and these things often don’t pan out. The Sharper Your Knife has been optioned four times, most recently by Darren Star; he made “Emily in Paris” instead.
Every year I make a few resolutions. Usually, it’s to lose 10 pounds, drink more water, use less plastic, that sort of thing. This year, I’m going a different route.
Resolution #1 – Tell more stories. Teach more cooking. Teach more writing. Years ago, while I trying to focus on my “brand,” Mike came up with a tidy phrase that captured how I think of myself. “Storyteller. Cook. Teacher.” I’ve lived, but I haven’t told the stories. I’ve written, but I haven’t shared the words. I’ve cooked, but not taught. So I’m going to work on that in 2022. I’ve got new books in the works, and I’m planning on restarting my podcast in February.
Resolution #2 – Be a better friend. Reconnect. I feel like my world has become so much smaller since March 2020.
Do your resolutions include eating better?
So, let’s start with the cooking and teaching part. If you’ve made resolutions that involve improving your diet, losing weight, etc. here’s something for you. Below are links to a few video lessons and primers that may be helpful to you if your resolutions include cooking more, eating better and saving money — all are good things to aim for, right?
▪ Knife Skills
▪ How to Make Vinaigrette
▪ How to Make Vegetable Stock
▪ How to Cook in Parchment
▪ A Cheat Sheet to Flavor Profiles
▪ Quick Guide to Herbs & Spices
▪ Basics of Soup Making
Here’s a New Year’s resolution for you
Start the year by knowing what’s actually lurking in your kitchen. Take everything out of each and every one of your cupboards, your fridge and freezer. Clear out expired stuff, junk food and the stuff you’ll just never use. In your fridge, post a photo of your favorite thing – your children, your husband, your dog, whatever. Make a point to never fill your fridge so stuffed that you can’t see it. Research shows that an emptier fridge leads to weight loss. “Eat down” your fridge, shop more often. More on this process.
Eat Better for Same Money by Wasting Less Food
If you want to eat better but not spend more, here’s a simple tactic: waste less food. The average American household wastes about 30% of all the food they purchase. No one would throw a $5 bill in the trash, but if you toss that lovely bunch of organic beets, it’s the same thing.
A couple of tips: when you bring home your produce, get out some post-it notes. Write down the price of that broccoli ($3) and put it right on the broccoli or the bag holding it. Do the same for all your fruit, vegetables, dairy or anything perishable. Then, when you go to throw out that item, collect that post-it with the others. Do this for a month. How much did you waste?
To learn more about the impact of food waste, I highly recommend the book Wasted Food by Jonathan Bloom.
Join my crew of recipe testers!
Bad cooks welcome! To join my league of recipe testers, send me an email and I’ll send you the “secret” page for my Fearless Friends, and the password.
I post new recipes regularly, and ask testers to simply fill out surveys afterward. I sometimes get in touch to ask you more questions. I give away gifts and get to know my testers, so don’t be shy!