I am not really a person to make New Year’s Resolutions, but last January I decided to start a year-long project. I bought a notebook, and resolved to journal every one of our family’s dinners throughout 2013. I saw the idea through the blog Dinner: A Love Story, and I thought it would be a great way to create a year of memories that revolves around one of my favorite subjects. I wish that I could read something similar from every family around the world—food is the ultimate cultural universal, and there is so much that can be learned from other communities simply from what they eat.
Now that I have the completed journal, I love flipping through the journal to take a few minutes to remember the night of my 17th birthday party, where my dad and I cooked peel after peel of hot pizza for my closest group of friends, or the incredible week I spent in France and Spain with my choir (and ate eggplant nearly every day). Paging through the summer months, I recall the frequent barbeques we had with friends from Denmark or England or the weekly pizza dinners that took place along the periphery of our neighborhood pool every Friday night.
It’s fascinating to see the patterns and preferences of our family as well as observe what dishes we fall back on when busy weeknights don’t allow for much time to be spent on dinner. The one thing that never changed from night to night was our daily salad. We are from California after all, and no dinner was complete without a large bowl of greens often augmented by a handful of cheese, maple walnuts, croutons, or apple slices.
A Monday night classic was Spaghetti and Meatballs for the meat-eaters of the family, but we happen to be equal opportunity pasta lovers, so 2013 saw lots of pasta variations and pestos. My favorites were Rigatoni with Mushroom Ragout and Campanelle with Cauliflower and Breadcrumbs.
Pizza was another common dinner this past year, from our Friday night pizza dinners at the pool, to Carrot-Walnut pizzas at home, to incredible brick-oven pizza at restaurants like Apizza Scholls (Portland) and Ragazza (San Francisco).
Speaking of restaurants, I am incredibly lucky to live in an area that has a wide variety of delicious cuisines. We had lots of curry and spring rolls at Indochine, as well as plenty of green salad at Sprout and deep bowls of hummus at Oren’s Hummus.
At home as well we created meals from all around the world. Burritos were a Thursday evening favorite, and I also discovered how simple it is to make an authentic Thai curry at home with a quality curry paste and a can of coconut milk.
Like a typical vegetarian, I also ate my fair share of lentils. They formed the base for lots of healthful, simple meals that came together in minutes, whether it was a basic lentil salad with vegetables or a spicy red lentil daal.
2013 was a great year for food, and I am so glad that I have this collection of memories to keep for the rest of my life. The commitment level was never more than 30 seconds every evening, and I fully intend on continuing the journal for 2014—it’s anyone’s guess as to what it will look like a year from now.
Thank you for supporting Kinsey Cooks over the past seven months and encouraging me to make 2013 one of the most creative and interesting years for me so far. It means so much to me to have such an amazing and dedicated group of readers; I couldn’t do it without all of you.