One of my New Year's resolutions (since I was 15 years old) is to eat better. This year I got a little more specific and gave myself a break with the details. I resolved to at least "make proper meals as often as possible". Living alone with no set dinner times or requirement to fulfill the four food groups is both an awesome freedom and a license to be lazy. Often I'll end up calling cheese and crackers or cut up pieces of ham a complete dinner. So, I have made a concerted effort to make real meals.
I've discovered that to take the task on for every day of the week is quite the chore. Especially for one person. I've been inviting people over randomly and at the last minute to help me eat my dinner. It makes all the effort a little more worth my time and effort. Plus they usually bring wine because they think it's a real dinner "party".
Seriously, to cook a three-piece meal takes up every element on my stove, including the one that doesn't work, and my oven. It's not at all hard, but the amount of time and dirty dishes one plate produces is irritating.
Another layer of the challenge is my ongoing lifelong goal to make every single recipe in all of Barefoot Contessa's seven cookbooks. So, I view each meal as an opportunity to knock a dish off the list. This is why I attemped meatloaf. I never liked it as a child and as an adult, it just seemed incredibly dull. A brick of meat. That's it. Why would I want to eat that?
However, Ina Garten's turkey meatloaf was pretty great. But even though I halved the recipe, I still ended up with a huge loaf. I ended up using slices as bread for the next week. Ever tried a bacon/meatloaf sandwich? Well, don't.
Another way I'm accomplishing both my goals is by hosting dinner parties. I've always enjoyed hosting parties, but the dinner party is great because it's more intimate and I get to be the little hostess in the apron. Yeah, I like this part. My goal is to host one a month with different guests.
The March party was my first formal dinner party of 2012 and it was a great time. It was particularly challenging as one guest was gluten free, another was pregnant, and another still was a vegetarian who is allergic to sugar. Faced with serving salad and water, I came up with a gluten-free turkey lasagna as the main course. I have always wanted to attempt a lasagna and it was incredible. I was shocked - even the Italian guest approved. I also made a caesar salad with anchovy dressing and strawberry French tarts with créme Anglaise - all homemade. We washed things down with Tom Collins cocktails.
I also took the plunge for Easter and took on the large family dinner - I did my first pork loin. It's so fun being this age when everything I make is "my first". I'm sure when I'm in my fifties I'll be so sick of meatloaf and pork loin.
After all this food talk, I'm pretty famished now. Grilled cheese anyone?