The year in review

Parting thoughts from a year of blogging.

Seeking out better home cooking

Good home cooking is (almost) priceless. Eating well is one of the great common pleasures.

The most important thing I learned last year was that I have so much more to learn. In trying to improve my cooking, sauces and, necessarily, stocks have become more important to me. I got serious about Filipino food, frequently cooking chicken and pork adobo, as well as other dishes like kare-kare, pansit, and sinigang. I used to think Filipino food couldn’t be redeemed but found a little technique goes a long way. Growing my own ingredients was highly educational. When we have the space, I’d like to raise chickens for their eggs and perhaps chicken and rabbits for their meat. I know a little better what the latter requires.

Theory and practice

If you want to improve, you have to cook. You have to put theory into practice.

My experience with low-temperature cooking is a good example. After listening to Dave Arnold answer sous vide questions for the better part of a year, I caved and bought one. Though that listening kept me from being intimidated, my early attempts at cooking chicken cutlets and thighs could hardly be considered successes. The first cutlets were bland and the first thighs had an unpalatable color. Only with practice have I started to work out the kinks and find out what works for me. My experience with Indian food is another example. I like Indian food and thanks to my Indian friends from college I know what good Indian food tastes like. But after cooking from a few Indian cookbooks I’ve learned that I can’t accommodate all those flavors in my regular home cooking.

Next steps

When I started blogging this year I thought I’d explore many more technical topics, perhaps in the vein of Jet City Gastrophysics and Seattle Food Geek. Reading through my posts, it became clear my interests are ultimately more prosaic. I still enjoy technology — I’m going to start with foams and gels as well as a Smoking Gun this year — but realize that incorporating it into my day-to-day cooking is its own problem. Learning how to use modernist technique in sensible ways, particularly in Filipino food, is another problem.

Those problems are worth writing about. To that end I’ve decided to blog about them in my own space. Going forward you can find me at The Bootstrapped Cook. (Per some helpful readers, I’m adding more pictures. Long overdue!) Thanks to all who read my posts here. Happy new year and happy cooking!

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