Tuesday, January 1, 2019

A New Year for Chef Bolek

As I look back at 2018, I am happy that I have been able to cook more than in previous years, as well as write more on this blog. Admittedly, I have only a handful of hobbies right now (due to time constraints). Cooking has been the most important of those hobbies.

I use cooking, as well as this blog, as a way to relieve stress from my day job (which was very stressful last year).  The research and preparation of a dish allows me to forget about my day job and focus on the ingredients, processes, and plating of the meal.  It is one of the few hobbies that allows me to do that; and, perhaps, that is one reason why I love to cook.  

But, cooking and my blog also serve another important purpose ... to learn about food, cultures and people.  They have inspired me to pursue my personal culinary challenge, Around the World in 80 Dishes, which I completed seven main courses from seven different countries (Italy, Croatia, Djibouti, Panama, South Korea, Guyana and Ghana).  Each of those challenges involved a lot of research into the countries, their cuisines and their cultures.  (Unfortunately, due to time constraints, not all of that research made it into the blog posts.)  I have also done research into various aspects of food and cooking, looking at the history of ingredients and cooking processes, as well as particular dishes.  

But, as I turn to 2019, there are going to be some changes.  I am still working them out, but here are some of the bigger ones: 

(1) Healthier Foods.  I am a carnivore at heart, but I have to protect that heart.  I will still make meat dishes, but, my goal for 2019 is to make healthier dishes, with an increase in the use of fruits and vegetables.  This is one aspect of a larger goal of creating a healthier diet (something along the lines of a Mediterranean diet or perhaps a diet based upon Ayurvedic principles).

(2) More Socially Conscious Choices.  I have already been doing this in 2018, focusing on where things come from (especially seafood) and/or how they are raised (such as primarily buying grass-fed beef).  This has been a significant part of the research that I have done in preparation of dishes.  I want to take it to the next level, perhaps by going back to a community supported agriculture program for vegetables and more work to source ingredients locally.  This may lead to a resurrection of my CSA Challenge.

(3) More Posts About Issues of Concern to Me.  Not only am I going to focus on making more socially conscious choices, I may start blogging more about issues related to food that concern me.  There are many of them and I have been tempted to do this in the past. Issues such as the environment, which is important to me because of the Chesapeake Bay, an estuary that has a special importance in the area where I live.  Issues such as human rights and worker rights, which are important in practically every aspect of agriculture and food production, but especially important with respect to modern day slavery on fishing vessels and elsewhere.  

(4)  More Experimentation.  There are many things that I have wanted to do.  They form a bucket list of sorts.  I want to make a dish using different proteins, such as alligator or turtle meat (responsibly and sustainably sourced, of course).  

(5) More conservation.  Finally, I am going to continue working on portion sizes with a goal of minimizing food waste.  Did you know that 40% of the food in the United States does not get eaten?  With starving people and children in the United States and around the world, this is unconscionable.  Change starts with oneself and then it can build from there.  So, for this year, I am going to be far more aware of the amounts of food that I buy so that I do not end up throwing away leftovers after a few days.  I am also going to explore other ways that I and my family can reduce our footprint on this planet.  I hope that you can do so too.

These are just a few thoughts that I quickly typed out for this year.  Please check back over the course of the year to see how I do and how my cooking evolves over time.  Until then ... 


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