Here's where I let my thoughts go this way and that on food-related topics.

Food Resolutions for 1998 I Might Even Be Able to Keep

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Making New Year's resolutions mobilizes my inner stores of optimism, enterprise and, alas, self delusion. I've never made a resolution on January first that wasn't broken - or forgotten - by January fifth. And no wonder... my resolutions are as wildly ambitious as they are unrealistic.

Still, I really like the idea of resolutions, and I like the image of myself as someone who can carry them out. So this year I figured if I drastically downsize my resolve and lower my self-expectations; if I can restrict my resolutions to the culinary area of my life (the least psychologically fraught), I might come up with some eminently do-able resolutions that even my inner underachiever won't balk at. Here's a tentative list:

~I resolve to accept my culinary limitations. I will probably never be able to 1) caramelize sugar without setting off the smoke alarm; 2) cook pork without rendering into substance more appropriate for a  teething puppy than a hungry human; 3) be able to get lettuce as dry as the cookbooks say I should...even with my Zyliss spinner.

~I will sharpen my knives more often than I clean out my fridge and clean out my fridge more often than I rotate the wheels on my car (when was the last time I did that?).

~I will remember to forewarn my daughter when I'm serving a dish containing Chile peppers and make her scrambled eggs instead. (She made me put this one in.)

~I will replace the cans of tuna I put in my earthquake preparedness kit right after 1989 Loma Prieta quake (I live in shaking distance of the San Andreas fault). What's the point of surviving the impending Big One only to die of botulism afterwards?

~I'll try not to obsess about the newly discovered E.coli 157:H7 bacteria.

~I will rid my kitchen of a few items I am almost 99% sure I will never use: 1) the tortilla press and the duplicate candy thermometer; 2) herbs and spices I only used once and can't even remember when that was - the juniper berries, the file gumbo powder come to mind; 3) the stack of old cooking magazines waiting for the day when I'll try those recipes I marked with Post-Its. Who am I kidding?

~When I invite people over for dinner I will not spend so much time cleaning the bathroom before they arrive, unless that's where I plan to serve dinner.

~I will not feel like a failed gastonome just because I can't stand cilantro. I don't care what anyone says - it does taste like soap.

~I'll let go of my hope that there's still a darned good five-dollar bottle of wine to be found.