Food Resolutions to Inspire a Delicious New Year
This is it. A chance to say so long to 2017 and get ready to rock your life in the new year. Like most people I’m getting ready for a celebratory evening to wind up this year in style (fancy drinks, cheese plate, pajamas) and have been scribbling down motivational thoughts that I hope will coalesce over the next few days into an Ultimate Game Plan to Dominate 2018. Or at least a set up a few gentle reminders to maybe lay off the cookies.
What’s everyone else up to? I reached out to some culinary-minded friends around the state to see how they were thinking ahead about the new year and what their food-focused resolutions looked like. We hope you’ll be inspired to think about a delicious 2018, too.
Jason Croft, Fire Island Rustic Bakeshop’s manager, is keeping it simple:
“In 2018, I am resolving to help my wife launch our urban farm in the Airport Heights neighborhood. With that, I also want to invest more of my time in Alaska's great wilderness backcountry in pursuit of wild game.”
Sounds like a delicious combo. (I’ll keep an eye out for my dinner invite.)
It took us a minute to catch up with Stephanie Johnson, general manager at Anchorage’s busy Beartooth Theatre Pub & Grill but we managed to find her at the gym.
“My food New Year's resolution is to more consistently eat breakfast. I'm not a morning person and making anything, let alone decisions, at this time of day is always tough for me. I’ve been on the hunt for things that I can make ahead of time for fast and easy reheating or no heating.
A recent favorite find are the butternut squash cakes from Kim Sunée's Everyday Korean cookbook. They reheat quickly in either a frying pan or a toaster oven and are great on their own or with a fried egg. I recently backpacked out to a cabin on Eklutna Lake for the weekend with some friends and fellow foodies. One of the woman had made these squash cakes in advance and we reheated them on the camp stove. They were heavenly!
Because I never know exactly what my work day might look like (restaurants are little chaos palaces!) eating breakfast feels like something so nurturing and kind that I can do for my body. As I get older, I’m finding that I value trying to do that more. Did I mention I'm training for a marathon? Breakfast is life in training!”
Lori Jenkins, owner of Synergy Gardens in Homer, offers a resolution that she’s committed to honoring all year long.
“As a supplier to the fine chefs in the Homer area, I resolve to grow more cilantro for its succulent leaves, for its flavorful blossoms, and for its unusual roots for new sauces. There is nothing like the taste of freshly harvested herbs!”
From Dillingham, Susie Jenkins Brito shares her love of food and fishing through her blog Set the Net (and in the pages of Edible Alaska). As if she wasn’t busy enough, Susie shared her hopes for 2018 with us.
“My resolution is to make 2018 the year of fungi — I'm already an avid Chaga user but I'd love to become proficient at other mushroom identification and try my hand at inoculating some logs in our woods. I love foraging with my family and we work continually to expand our use of the wild plants here in Southwest Alaska. It is an ever-ongoing education.
In addition to my fungi future, continuing to learn the traditional Yupik names and uses is always top of my list. I love the knowledge gained by sharing and speaking with others while continuing to grow my own skills. I also have dreams of creating a blog-worthy handmade ravioli stuffed with wild Alaska mushrooms and spiced with fresh foraged lovage, maybe filled with halibut, too…”
(I’m looking forward to that blog post already.)
Alyeska's executive pastry chef Scott Fausz shared that in the coming year he is going to attempt to manage his weight a bit better. With that in mind, he is not eliminating anything from his diet, but instead focusing more on healthy portion sizes while trying to consume more vegetables and fewer animal-based products. He’s also trying to limit his dairy intake and opting for almond milk whenever possible. However, his deep affection for all things cheese means he is still consuming plenty of it. Cheers and good luck to you, Scott!
The team at Sustainable Southeast Partnership got together and created some 2018 goals that we’re really excited about. They include:
Support more local food businesses, growers and cottage industries. If you are in Juneau or Haines, try Salt and Soil online marketplace or visit your community's farmers market.
Learn how to safely process the bounty of Alaska and replace store bought meat with local game to reduce carbon footprint and strengthen our relationship with this land. The Cooperative Extension has some great resources for learning these techniques.
Try learning some new recipes to keep local foods exciting and new. How about venison pastrami? It is fairly simple to cure and it makes for delicious Reuben sandwiches.
Grow, grow, grow! Learn how to cultivate more foods including herbs.
Although Seven Glacier’s executive chef Aaron Apling-Gilman told me he’s never been much for resolutions, he managed to put together quite a guide. “I suppose I view their symbolism as something that should be part of every functional human’s repertoire. We should always be striving to get better, to change…" Enjoy some highlights from Aaron’s ambitious list (in no particular order):
I’m going to coddle the front of house less and the back of house more. Teaching, telling showing, doing. Asking questions of those I manage.
I'm going to strive to find a wider array of Alaska products and do the leg work to make them available to my guests regularly. I'm going to continue to define Alaska cuisine but frame it in a context that is relevant and interesting without being preachy, pretentious, or God forbid “rustic.” Alaska is rustic, Alaska cuisine doesn’t have to be.
I'm going to continue my study of wine, beer, and spirits in a concise, relatable approach.
I'm going to push myself out of my comfort zone and work on my skills in areas that I am weak or that I have lost focus on. Pasta, pastry, baking, foraging.
I'm going to cook my way through my family cookbook that my mother made for me as a Christmas gift 5 or 10 years ago.
I'm going to attempt more 360s (and wear my helmet more regularly).
I'm going to listen more and talk less.
I'm going to go North more and South less!
What are you going to do?
Well, Aaron, since you asked, I’m with Jason Porter, Alyeska’s executive chef/director of food & beverage, who resolves to try and consume less sugar in 2018. I also loved anyone’s suggestions about foraging more — that’s definitely on my list (especially mushrooms). As you might guess, I’m resolved to making sure Edible Alaska continues to be one of the strong and inspirational voices of the local food movement across Alaska! And although I will wear my helmet on the slopes, I don’t think I’ll be trying any 360s this coming year.
Here’s hoping your 2017 ends on a high note, and that your 2018 looks bright.