It's hard to believe that I started this journal just after Christmas last year. In that year, I've talked about a lot of different topics: baking, wine, soups - whatever I've felt like talking about. And you readers have, for the most part, been very supportive.
I haven't accomplished everything I wanted yet. I wanted to do more experimental cooking, playing with higher levels of cuisine. I've found that I'm spending a lot of time trying to get the most out of recipes I'm accustomed to making, perfecting them, sharing them. And it's been good.
I received a new book for Christmas this year: Cooking: the Quintessential Art by Hervé This and Pierre Gagnaire. The authors talk about what makes cooking art, what is the difference between an artisan and an artist in the kitchen. At the end of each chapter are some thought experiments, intended to help the reader break out of established ways of thinking about food. All in all, it's a book I enjoyed reading cover to cover; it really made me think about cooking, especially how I approached cooking. I don't agree with some of its suggestions about what makes cooking an art or a cook an artist.
I use several approaches toward deciding what I want to cook. Sometimes, I want to focus on a flavor, whether is a spice/combination, a vegetable, a specific meat, etc. I try to find a way to highlight that flavor and make stand out. That flavor may not be a food that I'm cooking; I've built many meals around a specific wine I want to sample.
Other times, I want to see what I can do with a technique. Some of the techniques are ones I've never tried before. I occasionally apply techniques in new ways just to see what happens. I've had failures and I've had successes. I've learned from each and every one.
During the next year, I plan to include some of the thought experiments from Cooking: the Quintessential Art in my blog, whether I find the outcome a success or failure. I may need to tweak some of the experiments based on ingredients I have available (for example, I haven't found squab locally yet). So keep an eye out for these posts!