There's no point in making resolutions - I never follow them. I have a bash for a week (or a day. Or a meal) and then fall in a big, disorganised, fried food heap. So instead I give myself tips. Take 'em or leave 'em Bennetto. If I follow them, I'll be a better cook, a better girlfriend and a happier person. Let's see how I go with these 12 tips instead of resolutions.
1. Check the pantry before you buy groceries. I have no less than four bags of sugar. All opened. And no flour. And three bottles of green food colouring. There will come a day I will buy more green food colouring.
2. Sharpen your knives. I bought a beautiful set of Global knives, so sharp they severed the pinky of a good friend on first use. They're now dull as... something dull... a warthog maybe.
3. Don't cook in a rush. When I rest the pastry, when I gather my ingredients, when I clean my benches, cooking is like a dream. Otherwise, it's eggs on the floor, sanity out the window madness. It's so simple: calm down, get organised and things happen the way you want them to.
4. If you're making cakes your boyfriend doesn't get to enjoy, it's probably not his job to do the dishes.
5. Learn to cook meat well. Not well done. Well. I still struggle to achieve that beautiful pinky colour in lamb, and chicken always needs to go back in the oven for at least 15 minutes. I have managed to avoid poisoning my friends so far, but I feel I'm one drumstick away from criminal manslaughter. An oven thermometer and a careful eye on the clock should help.
6. Cook bolognaise with less tomato. I always absentmindedly throw in a can or two of tomatoes, knowing it's not the true way in Bologna. The other night, I used some tomato paste and a couple of tiny fresh roma tomatoes. It was pretty spectacular. My fairy god-nonna would be proud.
7. Get back into my crazy cakes and desserts. I remember cooking a pink striped confection for my wonderful friend Lesley and her reaction will stay with me forever. I love the shock and surprise when a friend feels a little bit spoilt by a cake you baked for them. Lesley, of course, is worth every second of effort.
8. Get back to reading Epicure and Gourmet Traveller, cover the cover. I used to pour over those resources and now treat them as pretty picture books. It's not Playboy, Emma. the articles actually are interesting. Errrr, not that I have a basis for comparison.
9. Along the same lines as 8. Use your cookbooks. I pulled my David Chang Momofuku book out of the bookcase recently and made his cauliflower salad with fish sauce vinaigrette. Out of this world and by far the most requested recipe I've cooked. But I've not cooked another thing from the book. Cereal milk ice cream is my next conquest!
10. Put open packets of legumes into sealed containers immediately. I've done so much for the weevil population of Melbourne, I'm pretty sure they've named a weevil sports ground after me. Or erected a bronze statue in my honour in a half empty packet of chickpeas.
11. Keep on cooking. It keeps the crazy brain at bay and my buddies seem to enjoy it.
12. If in doubt, refer to 11.