Wednesday, December 31, 2008

New Year's Resolutions

You can use egg to bind a lot of things, but how do you make a habit stick?

As you may have noticed, I haven't posted an entry here since the spring. Having let it go so long, it's hard for me to return. I wrote when I was out of work, to create a portfolio piece. Once I had a job, I felt I neither had the time to write, nor the inclination to work on a portfolio I felt I wouldn't need for a long time, maybe never.

I work with food, and I write about food in a personal blog. At times I considered writing my food-related entries for this blog instead, and each time I talked myself out of the extra effort involved in writing a smoother, more professional, portfolio-worthy entry. Even the extra log-in to Blogger became a stumbling block.

When I'm finally ready to stop stonewalling and start problem-solving, I find the step where I'm stalled, and overcome the obstacle. For instance, I'm afraid of pie crust. I will decide that I have irrevocably lost the only good recipe I ever had, can never recreate it, and beside that, the dough will stick to the rolling pin, parchment paper, and the counter, will tear into a million pieces on the way to the pie dish, and after it's baked it will taste like shoe leather.

At some point, I will commit myself to making a pie: I will make the filling, I will not make alternative plans for dinner and, unable to put it off any longer, I will search Cook's Illustrated's website for the no-fail recipe that uses vodka, or I will use one of the two other pie crust recipes around the house and substitute some vodka for the water, and I will roll out pie dough, and on transfer to the pie plate it will break into only half a dozen pieces, which I will solder back together with my fingers, and it will bake up tender and flaky, because it's harder than that to screw up pie crust.

My anxiety around not being the best can prevent me from attempting to do things, even if I am competent. I will think I'm in competition with the best pie I ever ate, or the most amusing food blog I've ever read.

Home cooking is a homely art, like blogging. There are limitations on what and how I cook that are particular to me: the region where I live, my family's tastes and dietary needs, the growing season, and our budget are just a few of the factors, and how I function creatively within those constraints is the flavor of my home cooking. Home cooking is the personal, privately practiced art of feeding family and friends. What I hope to share in my food blog is just as unique to me, and in competition with no one else.

So how do you make a habit stick? Make your life your art. Savor your own cooking.
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