Resolution-makers: If food's the issue, chew on it a while

HAPPY EATER

January 06, 1993|By ROB KASPER

Making eating and drinking resolutions for the new year is no like making instant pudding. You don't just toss things together and immediately serve it .

On the contrary. It is more like baking old-fashioned bread. It takes time. There are stages that you have to go through, three of them to be exact.

First, there is the resolution-making stage. Then there is the resolution-pondering stage. And finally, the resolution-enacting stage.

The first two stages, which we are in right now, should take weeks. Rome, serious desserts and good resolutions weren't whipped up in an instant. There has to be time to mull things over.

During the makin'-and-ponderin' stages, there are a couple of questions a resolution-maker should ask.

One big one is: Why do I want to do this thing? Why, for example, do I want to eat an onion for breakfast? If the answer involves some fleeting emotion, such as an urge to punish yourself at breakfast for attacking the dessert cart the night before, then toss that resolution out.

Chances are slim that you would have kept it anyway. The night will come when the desserts slip past undetected, and then what? Your early morning onion eating routine seems senseless.

Another question worth asking is whether the proposed resolution leads to any greater good. If, for example, you are thinking of eating an onion for breakfast as part of plan to ward off colds and nosy relatives, then go for it.

With these general guidelines in mind, here are a few eating and drinking resolutions I am mulling over for the coming year.

Resolved, sorta: to become friends with a new fish.

Salmon, swordfish, tuna and rockfish are classy old acquaintances, but I would like to add a new, cheaper weeknight dinner companion. Something like a tilapia or monkfish on Monday night. In our previous encounters I have found these fish to be shy of flavor. I am searching for a sauce to liven them up.

Resolved, sorta: to roast more vegetables.

Cooking over the naked flame does wonders for the flavor of meat, game and fish, and now I ready to aim the flame at a wider array of victims. I've done green peppers, onions and eggplant over the nearly-naked fire of the barbecue grill. Maybe it is time for carrots, soaked in a little olive oil. Next would be roasted potatoes. And finally the big test, roasted peas.

Resolved, sorta: to try more out-of-the-way wines.

Lately my wine drinking pattern has been drink-America-first. Confining my quaffing to U.S.A. grapes made wine drinking relatively inexpensive and also made my decision-making easier. Instead of choosing among the red wines of the world, I could confine myself to the Cabernets and Zinfandels of California. But now I am prepared to go global, and sip my way into the wines of South America.

Resolved, sorta: to continue my practice of reading only one this-food-can-kill-you story per week.

I started this two years ago, and have been much healthier, mentally. Only one story per week gets my full, hit-it-with-questions treatment. This consists of peppering the findings with questions, such as: Who did the study? What was the sample size? What was the research technique? And, have the results been duplicated?

Resolved, sorta: to bake some bread.

The primary reason to make your own bread is, of course, because the finished product has such flavor. But another big appeal for me is punching down the dough. It feels so good. It relieves so much frustration. And it doesn't hit back. I can't imagine that pushing a button on a bread-making machine would give me that much of a thrill.

Resolved, sorta: to get serious about soup-making.

Homemade soup seems to be the right supper for the family. There is so much of it. It has outstanding flavor. Even the kids eat it. A good soup, like a good family, takes forever to blend. But the results, the occasional moments of delight, seem to be worth the effort.

Again, these resolutions are in the rumination stage. No new course of eating action has been set.

But the deadline for action is looming. By Groundhog Day, Feb. 2, the resolutions worth abiding by will have been separated from the bad ideas. And by then I will spring to action, sorta.

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