Sunday, January 06, 2008

Progress report

Here we are nearly a week into the new year, so it's time to report on my progress re: the Umbrella Resolution. Have I made an effort to use what I have instead of acquiring new things?

Well, I can confidently report that I am absolutely no closer to fitting into my favorite clothes than I was a week ago. It's tough when one of your post-holiday traditions is making cassoulet. For those who aren't familiar with the outrageousness that is cassoulet, it's basically a big crock of baked beans bubbling in goose fat, peppered liberally with confit of goose legs, sausage, and bacon rind. As much as I love it, once a year is plenty.

On the other hand, we have made great strides toward running a more frugal household. We're using a trial copy of Moneydance, which we like very much and will almost certainly purchase. The mere knowledge that the s.o. is logging my expenditures is enough to give me pause when I'm thinking about stopping for a latte.

And then there's my latest discovery in kitchen equipment. When I visited Ohio in December, I had talked with my mother about how much I needed a large, flat-bottomed, deep skillet with handles on both sides. But then on New Year's Day I dragged out my Farberware electric skillet to make meatballs for our visitors, and I fell in love with that skillet all over again. Encouraged, I used it to brown all the meats for the cassoulet the next day, and then to reduce the tomato broth. It turns out it's truly a sweet piece of equipment--so precise and roomy and easy to clean. I've had it for more than a decade, but could probably count the number of times I've used it on both hands. Yet it's the deep, flat skillet I've been wanting! I hereby resolve to use it all the time.

Since I've resolved to make the most of my existing cookbooks, I took an hour or so to go through some of my books and make a note of the recipes I wanted to try. I have a little list now, and I'm hoping to check them all off! Last night I delved into the Rebar Modern Food Cookbook and made two recipes. I'm not sure if it counts as making use of stuff we already have, since Jenny got the book for us for Christmas (ain't she awesome?!), but it's the spirit of the thing, right? Ahem. Anyway, the wilted spinach salad and the fettucine with sun-dried tomato and artichoke heart salsa were both fabulous. It's all the more impressive because both recipes called for olives, which of course I didn't use, yet they still had plenty of zing.

I wish I could tell you I've done some other clever crafty things, but I'm currently embroiled in three ongoing knitting projects, so I can't start anything new at the moment. I did purchase a few supplies to make a t-shirt quilt out of a bunch of the s.o.'s old tees, so I suspect I will be spending a lot of leisure time ironing pieces of t-shirt onto fusible interfacing. I think it's going to be awesome.

Oh, and I pruned the fruit trees in our little orchard. Talk about cheap entertainment--it's like bonsai, only bigger and with the object of encouraging the trees to fruit. Fun, actually.