Sunday, January 3, 2010

A new year, a new list, a new recipe

2010. Maybe because it’s halfway between the turn of the millennium (historically momentous) and 2020 (if not momentous, at least mumerically cool), I am feeling a different energy this year, in the air, in my intentions, in the very few resolutions I actually made. One resolution was: READ MAGAZINES, MAKE NOTES, GET RID OF MAGAZINES—WITHIN ONE WEEK. Another was: DRINK WATER. The intentions, by contrast, were things like BE DECISIVE, BE GRATEFUL, SAY YES, CELEBRATE, CONNECT, PAY ATTENTION. And because intentions without actions are meaningless, I have been “acting” in a sense: by making lists. That, I guess, is the “pay attention” part of my gallery of intentions.

Let me just say, before I get going here: I am not a list maker.

I lead such an unstructured life it’s silly.

And to me, lists mean structure. And so they are scary.

Yet these past two days (I am so on a roll), the structure I feel from my lists has made me feel, not scared, but—dare I say—in control. Not of my life, I won’t go that far. But of something that my life, my happiness, my well-being, depend on.

And today, a day when I crossed almost everything off my list (MEDITATE keeps managing to elude me), I am feeling powerful. Like I can do anything.

Okay, okay, maybe not anything. But at least I know I can straighten up the house (isolated corners of it, but that’s a start); I can, in the process of straightening up, find an important bit of information gone lost, in this case a piece of paper that will allow me to make plans for a frigid weekend in Yellowstone come February (very happy to check that one off the list, because I wasn’t looking forward to reconstructing it); I can get my Search & Rescue gear in order, so that now I am poised for a call-out (and so one will come, right?); and I can go through my closet to cull clothes and shoes that, as much as I once liked them, I know I will never wear again and so are now destined for Goodwill.

Oh, and here’s the big one: I can cook. I can!

The truth is, I enjoy cooking. Once or twice a year. At least, that’s the story I tell myself. Lately, though, I’ve had the hankering—for a stew, a soup, something simmering all day in the crockpot. A mélange of ingredients and spices, tastes and smells. The other day I was going through the magazine Real Simple (remember that resolution I mentioned?) and found a couple of recipes. One was for chicken stew with peppers, olives, and golden raisins. I tore it out. And last Thursday I entered it on my list for the week; and today, for the day.

And with the sweet intention of making dinner tonight, I took some time this afternoon to visit the market and buy chicken thighs (skinned, boneless), chicken broth (low sodium), kalamata olives (pitted), and red and green bell peppers. And then, a few hours later, I put on my reading glasses and got to work.

Although the recipe specified 30 minutes for preparation, 1 hour for cooking, my approach has never been to prepare, then cook. I wrestle with the ingredients as I go along. Which meant there was some down time (while I wrestled with peppers), so all in all the recipe took closer to 2 hours. And so: I’m about to add a new intention to my list: PREPARE, THEN DO. I can use the reminder, in various areas of my life.

As for cooking, since I already have one recipe ticked off, maybe this momentous year will see more than just two under my belt. Well, in fact, it’s a given. Because this year I have a separate little list: 55 things I want to accomplish before my next birthday, December 4, 2010. And on it are #6: BAKE BREAD and #42: MAKE CASSOULET and (how did this get on there?) #32: DINNER PARTY (though David can be in charge of that; I will sous-chef, something I’m very, very good at). Oh and #46: MAKE RECIPES FROM 5 LITTLE-USED COOKBOOKS. Seven or so cooking events for the year? I might manage to do that.

But I will need to put them on a list or two, or seven. Or more.

I’m kinda looking forward to 2010. I am sensing movement.