2021 Kitchen Resolutions: Summer Update

June 29, 2021

Halfway through 2021! When we get to this point of the year, I am usually so distracted by all of the summer produce I’m harvesting and eating to even pay attention to much else. But over the last three months, I have been working on my kitchen goals, so it’s time to check in and see how those are progressing.

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If you’re new around this blog, here’s a bit of background: Every year I like to set myself four kitchen-themed goals to work on, and tell you all about my progress. To catch up on this year, check out my introduction to my 2021 goals and my spring update.

You can also look back on my journey with my 2020 goals (spring, summer, and fall updates) and 2019 goals (spring, summer, and fall updates). As you might expect, 2020 was a bit of a wild ride with lots of changes. This year has been going a bit more smoothly.

While you’re here, you can also enjoy my summer tablescape. It’s bold, colorful, and a little bit Jungle Cruise-inspired!

Better & Healthier Snacks

Not much has changed when it comes to snacks over the past few months. I am continuing to explore new brands that are healthier alternatives to chips and candy. My current favorites include Enjoy Life lentil chips (the thai chili ones are amazing) and Unreal candies chocolate peanut nougat bars.

Luckily for me, produce season has really just kicked off here. For the rest of the year, it’s pretty easy to grab fresh snap peas, berries, stone fruits, and then eventually apples when I need a snack. If I am looking for something to fill those sweet or salty cravings, then I have my packaged snacks as well.

I am also working on a pantry reorganization. Well, in my head. I am thinking that making the items I really want to be grabbing the most accessible can only help. I have been looking into acrylic drawers and shelves that I can stack, so it’s easy to see everything and grab it from the back.

Research Science & Technique

I have been continuing to read a couple different books that are helping me learn more about the science behind cooking. I still reference The Flavor Matrix all the time, and I definitely recommend it for anyone who is a little nerdy about the chemistry of flavors or just wants to try new combinations.

I got a little distracted from reading those when I acquired a couple new cookbooks in a sale. Of course, I had to flip through those first, putting the heavier reading on hold. But I’ll admit, I’m pretty excited to start trying recipes from Ottolenghi Flavor and Dessert Person.

Finally, I started reading The Food Lab. And this book is just packed with over nine hundred pages of information that will help me learn more about how cooking works. So far, I’m on page 142, which is about buttermilk pancakes, after finishing an entire chapter on eggs. Maybe I’ll make it beyond breakfast by fall!

How are you doing on your 2021 goals and resolutions? Let’s check in for summer!

Learn To Like A Food I Hate

I am trying. Maybe. It’s hard to say if I’m really trying or just dreading the idea of ingesting mushrooms. The good news is that I didn’t specifically say “mushrooms” in this goal, so there is still room to pivot.

A couple weekends ago when we were entertaining, I decided to not only serve, but feature, another of my least favorite foods: olives. Similar to mushrooms, when you chop them up small, olives are less offensive. I made a more mellow variety into a tapenade with sundried tomatoes, and it was not only tolerable, but actually fantastic!

But I’m not fully switching this goal around, just expanding my chances for success. We did have mushrooms in a couple other meals (like this sweet chili veggie bowl from HelloFresh – get $100 off when you sign up!) and I ate them all without noticing too much. I am still using fewer and cutting them smaller than recipes tend to recommend. I’m okay with that progress at this point.

Invest In My Food Photography

Guys, so many backdrops. I started buying fairly inexpensive rolls of contact paper or removable wallpaper in various designs and creating my own backdrops for photos. You may have seen them make appearances lately, like the white wood or this dark wood and wallpaper combo. It gives my photos a little more variety than the same old oak table!

I was all ready to write this section just about backdrops, when I noticed that the studio photography set I have recently been eyeing for sale had dropped in price by about 20%. It’s added to my cart, but I haven’t checked out yet. But who knows? Maybe by the time you are reading this, it’s on its way!

I am eyeing a set that includes three different light tripods which come with bulbs. It also includes photography umbrellas in both black with silver lining and a translucent white. I haven’t worked with real equipment since my college days, but I hope having better control of my light will make for even more delicious photos.

Looking Ahead

Books to read, produce to eat, and hopefully, a really solid photography setup for when we start losing this lovely summer-evening light. The only goal I am not confident with is those darn mushrooms, or possibly olives. Any former fungus haters have advice?

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7 thoughts on “2021 Kitchen Resolutions: Summer Update

  1. Great post! I think learning to like food we don’t currently don’t is definitely really important, and something I’m going to work on too, now. Thanks for sharing x

  2. Learning to like a food I hate is an interesting one. Reminds me of when I was younger and hated olives. Now I am obsessed with them.

  3. Your photographs here are beautiful; I love the colorful dishes and the cute basket. Making improvement in that area a goal is a great idea, as what is good can always become better. A collection of inexpensive backdrops and the lighting kit sound like a wonderful way to begin practice.

    Learning to like a food you hate is tough. There are not many foods I dislike, and not all of them can be combined neatly into a flavorful dish as a sub ingredient, but I love the idea of incorporating tastes I want to learn to like in with something I enjoy.
    Thanks for sharing!

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