Every year we make resolutions for the Jewish New Year (AKA Rosh Hashanah), and maybe for the secular New Year, too. Popular New Year’s resolutions typically include exercising more, drinking less alcohol, or sticking to some crazy diet (which of course, rarely lasts). I’m not a fan of those, but I do like resolutions — food and otherwise. Each year I like to set goals for myself for new dishes to try to cook, new cuisines to learn about, or just new strategies for my family’s week-to-week eating.
Here are a few realistic, Jewish food goals you can make, for the new year or anytime you’re feeling inspired to start a new chapter in the kitchen.
1. Stock Your Freezer
Literally, you should stock your freezer with STOCK. Homemade vegetable, chicken, and beef stocks are all incredibly versatile, easy to make, healthier than store-bought varieties (less salt and preservatives), and can help with dinner prep in a pinch. I have even started making leftover vegetable peel stock right in a crockpot. How to make it: Just take all your leftover veggies, carrot peels, wilted herbs, or sad looking peppers and throw them into a crockpot with some whole peppercorns, a bay leaf, and 1 Tbsp salt. Cover completely with water and cook overnight on low. Strain and you will have yourself some flavorful, incredibly easy stock to use for soups or stews. Also try these 5 crockpot chicken soup recipes.
2. Eat More Horseradish
Horseradish isn’t just for gefilte fish. And more good news: Nutritionists are now recommending horseradish for its anti-carcinogenic properties. It can also boost immunity! So smear some on a sandwich, add some to cream cheese for your morning bagel, or try this horseradish crusted fish.
3. Go Cookie Crazy
Want to earn your balaboosta badge? Take an evening or a quiet, unscheduled afternoon and make a couple batches of cookie dough. Scoop them into balls, place on a baking sheet and pop them in the freezer for 30 minutes. After that, remove the dough and place in freezer bags. Store until you have a craving for a warm cookie, or when friends drop by unannounced and you can really wow everyone by quickly popping a batch of fresh cookies into the oven without ever taking out a bag of flour or a mixer. A little prep like this goes a long way, and I love having a few different kinds of cookies on hand in the freezer. I think quick drop cookies like chocolate chip cookies work best for this. A few of my favorite cookie recipes include dark chocolate pistachio cookies from Two Peas and their Pod, Martha Stewart’s double chocolate chunk cookies, and oatmeal cookies.
4. Help the Planet
Not sure if you’ve heard, but the planet and environment might be in trouble from all our plastic-using, oil-loving, wasteful habits. Of course, large-scale policies from countries around the world are really what’s needed to turn back the dial. But in the meantime, maybe start composting or plant a garden this year to do your small part, tikkun olam style. Composting is easy and not nearly as “gross” as some people assume. There are many local services that will even come to pick up your compost (so no tumbler or worms are needed, unless that’s your thing). We began composting over three years ago and I am still shocked by how much less garbage we produce as a result. March is a good time to start thinking about planting a garden of your own, so maybe start small, or grow some herbs.
5. Make Your Own Schmaltz
Like making your own stock, making schmaltz is easy and a great way to use up the resources you already have. A little schmaltz goes a long way and can help flavor mashed potatoes, oven-baked french fries, kugels, and, of course, chopped liver and matzah balls too. Read more on why you should be rendering your own schmaltz.