Making Foodie Resolutions for New Year

Columnist Vows to Bake Bread and Cook Adventurously

Take More Chances, Leah! Food columnist Leah Koenig vows to be more adventurous in the kitchen in the upcoming year.
courtesy of leah koenig
Take More Chances, Leah! Food columnist Leah Koenig vows to be more adventurous in the kitchen in the upcoming year.

By Leah Koenig

Published January 08, 2012, issue of January 13, 2012.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

I think about food — pretty much all the time. As a food writer, I have the absurd fortune of getting paid to craft stories that inspire others to think about food. And at home, I fall into the cliché of people who begin plotting dinner before the morning coffee gets cold. So perhaps it’s fitting that, as the New Year begins, my mind is on food, eating and my relationship to both.

Five years ago on Rosh Hashanah, I took stock of my “kitchen teshuvah” (repentance) — examining the places where I thought I could improve as a cook and a consumer. Food is deeply connected to everything else — family, politics, religion, health — so I found it a particularly fitting frame for self-reflection. As the Forward’s food columnist, I typically use my allotted monthly space to share tales of the farmers and food producers, chefs and shop owners who define the world of Jewish food. This month, I’d like to get a little personal and share a revised set of my kitchen resolutions, for 2012.

In some ways, I feel pretty content. I already shop at the farmers market, eat plenty of greens and cook dinner more nights than not — so those items, while important, did not make the list. Neither did “drink less coffee” or “grow my own food.” After accidentally massacring a nursery’s worth of houseplants, I have come to embrace my lack of a green thumb. And as for coffee, I am simply not ready to kick the habit. Instead, here is a somewhat random, highly idiosyncratic list of food-based aspirations for the year ahead. Maybe you will read something that speaks to you, or be inspired to write a list of your own. Either way, may 2012 bring you good health, good deeds and great food.

•Stop criticizing my cooking.

My mom, who is a wonderful cook, criticizes her food all the time. Whether at a Passover Seder or a weeknight dinner, she comes to the table apologizing for her soup’s blandness or how she overcooked the chicken. Growing up, I could never taste what she was talking about. Now, I get it. Cooking for others is intensely personal. Each dish exposes the cook’s heart as much as her (or his) knife skills, and there is ample room for rejection in the shape of an upturned nose or unfinished plate. It feels safer to preempt others’ potential disapproval with a comment, rather than face it directly. I inherited my mother’s habit, agonizing over my meal’s flaws (real and imagined) both at the table and hours after the guests have gone home. Of course, we are all our own worst critics, and no caveat can change the food or people’s reactions to it. So this year, my aim is to pipe down and eat up.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • The sign reads: “Dogs are allowed in this establishment but Zionists are not under any circumstances.”
  • Is Twitter Israel's new worst enemy?
  • More than 50 former Israeli soldiers have refused to serve in the current ground operation in #Gaza.
  • "My wife and I are both half-Jewish. Both of us very much felt and feel American first and Jewish second. We are currently debating whether we should send our daughter to a Jewish pre-K and kindergarten program or to a public one. Pros? Give her a Jewish community and identity that she could build on throughout her life. Cons? Costs a lot of money; She will enter school with the idea that being Jewish makes her different somehow instead of something that you do after or in addition to regular school. Maybe a Shabbat sing-along would be enough?"
  • Undeterred by the conflict, 24 Jews participated in the first ever Jewish National Fund— JDate singles trip to Israel. Translation: Jews age 30 to 45 travelled to Israel to get it on in the sun, with a side of hummus.
  • "It pains and shocks me to say this, but here goes: My father was right all along. He always told me, as I spouted liberal talking points at the Shabbos table and challenged his hawkish views on Israel and the Palestinians to his unending chagrin, that I would one day change my tune." Have you had a similar experience?
  • "'What’s this, mommy?' she asked, while pulling at the purple sleeve to unwrap this mysterious little gift mom keeps hidden in the inside pocket of her bag. Oh boy, how do I answer?"
  • "I fear that we are witnessing the end of politics in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I see no possibility for resolution right now. I look into the future and see only a void." What do you think?
  • Not a gazillionaire? Take the "poor door."
  • "We will do what we must to protect our people. We have that right. We are not less deserving of life and quiet than anyone else. No more apologies."
  • "Woody Allen should have quit while he was ahead." Ezra Glinter's review of "Magic in the Moonlight": http://jd.fo/f4Q1Q
  • Jon Stewart responds to his critics: “Look, obviously there are many strong opinions on this. But just merely mentioning Israel or questioning in any way the effectiveness or humanity of Israel’s policies is not the same thing as being pro-Hamas.”
  • "My bat mitzvah party took place in our living room. There were only a few Jewish kids there, and only one from my Sunday school class. She sat in the corner, wearing the right clothes, asking her mom when they could go." The latest in our Promised Lands series — what state should we visit next?
  • Former Israeli National Security Advisor Yaakov Amidror: “A cease-fire will mean that anytime Hamas wants to fight it can. Occupation of Gaza will bring longer-term quiet, but the price will be very high.” What do you think?
  • Should couples sign a pre-pregnancy contract, outlining how caring for the infant will be equally divided between the two parties involved? Just think of it as a ketubah for expectant parents:
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.