Let's call this batch the home cooking edition. I made a promise to myself to try more new recipes this year, but it's so easy to fall back into comfortable old habits. I do not like following recipes, which makes it difficult to learn new tricks.
Yet, I love to be shown how to do something. That means everything from watching Jacques Pepin make a terrific chicken dish at the Aspen Food & Wine Classic and recreated it back home. His recipes make you look like a hero. (Wish I had a photo of JP and me, but that's me with Marcus Samuelsson at the event instead!
The most fun I had, though, was watching my friend Takako make sushi, family style. Takako spent the better part of June living in our spare room. She's the friend of a friend, who happens to live in the neighborhood. Takako is 73 and she met my friends Trinity and Robert a few years ago while hiking in Spain. She lives in Osaka, a retired school teacher, who once taught Yu Darvish, a pitcher on the Texas Rangers. He was naughty.
We went shopping at Uwajimaya for fish and produce, but Takako had brought rice with her from Japan. She showed me how to cut up the fish, season the rice, make platters that looked pretty. We placed it all in the middle of the table and she showed us -- me, John and Claire -- how to assemble our own hand rolls. It was a lovely meal.
I also loved the time Claire's friend Izzy came over for a fried chicken lesson. When I asked her to pick up some lard, she brought Crisco. Close, but...
What were some of your most memorable meals this year?