If making an "End of Decade" list was obligatory last month, so too, must the predictions for the coming year and/or decade, n'est pas? Well not at F&C; I'm gonna skip all that and do a rewind on ya'. Here, then, are:
"Ten Things To Do This Year That You Used to Do 20 Years Ago"
10. Bake Without Using an Electric Mixer- only through non gadgety and non-electrical devices can you appreciate the labor of love that is baking. Get a nice sturdy wooden spoon, roll up your sleeves and get to work. You will have a whole different perspective, not to mention a renewed respect for your mom and grandmother.
9. Make A Salad Dressing From Scratch- A basic vinaigrette contains but two ingredients. You need only a bowl and a whisk, or even a fork, to make one. Pick one you like from the store and try to make it at home. A little citrus, a little herbs, a little Dijon- you're up to the task. However, resist the temptation to add double the dressing to your salad, just out of proprietary pride. It takes only a little, so you needn't make alot.
8. Make a Recipe from a Cookbook, not the Internet- some of you may know that when you Google or search a recipe, the one with the most hits comes up first. Yet, that doesn't make it the best recipe or even a decent one. Recipes.com has to be the worst search engine there is for finding a recipe. I'm not saying there aren't any good ones. But, you've got to have a favorite cookbook lying around. Pick it up and find a dish you can make. Prop it open, get the ingredients, open some wine, turn on some music, and make it. Now- wouldn't it be nice to share it with friends? It's called a dinner party.
7. Use an Old Appliance- Do you have an old gift, like, a waffle iron hiding on the shelves of your basement? A crepe pan or pizzelle maker? How about a fondue pot or deep fryer? Clearly, you must still have these because you have hope you may use them again one day. Well, now is the time. Along the same lines, I have four margarita glasses shaped like cacti. The box is YELLOW from being toted around over the years. Which brings me to my next one...
6. Have Cocktails Before Dinner- Whether you're out or at home, make a plan to mix up a couple martinis, gin and tonics or negronis before embarking on your meal. It's a more civilized way of catching up with your spouse or partner before sitting down to the table. Nosh on some nuts and olives, and make plans. Talk about vacation even though it's January. Reminisce about the last decade. But, stop and smell the Rose's (in case you're having a gimlet).
5. Don't Answer the Phone During Your Meal- now, let's see how many of you can actually do this one. With every year you were born past 1980, you stand less of a chance of being able to do this. If it's a cell, turn the phone OFF- not down, not vibrate, OFF. If it's a land line, let voice mail get it. And if you're out to eat, leave it in the car. The chance of your house catching on fire, the dog running away, your kid breaking the TV or Taylor getting dissed are pretty minimal in a 1.25 hour meal period. The point is, meals and company are the important stuff. The rest you'll catch up on when you're done eating.
4. Dress for Dinner- the people who know what I'm talking about needn't pay attention. You already do. The rest of you, put on something to wear when you sit down for dinner that makes you feel like it's more than just a meal. Only 10 years ago, there used to be restaurants (and a good bit of them) that had dress codes. Now they're just for clubs. We've dumbied it down to "as long as you're dressed, it's fine". Have a little pride and put on a tie, fellas; or, ladies, as my restaurant friend used to tell his new hostesses, "Dress like a hooker going to church." (true story)
3. Drink a Really Good Wine- You've learned about the different grapes. You may even know the styles of different regions. You know what you like and you can find just about any red, white or bubbly you like for $10 a bottle. Now, go out and double what you would spend on a single bottle of wine. And share it. If you always drink what you've always drank, you'll always taste what you've always bought.
2. Pick-Up a Check- Someone has invited you to lunch or dinner. They always grab the check when it's time to pay. They invited you as their guest and expect to pay. Now, pick up the check and tell them, "I've got this one. You're always so generous- let me take care of this one." It's harder to argue with kindness than duplicity.
1. Hand-Write Someone a Letter or Thank You. No abbreviations, FFS-and no "text-speak". Use proper grammar and punctuation. Get a quality piece of stationary, and write nice things to someone. Maybe, tell them how good their cookies were, or how you enjoyed having cocktails and dinner, or the unique gift of home-made cannoli. Sometimes, it's just nice (if extraordinarily rare) to hear from someone you haven't seen in awhile. It's so much better than, "Killin time here on FB, b/c the DB pizza guy hasn't shown up yet. Whatchoo got?" Posted from a mobile device, no less.