It’s that time of year where the kitchen has become a place of atonement. The holidays are over, every piece of clothing in your closet is tight (I had an infinity scarf feel too snug this week), and you can’t even use the excuse of East Orthodox Christmas anymore (celebrated Jan. 7, mmmmmm, 12 meatless dishes). Essentially, reality has set in hard. You have weight to lose, that’s one. You’re big into self-improvement, that’s two. And the fact that January has 31 days? Not. Nice.
This used to be my most hated time of year in the kitchen. By middle of January, I’d already eaten my fill of lentils, broccoli, frittatas and other foods that can feel like the nutritional equivalent of self-flagellation. Summer was a long way off so I couldn’t even look forward to a good tomato. I’d be looking around the place starving, searching for any excuse I could possibly find to reward myself with some cheese. By the end of the month, I’d usually lost two pounds, but my mood? It was sour. And February wasn’t looking much sweeter.
But last year, I decided to shed this attitude and turn to my cookbooks. Over the years, I’ve been gifted and have bought a lot of them, though through the summer, when I cook very simply, and through the holidays, when I rely on traditional stand-bys, they don’t get cracked open very often. But last year, I decided that they were the key to saving me from the culinary doldrums.