Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Top Posts of 2011 That Never Came to Pass, a Vision Quest

In the spirit of attainable goals for the new year, I set out in 2011 to keep up a modest blog average of one post per week.  I thought I was well on-track due to a flurry of inspiration in February until I realized that Blogger also includes unpublished posts in its total stats for the year.  Drat.  In the end, I had only a 96.15% achievement.  Horseshoes and hand grenades, I say.  Let's do better this year.

I've actually been stricken by a crippling writer's block in the last few months, induced by a complete and utter lack of time to write/take any photos or cook anything besides kale and eggs.  You know the feeling when you want to relish a moment of free time by rounding up the snuggie and watching marathons of Law and Order?  That was my September-December.  It might make sense in these circumstances to half-ass a bad post just to get one in the books.  But why?  I never want to click back through this site and cringe at something that was poorly written.  I'm cringing just thinking about that.

I try to portray a jaunty, devil-may-care attitude in most Trash Salad posts, but I'm actually quite editorial when it comes to deciding what to put up here.  Food is everywhere and on my mind constantly so I should in theory be provided with endless inspiration.  Sadly, I struggled for that 96%.

When you first start a blog (Phase 1), you want to do it ALL - give a thorough and witty analysis of every single thing that strikes you throughout the day [Phase 1a: Be sure to include lots of time-consuming visual aids made in Paint].  Phase 2: wait, everything? There isn't any timePhase 3: I can't pick and choose. Guess I'll give up.

So now I'm moving on to Phase 4, in which I sketch out the posts I didn't finish in order to determine what I want to do more and less of in the future.  A creative vision quest, if you will.  There will obviously be no fasting involved, but I haven't yet ruled out a trip to the sweat lodge.

Here are three of my favorite post ideas that never came to fruition and the various reasons that led to their demise.

Topic: Daikon and Carrot Mixed Pickle (also: Baked Oatmeal, Mini Sweet Potato Pies)
Cause of death: Didn't keep track of ingredients and proportions.

I went to a pickling event at the Brooklyn Brewery last January in which most of the presenters gave out recipes, and all of them got drunk on winter ale.  And so I thought, if these clowns can not only pickle, but earn a livelihood at it, surely I could too.  Indeed, it is insanely easy.  I matchsticked daikon, carrots, and cucumbers, salted them, and stuck them in a jar with vinegar, sugar, and some spices to create a fantastic sour and crunchy sandwich topping.  Yet didn't write anything down, and continued to shove more veggies into the same pickling liquid for months afterward.  Looking at this photo, apparently cilantro and radishes were involved.  Needless to say, this didn't make for a great pickling tutorial as I originally intended.  Maybe I'm due for a Trash Pickle post?

Similarly, my approach with baked goods is sometimes a little difficult to capture on paper.  Anytime a recipe looks like it's going south (or even a little bit boring), I'll swoop in and make 17 changes (Trash Baking?).  But then I can't remember these changes and make the same mistakes the next time.  Just write it down girl.  

Topic: Breakfast Tacos, Truck Style
Cause of death: Overly complicated recipe

I had outrageously awesome breakfast tacos sometime last year on a Saturday morning, and set out to recreate them over an entire Sunday.  This effort included an elaborate red onion pickle, sauteed mushrooms and chipotle peppers, roasted potatoes, three-bean/corn salad, fluffy scrambled eggs, and a mango pico de gallo.  And when I finally ate at 5pm, it sure was delicious.  But I was so exhausted from the effort that I couldn't bring myself to write about it.  For what audience would the recipe be for anyway?  Ridiculous.

Topic: Actual South Dakotan Food, (also: Various Food/Beer Festivals, Trips to Las Vegas/Michigan/Ohio/Florida/Maine/Upstate NY/Cape Cod)
Cause of death: Experiencing life trumps capturing it

I really admire people who can give exhaustive rundowns of every restaurant they eat from, fastidiously documenting every second of a trip.  While I have on occasion been coerced into reporting on certain outings, planning to blog about an event, meal or trip means that you spend heaps of time photographing/note-taking when you could be spending time, you know, enjoying yourself.  So I'll take a picture here or there, but for the most part I will do just that and not bother making notes on beer nuances.  Let's get real, my memory is too poor to remember what I've had and enjoyed before (especially, uh, beer), and more importantly, I'm too cheap to buy fancy craft beer outside of a bar anyway. 

I also never wanted to restaurant reviews in the first place (with the possible future exception of highlighting an awesome local restaurant or great deal).  There's no way you can judge a restaurant by a single dining experience, and it always seems kind of douchey to be taking photos by candlelight.

So, going forward: write stuff down, focus on the everyday, and don't waste time worrying about it.

Anything you'd like to see resurrected?