Face it: If you are what you eat (and you cook and you order from Grubhub), then you are a yawn. Your menu is not only boring, it’s bad for your gut and brain health. If you read an accurate diary of everything you ate last year you would be absolutely appalled at what did and didn’t end up in your body.
When was the last time you mastered any new kitchen skill or area of food knowledge that you actually use every week?
It’s about time that you got off your pork butt and got your food life in shape. Not to be apocalyptic, but given the precarious state of the world don’t you think a few old-school food-crafting skills might come in handy?
Now that I’m through giving myself a resolute pep talk, you can ask yourself the same questions. There are worse ways to spend the next few months than learning the following 20 things in 2020.
1. Shop, taste, learn, cook: Chef Chris Clarke, host of the Something About Food? podcast, is leading new local grocery tours. Denver Ethnic Market Tour, Jan. 18; Boulder Ethnic Market Tour, Feb. 1; somethingaboutfood.com
2. Kids help kids grow: Volunteer to plant lettuce seeds at a Boulder greenhouse for 21 local school gardens on Jan. 25.
3. Grow something edible: It is incredibly satisfying to grow something you can taste, even if it’s just herbs and peppers on your patio. Growing Gardens offers Gardening 101, March 21; growinggardens.org. Denver Botanic Gardens hosts New Gardener Boot Camp, Feb. 29.
4. Man, woman, chef vs. chef: Get out and experience some man chef vs. woman chef battling at Cinechef during the Boulder International Film Fest, March 5-8. Featured chefs: Carrie Baird (Bar Dough), Natascha Hess (The Ginger Pig), Linda Hampsten Fox (The Bindery), Becca Henry (ChoLon Modern Asian), Laurent Mechin (St Julien Hotel & Spa), and John Platt (Riffs). biff1.com
5. Shoot better food photos: The food photos you post are mostly terrible. Trust me, I see them all the time. To start improving, read some free, practical advice about shooting, framing and lighting. rootmarketingpr.com/2019/07/25/food-photography-tips
6. For serious soba students only: Japanese soba noodles are a sublime taste treat and few Americans have the skills to make them from scratch. Dry Storage hosts a hands-on workshop Jan. 19 with L.A.-based soba master Sonoko Sakai.
7. Make the mozzarella you melt: Participate in a full-day, hands-on workshop in home cheesemaking, March 28, at the BYO Boot Camp in Denver. byobootcamp.com. Also: Cheesemaking bootcamps, Art of Cheese, Longmont. theartofcheese.com
8. Attend famous food events finally: Stop sighing and schedule your first attendance at: Denver Restaurant Weeks, (Feb 2- March 3), denver.org/denver-restaurant-week; Taste of Vail, April1-4, tasteofvail.com. Aspen Food & Wine Classic, June 19-21, foodandwine.com; and Slow Food Nations, Sept. 11-13, Denver, slowfoodnations.org
9. You want to cook Italian? Francesca Giongo teaches simple Italian fare from starters to desserts and you get to eat afterwards. bvsd.org/lll
10. Love you some Colorado potatoes: Seriously, try following these simple directions for roasting spuds: thekitchn.com/jacket-potato-22943799. Also, Google “hasselback potatoes with cheese.”
11. Fight pollinator extinction! Watch The Pollinators, a film about the plight of the bee, Jan. 22 at eTown Hall. Two prominent bee authorities, Tim Brod and Sue Anderson, will speak. etown.org. Buy local honey only, replace your lawn with pollinator-friendly plants and enroll in Intro to Beekeeping, March 9, Growing Gardens. growinggardens.org.
12. Celebrate National Pie Day: January 23 is National Pie Day, the Boulder-founded national day of celebration. (Seriously, Google it.) You should host an all-pie dinner. Make it easy by using dough from Babettes in Longmont to make a pizza and fill buttery crust from Lafayette’s Tip Top Pies with fruit for a dessert pie. Sign up for Food Lab’s empanadas class Feb. 23. foodlabboulder.com
13. You can cook pad Thai at home: Bee Rungtawan Kisich teaches you how to achieve that Thai flavor balance of salt, sweet, sour, funk, fire and herbaceousness in her Lafayette home, and feeds you an authentic Thai meal. facebook.com/beesthaikitchen
14. Make food look appetizing: Attend a hands-on workshop in using garnishes, sauces and artistic plating at Seeds Library Cafe. boulderlibrary.org/seed-to-table
15. Recreate Saturday Night Fever’s opening scene. Stop in at Famous Original J’s, a take-out window at 715 E. 26th Ave. in Denver. The pizzeria next to the RTD Light Rail line is part of the stellar Rosenberg’s Bagels next door. The spot-on, foldable, thin, New York-style slices are simply topped with stuff like Taylor ham, wide pepperoni and fresh garlic. Get extra napkins and strut.
16. Smile. The market opens in three months: The Boulder County Farmers Market opens for the season in Boulder and Longmont on April 4. bcfm.org
17. Upgrade your dumpling knowledge: Visit the Flower Pepper Restaurant, 2655 Broadway, and order pork and cabbage dumplings, leek and egg dumplings, chicken and shitake dumplings and xiaolong bao soup dumplings. Take notes!
18. Learn to use a knife: If you are clueless about slicing and chopping, take the Knife Skills for Kitchen Rookies class Jan. 19 at Longmont’s Kitchen Co.
19. Be the Zen of fermentation: If you are a serious student of fermented foods, sign up for the Secrets of Fermentation workshop Jan. 15 at Dry Storage. bastaboulder.com. Also: Good for the Gut: A Fermentation Workshop, March 4. bvsd.org/lll
20. Make your love a truffle: Matt Collier, head chef of Seeds Library Cafe, teaches a hands-on class in making petit fours, cookies and truffles Feb. 13.
Local food news
Wild Woods Brewery has closed at 5460 Conestoga Ct. … The Flagstaff House Restaurant will reopen after renovations on Jan. 22. … Doughnut news: The Farmstand Co-Op in the former gas station at Arapahoe and Broadway in Boulder is open weekdays dishing breakfast burritos and tacos, and house-made doughnuts and pastries. … The Bumbling Bee Vegan Junk Food shop has opened at 1100 28th St. … Bradford Heap’s Pepper the Noshery (formerly Wild Standard), 1043 Pearl St., will close at the end of January.
Words to Chew On
“You don’t get over hating to cook, any more than you get over having big feet.” — Peg Bracken
John Lehndorff hosts Radio Nibbles 8:25 a.m. Thursdays on KGNU (88.5 FM, kgnu.org)