Examining the ongoing challenges of delivering high-quality, value-added ERP services in Higher Education.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Taking Stock of 2013: Part III: Food and Books

I like to wait a couple days later than everyone else to reflect back on the year and how I did against my various resolutions. Overall, I’m kind of amazed by all that happened in 2013 – started a new job, bought a new home in a new town, watched my son turn three, experienced my first wrong-side of 35 birthday, attended my second Circleville Pumpkin Show, celebrated my 5th wedding anniversary, and otherwise kept myself pretty busy...

My fitness goals were a complete disaster, although according to RunKeeper I ran 279 miles in 2013 which in the grand scheme ain’t bad – more mileage than the average non-runner, but far short of my goal. And there were other personal improvement goals in this arena that weren’t even that close…
Let’s blog instead about food and books.

Back in 2011, my wife and I decided that to affirm our commitment to reading – despite the presence of that new infant in our home – we would set a reading resolution. My goal then was a whopping dozen. Twelve whole books, one per month. This felt perfectly reasonable: achievable but requiring a degree of discipline. I guess I must have really fallen apart in 2010 to have set the bar so low. I read 47 books in 2011 – a high watermark for sure – and 30 in 2012. This year, I aimed for 30 – and am happy to report I soundly defeated this resolution (it is a contest, you know) and ended the year at 38! Not too shabby with all that other life stuff going on.

Book of the year? From a work-related stand-point, the hands-down winner was Designing With the Mind in Mind by Jeff Johnson, an insightful and interesting book on user interface design, with lots of human psychology thrown in for good measure. From a personal point of view, I devoured the entire Jack Reacher series by Lee Child – they blur a little in retrospect, but Killing Floor (#1) and The Enemy (#8) may warrant re-reading… And Gillian Flynn sucked me in, too. Read her first three books in about two weeks and I eagerly await her fourth, whenever it comes…

Another renewed resolution was to continue my experiments in the kitchen. I’m no budding pro, but have built a far improved repertoire of specialties through forced innovation – setting a goal that makes me sift through the piles of Bon Appetit magazines and subject my family to frequent torture and occasional delight. This year I reached for the lofty goal of preparing 40 new recipes – and with a Christmas recess flurry exceeded my goal by two. There were some failures (e.g., gnocchi batter gone awry) and lots of mediocre dishes whose instructions we sent to recycling, but we added a few winners to the permanent rotation. Here are three good ones for you to try:

1. Orecchiette with Brown Butter Broccoli
2. Scallops with Apple Pan Sauce
3. Bucatini with Butter Roasted Tomato Sauce

So far, 2014 is off to a helluva start – I’m already 20% of the way toward my annual goal with 99% of the year still ahead of me!


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