2011… a new year, a new direction.

new year

Happy New Year!

2010 happened so quickly, and with it came much intense emotion – from extreme happiness and excitement to deep sadness and disappointment.  Thankfully, with lots of good friends and family, and prayer and meditation, I crawled out of my slump and out of the dumps.  Last week, after reflecting on events that happened in my life in 2010, I feel grateful and fortunate for all the goodness in my life.  For those who are not very close to me, here are a few major events that happened in my life this passed year… I finished culinary school, worked with one of the top chefs in California…love/d it.  A 6-year relationship ended mid-year, making life very difficult and a bit complicated for me.  I started working out again, mostly jogging by the beach and taking walks with Riva and the kids.  I started going out more, socially.  I started to forgive and be more thankful, improving my relationships with myself and all those I value and love.  I became more spiritual and started eating healthier.  I sold my condo.  A financial consultant helped me create a plan to get financially fit again.  And, I started a new relationship with a very special person, David.  He’s been a very positive influence on me so far- he’s a health-conscious eater, he keeps physically fit through hikes and yoga, he meditates and prays, and he makes me laugh.

So far so good.  2011 is off to a great start.  I’d like to make this year a positively memorable and meaningful one, staying healthy in my mind, body, and soul.

I have a list of things I’d like to focus on this year and I have come up with a list of sorts.  Here goes…

1) My sisters and I, and maybe David, are going to complete a half marathon in June.  Hopefully the unusually cold and wet weather will pass so that I can start training.

2) I’d like to improve my communication skills.  I’d like to be more direct and less passive-aggressive.  When telling stories, I’d like to be more concise and not so long-winded.  I need to sensor myself and not be so TMI.  I’d like to be more eloquent and get what I want to say across in a positive, constructive way.  I’d also like to cut out bad language from my vocabulary and refrain from road rage.  There are other ways that I can cope with stress and frustration.

3) I’d like to get out of Los Angeles more.  In mid 2010, I renewed my US passport because I think it’s time…time to travel.  I’ve always wanted to explore the globe but always used long hours at work as an excuse for not being able to.  While I’m single, unmarried, with no children and while my mom is well and alive, I’d like to take a trip with her.  In the Spring, we plan to fly out to Europe to visit a few countries.

4) I’d like to be able to support myself financially and to live comfortably.  Nothing brings me down more than having to rely on others financially (except for travel ;P), especially when I’m physically and mentally well and able, with no children.  I need another/2nd job that won’t tire me out and that I can enjoy, with balance.  I need balance in my life… not just with career, love, myself, friends, and family…I’d also like a healthy account balance in my bank account.  What more can I say, or do? A pastry cook only makes so much.  I’m always open to ideas, so please let me know if you have any good ideas for me.  I’m thinking.. I can blog more, create videos on youtube, posting tons of google ads.

5) Learn how to use my cameras so I can post better pictures and videos.  Also, learn how to build a better website.

6) I’d like to learn how to make more vegetarian dishes and want to create more recipes of my own.  David is mostly pescatarian.  In other words, a vegetarian that eats fish/seafood.  And he stays away from dairy, unless I have cream in my coffee (he takes a sip) or am enjoying apple tart a la mode (he loves apple desserts and how can one resist a scoop of rich vanilla bean ice cream?).  Since I’ve been hanging with him, I’ve been getting used to his simple and healthy diet…and I must say, I feel good doing so.  I realized that I don’t need to eat chicken, beef, or pork to make a meal a meal…I don’t even need fish!  Lately, he’s been challenging me a lot in the kitchen, but I’m always delighted and up for the challenge.  When I cook at his place, he’ll usually hand me an ingredient, like chickpeas or black beans. I ask him to give me some direction…and I whip something up with the ingredients he has in his refrigerator and cupboards.   For example, the other day he asked me if I could cook lentils.  I asked him if he wanted a salad or soup, then asked if he preferred any specific ethnic style.  He wanted middle eastern lentil soup.  So, I took what I learned from Peyman’s mom’s kitchen (they’re Iranian) and incorporated it into the soup.  This is how I made the soup…

Yvonne’s Middle Eastern Lentil Soup

In a pot, I sauteed 2 cloves of garlic and a chopped shallot, added kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, and deglazed the pan with a rich vegetable stock.  I added in already cooked lentils (from Trader Joe’s) a mixture of a lot of chopped mint, chives, some parsley, and added ground coriander and cumin, then a sprinkle of red pepper flakes.  I boiled it altogether, added a few squeezes of lime, seasoned to taste, then ladled the soup into bowls.  I topped mine off with a dollop of Greek yogurt.  David was pleased and made me feel good by telling me I’m a really good cook.  I was really happy with my soup too.  So far, I’ve made my own version of Chana Masala (with chickpeas), Pasta Putanesca, Seared marinated ahi, green rice, sauteed asian vegetables, teriyaki tofu, quinoa salad…and I still make vegetables the way I learned how to cooked vegetables at Lucques.

In culinary school, I learned that a good chef can take any ingredient and make it delicious.  I’m happy that I ‘ve been given to the opportunity to work with talented chefs and cooks this year at Lucques and Tavern.  I’ve learned a lot about how to make food delicious!  And, I’m happy to have met David because I not only have someone to enjoy eating with again, I now have this new direction in cooking to explore – vegetarian cooking.  I think if I eat healthy and continue to exercise, I can celebrate decades of new years to come!

I can continue on about what I’d like to accomplish in 2011, but the things I mentioned above are at the top of my list.  What about you?  I’d love to hear your thoughts and resolutions for this new year.

My hope is that each of you have a happy, healthy, and peaceful new year.

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