Thursday, January 19, 2012

2012 - The Year of Good Eatin'...

by Amber Leigh Williams

Resolutions and I do not have a good track record. As a matter of fact, I can’t remember last year’s resolution. I think I’m more productive across the board when I don’t have a resolution. This is due in part to the guilt. If I’m not doing it, I feel guilty. If I feel guilty, I tend to wallow. Therefore, for me, guilt and productivity don’t mix well at all.

It’s taken me eighteen days to come up with a solution. My 2012 resolution will be to feel less guilty because this year’s will be just for fun. If I don’t find the time to do it, it’s no big deal. If I do, then yay!

It was while coming up with a recipe for a guest blogging article this week that it struck me. My husband is so much better than me in the kitchen. (I brag about his specialty in the kitchen here.) Since the day we’ve met, he’s had this natural cooking ability. Perhaps because he was forced to help in the kitchen throughout his early life while I didn’t learn to boil an egg until I was eighteen. (Sadly, that is not an exaggeration.) My mother cooked these beautiful meals. To my knowledge, nothing was ever burned or undercooked. Me? Well, I’m the opposite. I manage to both burn and undercook things. I’ve nearly set the kitchen on fire three times in the last year. However, there are a handful of things I do well. My banana pudding happens to be my husband’s favorite dish. (He even chose to forgo a traditional groom’s cake so it could be served at our wedding!) I make my own special spaghetti that I cook for dinner guests with Texas toast, salad, and red wine. When my younger sister went off to college, she even asked for the recipe to take with her so she could have a taste of home three hundred miles away.

While watching Julie & Julia, I realized what I wanted to do. My new year’s resolution is to find three new recipes I can enjoy making as much as eating, like spaghetti and banana pudding. I’ve already found the first one. I was inspired by the television show, Downton Abbey. Whenever those Granthams sit down to a formal dinner scene, I instantly get hungry. By chance, I found the recipe for “apple charlotte” from the show online. It’s simple and sounds absolutely delicious! And, as an added bonus, I usually have better luck with desserts and baking. The preparation layering is very similar to banana pudding….


  • Butter, for greasing the pie dish and bread
  • 9 slices bread, crusts removed
  • 6 apples, peeled, cored, and sliced thinly (peel reserved)
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • Sugar, to taste


Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Butter a pie dish and the bread slices. Place a layer of bread at the bottom, then a layer of apples. Sprinkle over these a portion of the lemon zest and juice, and sweeten with sugar. Place another layer of bread, and then apples, proceeding in this manner until the dish is full.

Then cover it up with the peel of the apples, to preserve the top from browning or burning. Bake in the oven for about 45-50 minutes; turn the charlotte onto a dish, sprinkle sugar on top, and serve.

The next recipe I’d like to master is slow cooker chili. For me, chili growing up meant a few cans of Hormel, a sprinkle of cheese and a small dollop of Daisy® sour cream. One bite of my sister-in-law’s chili, however, was an enlightening experience. It’s wonderful and diverse and has a little bit of a bite to it. (She makes her own salsa, too, which is to die for! Apparently, that great cooking gene was distributed evenly throughout the hub’s siblings.) I’m determined to find out how to make great slow cooker chili by the end of the year, maybe even get my hands on the in-laws’ recipe….

As for the third recipe, I would love to be able to treat the hub to morning pancakes. So far, I’ve been hopeless with breakfast. He’s been making omelets and sausage for me for the last eight years. Though pancakes may be a little trickier than apple charlotte and chili, it’s worth a shot!

Do you have trouble keeping resolutions? How about making a fun one that doesn’t make you feel guilty if it doesn’t quite pan out and which can still enrich your life if it does? Another one of my fun resolutions? To read more. Last year, I read far fewer books than the year before. Now that my eyeglass prescription has been updated, I’m ready to dive into my TBR pile with both hands. So here’s to a year of good eating and good reading!

If you have a fun resolution, shout it out! I’d love to hear more….


Margaret Tanner said...

Hi Amber,
Nice blog. Nice to know I am not the only woman who can't cook. I too have my specialty Wine Trifle, otherwise I am hopeless and lucky for me, hubby loves to cook just as yours does.
What would we do without these gems? Starve????


Laura Breck said...

I love your fun resolution to learn recipes. Just a hint - I used to make pancakes from scratch, but now I use Bisquick. Family loves them!

My funniest resolution was to not give high-fives for a year. People thought I was crazy. And my Roman Catholic friend suggested that for Lent, I should give up not giving high fives, so for those weeks, I did give high fives. Which made people think I was even crazier.

Good luck cooking, and be sure to have your fire extinguisher serviced!

Jannine Gallant said...

Amber - I'll have to post chili and pancake recipes on my blog, Food For Thought! Both are easy. Your recipe for Apple Charlotte sounds great. I'm sure this is one resolution you can keep!

Jerri Hines said...

Driving home this morning, I was thinking about resolutions. I didn't make any for the new year, but have decided I need to...I need to learn to be patient. Patience has never been one of my virtues. Oh, I guess I could add learn to cook. Nah. I'd rather just eat. Do love a good banana pudding, though. Must be a Southern thing.

Amber Leigh Williams said...

Margaret, I just realized that most of my heroines don't cook much either. Never made the connection, lol. Wine Trifle sounds divine!

Amber Leigh Williams said...

Laura, I'm not above taking cooking shortcuts so Bisquick it is! So funny about the high-fives! When we were little, my parents made my sister give up the punch-buggy game - the one where you see the VW bug and you punch the person next to you before they can punch you. I was horrible at it and had a row of bruises on my arm from her punching me. Thank goodness that game faded out, lol

Amber Leigh Williams said...

Jannine, I would love to see your chili and pancake recipes! Can you tell I'm desperate? Still haven't managed to get my hands on the in-laws' recipe....

Amber Leigh Williams said...

Jerri, ah yes patience is something that I'm always short of. I think it's genetic. Good luck with your resolution!

Jannine Gallant said...

Just have to comment on the "Slug a Bug" game, as my girls call it. I made it clear slugging mom was NOT a good idea! LOL

Vonnie Davis said...

I gave up on resolutions years ago. I was so terrible at living up to them. I have so many areas to imporve upon that I just deem it a continual "try harder to do better" way of life.