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Some years are organized, and some years are just a chaotic list in my head, but New Year’s resolutions have always been my thing. Oh yes, I fail every year, miserably, like many of you might. But that never dampens my enthusiasm for trying. New Year’s resolutions are like anything else in life- your experience is about how you relate to them. And I can relate to Arkansas food.
Instead of resolutions, though, I am calling these my food intentions for 2024. Hopefully, some of these will inspire you to not worry about diets or restrictions and instead engage with the amazing bounty of Arkansas food and the people and places that they represent.
Food and travel go hand-in-hand. The best way to truly understand a new place is to experience its cuisine and culture —and how better to do that than to attend a small town (or big city) festival?
Johnson County Peach Festival | Clarksville
Crawfest | Arkadelphia
Wilson Annual Bloody Mary Competition | Wilson
World Championship Chocolate Gravy Cookoff | Searcy
Berry Fest | Bentonville
Purple Hull Pea Festival | Emerson
Grill and Chill Festival | Paragould
Watermelon Festival | Hope
Greek Food Festival | Little Rock
Cave City Watermelon Festival | Cave City
Arkansas Cornbread Festival |Little Rock
Annual Bradley County Pink Tomato Festival |Warren
Downtown Little Rock’s Main Street Food Truck Festival | Little Rock
Cheap, industrially raised meat is just that. Arkansas-raised beef, chicken and pork have more flavor, and although they are pricier, they are worth the expense. We have raised pastured poultry before, and last year, we bought half a cow from a local rancher. We are also fortunate to have Wahrmund Farms in our backyard. Believe me, there is a difference in taste and quality. Check out these producers or talk to your local farmers’ market manager.
When I was growing up, my mom always had the basics but was not adventurous with spices. Every holiday, she would buy a few more “exotic” spices, but they became so dried out they turned to dust before imparting any flavor. We have so many wonderful Arkansas-made spice producers. Have you tried these? What are your favorites?
Heritage Seasonings by Chef Jennifer Maune
Cavender’s All-Purpose Greek Seasoning
Townsend Spice and Supply
Ruthie Mountain Smoked Pepper
Coy’s Southern Eats
Fennel & Fire
Ozark Spice Co.
My least favorite phrase in the English language is, “What’s for dinner?” It instantly puts me in a bad mood and makes cooking feel like a chore. As a coffeehouse owner that is around food (and delicious coffee all day), the very last thing I want to do after a day of work is try to figure out what to feed my family. It’s amazing – they want to eat every single night! So, I need to know what I’m cooking, and the time to figure that out for my very tired brain is not 5 p.m. So I hope to sit down on one day of the week to plan what I want to cook, shop for groceries, and maybe prep a few ingredients to make cooking weeknight meals faster and easier. I’ll treat myself to a fun new notebook to encourage myself to stick with my planning goals. Check out Keisha McKinney’s Food Prep article for inspiration and guidance.
I love a beautiful cookbook. Sitting down with a cup of coffee and opening a new cookbook brings me joy. I bookmark those that speak to me as I flip the pages, but in 2024, I want to go back and delve deeper. Rather than gravitating toward main dishes or desserts, I want to explore the sauces, sides and appetizers that will inspire me to add some creativity to my meals. Check out this list of Beautiful Cookbooks by Arkansans.
Resolutions…intentions…hopes…a list on a napkin…whatever you want to call it or do is fine and can be a fun, delicious way to start the new year. What are some of your food intentions for the new year?
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