So, hands up – who likes this time of year?
- It’s grey outside…
- the sun sets by 4pm (well, it does in London!)…
- you’re broke after the Christmas spending extravaganza…
- your diet is staring you in the face demanding some action…
- and your New Year’s resolutions may already be just a vague memory.
Hmmm, nope, I am guessing that there won’t be a sea of hands indicating January as a favourite time of year! And aaah yes, new year’s resolutions – those hopeful undertakings entered into on 31 December after a few glasses of Champagne. Does anybody still make them, much less stick to them? A bit of reading on the interwebs turned up some interesting stats on the topic.
According to an article by Stephen Shapiro (which uses statistics generated from a survey by the Opinion Corporation):
- 45% of Americans usually set New Year’s Resolutions; 17% infrequently set resolutions; 38% absolutely never set resolutions.
- Only 8% of people are always successful in achieving their resolutions; 19% achieve their resolutions every other year; 49% have infrequent success; 24% (one in four people) NEVER succeed and have failed on every resolution every year.
- Of those who do set resolutions (these add to more than 100% because some people set multiple resolutions) 34% set resolutions related to money; 38% set resolutions related to weight; 47% set resolutions related to self-improvement or education; 31% set resolutions related to relationships.
- It appears that the younger you are, the more likely you are to achieve your resolutions – 39% of those in their twenties achieve their resolutions every year or every other year but less than 15% of those over 50 achieve their resolutions every year or every other year
- The less happy you are, the more likely you are to set New Year’s Resolutions.
- Most intriguingly, there appears to be no correlation between happiness and resolution setting/success. People who achieve their resolutions did not describe themselves as happier than those who do not set resolutions or who are unsuccessful in achieving them.
So do not despair if you set no resolutions, or have already broken them
According to the Daily Mail newspaper, the most popular new year’s resolutions for Britons this year were to:
- Lose weight
- Get fit
- Eat more healthily
- Save money/spend less
- Get a new job
- Spend more time with people who matter
- Try new experiences
- Get out of a rut
- Visit a country you’ve never been to
- Read more
Did YOU make any resolutions this year, and if so, what were they?
If you were one of those who resolved to eat more healthily, then you are probably morosely on the lookout for salad recipes right now and resigning yourself to eating like a rabbit for the next few months. Boring, boring, boring – right? Wrong. Allow me to introduce you to the grilled goats cheese and pear salad, dotted with tangy cranberries and crunchy pine nuts (adapted from this recipe). It’s packed with good things (watercress, pears, cranberries) and is very light on the more fattening (but still not too bad for you!) stuff like goat’s cheese and pine nuts. It can be whipped up even by those with minimal kitchen skills and makes a fantastic, pretty dinner party starter. But best of all is the taste: the creamy saltiness of the warm goat’s cheese, the freshness of the watercress, the sweet tang of the berries and the crunch of the pine nuts, all tied together with a sweet-and-sour dressing. Your guests, your tastebuds – and your waistline – will all thank you.
Happy new year!
GRILLED GOAT’S CHEESE AND PEAR SALAD WITH CRANBERRIES & PINE NUTS (serves 4)
200g goat’s cheese (preferably 2x100g rounds, with rind)
2 ripe pears
1/4 cup of pine nuts
1/4 cup dried cranberries
150g watercress leaves
a little sunflower oil for brushing
crusty fresh bread to serve
FOR THE DRESSING
2 Tbsp cranberry sauce or melted cranberry jelly (I used plum chutney instead)
2 Tbsp fruity olive oil
2 Tbsp lemon juice
salt and black pepper
Toast the pine-nuts in a dry non-stick pan over medium heat. Keep a close eye on the, as they burn easily and stir or toss frequently. When nicely browned, set aside.
Pre-heat the grill to high and line a baking sheet with foil or a silicone baking mat. Halve the chees rounds to make four discs, and place them on the baking sheet, cut side up. Halve and core the pear, cut each half into slices and arrange on the baking sheet. Lightly brush the pears with oil, then grill for a few minutes until the cheese is turning golden and bubbling, and the pears are softening.
Whisk the cranberry sauce, oil and lemon juice together and season to taste. Divide the watercress leaves between four plates. Place the cheese on the leaves and top with a few slices of grilled pear. Scatter over the dried cranberries and pine nuts, spoon over the dressing and serve immediately with crusty bread and a full bodied white wine like Viognier.
Did you miss our our super-successful Tuscany Plate to Page workshop last October? Well, registrations are open for Plate to Page Somerset due to be held in the UK in Spring 2012! Have a look at the programme, details about accommodation, and if it looks like something you’d like to attend,register here - but hurry: places are limited to 12. It would be great to see you there!