It all started with hot honey. It ended with my belated New Year’s resolution. I’m stealing it from my friend Melissa.

My husband, two daughters and I live in a townhouse and it feels overwhelmed with stuff. We’re not alone in wanting a more clutter-free life in the age of #konmari, but with endless toys and my habit of never throwing anything away, it’s hard to adapt to a minimal aesthetic.

But we have a goal: Take on one project every week, even if it’s just the junk drawer. At the end of last year, I took everything out of the food pantry and assessed its essence. I’d either keep it, give it to a neighbor (hello, Buy Nothing) or toss it.

Sometimes, I didn’t know what to do.

Do I really need hot honey in my life? I posed this question on Instagram stories. Everyone said, “YES!,” use it for grilled cheese, biscuits, fried chicken, fried chicken, fried chicken. Am I really going to make labor-intensive fried chicken enough times to warrant keeping a bottle of AR’s Bourbon Barrel Aged Hot Southern Honey?

And then Matthew sent me a reply. He’d make the chicken if I brought over the honey. His wife, Melissa, made biscuits. I’d contribute, too. As a Jersey girl, I made a heretic pimento cheese and an equally untraditional slaw.

For the pimento, I mashed together: cream cheese (3 oz.), sharp cheddar (6 oz.), Kewpie mayonnaise (3 tablespoons, sorry Duke’s), diced pimentos (4 oz.), two cloves of garlic mashed into a salty paste, and then I just winged it with some black pepper, smoked paprika, mustard powder, sumac, this red pepper and salt combo my friend brought back from Vietnam and liquid smoke. I know it gets a bad wrap for being a cheat and tasting like chemicals, but I like a dash or two of liquid smoke. My favorite pimento cheese dip, served at B Side in Fairfax’s Mosaic District, is smoked, and I hold all others up to its glory. It ended up creamy, nuanced and a touch smoky. It was recognizable as pimento cheese for sure, but created its own identity.

My slaw was simply chopped cabbaged doused in oil, rice wine vinegar, aji-mirin, cumin,  mustard powder, salt and pepper. I massaged the dressing in to help the cabbage soften a little.

But what’s important here are two things: one, that Matthew made buttermilk fried chicken from scratch, and that’s what friends are for, and Melissa shared with me her kitchen plan for this year. She will find go-to recipes for all of her go-to dishes.

I love that.

We’ve all been trapped under the crust formed from endless tabs claiming slight variations of the same recipe. Recipes from magazines, recipes from favorite cookbook authors, recipes from unknown blogs that excel at SEO. Grabbing this ingredient from one recipe, eliminating another and forgetting it all when it’s time to make it again.

I want that one recipe for roast chicken, for a Dutch baby, for banana bread, for chocolate chip cookies, for fried chicken and biscuits. I want to better record my successes in the kitchen, a manuscript cookbook it’s called (read this essay by Besha Rodell). It’s like a journal with homemade food as a marker of time.

Melissa used Chef John’s Buttermilk Biscuits from AllRecipes and amended it with a comment from Live Well Bake Often: grate frozen butter directly into the flour. This is her keeper. The biscuits were light and flaky, a little browned, totally delicious. I let them keep the bottle of hot honey.

Some people start the year on cleanses and restrictions; I’ll take biscuits, thanks.

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