Paul had another suggestion that really surprised me. He suggested that rather than creating meals around the protein, I start with seasonal vegetables. Instead of saying, "We're having chicken. How do I want to cook it and what goes with it?", he suggested saying, "We're having asparagus. How do I want to cook it and what goes with it?" It's an interesting approach, especially since he's not suggesting going vegetarian, just thinking of the meat, fish, chicken, etc. as one of the "go withs" not the "main deal".
I like that suggestion because it will force me to think differently about how I cook, and that will get me to try new techniques and push myself to be a better cook. It surprised me that he made it, though, because when he gets a salad in a restaurant, he never finishes the lettuce. What he does is pick through for the "good stuff", which he defines as the chicken, shrimp, etc.--in other words, the protein. I'm wondering if maybe he's wanting a change.
I'm leaning toward doing a World Tour, cooking my way around the world. It could fit into Paul's suggestion, since so many of the world cuisines are based on beans, rice, vegetables, etc. And the variety is infinite, especially when you look at regional cuisine. I bet if I separated it into regional cuisine, I could cook a year's worth of cuisines, doing one a month, without leaving the United States (or any other country), which is yet another idea. This doesn't feel like a project with an end, though, unless I do something like exploring one cuisine a month for a year. Or maybe it would be better to do that as year two and revisit the basics for year one.
The world tour seems more interesting than the basics, but I can't help but think I need to go back to basics every so often and refine those techniques. Plus, there are some I've never really learned as well as I could because I don't use them often enough. On the other hand, cooking different cuisines from around the world will require learning the basics of those cuisines. Learning what ingredients define those cuisines and how to work with them and what they taste like and so on.
I see research in my future. But researching something I'm interested in is fun. The hard part is stopping the research. Once I start googling for stuff, time tends to slip away. I slip into "the zone" or "flow" or whatever you prefer to call it way too easily.
Hmmm....I see a foray into new restaurants, too, because that's the best way I can think of to taste food I'm unfamiliar with. The problem is knowing which restaurants have good examples of authentic cuisine from various places around the globe. I'm lucky to live in the San Francisco Bay Area. I doubt it's possible to find a cuisine that you can't find a restaurant to go to or ingredients to use to cook it yourself. It's foodie heaven, which is probably one reason I love living here.