03 September 2011

Seven links

I wasn't the kid who responded to chain letters, but I can't resist a meme, and this one gives me the opportunity to look back at the past 14 or so months of blogging. Sometimes it's easy to get bogged down in day-to-day life, cooking the same meals, scrabbling for blog ideas, and forgetting to think about ideas and recipes from even a few months past. At least a dozen times this summer I've gone to my recipes page, only to see something like stuffed squash or apple caramels and rack my brain to remember when I last made or even thought about a dish.

Reflection, it turns out, has some value. Although tomatoes and corn and plums are reminding me that there's still a little bit of summer left, the beginning of school and chilly evenings are already turning my mind to braises and wintery spices, to squash and applesauce. As I scrolled through earlier posts, I felt a little flutter in my chest that most women my age reserve for Johnny Depp. Black-eyed peas! Pomegranates! Stroganoff! I may have a few more summer posts left, but my unfaithful heart is already scheming fall recipes. Here are some of the things that I'm planning to share:

- Kale Soup
- Braised Pearl Onions (a.k.a. the best Thanksgiving side dish)
- Cheesy Roast Pumpkin "fondue"
- Chili-that-Texans-would-hate
- Bok Choy
- Onion-Stuffed Moroccan bread
- A trio of autumn cookies: Ginger-Orange, Pumpkin-Raisin, and Molasses Spice
- Eggnog Ice Cream
- and hopefully, Spiced Rum Cake with Custard

But first, I'm going to head down memory lane with seven special posts. Thanks to Nicole at the wonderful blog And Baby Cakes Three for inviting me to participate and forcing me to look back.

My most beautiful post:

I suppose it's cheating to choose either of my Alaska posts, but as much as I love food, I don't think it will ever live up to the beauty of my first home. For food, I think some of my prettiest pictures have been on some of my barest posts—I flipped through dozens of posts, and my favorites all had one or two photos each. I finally settled on my Fresh Black-Eyed Peas with Swiss Chard; not only are they fantastic to eat, but I love both of the photos.

fresh black-eyed peas with swiss chard and bacon

My most popular post:

This also kind of qualified as my most surprising post. Half a Cabbage and a Cake was written near the end of two weeks vacation; I was feeling lazy and relaxed, and I had whipped up a simple little cornmeal cake to celebrate the New Year (and the end of my pumpkin pie). While I make plenty of more complicated meals, this is the kind of food I love: simple, rustic, and flavorful.

lemon and blueberry cornmeal cake

My most controversial post:

Umm... I don't think anything that I write about is controversial—at least, I can't imagine someone who gets riled up about chocolate spends much time reading food blogs. I suppose for lack of anything else, I will choose this post about souped up ramen (pun totally intended), simply because lots of foodies have no place in their heart for packaged ramen. I make no apologies.

My most helpful post:

I don't think that very many recipes I post on here are outrageously complicated, but perhaps the most helpful post is the one for Cheese and Onion Enchiladas. The process of making a more traditional enchilada isn't familiar to most people I've met, but they're not difficult, just time consuming. In addition, eating enchiladas with a big pile of cold, crunchy vegetables is foreign to almost everyone I know, and it can make a believer out of an enchilada hater.

cheese and onions

it ain't pretty ... but it's good

A post that surprised me with its success:

Once I discount the Blueberry-Lemon Cornmeal Cake above, this one's easy: Aloo Simla Mirch. Curried potatoes and bell peppers, made with a simple homemade masala, is one of my favorite Indian dishes when bell peppers are at their best (and one that I will probably be making again this week). However, in my experience most people are more interested in getting Indian food at restaurants than making it at home—perhaps due to the initial outlay to buy spices that Western-centric cooks often don't have—I credit Liana at Pie and Beer, who linked back to it shortly after I posted it.

curried potatoes and peppers

A post I feel didn’t get the attention it deserved:

I had a hard time with this one—since my life crashed down around my ears and my posts became so infrequent this summer, I can't really blame anyone but myself for some of the posts that haven't gotten much attention. The internet wave just keeps on rolling no matter what is going on in real life. However, I think it's a real shame that more people didn't get a chance to check out this simple Pea Purée. Not only is it easy to make and delicious—I recently discovered that it's fantastic thinned with a little bit of water and tossed with pasta—but it also embraces the inherent starchiness of peas that haven't just been rushed in from the garden.

green pea purée

The post that I am most proud of:

The posts that I tend to be most proud of are the ones where I have the much longed-for combination of good recipe, photos, writing, and story. While I often have three of those four (sometimes I may be more terse and not have a story at all; more often, my pictures are altogether lacking), putting all four together is always an accomplishment. What could be more simple than oatmeal cookies? Without raisins, chocolate, or some other accompaniment, the recipe has to be spot-on. My Perfectly Simple Oatmeal Cookies are chewy and flavorful; the pictures, monochromatic though they may necessarily be, are better composed than most; and the story reminds me fondly of family and friends.

perfect oatmeal cookies

Wow. I think I'm exhausted. I'm going to cheat and not tag specific people for this. How about this: if you are interested in joining in here, send a message and let me know.

I'm off for the day, but that promised mushroom tart will be making an appearance before the end of the weekend—with (wonder of wonders) a dessert! I haven't had a dessert on here in ages, it seems, but that will change soon.

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