10 Best List of 2008: One Foodie’s Reflection

I’m not one for New Year’s resolutions — I never have been.  But I do reflect in a somewhat obsessive compulsive manner, so it’s fitting to sift through all that’s happened in a year’s time to take stock.  It helps lighten the load a bit, and allows me to focus more on what matters.

If you’ve been a visitor to this site for a while, then you know I have another blog as well — one that has nothing to do with food.  Can you even imagine?  Unfortunately, in the past many months as I’ve become more and more involved here, the place I go to write about whatever crosses my mind on any given day has begun to collect dust.

This is not good.

When I began blogging, it was to write.  To be accurate, it was also to share my opinions.  The two work quite nicely in my opinion, and not because I feel my opinions are all that important.  After all, I’m no one, but I do tire of having a head full of issues I need to work through.  Some people meditate, or jog.  I write.  Of course, it would be grand if writing burned calories like jogging does, but I digress.

I had no idea what I was getting myself into when I began, but I immediately loved being able to get some things off my chest from time to time.  Actually — nearly daily.  As someone who has kept a notebook for many years, and who has enjoyed writing’s cathartic effect, blogging was perfect and quickly became so much more than writing.  I’ve learned more about technology, and web design, software, and surprisingly, photography — something I’ve always been interested in but rarely had time for.  The completely unexpected gain has been the interaction with people I’ve met along the way.

When it became clear that my passion for cooking and food in general wouldn’t fit into my writing world, this blog was born.  It, too, has taken on a life of its own quite different from what I first intended, but it’s been at the expense of the other.

If you’re someone who also lives in the world of all things gloriously food, then you know about the time and energy that goes into a food blog if it’s done well, and I’m still learning how to do that.  It’s truly amazing, and somehow,  I’ve turned it into a job.  It’s work I enjoy, thankfully, but so is writing, and the struggle ahead of me is sorting out how to have both — you know, in the best spirit of, “Ask and ye shall receive,” or something like that.

Something’s got to give, and I haven’t figured it out yet, but I will.  I love thinking about food, shopping for food, cooking it, eating it, and photographing it.  I do not, however, enjoy writing about it the way I enjoy writing in general.  What a dilemma.

In the mean time, here’s the sifting I’ve done for 2008 in all things related to food.  As I scan the list, I guess this means I’m a baker more than anything else.  Interesting, because I prefer savory cooking much, much more.

1)  Best Dessert:  Brown Butter Ice Cream with Salted Almond Brittle and Pound Cake.  No contest.  What is it about brown butter?  I’m still thinking a nice drizzle of caramel would make it perfect.

Sass & Veracity: Brown Butter Ice Cream with Salted Almond Brittle and Pound Cake

2)  Best Meal:  Grilled Rib-Eyes with Tomatoes & Kalamatas.  Easy, quick, flavorful, and completely satisfying.  And yes, broiling the steak instead of grilling it works just perfectly!  Of course the tomatoes and olives would be perfect on chicken, fish, toasted bread….with a giant spoon all by itself.

Grilled Rib-Eye with Tomatoes & Kalamatas

3)  Best New Ingredient: I had absolutely no idea that pomegranate would be lovely in food.  Nothing like being born yesterday, right?  Until this fall, I hadn’t used it in any recipe that involved cooking, except salad, and that doesn’t quite count.  This Warm Spinach Salad is amazing even without the bacon.
Warm Spinach Bacon Salad with Pomegranate

4)  Best New Gadget:  Chef’n Palm Peeler.  Nothing new fangled, but oh so simple — and sharp!  It makes peeling butternut squash a complete breeze compared to my more traditional peeler.  Who knew?  It fits around your finger and in the palm of your hand.

Veggie Peeler

5)  Best Kitchen Tool Period: No question.  My Kitchen Aid, Big Bertha, is going strong at about nine years of age and counting.  No flames on her sides, but she smokes regularly.  I wouldn’t trade her for anything, but do occasionally do without her (use bowl, wooden spoon, and elbow grease…) to keep myself humble.  If you don’t have one yet, start saving.  It’s worth it — especially when you’re making a meringue, or get crazy and put together some homemade Caramel Moon Pies.  Now, if I only had an extra mixing bowl…

Sass & Veracity: Moon Pies

6)  Best New Cookbook in my Collection: I thoroughly used Rick Bayless inside and out this year trying nearly 20 recipes — a new record.  He should feel pretty worked over, don’t you think?  If you think you know what Mexican food is, think again.  And his Bread Pudding?  Heavenly.

Mexican Bread Pudding before baking...
7)  Best Cyber Bakefest:  If you’d told me two years ago that I could bake with friends who lived across the country, or in other countries, I’d have thought you were a loon.  But when we do get together with the help of Skype, we make amazing food.  Buttery Garlic Knots with Rosemary anyone?  My, oh my!

Sass & Veracity: Buttery Garlic Knots

8)  Best Never Posted Recipe:   I don’t need to wonder why recipes like this one never make it to “publish” even though they are as delicious as this one was.  The photos turned out horribly! The recipe for Pan-Seared Scallops with Champagne Grapes and Almonds can be found at Noble Pig along with many, many other delicious recipes.  There’s nothing quite like her wit!

Seared Scallops with Almonds and Champagne Grapes

9)  Best New Cooking Ah-Ha: Making bread.  Not a novel concept, I know, and it’s not that I didn’t know how, I just know better.  Between Zoe of Zoe Bakes, Susan of Wild Yeast, and Mary of The Sour Dough, the knowledge I’ve gained from these amazing bakers has helped me experiment with yeast more than ever.  Thanks!  If you missed my Bacon 3-Cheese Mother Loaf, you missed a lot.

3-Cheese Bacon Bread


10)  Best Home Sous Chef & Taster:  The resident hunkster, of course.  All I have to do is point him in the direction of a recipe.  He can pull it together from start to finish if I need him to when I’m a tad over-planned.  And yes, he also barbeques in the rain.

Making a new butternut squash soup for Thanksgiving....

Bonus:  Best aspect of blogging?  Those of you who take the time to visit and say hello — like Meg of Megan’s Munchies who just gave me a Lovely Blog award.  Thanks, Meg!  So many of you are much better at keeping up with your visits than I am, and I constantly find myself vowing to improve.

That sounds a bit like a resolution, doesn’t it?

Happy New Year to you all!

In the next few weeks, I’m doing some admin work on this site shifting it to my own domain, so there are bound to be glitches.  Thank you ahead of time for your patience!