Saturday, January 11, 2014


Blogwise, 2013 was mainly marked by frustration over my inability to stay up to date. I didn’t cook any less than in previous years (although perhaps less ambitiously), but my posting was sporadic at best and I still have a long backlog of good recipes not yet written up (some of which would have been contenders for my favorite recipes of the year if I’d actually managed to get them posted in 2013). It feels overwhelming, and although the food blogs I follow provide much of my cooking inspiration, seeing so many gorgeously photographed, frequently updated sites only amplifies my sense of inadequacy. I have to stop and remind myself that many of the bloggers I read don’t work full-time outside the home, and for some their sites are their jobs, so there is much more time and energy at work there.

I’m definitely content to stay an amateur, but I at least want to be an organized and capable amateur. Last year I had the stunning epiphany that I don’t actually need to post every single recipe I make, only the ones I really think I’m likely to make again, which streamlined my process somewhat. I also finally realized that while my current schedule doesn’t easily allow for big chunks of time to devote to personal writing, finding a few moments is better than none at all. In the fall I started trying to work on Bookcook for 15 minutes a day, and found I could finish a post in two or three days. I might have gotten up to two whole posts a week if the holiday craziness hadn’t interrupted my flow. So, long story short, my goal for the year is to keep plugging away and get caught up, but also not to stress so much about it that I drain all the fun out of what I’m doing.

Having only managed to post 35 recipes in 2013 (my worst record since 2006), I feel a bit silly making a top 10 list, given that it will contain nearly a third of my total content for the year. But once I started reviewing the recipes, I spotted so many delicious ones that have already become standbys that I realized it’s still worth highlighting them. So, here are my favorite 10 recipes I posted in 2013 (in chronological order):
  1. Roasted Tomato, Kale, and Feta Pizza: Building on one of my favorite recipes of 2012, Roasted Cherry Tomatoes, this is pretty much my ideal pizza—a little spicy, a little sweet, a little salty, a little tart, a little earthy, loaded with vegetables, plenty cheesy, and easy to put together. Sold! 
  2. Cardamom Cookies: Not sexy to look at, but a must for any cardamom lover, these buttery spice cookies have become one of my Christmas standards (although I only posted the recipe last January, I’ve been making them for several years now). I originally struggled with the odd shape and considered just making them round, but I was recently paging through a Swedish cookie recipe book A’s mom gave me a few years ago and spotted almost this exact recipe, titled “Cardamom Horseshoes.” So they are legitimately traditional, and I’ll be sticking with the horseshoe shape now that I’ve finally figured out how not to make them look like butts.
  3. Pumpkin Baked Oatmeal: I’d been making a plain version as an occasional break from granola since 2010, but with my discovery of the wealth of flavor variations at Budget Bytes, 2013 was my baked oatmeal renaissance, and now I only tend to make granola as an occasional break from baked oatmeal. Banana and Funky Monkey (although unless I’m feeling hormonal or decadent, I usually omit the chocolate and coconut so it’s just peanut butter-banana) are also in my regular rotation, but pumpkin remains my all-time favorite, regardless of the time of year. I actually have some in the fridge right now!
  4. Apple and Fennel Salad: My first time out with raw fennel, I happened to stumble on pretty much the perfect salad. I love the fruit + greens + nuts + cheese + lemon vinaigrette salad formula in many forms, but this is an especially successful version.
  5. Mushrooms and Poached Eggs on Cheesy Toast: Hardly a complicated recipe, but beloved, not only because it’s easy and delicious but also because I was hungry for something specific and was able to improvise to feed my craving, not always my strong suit. It also kicked off my mini-mania for other breakfasty sandwich-type things (see also Open-Faced Egg, Cheese, and Tomato Sandwiches).
  6. Spinach Soup With Garlic Thyme Croutons: 50-something soup recipes on this site and this was the first time it occurred to me to (a) make a pureed spinach soup and (b) gussy it up with croutons. I may be slow on the uptake, but it helps that this is a really flavor-packed recipe.
  7. Farro Salad With Roasted Mushrooms and Parmesan: 2013 was definitely my Year of Farro. I not only discovered that I like it, but found three killer recipes. This one narrowly edged out the excellent Beef, Mushroom, and Farro Soup and One-Pan Farro With Tomatoes, due to the sheer number of times I’ve made it—at least five times already, which pretty much means once a month. I love making a lemony kale salad alongside it and having wholesome, satisfying double-salad lunches all week long.
  8. Southwest Scramble: I said in the original post that I’m not sure I could ever get tired of this one, and that still holds true even though I’ve done my best to try. As if the discovery of how to make baked tortilla chips wasn’t exciting enough, I can throw them into a pan with black beans, eggs, salsa and cheese and have easy comfort food in just a few short minutes. Definitely make your own tortilla chips for this one—I did try it with storebought once and it’s not the same.
  9. Roasted Strawberry and Toasted Coconut Popsicles: I finally used my popsicle molds! And I struck gold on my first outing with this recipe. Next summer I’m going full-on popsicle-crazy, but I doubt I’ll find anything as delicious as these.
  10. Tex-Mex Beef and Bean Enchiladas With Chili Gravy: Slam dunk, instant classic. I’m pretty pleased to have made my own enchilada sauce, but the simple filling is a winner too, with a genius use of refried beans to create a saucy consistency.

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