It Was a Good Year

Le shopping

The year, it flew. Which is more than a little trite, but there you have it. In my defense, a few things happened that would legitimately qualify the year for roller coaster status. I read 31 books, for example, and am hopeful I will finish number 32 (Heat, by Bill Buford) before the year is out. I cooked 114 new (to me, or at least almost new) recipes, 75 of which came from websites. (This probably means I should throw out some of those cookbooks taking up precious space in our shoebox. But I won’t, because I love them so.)

My favorite new recipe this year was for warm red cabbage salad. Or no, pao de queijo. No, strawberry summer cake. Huhm. Let’s call this a year with three new favorites. The new recipe I cooked most was probably shrimp and feta in tomato sauce, though. Quick, easy, tasty, and just a little more special than pasta with tomato sauce (not that there’s anything wrong with that, as the stack of empty tomato cans in my imaginary 2011 trash pile can testify), shrimp and cheese were dinner on more than a few hungry weekday nights.

In a similar vein, the Amateur Gourmet’s vegetarian chili was the star of several dinner parties this year. It is not difficult to put together a-whole-lotta food for a table full of hungry bellies with this recipe, and the flavor is interesting enough to make people feel special that you’ve cooked for them. Plus, there are always tortilla chips and grated cheese and sour cream to accompany the chili. ‘Nuff said, I suppose.

A recipe I did not expect to repeat but have found myself making several times is Orangette’s egg salad with mushrooms . That does not sound very attractive, I know, nor does the yellow-grey mixture look it, but it is oddly addictive, especially if the mushrooms are thoroughly well-done and the dressing gets an extra oomph from fresh chives.

The same (lovely, oh so lovely) blog also has a recipe that worked in the exactly opposite direction. I liked the idea of deviled eggs with basil aioli and capers so much that I asked the caterers for our wedding to make them. And when their version lost its aioli topping in a last-minute panic, I made them myself a few weeks later. Don’t let it be said that I will not work for the ideal deviled egg. And then… I liked them. Liked them, but not enough to feel the need to make them again. Surprising, but for our New Year’s Eve’s eggs I have my eye on these. Let’s see if we can finish the year with an eggy bang.

There were a few other surprising recipes this year. Chickpea salad with cumin vinaigrette I made mostly because a can of chickpeas was looking forlorn, but turned out to be a great summer dinner when combined with fat slices of tomato. Sloppy joes were a way of using up a shriveled bell pepper and were so good I now have a second recipe for them, for variety. I have never met a gazpacho I didn’t love, so I was prepared for good things when I made this recipe. But even so, I couldn’t quite believe how much loveliness came from so few steps. My crystal ball is hinting there will be more of this soup in 2012.

So you can see where the roller coaster feeling comes from. No? Well, maybe there was also the becoming a Mrs, quitting a job, starting a new job, loving the new job but still finding a second new job, and then a second shoebox to live in. In Paris. I suppose those all might have had something to do with it. But whatever it was, I hope the new year will bring as many exciting developments, and delicious things to eat. Here’s to a lovely ending and great beginning for you and yours. See you in 2012!

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