A lot of bad things happened around the world in 2016. Earthquakes, floods, shootings, bombings and, yes, even nightmarish elections. We wish that none of them happened or, at least, that they happened differently with less disastrous results. But there are things beyond our control and we can only wish that 2017 proves better than 2016.
Here at home, I have nothing to complain about. After years of trying to plot the direction of the blog, I finally managed to get my groove back. I manually edited most of the recipes to finally be compliant with current web standards. I re-cropped photos and even re-shot some. Work on the backend of the blog isn’t complete yet but it will be, sooner than later.
As I prepare the blog for 2017, I decided to glance back at what we produced over the last year. Yes, I said “we” because the blog has become more and more of a group effort with my entire family getting active with everyday cooking—my younger daughter, Alex, most especially. Just a few years ago, whenever she was bored, she would mix canned tuna, mayonnaise, herbs and spices to make her favorite sandwich spread. These days, when she’s bored, she makes bread. Our favorites?
It is also because of Alex’s active involvement in the kitchen that I finally managed to ditch my almost life-long allergic reaction to shrimps. Alex loves shrimps and when she started cooking in earnest, shrimps figured more and more in our daily meals. I’d eat a shrimp or two and, from there, my digestive system became friendlier with these juicy morsels from the sea. Among the seafood recipes we cooked in 2016, the best include:
And then, there was the unforgettable clams pasta arrabbiata.
The ever versatile chicken was a star of the blog in 2016. Thighs, wings, fillets… we cooked them all in oh, so many ways—with vegetables, pasta, rice, herbs, spices… I don’t think we cooked chicken so well before 2016. Our favorites?
As always, the meat recipes were the most popular with readers. Based on referrals from Google and Pinterest, the ones that garnered the most views include:
Beef-wrapped asparagus with teriyaki sauce
Japanese braised pork belly
Lamb shank curry with cider and coconut sauce
Slow Cooker Mediterranean beef stew
Perfect chashu (braised pork) for ramen
And then, there were the vegetarian dishes. I’m happy to announce that my vegetarian cooking has improved tremendously. A lot of the inspiration came from my older daughter, Sam, who often recommended recipes she found on Pinterest. Although there is only one vegetarian in our family, what I cooked for Sam, the rest of us got to enjoy too. Among the ones we loved:
Baked squash with butter, garlic and Parmesan
Black-eyed beans and corn salad
Cauliflower “fried rice”
Quinoa salad with sun-dried tomato pesto
Vegetarian teriyaki noodles
Stir-fried mushrooms and broccoli
It was also in 2016 when I re-discovered my slow cooker and learned that it isn’t just for tenderizing tough cuts of meat. We finally bought a new waffle iron too. Sam and Alex both love waffles and we plan on getting truly creative with our waffle recipes—both sweet and savory.
2016 was a fruitfully productive year and I hope that 2017 will prove to be even more so. What’s in store for 2017? More recipes, of course. And, beyond the recipes, more cooking tips and “how to” articles. Cooking, after all, is much more than being able to read and follow a recipe. Learning about ingredients and discovering new ones, mastering basic and more advanced cooking techniques and discovering still-unfamiliar cuisines are among our goals.
And, finally, after the garden make-over, we’ll be re-planting vegetables and herbs that we lost over the long monsoon season in 2016. Expect to read more about our gardening efforts.
So, goodbye, 2016. Hello, 2017! And for our 2017 opening salvo, we’ve started with tips on cooking holiday leftovers. There will be more cooking with leftovers in the coming days as we rummage through our fridge and see how we can best recycle what dishes we didn’t finish over the holidays. After that, it’ll be all about Chinese food and cooking as Asia and Asian communities around the world await the Year of the Rooster.