Thursday, December 10, 2020

Continuing The Walk Down Memory Lane

I thought that by Christmas I would have reviewed all 15 years of blogging, but that is not going to happen. We'll just have to see how long it takes...maybe into the new year.

2008 was a great blogging year for me. I averaged almost 10 posts a month, so at least two a week, sometimes three. In January I started my Cookbook Corner posts, exploring various cookbooks, old and new. Most avid cooks and bakers I know love cookbooks, even now when wonderful recipes are easily available over the internet.  Good cookbooks also include tips and tricks, alternate measurements or ways to play around with the recipe, plus, usually these days, great photos to show you what the dish or baked good should look like finished. When I had a muffin business in Berkeley moons ago I scoured bookstores for old cookbooks and found various variations on methods to make muffins as well as interesting flavor combinations. I guess that is one of the values of cookbooks...they are an endless source of new learning and inspiration.

The first recipe in Cookbook Corner is one that I still use often, especially in the summer. It's for Creamy Coleslaw Dressing, which is a simple recipe but one that has a great flavor balance between sweet and tangy.

I continued to write Land of St. Honore' stories for Daring Bakers posts and made some classic recipes like Julia Child's French Bread and a Coq au Vin recipe that I think is hers. There were also some new ideas like a gingerbread donut filled with lemon curd and dark chocolate truffles enhanced with bacon...I think bacon was having a moment in 2008!

One of the things that I became more and more comfortable with was changing recipes around to suit myself or to create something new. I took the British Bakewell Tart idea and changed it so that the filling was an almond-enhanced chocolate and the jam changed from berry flavored to quince, since I've found that quince and chocolate go really well together. To get to that I combined elements from four or five Bakewell Tart recipes and kept St. George Chocolate Quince Jam Tarts.

Although I still had savory recipes, the blog began to trend towards sweet baked goods. I fell for blondies bar cookies and created a number of different variations over the years. The first, most basic, recipe is HERE. It came from the same book, Jill O’Connors wonderful book called ”Sticky, Chewy, Messy, Gooey.”, which I used when it was my turn to be a co-hostess for the Daring Bakers. We made a very fun dessert, Cheesecake Pops, and I had fun with the illustrations, too. That was in late April 2008 and was my 201st post!

Although they were delicious, I never made the cheesecake pops again, but in April I posted two recipes that I have returned to again and again. One is for Lemon Chicken for a Crowd and it is one of the best chicken recipes ever with garlic, mustard, lemon juice and rosemary giving it outstanding flavor. Even people who don't much care for chicken love it. The second on is for Molly Katzen's Amazing Overnight Waffles. Imagine how great it is to know that you can wake up in the morning and have the best waffles ever really quickly since the batter only needs the addition of some melted butter and egg; the rest has been done the night before and the overnight hours have added great flavor to the batter and allowed the yeast to grow. I've made these with sourdough starter, too.

In May I wrote my first Land of St. Honore' post that wasn't connected to the Daring Bakers posts. My Mom always enjoyed these flights of fancy stories, so I wrote one for Mother's Day and included a Swiss roll with a frozen berry filling, just for Mom which you can fine HERE.

In early June I tried something different...I catered a party for 20 with a theme...Greek Night. I really enjoyed the challenge, but it was exhausting and I also worked two part-time jobs and was a non-profit President with a meeting to run a few days before the party. Still not sure how I did it all! It didn't help that I had never made the main dish and that an extra 5 people showed up. Fortunately I made extra. Around that time I also tried putting a mini-journal graphic in my posts, but that didn't last too long. The blog posts themselves were enough to do. This link is also for a decadent chocolate layer cake, Sin City Cake.

Because this is a blog, not just a recipe book, the posts include things about the rest of my life beyond cooking. In July Sweetie and I thought we were repairing/replacing a first floor window. In the end we did work on three floors, used scaffolding, discovered pink mold, jacked up the house and more. A friend of mine heard about all this and started calling me Pioneer Woman (this was a bit before THE Pioneer Woman had her blog I think) but while all this was going on, on the south side of the house in July heat, I had also said I would bring three! desserts to an anniversary picnic. 

One of the hits were white peach hand pies, but my favorite were the brownies with ganache on top and colorful M&Ms.

I know exactly when I took up golf for a time because it's in the blog for August 2008. The post also included a great recipe for Chocolate Dipped Lemon Butter Cookies (which are also good without the chocolate).

Just as people were getting used to seeing all kinds of sweets on my blog, I began to put more savory dishes in. Part of the reason was it was September and with harvest comes all sorts of veggies, especially tomatoes. I think my favorite of the half dozen or more in September was Grilled Cheese and Basil Polenta which I served with a nice tomato sauce.

October brought a whole new thing to my life and to the blog...sourdough! It became an obsession for me. I made the starter using grapes from my property using a recipe in the Macrina Bakery and Cafe' Cookbook and then the fun began. With sourdough, you feed the starter every week. When you do, you have some starter that is the 'toss off' which can either be tossed, or can be used to make bread. Of course I wanted to use it to make bread because this was new, new, new and very exciting. In November I made herb bread, English muffins, pancakes and more using sourdough starter. I even started a whole wheat version to go with the white flour version...which produced even more toss off. I think my favorite was a whole wheat starter loaf with seeds kneaded in. Another is a fine-grained oatmeal bread with white flour starter.

Right near the end of the year I made a recipe that still floors me...a frozen French Yule Log. It was an amazing learning experience to make with something like six or seven layers of different kinds including frozen mousse, ganache, a crisp layer, a crème Brule' layer, an almond dacquoise and more. It was a showstopper and very delicious, but a stressful thing to make, too.

There are dozens and dozens of additional 2008 recipes but you are probably reeling by now with all of these. Feel free to wander through the year and discover your favorite recipes. If you go to web view and look to the right, there is a list of years. Head down to 2008 and open it up and browse.

Happy cooking and baking!

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