When I began blogging a year ago I couldn't have imagined all the ways it would change and enrich my life. I started, like a lot of people, because I thought it would be fun to chart and share my experiences in cooking and navigating through the world as I was entering a new stage in my life where rebirth was the theme.
What surprised me was not so much the awakening of old passions, but the discovery of new ones. New friends. New ideas. New challenges. In many ways, a whole new life altogether. Though currently pregnancy with my first child and greatest blessing has temporarily slowed my contribution to the blogging community significantly, this is still my home online; The place I'll come back to when I resume cooking, when I've gone some place new, when My Pot Garden is sprouting, to share big news and, most importantly, to be a part of your journey too.
Expecting a baby boy this July on my 32nd birthday and moving to Paris, France shortly thereafter means there's yet so much to be lived and to be blogged about. Thank you to all my friends for the kindness and support you've shown me throughout this most magical year. I couldn't have done it without you.
My year in Milk, Sugar, Love...
My very first endeavor in working with yeast and dough, Soft Pretzels were an instant hit that got better and better with practice. Baked with a brushing of butter and covered in mustard, eating one transports me to sunny days, late 1980's with my Gram on the Boston Common with a cup of lemonade and pretzel from the cart in front of Park St. station or front row seats at Fenway Park every time!
Chocolate Walnut Fudge Cake (with chocolate buttercream frosting)
Hands down my favorite Chocolate Fudge Cake. Rich, so incredibly moist, with the addition of a cup of hot coffee you can't taste but adds an unmistakable layer of complexity--This is my bliss!
Caribbean Chicken Salad
When it comes to cooking, there's probably nothing more satisfying to me than re-creating dishes and foods from restaurants and grocery stores at home in your own kitchen. Sweet and savory Caribbean Chicken Salad, re-created from a suspect in the chain restaurant Chili's lineup, had me going back for seconds sans the questionable ingredients and guilt.
Carrot Pineapple Cake
Last July on my 31st birthday I had my Carrot Pineapple Cake and ate it too. Never being a big fan of it before, I decided to expand my horizons and give it another go. Something I've learned to do since blogging...try new things. Consider me converted! Moist, sweet, subtly spicy with surprise pieces of juicy pineapple and luscious vanilla cream cheese frosting--this is worthy of celebrating any occasion.
Watermelon Vodka Sorbet
The dog days of summer hit hard this past August, but Watermelon Vodka Sorbet brought welcomed relief to my burning heart. After an agonizing wait for it to harden in the freezer, I gained a whole new appreciation for my favorite summer fruit.
Coffee Cannoli Ice Cream
I giggle a little whenever I think about Coffee Ricotta Ice Cream because that's where I got the (not so) brilliant idea to attempt making waffle cones using tape and parchment paper sans a waffle cone maker. Needless to say, that was a miserable failure. But the delicious ice cream, perfectly impressive on its own in a bowl, left me missing nothing!
Corn and Two Bean Salad
Summer in a bowl, Corn and Two bean Salad is no short of a fiesta for your mouth. This confluence of vibrant, summer flavors was love at first bite.
Homemade Feta Cheese
My proudest cooking achievement to date, Feta Cheese took two attempts to succeed, but to try, try again taught me lessons I'll keep for a lifetime. Learning to trust my instincts yielded me the creamiest, freshest most delicious cheese I've ever had. And underscored the case for hard-work over convenience.
Tomato Feta Pasta Salad
Maybe my most gratifying of all the things I've made. Enjoying the fruits of your labor is one of the many rewards for time and effort. Using home grown basil, parsley, yellow cherry tomatoes and homemade feta in Ina's Tomato-Feta Pasta Salad added an extra note of satisfaction to this seasonal delight.
Lemon Lavender Sables
One of my birthday presents last year was a ticket to see Cirque Du Soleil's 'Ovo'. I wanted to savor the feeling of living out one of my dreams for the first time with something special. I used lavender from my pot garden to create these buttery 'ovo' (egg) & butterfly shaped Lemon-Lavender Sables. Which perfumed my home with the most divine scent that will linger in my heart along with the great memories of the show.
Peach Berry Pie
The second of four pies I've made in my lifetime, Peach Berry Pie will always hold a special place in my heart for giving me confidence and teaching me that the elusive flaky pie crust was a lot easier to attain than we've all been taught. Served with homemade vanilla ice cream, this was one sweet send-off to summer.
The Breads: Harvest Squash Bread
Honey Oatmeal Wheat Bread (with)Homemade Raspberry Jam)
Harvest Squash Bread for its dense, chewy rustic richness for which I savored dipped into Red Lentil Soup and then again with chunky peanut butter and jam slathered in between. Honey Oatmeal Bread, so sweet and soft. Heavenly covered in Homemade Raspberry Jam or turned into a turkey sandwich to end all turkey sandwiches.
Red Lentil Soup
Simple. Warming. Healthful. No need to wax poetic when something like Red Lentil Soup features only a few delicious ingredients, takes twenty minutes and refuses to boast herself. Add spoon, rustic bread and enjoy.
Cheese Stuffed Crust Veggie Pizza
With endless possibilities and, in this case, lots of cheese melted over chewy bread stuffed with more cheese, Pizza has got to be my favorite food EVER! I find something new, I fall in love, but it's Pizza I always come back to.
Bonus: Vanilla Extract
File this under the 'Why did I think of that before?' category. When I began blogging I started baking a lot more and thus found myself going through bottles and bottles of Vanilla Extract. Since I came across the über simple make-it-yourself version, made it and, after a month, got to taste how pure and rich it was, this is the only vanilla I use.