We've come full circle! Here we are at the cusp of a new year. As we stand on top of the hill looking forward to all 2009 will bring, I can't help but take a quick glance back at 2008.
Even though we've just experienced an extremely volatile year with the economy down to it's worst, terrorists in Bombay and the yo-yo prices of gas to name a few issues, personally it was a good year with several great highlights scattered throughout.
Blogwise I had so much fun with What's For Lunch, Honey? this year, learning so many new things in the process. There were exciting experiments in the kitchen, new baking techniques learnt, practicing and playing around with new photo techniques, researching on ingredients and studying up on food styling. I am not sure if I am doing a good job, but one thing I can tell you for sure - I certainly am having a ball doing it!
In 2008 I composed 138 posts. When one considers it takes me a total of 3-4 hours spread across 2-3 days to put one post together - that is a lot of time spent on this blog. That's 552 hours - hours I loved spending here, probably because of you! Yes, you - all my readers and cherished friends. Without the support, motivation and friendship you offer I am sure this would be half as much fun. Sometime this year I noticed that this blog had managed to hit it's 1,000,000 visitor mark. I guess I was so dumbfounded that I forgot to celebrate it with you! Whereas in 2007 I hit the 500,000 after two years of blogging, 2008 bestowed the same amount in a period of almost 12 months! I am shaking my head, still unable to grasp this, as I write these figures.
I thank every single one of the half a million people visiting my humble blog this year. It's been a true pleasure having you over. I thank you for the time you take to read through my rambles and to write a comment. I love getting your mails and appreciate your patience when I answer (I have to improve on this!). Your questions and queries are invaluable and I hope I am able to help you answering or finding the solutions to them.
Thank you - my daily readers, fantastic friends, supportive advisors, anonymous lurkers, encouraging cheerleaders and of course my loyal and loving family - for keeping What's For Lunch. Honey? alive with your spirit and making this blog a fun place to come home to.
I know many of you have your favorites from this blog. In your comments or mails you share your thoughts on a picture, a post, a recipe or emotions and it's always exciting to read what your favorites are. Keeping with the trend from last year's retrospective, I share with you my favorites in 2008.
I started 2008 with a very good resolution and got to the business of introducing myself to you properly. This has now become my official "About" page.
Bollywood Cooking is a series I truly love. Not only because I am able to research the background or the origins of the dishes I grew up on but mostly because many of the recipes are often from my grandmother or mother's kitchen or recreated with my mother's advice and tips. In reproducing them and writing them down for you I once again have a chance to be close to both of them. One is watching me from the heavens above and the other encourages me and gives me tips over the phone from miles away. I hope both will approve of what I have done with the series.
This year it was all about street food and popular restaurant food. My favorite was certainly the delicious and creamy butter chicken. The vegetable paneer frankies were such a delight and nourished my homesickness after I returned from visiting my parents in Dubai. I enjoyed researching for this particular post - going back to the several types of street food offered in India was enlightening and a lot of fun. Fun was also joining a few of my Indian blog buddies in our fried food frenzy making the most famous of all Indian street foods - Vada Pav. I enjoyed adding my little twist to it!
Cooking School provides a similar concept just recreating and researching other very popular dishes and recipes from around the world. This year I made hot cross buns, spaghetti alla bolognese, zabaione and zimtsterne to name just a few posts in this series. My favorite however was the preserving 101 with several recipe ideas for chutneys, relishes and jellies.
The Food Guide provides me an opportunity to look into produce and other ingredients more closely. It's enriching to know how a vegetable or fruit ticks - all what I find out, I share with you and as a special goodie I usually share a recipe using that particular ingredient. This year we did plums, tomatoes, butter oil and rhubarb to name only a few. I had two favorites this year - the currently featured parsnips and making my own homemade quark.
There were so many interesting recipes I shared this year and it really was hard to choose. Maybe you will enjoy my top five:
- Risotto with Rucola & Bresaola
- Chickpea Pumpkin Tajine With Coconut Couscous & Coconut Chutney
- Ricotta Pesto & Mushroom Lasagne
- Coconut Potato Curry with Basil & Cashews
- Homemade Parsnip Gnocchi with Rucola Cashew Pesto
Ummm! Now I am hungry all over again.
Desserts, cakes and everything to satisfy the sweet tooth was once again plentiful this year. There was that tangy lime brûlée, a cooling strawberry pistachio frozen parfait, mum's coconut lemon cake and the delicate saffron and cardamom panna cotta. I had two favorites, each one offering a plethora of tastes and satisfying each sweet craving. The sensational strawberry panna cotta and my peachy peach cardamom goat cheese tart. Oh boy were they good!
I celebrated my first anniversary with the Daring Bakers this April and in August, I hosted my own challenge, getting the hundreds of very daring bakers to make chocolate eclairs. There was a lot of baking with this fantastic group throughout 2008. We partied with a party cake, went for a night out with the opera cake, had fun tossing dough with a medley of pizzas and braided a Danish braid. The three challenges I enjoyed and learned the most from were the crispy French baguette, Lavash crackers and our most recent French Yule log.
Photography is not only a hobby but a passion. It's my way to relax or vent. This year my two favorite guys surprised me by setting up a small photo studio for my birthday. I splashed out on the Lowel Ego set and was ready to learn new lessons in food photography. This corner is my recluse, a place where I go to be creative, to read about photography or food styling. I am still learning so much especially with the lights and I was not always happy with the results I produced. Personally I found the quality of the photos a bit erratic this year. Sometimes I captured difficult motives with ease and the so called easier ones created so much agitation. My favorite was summer berries and all the reasons I love summer!
So, getting the Inspiring Food Photography award March 2008, looking good in the host's award for tropical fruit salad and clicking it with the reader's choice award were all a huge encouragement for me to keep at it. These three awards were precious awards because they came from you. An honor for me and my gratitude goes out to you for making it possible.
It was a busy but an exciting year and I am so glad your were there every step of the way. I took you to Dubai with a peak behind the scenes of a pastry kitchen, you enjoyed the summer in Austria with me, got so aggravated with the Indian press for stealing my picture and you joined Soeren and me for our cookie-for-charity event.
It's really been a lot of fun! As I look towards 2009 I know there will be changes and a big adventure coming our way. On the whole we are excited, but there will be a lot of emotions and probably a fair bit of temperament involved. However, I know whatever comes my way you will be right there to help me get through it.
Wishing you all a jazzy, funky and foodie new year. I hope 2009 brings you joy, happiness, prosperity and health. I look forward to your blogs, recipes and friendship and thank you for allowing me to be a part of this incredible community.
Party hard tonight! ;-)
Hugs and see you next year!
All photographs and written content on What's For Lunch, Honey? © 2006-2008 Meeta Khurana unless otherwise indicated. | All rights reserved | Please Ask First