Sunday, December 03, 2006

The Terrible Twos

Though it's a very minor milestone for most of the world, I'm pleased to point out that today marks the second anniversary of this little blog's existence.

It doesn't seem possible that I've been tossing off my random little thoughts about food online here for that long, and it certainly continues to amaze me that now and again I discover another new reader who has found something to savor on this site. Thank you all for continuing to read, to comment, and to share your own stories!

Last year, I took the opportunity of this inconspicuous anniversary to share a list of things I'd learned from my blogging (and cooking) experiences, as well as a wish list. What a change a year makes! Shortly after declaring my disinclination to jazz up this journal with digital photography, two very kind and loving friends pitched in to buy me a new camera, and I've slowly begun to learn more about how best to photograph food. (You'd think that an inanimate object would be a very easy subject to photograph. Au contraire!)

I still have a hard time sometimes coming up with posts, either because I get into a rut in my cooking (or I eat out too much) or because life keeps me away from the keyboard. But I still find that "showing up" keeps challenging me to try, both in writing and in cooking. And I've definitely tried some new things this year, including drying food and stocking a more bountiful pantry in a smaller space. I've also learned to let go of recipes when needed, just to see what magic can occur when ideas override rules. (It's fun!)

Though Phoenix has left the immediate area after our last cooking lessons this summer, she has sent me reports of her many cooking successes in her co-op at grad school. I'm so proud of her! And though my personal pastry chef, Spicyflower, continues to ask for my advice at times, I find that I have much to learn from her, and I've only begun to scratch the surface. It's a pity that my favorite taste testers are now all out of range (though they frequently remind me of the convenience of the postal system), but with a larger crowd of students to feed this year, I don't feel too deprived of an audience when I try baking something new.

I didn't grow any heirloom vegetables this year, though I sought them avidly at the farmers' market, and I have yet to try making my own pasta (perhaps over the winter break?), but I'm pleased to report that gradually more recipes are lodging in my brain, and I'm able to improvise more readily than before.

In short, I think I've developed both greater confidence in my cooking skills and greater openness to a creative use of those skills. I know several friends have thought of me as a pretty terrific cook for a number of years, but from my own point of view, I think I've really taken a giant leap forward this year.

So how can I challenge myself for the coming year? Clearly I'll continue to deepen my efforts to support local food production as this has become a very important aspect of my cooking and eating. But what else?

1. Having found a small sprout kit at the Franklin Park Conservatory last week, I hope to try my hand at growing sprouts... and then using them!

2. Related to that, I'm hoping to grow some greens in a small planter here in the loft so that I have some fresh homegrown produce during the winter. It's worth a try!

3. I'm still hoping to learn how to make fresh pasta, and since I'm able to keep a small herb "garden" going, I'd like to try making pasta with fresh herbs pressed into it.

4. I'm going to try and make this year's harvest last as long as possible. I'm off to a good start so far since the pantry is still chock full of potatoes, onions, garlic, squash, and canned goods. Anyone want to predict how long it will take to use it all up?

5. I'd like to establish some new food traditions in my household. For example, December means holiday baking, of course, but for me that means a certain variety of cookies as well as baklava. To avoid overwhelming myself at this one time of year, I'd like to set for myself another baking "holiday" as well as other rituals. I'm not clear yet myself on what that might entail, but I'm going to give it some thought.

6. And, of course, I hope to continue developing new and semi-original recipes for my... and your!... delectation.

I'm not one for making "resolutions" come New Year's Day; I far prefer making lists of goals that I can chip away throughout the year, and this list definitely falls under that category. Will I manage to accomplish everything? Maybe not, but it gives me some good ideas for expanding my horizons.

You can rest assured that I'll keep you posted on any progress I make on any of these goals. After all, if it has to do with food, you can bet I'll tell you about it here.

So thanks for sticking around this far... I hope it can only get better!


At 12/06/2006 2:48 PM, Blogger Tina said...

Happy Anniversary!:-)

At 12/11/2006 4:02 PM, Anonymous Pixie said...

You've always been one of the best cooks I've known.

Have you ever considered seeking additional professional training and/or opening a restaurant?

At 12/12/2006 7:16 AM, Blogger The Baklava Queen said...

Thanks, Tina! And thank YOU, Pixie... gosh, you're going to make me blush! (Though for a moment there, I thought you were asking if I had ever considered seeking professional HELP.... ;-))

Yes on both counts... seriously, I'm not so sure, but I've thought about it. Actually, I've thought more about a cafe or bakery, but since our fair town already has a pastry shop, an Amish bakery, and will soon be getting an awesome bread place, I don't think there's much room for me here.

Oh, and I'm considering that professional HELP, too... ;-)


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