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Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Looking Back, Looking Forward

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I always seem to get very introspective this time of year. I'm not sure why that is. Maybe it has something to do with closing one chapter of my life and moving on to another - leaving behind the bad and bringing along the good. Maybe it's the possibility of reinventing myself yet again, hoping for a better outcome this time.

The coming of a new year is such a hopeful time - so full of promise. Heaven knows that 2008 was not good on so many levels. Global levels! In all my 40+ years I have never witnessed such despair, such desperation, such fear and insecurity, while at the same time, such resourcefulness, determination, courage and faith. Who knows where and how we'll be at this time next year. I'd like to think that whatever the future holds, I can embrace it with grace and a positive attitude. The glass is half-full, people. Let's drink from it!

There were lots of highs and lows for me in 2008. Many, I have shared with you; some I have not. One of the highlights for me has been getting to know so many wonderful, generous and caring people through this blog. When I started SGCC, I never dreamed that I'd become part of such a close knit and wildly creative community! Your friendship and support have lifted me up when I was down, and helped me soar through the highs. For this, I offer my sincerest thanks.

I have some interesting plans for SGCC this year, in both form and function. I'm working on a redesign of the site, which I am really excited about. I'm also working on implementing some new regular features, such as Dinner and a Movie and Cooking the Books, which I will tell you more about later.

Since you, dear readers, are such an integral part of the success (or failure) of this blog, I'd love to know what you'd like to see here on SGCC. Leave your ideas and suggestions in the comments section of this post by midnight on Monday, January 5th, and I will choose the one I like best. Whoever comes up with the winning idea will get a little something from me: a copy of The Flavor Bible, by Karen Page and Andrew Dornenburg. An alphabetical index of flavors and ingredients, this book allows readers to search complimentary combinations for a particular ingredient, emphasizing the classics. The book also features menu items from renowned chefs such as Grant Achatz of Alinea, Alfred Portale of Gotham Bar and Grill and Le Bernardin's Eric Ripert. Trust me, you'll love this one!

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Now, what would a New Year's post be without a "Best of" list? Obviously, I love most of the food I post about, or else I wouldn't bother. That said, I do have my favorites. Here are my picks for the Best of 2008.

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In January, I made this Soupe au Pistou. This hearty and satisfying Provencal vegetable soup, full of robust flavors is perfect for a chilly winter day. The recipe was borrowed from noted cookbook author, Patricia Wells. I came across it years ago while watching her on an episode of Martha Stewart's old cooking show.

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In February, this fabulous Thank Heaven for Little Girl(Scout)s Samoa Cheese Tart was born. Inspired by my overabundance of Samoa Girl Scout cookies, this super rich, caramelly, coconutty, chocolatey, cream cheesy flan-like tart is quite possibly the stickiest, gooiest, creamiest and chewiest dessert I've ever made!

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My Baking with Mom series back in March was a lot of fun. My mother and I spent a few days together, making our versions of Italian Easter pies. Of course, we each had very definite ideas about how our pies should be done - and we didn't always agree! My favorite of the bunch was my Pizza Rustica - traditional Italian Easter pie with a ricotta base, which is then filled with a variety of dried meats and cheeses. My Pizza Rustica is big, cheesy, creamy and gooey hunk of a pie stuffed to the gills with six different kinds of dried and fresh MEAT! And boy, is it good!

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I couldn't not include one of my most popular recipes of all time on this list. So, my pick for April is none other than my Holycraptheseareamazing Cookies. These cookies are mind-numbingly delicious, crispy, creamy little balls of peanut butter perfection! Lots of you thought so too. I won 1st place in The Great Peanut Butter Exhibition Cookie Contest with them.

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My favorite recipe in May was for the Spicy Crab Cakes with Key Lime Mustard Sauce that I made for Mr. SGCC's birthday. These crab cakes were sweet and spicy, crispy, tender and meaty. I served the crab cakes with a cool and creamy Key Lime Mustard Sauce and they were amazing!

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Some of you may remember that incident I had at Whole Foods last summer regarding some $28.99/pound veal chops. Well, while the price tag on those veal chops left a bad taste in my mouth, the chops themselves were magnificent! My Pan Roasted Veal Chops with Chipotle-Lime Butter were a smash hit and are my pick for June. I only wish I could afford to make them a lot more often!

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In July, my Drunken Cherry-Vanilla Ice Cream sure hit the spot! This ice cream is a perfect choice when fresh, sweet, juicy, ruby-hued Bing cherries abound. It starts with a Philadelphia-style vanilla ice cream, which contains no eggs yolks, instead, relying heavily on cream. The cherries are simmered a few minutes in a little Kirschwasser, or cherry brandy, and then mixed into the ice cream. Mmmm!

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August brought forth one of my favorite seafood dishes of all time - Misoyaki Salmon. Borrowing from several different sources, I tried to recreate the famous Misoyaki Butterfish that I've enjoyed many times at Roy's Hawaiian Fusion. This dish was To. Die. For.! It was seriously the best salmon I've ever made. I have to say that my Misoyaki Salmon could definitely give Roy's butterfish a run for its money!

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In September, I shared a recipe for one of my favorite foods from my childhood. My mom used to make this Oven Baked Corn Flake Crumb Chicken a lot when we were kids. This dish is one of my ultimate "feel good" foods. It represents love and family, comfort and security and the knowledge that home isn't just a place where you live, but how you live and who you live with.

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Some disappointing sugar cookies and leftover pumpkin puree led me to create my October pick - Serendipity Pumpkin Cheese Pie with Toffee and Caramel Swirl. This rich, creamy and decadent confection is heaven on a plate! The filling has a cream cheese base, with gorgeous, thick caramel ribbons running through it. I also added some toffee bits for a little bit of crunch. The crust was made from those recycled sugar cookies. It was an accidental triumph to be sure!

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November's pick is The Rachel, a grilled sandwich closely resembling a Ruben. The difference between the two is that The Rachel is made with pastrami and coleslaw and a Ruben is made with corned beef and sauerkraut. Now, this is a sandwich you can really sink your teeth into!

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Last, but not least, December's pick is the dreaded Buche de Noel. Yes, it was a pain to make. But, the finished product was nothing short of magnifique!

Here's wishing you all a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year!

43 comments:

J.Danger said...

holycraptheseareamazing cookies? How did I miss that one?!

Happy New year Susan! Cheers!

Lindsey said...

I love the blog! Happy new year! I say, keep the yummy recipes coming and I of course really love lots of photos!

{ Lindsey }

Jescel said...

Happy New Year! And here's to more wonderful creations in 2009... For suggestions, since you've a lot of readers, maybe it's time for you to own your domain name....like www.sgcc.com??? :oD

FFichiban said...

Happy New Year ^^! Thx for all the awesome recipes and posts! Happy eating in 2009!

Mike of Mike's Table said...

Happy New Year! As for what new things to do, I'm happy with SGCC as it is, and this post reminded me of how many older dishes I've said "I need to try that" and hadn't gotten around to yet (especially the Easter pie).

Patsyk said...

Happy New Year! You know I adore your blog as it is, and I'm looking forward to your new ideas in 2009!

Bellini Valli said...

Have a safe, healthy, inspired as well as tasty New Year Susan. It has been so enjoyable following your blog over the past year. I am really looking forward to 2009!!!!

Mary said...

My suggestion for your blog is "if it's not broke, don't fix it!" I love reading your blog just the way it is. I like how you have delicious recipes and snippets about yourself and your family. Brava. Keep up the good work!

RecipeGirl said...

All great choices. Everything you make is delicious. I love being surprised by what you choose to share w/ us! Happy NY!

Grace said...

i've enjoyed every single visit to your wonderful blog. keep up the terrific work, and happy 2009!

Little Ol' Liz said...

What I crave most from any foodie is honesty.If something works? Tell me why. If this is the final PITA to end all PITA's? Tell me. If I can't get into heaven without making this recipe -- by all means, TELL ME! I dig the who's, the how's and the why's of recipes. (Oh Alton, how I love thee!)
Your pictures are always the best. You know what makes for good story. You tempt us and treat us with good food and fun.
Other than perhaps moving in next door, you've got me hooked.
Happy New Years.

Obsessive Foodie or Food Addict....You Decide said...

Happy Friggin' New Year and visit my ghetto blog when you can, you are always welcome.

Ari (Baking and Books) said...

My goodness but your photos are mouthwatering!

I have a copy of the Flavor Bible sitting next to me as I type, such an interesting book. One of your readers is going to be very lucky. :)

Happy New Year!

MinervaO said...

I love the idea of writing about what you cook from cookbooks, and talking about the results. I think a great thing to write about would be how to adapt recipes to your own particular tastes, and to teach people to be more adventurous with their cooking.

Tanya said...

Happy New Year to you too, Susan! I don't think there is anything you need to do to improve your blog. I love it just how it is!

Gera said...

Hi Susan!

Looking back I missed some of these fanatic post I must do a yummy read and looking forward I wish You Health, Prosperity and Awesome Food Experiences in these 2009!

Suggestion, I know isn’t easy the migration but a blog with 3 columns with a photo-index of your posts can be interesting...

Seeing some of the photos I'm craving again...can't wait to see your upcoming delicious posts :)

Gera .:. sweetsfoods

Karen said...

I enjoy reading your blog and although I can't think of what you might do differently, whatever you incorporate in the coming year will surely be interesting! I've seen many buche de noel pics and yours is the most beautiful I've seen! I still can't even imagine tackling that! :)

Claire said...

Well, I have a couple of ideas. One is just kind of fun...once a month, cook a recipe that has one of your title words in it or an ingredient with that word (e.g. sticky rice). Those descriptors seem to related to sweet things, but there are lots of things that could be savory with those words, too. That could be fun.

The other thing is to do some specifically budget friendly meals (or even those that produce "new" leftover meals) and meals for 1-2 people. I think lots of people would appreciate that with the economy being like it is.

Hope you have a wonderful start to 2009! I'll check back on Saturday...I'm on call tomorrow! Yuck!

melissa said...

If this resembles what I have to look forward to as a new reader, then I CAN'T WAIT! :D I'm totally copying the crab cake recipe. Awesome.

Happy New Year!

Ingrid said...

Love reading your blog and drooling over your amazing photos! Happy New Year and I hope 2009 is a better one for ya!
~ingrid

Katrina said...

I love your blog and all your food and your amazing photos! The only thing I wish all blogs had was the ability to suscribe to receive updates via email and not just in a reader. I prefer the email way. Can't wait for your plans for the coming year!

Brilynn said...

I've been looking for a book just like that one! I actually ordered something else on amazon today but if I could I'd retract it for that one I would. But I digress, as far as ideas for SGCC, I like your Dinner and a Movie Theme, you could perhaps turn it into a blogging event? Or maybe you should just make more ice cream... that drunken cherry ice cream is fabulous. You should have an ice cream at least once a month.

Peter M said...

Happy New Year Susan!

That's quite the tasty recap of your dishes.

I'd suggest bury the Top Chef recaps...the show's losing it's appeal and getting kitchsy - something you are not.

The Short (dis)Order Cook said...

Happy New Year. I hope 2009 brings you much joy and happiness.

Thanks for hte memories with your recipe recaps. I have certainly poached one or two of them. ;-)

Debbie said...

Happy New Year to you! I love all your recipes and pictures. Just keep doing what you are doing...You've already got it right!!!

JennDZ - The Leftover Queen said...

Happy New Year, Susan! I loved this post and agree with you entirely! I hope 2009 is a wonderful year for you and your family. I am sure that whatever you decide to write about here will be wonderful as always!

Choosy Beggar Tina said...

Happy New Year Susan!!! Thank you for doing such a fabulous round up of your favorite recipes, each one of which had a drool-worthy picture.

I adore your blog and the variety of dishes that you make. My favorite part is that they are very accessible, for the most part, so people aren't daunted and know that they can do them too.

Happy new year! said...

I just love rounds up. Your pictures are so beautiful too. I can't wait to see what you cook up in 2009!

Happy new year!

Bren said...

this is soooo funny!! we both have the same New Year's pick up! Great minds think alike!!

Happy New Year to you Susan!!

Chez Us said...

Your recap is great! I love everything you do & cannot imagine you doing anything else better - perfection is hard to perfect! Keep up the great job & Happy 2009 to you!

Claudia said...

You're doing a great job. I love the recap - looks like I missed some great ones and can now try them - especially the crab cakes.

Proud Italian Cook said...

Beautiful food, beautiful blog! It's always a pleasure coming here Susan. I've always enjoyed your life stories you write about too.
True life, the good, the bad, and the ugly, keep it up, please!!

noble pig said...

Happy New year! I always love all my visits here...you rock woman.

And as a winemaker, i would really like that book!

It's hard for me to say what I want you to do because i want you to do what you want because that's what i like best. I like surprise!

Jan said...

your blog is awesome! honestly, its really difficult to think of something to add.... other than more giveaways, :)

juju73 said...

I often find that the blogs I love the most (such as yours) are the ones I return to again and again...the ones that combine life stories and recipes. I often find that the story leads to a memory which leads to the recipe.

I'm so grateful for your blog! Happy New Year!

Manggy said...

Happy new year Susan!!!
The book looks maaaahvelous, but damn me and my rusty brain, I can't think of anything!! Your blog is just lovely as it is ;) Although I will second the "more giveaways" suggestion for kicks :) Kidding!

Simply...Gluten-free said...

holycrapiwishyouanamazingnewyear! xo, carol

Passionate About Baking said...

Have a brilliant year SGCC. A book giveaway gets me giddy with excitement & therefore leaves me incapable of coherent thought! Would love to see a series of romantic meal ideas though. I think you are very creative & your posts have this whimsical tune to them!! Hope 2009 makes your wishes come true Susan!!

alexandra's kitchen said...

Well, I am looking forward to hearing more about your new ideas. I have some plans to redesign my blog as well, but if i ever get around to doing them, it will be a miracle.

One think i want to do for my blog, and would love to see on other blogs to, is to make it printer friendly. I would love to make have a "print this recipe" link on every post to make it easier for visitors to print — so they don't have to print all of the sidebar stuff.

Happy New Year!

luv 2 cook said...

I love your site as well and I think you have enough follows for an "often clicked" column like your most popular recipes, a great reference tool for your readers.
My other idea is spice related. I am somewhat leery of spices (I am insane I know) but I tend to stick to the basics and if you had a column once a month like for example a Varity of paprika and made something with it that would be amazing and help new cooks and cooks stuck in their ways.

Maryann said...

I love those holy crap cookies ;) Just keep your personality shining through in 2009, ok?

Gretchen Noelle said...

I think you should do a quest for the stickiest, gooiest, creamiest chewiest dessert you can make. I think that would be perfect for your blog!

Nicole said...

I feel I have missed out on so much over the last month or two with little to no blogging or even much cooking. But thank you for reminding me of those amazing crab cakes. They are one of my tops that I want to try out. That and the girl scout tart. Happy new year to you and yours.