2011: A year in review

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As the year draws to an end I thought I’d take some time out to reflect on what I’ve achieved this year. It’s been a crazy year of sorts with highs and lows all along the way. I started the year out in a very different space to where I am now, I was feeling overwhelmed and challenged by life and finding it difficult to see the light among the dark. It was not a good space but I got through it with the help of my friends, family and Paul. This blog was very much a creative outlet for me, it encouraged me to get back into my love of photography, cooking and writing. I’ve also come into contact with some fantastic, amazing, funny, smart and beautiful people since starting she cooks, she gardens and I hope that trend continues in 2012.

One of the reasons I started this blog was to encourage me to use my cookbooks more, I have an ever-expanding collection which threatens to take over the rest of our house. Looking back, I think I need to go back to that original idea and seek inspiration from the pro’s. We received some beautiful new cookbooks for Christmas this year and I really want to give them a red-hot go. Before I do that, and on this the last day of 2011, I thought it fitting to see out the year with a compilation of my favourite posts, the recipes that were most popular with readers and the dishes that I like to make all the time.

So here they are in no particular order….

My first ever food post – ‘Throw Down’ Chicken Somen

This is the first ever food photo I ever took! It’s nice to re-visit and know that I continue to get better with every photo I take. I still love this dish, it’s really yummy, it’s really well-balanced and it is so, so easy to make. Of course, these days I’ve replaced the chicken with tofu, but it still tastes pretty damn good.

The most ‘popular’ post – Pork and Chive Dumplings

This is the post that has received (and continues to receive) the most hits. This, I think, is mainly because it is one of only two posts I submitted to TasteSpotting that was accepted. I gave up submitting things to that site because they were incredibly fussy about the quality of photos they would accept, it just made me feel about myself so I stopped. Looking at that photo now, I don’t think it’s one of my best but who am I to argue? The dumplings were pretty good too!

The post that was most popular (without any help from TasteSpotting) – Hommus: Erin style

This is by far the post that received the most acclaim from people I know both personally and out in the food world. It received the most comments and the most retweets on the twitter machine. It’s funny because it’s something I make all the time and I wasn’t even sure about posting it because, well, it’s hommus! This being said, people love it and continue to ask for the recipe when I serve it up so I’m glad I ended up posting it. I’m also quite fond of the photo with this post, it’s the first photo I took after reading Helene Dujardin’s book ‘Plate to Pixel‘.

The post I hope everyone tries at least once – Ethiopian Cabbage

Granted the name doesn’t sound very appealing and, well, the photo ain’t all that crash hot either but still this is one of our most favourite meals. It’s vegan, it’s simple and it’s delicious. Enough said. If you haven’t tried it yet then you are missing out. 🙂

The most labour intensive post – Baked whole pumpkin with a cheesy curried pumpkin risotto

Even the name is a mouthful! This was an amazing meal that took quite a bit of effort to prepare but it was soooo worth it. I really wish I’d been organised enough to take a proper photo of the finished product but sometimes you just have to put the camera down and eat. Give it a shot for your next dinner party, your guests will be ever so impressed.

My most favourite cookbook recipe – Kylie Kwong’s Fried Cauliflower with Chickpeas

As I’ve said above, I have a shedload of cookbooks at home, some of them get more of a workout than others. The Kylie Kwong cookbook this recipe came out of is one of those books. This recipe is healthy, delicious and vegan without being overly fussy. Don’t get me wrong, I love vegan food as much as the next person but some recipes give me a migraine just reading them (especially the ingredient list). This recipe will not do that, I promise.

The post that means the most – Nana’s Pineapple Tart

Regular followers of she cooks, she gardens will know that my beloved Grandmother passed away a few months ago. This recipe was my Nana’s most famous, everyone loved it and so making it in her honour was something I did to help me grieve. Christmas and my birthday were really tough times as she has always been there, even when she was starting to get quite ill. We miss you Nana, love you lots.xx

The recipe I make all the time – ‘BBC’ aka. Soy bean and spicy bean curd stir-fry

I’m going to stop short of calling this my ‘favourite recipe’ because I’ve never been one to play favourites but this is definitely up there. We eat it every Monday and it’s definitely a crowd pleaser. It is based on the famous dish you can get in most restaurants in Adelaide’s Chinatown. It’s simple, stodgy but damn does it taste good. We had some visitors from the UK stay with us recently (Hi Cat!) and I made this after a long day of wine-tasting (hard life, I know) and they just loved it. It’s an easy crowd-pleaser, vegetarians or not, and won’t let you down.

So that wraps up the food for 2011. What about the garden?

Well, the garden is definitely a work in progress. I don’t think I could pull out my favourite gardening posts because it is more of a gradual process, but still definite highlights were the construction of the vegie bed and growing my first ever head of Romanesco Cauliflower. Lessons learnt for me this year have  definitely revolved around the need for patience and routine. Sometimes things don’t grow as quickly or abundantly as I’d like them to and it’s something I’ve had to learn to embrace as part of the process. I’ve also had to learn that gardens need constant love and attention, just like people. With this in mind possibly the biggest lesson has been about making sure things are manageable. In hindsight I think next summer I will halve the number of vegies I plant out so that the ongoing watering and maintenance is manageable. I will also need to keep an eye out for RATS!

So that about covers it! What have been your favourites? Feel free to let me know in the comments below.

Thanks so much for reading and all your kind words over the year. I love hearing from you either here, on Facebook or Twitter, it helps inspire me to do more and more so please stay in touch. I hope you are all having a wonderful festive season wherever you may be and I look forward to sharing more with you all in 2012!

Take care,

x.Erin

Seasons Greetings from Erin and Paul!xx

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