In 2010 I started “the project”. It was in the dark days when I was working on my thesis and was looking for something that would keep me happy. I admit that I was a bit inspired by the movie “Julie & Julia”, but my idea was a bit less ambitious. I wanted to try to bake at least one new recipe a week. We have many cookbooks at home so it wasn’t a problem to find new recipes. I kept a list and baked away. By the end of the year I reached 56 new recipes. On average it was more than one recipe per week (the goal was at least 52), but it was actually way more if you take into account the times we were away that year. I finished the year by making Gili Chocolate Mousse Cake for his birthday.
The year 2010 was over and with it the dark days of the thesis, I submitted it, got great reviews, happily graduated and in general became a happier person. So when 2011 started I really didn’t think I would continue. I no longer had the goal to bake “at least one new recipe per week” I just wanted to try and make many new recipes. I kept the list going and somehow by the end of the year I reached 66 new recipes!
Two great things happened that year baking wise – Gili got me for my birthday the KitchenAid Mixer (used, of course, but they last a lifetime), and I discovered the Smitten Kitchen blog. It is an excellent blog with a variety of recipes and also different levels of difficulty. All the recipes have a funny story related to them and there are also many photos to illustrate the process and the end result, a very important feature for me in cookbooks and food blogs.
When 2012 started I just kept the list going, again no longer committed to the once a week rule, but baking became a passion. At work I was already dreaming about what I would bake when I’d get home, searching for recipes online or ordering recipe books from the library. That is another thing I discovered, I can always refresh my cookbook collection by taking books from the library and then I have a potentially endless amount of cookbooks.
When I got home from work, I immediately tackled the kitchen sometimes starting hours long projects into the night, or trying to make a few recipes together, so that by the end of the night the kitchen looked like a war zone. Yeah, there is an annoying part to baking, you have to clean up, and we don’t have a dishwasher!
Now, when this year is coming to an end, I realized I’ve made no less than 88 new recipes! The biggest crisis this year was my injury. For almost two months I could not move my right arm. At one point I was able to make a very easy cake recipe, which I have named the “one arm cake”. It seems that after my recovery I was back big time.
I have a weakness for desserts, and there is no doubt that they were the vast majority of the baking I did. However, I tried to expand my knowledge to quiches, pies and other savory dishes. I also baked many different types of bread. There is nothing like fresh, homemade bread, straight out of the oven, and many times Gili and I (and our visitors) said that our apartment smells like a bakery. Many people think that baking bread is difficult, but it is actually quite easy, the hardest part is that you have to wait for the dough to rise, so it is good to make it at a time that you know you’re going to be home for a long time, especially if the dough needs to rise a few times.
Among my favorite things in the world is to bake with chocolate. The smell of melted chocolate can melt your heart, and there are so many different things you can do with it, from cakes, brownies and cookies, to rugelach, swirls and many more. Our friends in Vancouver know that we have an obsession with Trader Joe’s 72% dark chocolate. If there is none at home it is officially “a crisis”. There were also times I had to focus on one type of fruit, like when we had 130 pounds of cherries, or when we collected strawberries, blueberries or plums.
I am not sure I can keep up in 2013 as we are going to be away for a big chunk of the year. I would like to thank the guinea pigs who shared my experiments and made sure Gili and I wouldn’t have to eat EVERYTHING by ourselves.
Have a sweet and tasty New Year everyone! Life is delicious, so enjoy it!