A New Year Tradition – 2016 in Review
Well, they say that if you do something three times, it’s a tradition, right?
This year, I am sharing the Ten Posts from 2016 that people actually read the most. In previous years, I fudged that a little… because the numbers themselves can be misleading. You’ll see, for instance, that eight of the ten are in the first half of the year. I don’t think I stopped writing interesting posts… but these all continued to be read well past their original posting, so they had a longer time to draw readers. Moreover, they are all recipes for food available all year. Some of my summer vegetable posts were very popular, but only for the brief time that vegetable was available. Fiddlehead Ferns, for instance, is actually number eleven, which is amazing when you realize that almost all of those hits were within one month! Then, no one read it out of season. But that’s fine, because people will read it later this year, and next year, and the next, and… I’m in this for the long haul, and my recipes are, too.
In fact, yet again, the single most popular post this year on Inhabited Kitchen is Unsweetened Granola, which is two and a half years old, but brings in a steady stream of people from search engines. Other people can have the trends – I’ll continue to write recipes for food that I hope you will continue to want to eat.
You can’t tell without looking at analytics, either. You might think that Pinterest repin numbers tell you when something is popular, right? In December, my most frequently repinned pin was (not surprisingly) Gingerbread Even I Can Eat, but the one the most people clicked through to actually read (and hopefully make) was Spinach Hummus. (And let me tell you I did not expect that in December!)
It’s a mystery…
Anyway – 2016, as always, in chronological order…
We started 2016 with a nice bowl of soup. In fact, a delicious, hearty, and terrifically easy tomato soup – we just had this for lunch again the other day. Creamy Tomato and Navy Bean Soup. If you have the beans on hand, it doesn’t take much more time than opening the famous red can, but it gives you more of a meal. And it’s dairy free, and vegan, and gluten free, and… works for many people who can’t use some of the commercial varieties.
Spinach Braised Cod followed shortly. You can get good fresh spinach in most of the US most of the year – and since this is pureed, frozen works, well, too. It’s a bright, flavorful treatment for any mild white fish.
In February, soup clearly still sounded good. I’d written what I think was a great recipe for a chipotle seasoned pork shoulder – do try it – and then, almost as an afterthought, a recipe for Lentil Soup with Pulled Pork, using it. (You could, of course, use any shredded pork in it, but I like this seasoning.) It’s an illustration of the advantages of the older post, though. Had a nice bit of play when I first published, never quite vanished, even in summer, but then picked up in September and has been building steadily ever since, as the weather cools off.
Then, another recipe for fish – Classic Cod Cakes. (Clearly I need more fish recipes!) Well, it’s a classic for a reason – pretty easy and very good. And people like burgers and patties and fish cakes. (So I guess I should make more of them, too?)
Apparently I was on a roll in April – hit a few serious favorites then. Starting with Slow Roast Beef. You buy a cheap cut of beef, which has lots of flavor but can be tough, and cook it slowly to maximize flavor while tenderizing the meat. It’s all very hands-off, too… pop it in the oven on a weekend when you’re hanging around the house anyway, and then just leave it alone for a few hours.
A change of pace topped the Popular Posts of the year. Drum roll, please – Tropical Chia Pudding. OK, I said I wasn’t doing trendy, and I guess chia is trendy, but it’s a trend that I hope sticks around – this is a really easy recipe, and is delicious. It’s always nice to have things to do with fruit that make them feel a bit more like Dessert than just eating a banana out of hand (good as that is.) This is light but creamy, and refreshing, and (as I look at the gray rainy January day outside) feels like something I would eat under a palm tree. And I usually have all the ingredients on hand in the winter. (Maybe I should make that tonight!)
Then, Marinated Broccoli. It was starting to warm up, I was ready for salad, but salad wasn’t ready for me, yet… I could get lettuce, but not much else. But this… I can certainly make it with fresh broccoli, and that’s great, but it’s also a good use of leftovers (it’s so hard to reheat broccoli without overcooking it!) and it is a wonderful way to dress up frozen broccoli (which is sometimes all you can reasonably get.) It also works very well in a packed lunch.
Speaking of packed lunches, we come to Potato Salad with Parsley. It uses an oil and vinegar dressing, instead of mayonnaise, which makes it a wonderful option for a lunchbox, or a picnic when its 90° in the shade, or any other time you might have concerns about that mayo… Or just if you know that every other bowl on the sideboard will have mayo in it – the coleslaw, the chicken salad, the macaroni salad. This is a nice change. It’s also a good choice for itself – again, there’s great flavor though it tastes light.
Continuing the Make Ahead theme, we come to Homemade Polenta. Those shelf stable tubes in the supermarket are great, don’t get me wrong – but it’s much less expensive, and more satisfying, to make a batch and freeze slices for later use. I especially like to do it when I’m coming into a busy season – microwaving a few slices of polenta, or even pan frying them, is faster than boiling pasta! It’s just the kind of thing where, if you’re delayed, you can call home and say “Take a bag of polenta and a pint of sauce out of the freezer, and start them for yourselves if I’m not home in time.”
And finally, Make Ahead Roast Vegetables. In some ways, this is the real winner – it’s less than two months old, and already at Number 8! My numbers suggest that many of you made these for Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners – and anything that makes those productions easier, while still delicious, delights me!
So, do I see a thread running through all of these (and the older, but still popular posts)? Well – easy recipes, natural ingredients, good food in everyday meals. Some are vegan, some are meat and fish. All are gluten free but none, shall we say, ostentatiously so… they’re just food that does not happen to include any gluten. (They’re the answer when a concerned friend asks “But what can you eat?!” Potato salad, polenta, soup… Oh. That’s not so bad, then.)
They are meals, or parts of meals, that I have been able to get on the table when I don’t feel well enough to do much cooking. And that is valuable.
So tell me – what kind of recipes do you want to see in the coming year? Do I, in fact, need more fish, more burgers (salmon patties, perhaps?) I’ve been playing with my pressure cooker, do you want to see a few recipes for it? (Do you want to not see recipes you can’t make without an appliance you don’t have??) Should I write up more fruit desserts?
Am I totally missing something?
I just want to help people eat good food. So come, have a cup of tea and tell me what that means to you, and how I can help. Comment here, or write me at anne @ inhabitedkitchen . com and tell me what you would like to see here in 2017.
And have a very Happy and Healthy New Year!