Tuesday, 3 January 2017

Reflections from 2016 and Happy New Year

Happy New Year!  Have you got used to saying 2017 yet?  I feel like it must still be 2015.  Or at least if it was I would not be so horribly behind.  But here we are!  I have a rambling post reflecting on 2016.  It has taken me a while to compile it so I expect you will want to put on the kettle and pull up a comfy chair to read it.  Or if you are as time poor as I feel, just scan it quickly and move on!  I understand.

It was a rollercoaster of a year that started off with a visit by my sister and her family from Ireland, a relaxing beach holiday in Torquay and Minion fever.  Then my father-in-law died suddenly in February, we went to Edinburgh, Scotland at short notice, attending the funeral the day after walking off the plane.  I really love Scotland and seeing E's family but would have preferred to visit for happier reasons.

As we were over the other side of the world, I organised for us to have a week in Paris.  It is one of my favourite cities and was delightful and romantic as ever.  Back home, Sylvia overcame her Minon fever to fall into the romance of reading Harry Potter and the Unladylike Detective series of novels.  

Then our cat (Zinc) died.  While around me, family and friends faced a whole host of personal problems.  Cancer and death touched too many people we knew this year.  Even up until New Year's Eve when I was told of the death from cancer of a 14 year old girl I know.

And that is before I even consider the global events of Brexit, Trump and too many celebrity deaths: Pop stars who had sung the soundtrack to my life such as David Bowie, George Michael and Leonard Cohen; Actors who had loomed large on the big screen of my life such as Gene Wilder, Carrie Fisher, Alan Rickman; familiar faces from the small screen such as Florence Henderson, Terry Wogan, Ronnie Corbett and Andrew Sachs; and people who had been household names such as Fidel Castro, Muhammad Ali, Zsa Zsa Gabor, Max Walker and Reg Grundy.  I hardly dare look at lists of those who died in 2016 as I just find there are more and more gone that I treasured and admired.

It was a sad year.  Yet there were good things too.  (Including Edinburgh and Paris.)  Family outings.  A new camera.  Hosting We Should Cocoa blog event.  Taking part in Vegan MoFo.  My book club.  Body Balance.  Our local farmers market.  Singing group.  A pay rise at work.  And the support from family and friends.

Best of 2016
Here are my favourites from 2016.  Some of the choices were hard (especially films - Carol, Captain Fantastic and Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find them were hard to pass over) and others stood out!

Favourite Australian book: Big Little Lies by Liane Moriaty
Favourite foreign book: Dietland by Sarai Walker
Favourite children's book: Ophelia and The Marvellous Boy by Karen Foxlee
Favourite television show: Code of a Killer (starring John Simm)
Favourite children's television show: Little Lunch
Favourite film: La La Land
Favourite children's film: Zootopia
Favourite live show: Matilda the Musical
Favourite Melbourne meal: Big Vegan Breakfast at the Glass Den
Favourite meal abroad: Vegan Nachos at The Auld Hoose 

Gorgeously gloomy Edinburgh buildings with a touch of scaffolding!

Blogging energy is down and so are my statistics.  I posted a few more posts than last year thanks to Vegan MoFo.  I became a level 8 superfoodie on Zomato.  My Apple Slice post continues to be my most popular post of all time (Google Analytics says it has 45,435 hits and Bloggers says it has 86,271 hits). I think my most popular FaceBook post was when I shared my Vegan Chocolate Olive Oil Cake.  Here are some numbers for 2016:

179 blog posts
368 FaceBook likes
31 posts shared by FoodGawker
22 reviews on Zomato
Number 135 on aussiefoodbloggers.com.au/ and Number 21 of Victoria blogs on this site.

Most popular posts of 2016
(according to Google Analytics)
  1. Damper
  2. One pot pasta with chickpeas and zucchini
  3. Creamy red pepper dressing
  4. Overnight sourdough fruit bread
  5. Milo weetbix slice
  6. Shrove Tuesday aquafaba crepes with haggis
  7. Vegan chocolate olive oil cake
  8. Split pea soup with sweet potato and mushroom
  9. Vegemite fudge
  10. The Vegemite burger
  11. Chokito fudge
  12. Dal with haloumi and mint
I really loved this salad I made at the end of 2015 but I lost the recipe and never blogged it.
What I enjoyed eating in 2016
This is some of my favourite food I posted in 2016 plus a few old favourites.  And yes it was hard to narrow it down!  But I assure you that there was lots more on the blog than this!

Our favourite meals: Pizza, Lo mein, Mock tuna salad, Kale salad. Tofu besan omeletteVegan Avgolemono, Tofu bacon

Healthy eating: Creamy red pepper dressing for bowl food, Asparagus, strawberry and greens salad with poppy seeds, Thai curry split pea soup, Chocolate tahini maca bliss balls, Rainbow fruit kebabs 

Pastry comfort: Homity pie, Vegan sausage rolls, Apple pie, Macaroni cheese pies,

Great discoveries: Rice paper bacon, Cauliflower, hummus and tofu "ricotta" in lasagne, Welsh laverbread in nutroast,

Chocolate amazingness:  Black tahini in chocolate biscuits, Chocolate nutella caramel cups, Malted loaf with chocolate, figs and brazil nuts, Nutella stuffed pancakes
Beautiful food: Rainbow salad with orange and sesame dressing, Easter egg fridge cake, Vegan chocolate olive oil cake, Malteser and Milo Mudcake

Fun food: Minion cake, Medieval castle cakeReindeer cake pops, Vegan mummy tarts,

Aussie food: Chokito fudge, Vegemite fudge, Damper, The Vegemite burger , Aboriginal flag cake, Milo weetbix slice, Lamingtons, Vegemite and poppy seed scones

Compilations: Australia Day recipes, Aquafaba (chickpea brine) recipes, Nutella recipes and ideas

Where my blog was featured in 2016

My strawberry sushi was included in the Oola dessert sushi round up and the Gourmandize 20 best recipes to welcome strawberry season.

My Strawberry, Avocado and Walnut Salad was included in Allotment to Kitchen's Baker's Dozen of Savoury Strawberry Recipes.

My Aboriginal street art phone was used in the ABC's article: It's a great time to be teaching about Indigenous Australia languages.

My sourdough vanilla sponge cake was featured in the Reader's Digest: 10 spring cakes that will make you smile.

My What Vegetarian is That post was linked to by the Houston Press in You say you're a vegan but you're really a lacto-ovo vegetarian in sheep's clothing.

My damper was included in the Huffpost Living Camping Recipes.

My Vegan mozzarella Spiderweb Pizza was included in She Knows: 20 savoury Halloween treats we like even better than all that candy, She Knows: 20 freaky Halloween dinners your trick or treaters will love coming home to, Simple Sojourns: 25 delightfully fun Halloween recipes, Family Fresh Meals: Spooky Fun Halloween Appetizers, Horseshoes and Hand Grenades: 25 super fun Halloween inspired snacks and treats.

My aquafaba ghost cupcakes were included in She Knows: We will take one of each of these Halloween cupcakes please and thank you, Divine Lifestyle: 20 Halloween cupcakes,

My vegan party pies were included in The most Aussie foods ever - made vegan by PETA Australia.

My aquafaba royal icing for gingerbread houses was included in the 21 amazing aquafaba recipes by Oh My Veggies.

My Maple Scones were included in the Juggling Act Mama's Sweet and Savoury Maple Recipes.

My tea towels III post was linked to from Kathy Shaidle's article on DNA Despair in Taki's Magazine.

My chocolate layered fudge was included in the Essential Kids Edible Christmas Gifts.

And I love taking part in blog events.  Some of the events I have participated in most this year are Healthy Vegan Fridays, Eat Your Greens, Meat Free Mondays, Gluten Free Fridays, No Waste Food Challenge and We Should Cocoa.  Thanks to the hosts of these and the other great blog events.  Finally I should acknowledge the mention of my blog in Week 1 of Vegan MoFo round ups.

Je t'aime Paris!  Sadly I don't expect it to feature in 2017.
Happy New Year 
I hope you had a good 2016 and wish you all the best for 2017.  Thanks for visiting today.  Thanks to everyone who commented, emailed, liked, pinned and shared food with me.  In 2017 it will be 10 years since I started my blog.  While I am blogging less than when I started (and don't we all) I still enjoy the sharing, the support and the inspiration I find in blogging.

I am grateful to friends and family for all the support, the shared meals and the laughter this year.  To E for the dishes, the music and the appreciation of dinner.  To Sylvia for challenging my cooking and occasionally eating it.  To my mum for discussion, advice and inspiration in cooking.  To my dad for sweeping up afterward!  To Faye for loaning me fantastic cookbooks.  To Shaheen for her gift of laverbread and other Welsh treats.  To everyone who contributes in their own unique way.  Indeed, it takes a village to write a blog!

And for 2017?  I hope it will be a better year for me.  I don't expect to have more time or to blog more.  I know I say every year that there will be less posts.  Sometimes it is true!  Life just seems to get busier and I am getting too old to live without sleep.  Busy times call for simple meals.  I hope there will be healthy food, celebration meals and fun experiments. And I hope you will drop by again.  Soon.


  1. What a year indeed - despite the lows it seems as though you had lots of highs too! And so many delicious reads :)

  2. You have had an eventful year, Johanna! I wish you and your family a most delicious and wonderful 2017. The minion cake is simply superb. My daughter only recently discovered Minions and has been watching the movie repeatedly on weekends.

  3. Good luck in the new year, to you and your family and friends, and thank you once again for being such an inspiration (your dates-apple-butter cake featured twice in my kitchen last year and was a great success - even as I swapped half a cup of flour for cocoa :-)

  4. Happy New year, Johanna. This year has been hard for us too, for much different reasons but there has been lots of good too. Here's to all the good in 2017.

  5. A great round up post. Happy New Year!

  6. What a fantastic lot of stuff and great achievements with your recipes being published elsewhere. It is hard to believe it is 2017 already. Thanks for the mention :D

  7. Happy New year to you and your family. May it be filled with health, happiness and exciting new food adventures.

  8. I always like your summary posts and reading what you enjoyed in the previous year. You certainly had an eventful 2016 and I hope you have fewer sad events this year. I haven't read / seen lots of your favourite books / shows / movies so they are useful suggestions, but agree all your popular posts deserve to be popular!

  9. Happy 2017! I think it's good to look back and take stock every once in a while, and new year is a good excuse - if you can't look back, it's harder to go forward. It's been a rough year for so many reasons, so I hope the year your tenth anniversary will be more of an upbeat one. Here's to more good eating!

  10. Happy 2017 Johanna to you, your E and Sylvia - your little family. I do love your reflections and ramblings :) And it indeed it has been an interesting year in many ways, some we want to remember, some we will not be able to forget.
    Thank you so so much for the kind mentions throughout, I am truly humbled and honoured to call you my friend x
    You have written so much that it would take me an entire blog post to comment, but I will keep it simple and say I look forward to celebrating your 10th Blogiversary come April 2017.

  11. Happy New Year to you and thanks so much for all of your warm and supportive comments when my dad died too.....everyone's comments helped me to so much and I appreciate you taking the time to pop over to leave them! I LOVE what you do and this is a very hopeful and interesting post, with lots of lovely recipes and happy reflections too. I hope that 2017 is everything you expect and more, and I also hope that one day I might meet you when I am on my travels, Karen xxxx

  12. Happy New Year Johanna. I hope 2017 is less fraught (although you packed some great stuff into 2016 and reading your blog always brings a smile to my face with all your amazing adventures) xx

  13. I am time poor, but I wanted to read this fully =) I am so behind on blog reading... and it seems my Bloglovin' has decided I'm magically caught up to January when I feel like I was still reading November...
    Happy New Year Johanna!
    I'm sorry for the losses you had in 2016, I can imagine how difficult it must have been. And cancer is a horrible disease plaguing this world. I wish it would just go away forever.
    I will be taking after Sylvia as one of my goals this year is to finally read the Harry Potter series. I'm a little late to the game, better late than never.
    Wasn't La La Land a wonderful film? I enjoyed it so much. The ending was a little sad (I really do like a neat, happy ending), but I really liked it overall. And I want to see Matilda the Musical! That was one of my very favourite books (and movies!) as a child.
    And look at all of those amazing blog accomplishments. How on earth do you do that working and having a child??? I should look more into these analytics to figure more out about my blog. I don't know what the favourite or most visited posts were or anything like that.
    Here's to 2017!


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