Tuesday 1 January 2008

Cheers and Happy New Year (NYE pt 2)

Last night, on New Year’s Eve, E and I saw out the old year and welcomed the new year with a feast for two at home. We had a pleasant moment between main course and dessert when the hot weather had cooled enough that we could take our glasses of punch and sit in the backyard where we relaxed and reflected a little. So this is my interlude between courses to tell you what I drank and reflect a little on my blog!

First, the drink! We had Apricot and Strawberry Punch, based on a Vikki Leng recipe from A Vegetarian Feast. I added sparkling wine rather than sweet white wine or apple juice because it felt more celebratory. But I liked the velvety combination of strawberry and apricot. I resented having to sieve the strawberries but it did taste good.

I don’t make many drinks as it seems too much extra work (and there are so many good juice combinations you can buy these days). But my sister, Susie, gave me a set of gorgeous green glasses for Christmas and I wanted to showcase these. It also gave me the opportunity to use a beautiful crystal bowl that I was given years ago for my 21st birthday by my nan. (It was the first anniversary of my nan’s death just a few weeks ago so it was nice to remember her.)

The meal also was the first time that I have used some lovely new red linen serviettes which I received from my mother in law in Scotland (NB - the vampire cake photo refers to below reflections rather than having anything to do with my lovely mother in law). It is nice to have a special meal where we use lovely linen, cookware, and crockery that bring to mind important people in my life. It feels that the meal is richer for the connections and the memories.

So, about 2007! It started with me searching the internet for recipes and ended with me having a blog which gave me an opportunity to navel gaze, to record favourite and newly discovered recipes, and to connect with many wonderful blogs and bloggers. In between I experienced many highs and lows, sometimes in the same instant. What a long strange trip it's been!

In my search for recipes I discovered the joy of blogs. I first stumbled across the uberblogs, 101 Cookbooks and Zucchini and Chocolate. Then I discovered vegetarians (Cindy and Michael) in my home town of Melbourne had a blog called Where’s the Beef? and blogging suddenly seemed accessible.

I finally started my own blog after feeling quite proud of myself for making a gluten free Vampire Birthday Cake for my partner, E’s birthday. I posted on some of my favourite meals including the spectacular (and vegetarian) Hubert the hog’s head and the ordinary Mexicale Pie. I experimented with sauerkraut in a cupcake and a roast dinner in a burger. I learnt about blog events which inspired me to make dishes such as Peanut Banana Stew for They Go Really Well Together and beetroot filled dumpings for the Waiter There’s Something in My… event. I celebrated Australia’s Indigenous peoples’ Reconciliation Day with damper, snags and dead horse, I finally discovered a recipe for mole that I could adore, and I wrestled with a roulade. And I learnt so much from other bloggers and their wonderful recipes (see my links on my side bar for just some of the truly inspirational blogs out there).

In between all the recipes, I was keenly aware of making sure my dishes could cater for gluten-intolerant diets (such as The Enchanted Broccoli Forest and vegan (such as Vegan Chocolate Spice Cake), as well as my vegetarian diet. I returned to favourite old cookbooks and continued to buy too many new cookbooks. My pantry and fridge grew full of new and exciting ingredients such as pomegranate molasses. I tried to put a little of my life in my posts, both to give some colour and in a poor attempt to keep in touch with family and friends. It is taking time but gradually my blog is taking shape and I now have About Me part 1 and part 2 posts which I will link to from my sidebar. I still have a long way to go with my photography and web skills but hopefully I will continue to learn in 2008.

So I raise my glass to my readers and wish you a happy new year. To my fellow bloggers, thanks for your inspiration, your comments and your support. My own blog and others' blogs gave me much foodie pleasure during my highs and kept me sane during the lows. I look forward to sharing many more wonderful recipes in 2008. To family and friends who read this, thanks for reading and for your feedback which is always appreciated. I look forward to sharing some fine food and delicious meals with you in 2008.

I leave you with a picture of our kitchen this morning. During last night's meal preparation, I was still struggling to find bench space, even after a large load of dishes was done. (A big thank you to E for all the dishes he does.) It is not always so messy but it is rarely spotless!

Thanks to Nupur of One Hot Stove for her idea of encouraging bloggers to reflect on and share their Best of 2007. She has kindly included my post in her list, despite lateness of sending it to her. I have already read some inspiring posts and look forward to reading more!

Apricot and Strawberry Punch
(adapted from Vikki Leng)
Serves 2-4

125g strawberries, hulled and halved
400ml tin of apricot nectar
1 tbsp lemon juice
350ml sparkling wine
4-5 ice cubes
Strawberry slices and mint to garnish

Put strawberries in food processor and blend to a puree. Push the puree through a sieve (this is tedious but I think it would be too lumpy otherwise) into a punchbowl. Add apricot nectar and lemon juice. Place in fridge until ready to serve – you can do this hours ahead (or even the day before). When you are about to serve, add the sparkling wine, ice cubes and garnish with strawberry slices and mint leaves.

On the stereo:
(the best of): New Order


  1. Happy new year, Johanna! I'm really chuffed to have played a small part in your decision to start a food blog. I'm looking forward to drooling over many more of your recipes in 2008. :-)

  2. thanks Cindy - I was very excited to find your blog and realise there was lots of blogging happening in my own backyard, so to speak, and not just overseas.

    I too look forward to drooling over your recipes and wishing I could eat at some of the local eating holes around Melbourne that you and Michael frequent.

  3. It sounds like you have had a delightful year, Johanna! Wishing you lots of great food for 2008 too.

  4. I covet those glasses! What a great gift!

  5. thanks for the best of 2007 list nupur - such a great way to catch up on blogs - and thanks for including my list

    thanks Holler - they are such beautiful glasses, aren't they!


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