Saturday, December 31, 2011

2012: A Blog is like a Dish – It Needs some Flavour

Today, Saturday December 31, 2011, last day before the start of 2012! It’s time to assess what I have done this year and think of what I would like to do in the coming year.

What have I done?  A number of new things, all related to my new interest in food, started to be part of my life in 2011:
1/ writing this blog & communicating via Twitter,
2/ doing more cooking myself & trying new recipes, and
3/ resuming my long-time love of making bread.


This blog is not yet 1-year old. I wrote my first post on February 18 and two months later opened a Twitter account with an aim of promoting my blog (my son's advice).

It’s working (using Twitter to promote my blog). Furthermore, I discovered great blogs and bloggers. They inspired me and motivated me to improve my writing skills, presentation and contents of my own blog. Up to now all is positive and fun but also challenging and hard work as there are so many talented people in the social media world.
I also started to develop an interest in reading about food and food writers. I read “Tender at the Bone: Growing Up at the Table” by Ruth Reichl and “Appetite for Life: The Biography of Julia Child” by Fitch, Noel, Riley, and I am currently reading "Cooking in Other Women’s Kitchen" by Rebecca Sharpless.  Each Thursday I looked with pleasure at the SCMP’s magazine “Food & Wine”, particularly at Janice Leung’s column - aka e_ting (Note: I also read e_ting's posts with great interest.)
Ah! And to satisfy my curiosity and love for bread I bought “La Boulangerie: baking at home with Grégoire Michaud."

Last but not least, since I put photos on this blog, I became more concerned with photography. I also started using Instagram and enjoyed sharing pictures of not only food I ate outside but also streets, buildings, and even Chrismas trees in shopping malls! Met funny and interesting people there too: e.g. Rita! (check her website and you will understand and ...LOL)

Here are the 3 best new recipes that I made this year:
1- Stuffed mouse melon. Recipe sent to me by Kankana. 
2- Catherine's okra in tomato sauce. My sister's recipe.
3- Lamb tagine. Eda’s recipe.

You must try them. Let me tell you that if I could manage then you will not fail. Talking about failure...I read so much about macarons that I gave it a try. But after a few attempts I understood the complexity of those lovely colourful cookies and gave up. Better leave complicated things to the experts! Besides I don’t have a “sweet tooth” and therefore had no incentive to persist.
I also encountered some difficulties in making my own sourdough starter but finally got a good starter that I could make bread with. Talking about bread, what I most enjoyed was to make bread. Each time you have a different version! Yesterday I baked my last bread of the year - a Mark Bittman’s recipe.

Moist and airy crumb

No-Knead Bread

  • 675g of flour (1/2 white / 1/2 wholemeal)                                                    
  • 8gr instant dried yeast                                      
  • 1 ¼ tsp salt
  • 2 ½ cups lukewarm water                                            

  1. Mix flour, instant yeast and salt together. Then add water.
  2. Stir with hands (sticky) until you form smooth (but sticky) dough.
  3. Let it stand for ~ 4hours at room temperature and then for another 12 hours (or more) in the fridge. No need to knead 
12 hours later:
  1. Preheat oven with cast iron pot in at 245º C for 30 minutes.Note: The texture of the dough should be springy.
  2. Flour a board and fold dough 2-3 times. Form a mount; flatten it (smooth surface on top – folds underneath).  No need to knead 
  3. Sprinkle with flour and put dough in cast iron pot.
  4. Put lid on and cook for 30 minutes. Then remove lid and cook for another 15-20 minutes (until top is slightly golden brown).

Crispy and golden crust

Finally, to end this last post of the year, here are my 7 wishes for 2012:

  1. consolidate the foundation of this blog,
  2. improve my writing,
  3. read more about food,
  4. prepare dishes with local vegetables  (read my post ) that I never bought before,
  5. practise making sourdough bread,
  6. eat as many times as possible in restaurants or cafés "with a difference". I mean support Social Enterprises (either private ones or run by NGOs such as Hong Chi Association, Tung Wah Group of Hospitals, etc), AND
  7. give a distinctive flavour to my blog!
Have a Happy and Healthy 2012!

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