Baking Recipes,  Experiments & experiences,  Foodie Life,  From the books

The year-end wrap-up {2011}

In two months my blog will be turning 1! My goodness, that was truly fast. I could go on all day long about how slightly disappointed I am that I don’t post as much as I bake (you’d understand once you see my backlog). I’m not going to complain however for the little following I have, because in truth, this blog is like a record for me to look back on more than anything else. But I am ever so grateful for my friends, and the people who enjoyed the blog enough to comment, subscribe, and like. From the bottom of my heart, I am forever grateful for your belief in me!

I’ve been trying to evaluate why I am so slow in posting and the first thing I realised was how meticulous I sometimes get with my photos and my posts. Obviously the easy thing to do would be to put up less of them, but somehow I don’t think that’s a good solution. Say I decide to make that recipe again after a long time and want to see how the dough or batter should look at a certain stage, what would my reference be? And besides, I think process photos are helpful, especially for the new and nervous cook/baker.

As difficult as it is for me to photograph myself while doing all the cooking and baking, I find much worth in it, so I shan’t stop. After all, it is my goal to chronicle my efforts, and when a recipe goes bad, I can at least compare where I previously went wrong once I make it successfully.

For 2012, I want to write a bit more about food in general, and not just about recipes. I want to write about restaurants and the like. Not to mention, I just want to write more. I really don’t feel like I write enough across all my blogs. But of all the recipes I do have up on the blog right now, my favourite this year is definitely the Avocado Pound Cake.

I’m patiently awaiting avocado season so I can get to make it again and share it with my extended family. It is indeed delicious, but something about it, how different and new it is to me, just really made me love it so much more than I was expecting. It took me by surprise! And it’s not just because I have a love for pastries with the graininess of cornmeal, but this bread is just very addictive.

Coming at a close second is the crowd favourite here at home, The Best Sausage Buns, I like to call it, because it is the best I have eaten. Soft on the inside, crunch on the outside, and all parts delicious, it is good with any sort of sausage. My brothers always get mad at me when I bake some to give away because they want to eat it all. One of my brothers especially would look at me accusingly then sneak about a piece or two into his room. It’s actually very funny! I learned my lesson from then on and made double and triple batches so that we’d always have some at home too.

Most memorable kitchen experience for 2011? My first layer cake, which I made for my Dad’s birthday, was one of the most stressful moments I had in the kitchen. It was a Dorie Greenspan recipe and it was so so delicious, but goodness, I messed up the White Chocolate Frosting that the cake ended up looking very odd. I am just glad my Dad appreciated it and everybody gobbled it up.

On the other hand, the most relaxing moment I had in the kitchen this year was when I made Whole Wheat Pita Bread. I intend to find that zen again when I make another batch in the future. But I must say my first ever meringue cookies was the most important breakthrough I had this year. I’ve always been so intimidated by the whole egg white-beating thing, so much more than any other aspect of baking, that every time I tell myself I am finally going to try it, I end up backing away from the eggs. But something came over me the day I made these, and honestly, there’s no turning back now!

Favourite cookbook book of 2011? Asian Dumplings by Andrea Nguyen. Although I haven’t been doing a lot of cooking, which come next year I will change, I truly am in love with this book. I look through it almost everyday with the perennial problem of where to start!

I am not one who is an any particular shortage of dumpling consumption. I could eat delicious dimsum and dumplings everyday if I wished because I live a few minutes away from the local Chinatown. But still, every single recipe looks so divine, so mouth-watering, and so different that it makes me feel as if I don’t get to eat dumplings all too often. The variety is just overwhelming. I am certain I will make it a point to learn all the contents of this book in the coming year.

What do I expect for next year? Bread. I have decided I want to learn all about the thing I am most passionate about in baking, and that is bread-making.

I will finally sit down and study my Bread Baker’s Apprentice book and make notes like I’ve been doing with Martha Stewart’s Cooking School and learn all I can on my own when it comes to making as many types of bread as I can. And I am so excited!!! There’s something about bread-making that is just so great, especially kneading the bread. I guess I just like making things with my hands.

More cooking for 2012? The folks here at home are beginning to complain that I bake too much and cook too little. So I decided to change that. My shelf is filled with so many baking books that I am always in such a ready mood to bake. I wouldn’t want cooking to take a backseat as I love that aspect of cookery as well, and so cook I shall! I am expecting quite a few cookbooks to arrive at my door sometime next year. Hopefully they will arrive sooner than later because I have been waiting impatiently!

And the photography? Though I truly love the equipment I have now, I am saving up for a third-party brand of macro lens (because I think the big brands are just too expensive for someone who is not a professional photographer!), and hopefully I can go in for amazing food close-ups.

I also plan on buying more fancy plates, cutlery and glasses to make the photographs nicer to look at. I like to think my style of photography has more of a focus on the food itself, maintaining a compositional balance with the plates and props. I don’t want my photos to be too cluttered or props-y, but there’s definitely a lot more to learn about how to find the perfect balance between the props and the food. I have my eyes set on the book by Helene Dujardin to help me with learning more.

This blog is like my baby, and I am constantly trying to improve it. I try to pick recipes that are special and that really caught my attention, as well as take great photos. I can only hope that as with each year, each season, or even each post, “my baby” keeps growing and getting better. And I fervently hope that the people who read it not only like it, but learn from it somehow. Cookery is such a great world to explore, and I just want to share my enthusiasm with the hope that people who do not normally cook or bake will feel compelled to join in on the fun.

It’s been such a roller coaster year for me, but I’ve been so blessed and all in all, it’s been such a great year. This coming year is going to be better. I will make sure of that! 🙂

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