Memorable Meals of 2013
January 2, 2014
At the beginning of the year I started writing down our Awesome Dinners/Lunches/Breakfasts of 2013 in a small notebook. I had tried a year or two before to write down every single dinner we ate but then I got bored and stopped after about 6 months. I didn’t really care about the nights we ate leftovers or didn’t feel like going to the store and made something from whatever was in the pantry, or if that was even too much work, the dinners of popcorn and beer. I’m only really interested in the highlight reel.
In June my grandfather passed away and while my mom, aunt and I were cleaning out his closet I found this unused notebook of his from back in the day, back when they used the term currency and people wrote letters. So I transferred all the meals I had written in the other notebook, not too many as it turns out since I was in quite the cooking slump the first half of the year, and now I keep it in my purse as my awesome meal journal. I think he would’ve liked that.
I’d have to say 2013 was the year of Brothy Asian Noodle Soups, made most of the time by Drew. I crave it just writing that sentence. He has a great, simple recipe where you make a broth of ginger, garlic, star anise, soy sauce and fish sauce and then you add whatever you feel like to it. My personal favorites are bean sprouts, kimchi, peanuts, cilantro, lime and really good ramen noodles from the asian market. Over Thanksgiving weekend we ate this three days in a row.
I also ate a lot of tacos this year, one of my favorite food vehicles. For a few months this summer, every other week I’d help my friend sling tacos at the farmers market using whatever was in season, straight from the farmers. One of the most memorable was when we topped the tacos with a quick pickle of radishes, every color of carrots and green onions. They were so beautiful and vibrant.
In September we went to Nashville for the weekend and while playing scrabble one night with our friends, according to my notebook we ate a dinner of snacks that consisted of brie, bread, triscuits, hummus, grapes, baby carrots, gin and tonics, reeses peanut butter cups and chips and salsa. Quite the medley.
My notebook also says that on Monday, July 1st we cooked two dishes from the Jerusalem cookbook for dinner that night. Swiss chard with tahini, yogurt and buttered pine nuts which I made a note that it was super delicious!, and turkey zucchini burgers with green onion and cumin.
A few days later our friends came to visit for the Fourth of July and it seems that I went all out and made two more recipes from Jerusalem; pasta with yogurt, peas and chile (this is one of my favorite recipes) and a baby spinach salad with apricots, almonds, toasted pita and sumac. Then for dessert, banana cake with chocolate chips and crystalized ginger.
I already miss tomato and peach season, there are so many recipes I never got around to making since for the most part this summer I ate tomatoes raw on top of open faced sandwiches, I made tomato basil risotto from the New York Times three times one week, gazpacho pretty much every week for as long as tomato season held out, and other than eating peaches dripping over the sink, I made peach jam twice with the idea that we’d save it for a gloomy winter day like today, but it was just too delicious for that kind of patience. Maybe next year.
I also ate a lot of pretty spectacular meals while camping this year, since everything tastes better outside. In August Drew and I spent a couple nights in South Carolina where we made fried rice with bacon, kale, carrots, green onion, eggs, garlic, ginger and homemade cilantro mint herb salt. I remember that trip because we bought a whole bunch of peaches at a roadside stand on our way back and made peach jam for the first time that afternoon.
In October we camped with our friends in West Virginia and on the very first night we made a dinner of steak cooked over the fire inside of corn tortillas with sautéed zucchini and onions. Even though we never really plan it that way, every time we camp with them we always seem to eat steak cooked over the fire. It is one of my most favorite camping meals. The absolute best was when we carved sticks into sharp points and skewered super thin slices of steak onto them and cooked it that way over the fire. Like meat marshmallows.
The one thing I know with absolute certainty that I will make again this year is my mom’s recipe for Irish Soda Bread, the same recipe she’d make every year on Saint Patrick’s Day. I haven’t yet tackled the corned beef and cabbage and boiled potatoes part of the tradition, and maybe 2014 will be my year for that, but I just love knowing that every year on March 17th I can make this bread and it will taste exactly as I remembered.
So here’s to another year of delicious meals, epic feasts with friends and more time spent cooking outside. Happy 2014 everyone!
Manney Irish Soda Bread
3 1/2 cups flour
3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
3 tsp baking powder
1 1/4 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup oil
1 cup raisins
Grease bread pan and dust with flour. Bake at 325 degrees for one hour.