In Perspective: 2010 + Top Ten of the Year

(top to bottom) 1. poached egg on toast (scd & gfcf) 2. apple cobbler (gfcf) 3. flourless apple pancakes (scd & gfcf) 4. honey sweetened marshmallows (scd & gfcf) 5. flourless peanut butter or almond butter chocolate chip cookies (gfcf) 6. banana tarte tatin, or banana upside down puffed pancake (gfcf) 7. roasted bell pepper egg in the basket (scd & gfcf) 8. gluten-free puff pastry (gf) 9. peach melba spoom (scd & gfcf) 10. new orleans style shrimp (scd & gfcf)

A New Year is on our doorstep. Tomorrow it is 2011. I’ll be taking that day off in blogland, but first I’m taking this moment now to reflect upon this year, appreciating all the good things which includes you, Dear Readers, and all my blogging friends who have made my blogging journey that more of an adventure. Truth be told, I’m feeling slightly nostalgic. Last year at this time, I was having camera issues (the camera was on its way out) and I was posting nearly every day.

I’ve grown from that awkward moment of just staggering out a paragraph or two about the recipe, sometimes barely so – sometimes not sure what to say – before launching into the recipe to writing fluidly and knowing what to say, or at least most of the time. There are still days when I’ll stare at the blank screen and not do anything, or I’ll type out a whole lot of fluff for the sake of flexing my muscles before I delete it all; days when I just want to post the recipe without further commentary but somehow find a way to still say something.

This year I hosted a blog event. I’ve made friends. I feel like I keep on repeating myself, but it has been – and continues to be – a whirlwind of an adventure. For the longest time I didn’t share much about myself or insert my character because I thought that the focus should be more on the food and less about me, but I’ve learned that part of what makes food blogs – and any blog, whatever its area – fun to read is the personality and voice behind all those words, as well as fun to write. My primary focus is still the food, though I am learning to being open and sharing more about myself in the process.

Now, for my Top Ten. Since I couldn’t really get into picking my top ten (or twelve) cookbooks of 2010, simply because I didn’t read that many cookbooks actually published this year, I’m opting for what I do know. This year, my criteria for my Top Ten are if it’s a favourite with family and friends and if I’d make it again. Next year, if I do this again, maybe I’ll go with stats or hey! more fun: I’ll have you all vote for the top ten favourites. How’s that sound?

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Christmas Spirit

I hope everyone had a very Merry Christmas! Tomorrow, we will go back to our regular programming but today I wanted to share this.


Christmas morning – the house smells of chocolate chip cookies and gingerbread that I baked this morning; in the background of my mind Björk and Sigur Ros plays softly, creating a wintry atmosphere of serenity, as if snow is falling but there isn’t snow. It just feels that way.

On Christmas Eve, as it neared midnight and I was still awake, I thought of Christmas traditions: Santa Claus, presents, and most of all what Christmas spirit is. This year I didn’t feel that bubbly bouncing-up-and down energy that I’ve felt in previous years, when I was younger and still a child. As I contemplated these feelings, I experienced a sudden sense of serenity: peace on earth and joy to the world. An inner joy that was deep and heartfelt and content. Christmas was always an exciting time for me and that excitement climbed as it got closer and closer to when Santa Claus would come – the excitement of opening presents and the buzz of happiness in the air; that bouncing-up-and-down energy. As I grow older, this excitement has matured from that of waiting in anticipation to that of simply having a beautiful feeling of inner joy and peace within oneself. That is Christmas spirit. Christmas spirit is appreciating and being grateful for the abundance that one has and being happy, with or without a reason to be happy. The joy of it is just simply being.

Early in December I watched Elf with my grandmother and siblings. It’s one of my favourite Christmas movies. When Buddy helps Santa and everyone relearns and remembers true Christmas spirit, Santa’s sleigh is fully powered without the need of the turbine engine. I have watched it many times before but this time I started to get teary around that moment. Although I wasn’t aware at the time, I think it was then that I started to realize what Christmas spirit really is. It’s more than just that childish excitement of waiting for Christmas and waiting for Santa Claus to come down the chimney, hoping he’ll remember what you asked for and hoping that he’ll notice the cookies and glass of milk you left for him.

It’s believing.

What we generally call Christmas spirit isn’t a feeling that is just reserved for the holiday. It’s year round. It can be felt at any time. It’s that inner calm that we feel when we meditate or when we pray, when we are at peace with ourselves – and within ourselves – and our being is wholly absorbed in something creative that provides an outlet for our energy and for us to project our energy into. A feeling of Zen.

Christmas spirit is believing. It’s hope. It’s being open to giving and receiving, to kindness and generosity. It is love.