Looking back at 2011 and at some of my favourite recipes…

An optimist stays up until midnight to see the new year in.
A pessimist stays up to make sure the old year leaves.
– Bill Vaughn

I loved this quote so much when I read it, part way through a beautiful post written by Jamie of Life’s a Feast, that I had to include it in mine today. I don’t know whether I am a pessimist or an optimist, I suspect a mixture of both. I am, as yet,  undecided as to whether I am staying up to see the new year in, or the old one out. It’s been quite a remarkable year in many ways and, as is often the case in life, there have been many good times as well as some not so good. Thankfully, only the happy times have played themselves out on this blog, my positive space, my creative outlet. 

Many times throughout the year I have found myself in the kitchen, usually with a little pair of hands helping in some way, trying out a new recipe or setting myself a new challenge, which I have then very much enjoyed writing about and sharing with you all. If nothing else, blogging has also made for much more interesting mealtimes as it has encouraged me to push my normal boundaries to try new things. It’s also been a wonderful way to connect with other like-minded foodies, who have all been a huge inspiration to me. Many new and exciting opportunities have also come my way, simply as a result of hitting the little blue ‘publish’ button to the right of my ramblings! If you are in any way thinking about starting a new hobby or are wanting to develop new skills, then blogging is definitely the way forward and I would urge you to try it too. See my Top Ten Blogging Tips  if you need any encouragement to get started.  

My husband said a funny thing to me earlier this month. He said: “It’s not always about the food, you know?” as he caught me glancing across as a Nordic waffle stand next to a Santa’s grotto that we were queuing at with the kids. I replied, “Oh, but it is. Wouldn’t standing in this queue be so much more fun with one of those hot waffles smothered with bright red loganberry jam?” I didn’t get a response and come to think of it, I didn’t get a waffle! I don’t know whether it is always all about the food, but food is certainly intrinsically linked to everyday life and if you are a foodie like me, there is always an angle!

Anyway, I would like to wish you all a wonderful New Year, full of fun and laughter wherever you may be celebrating. We’ll be at home, dragging the kids downstairs at midnight to watch the fireworks. The evening might be helped along by a snack or too and perhaps even by a chocolate cake…

Nigella’s Chocolate Cloud Cake – pure heaven!

Next year, I look forward to celebrating and sharing even more stories about food, focusing much as I have done this year, on seasonal and local produce, perhaps even digging up some more inspiration from my Polish foodie upbringing. I look forward to discovering more inspirational blogs, to taking part in more blogging events, to meeting more of my culinary heroes, kicking off early in the New Year with the story of how I met the brilliant Diana Henry in her kitchen just a couple of weeks ago. I’m leaving you today with a look back on some of my favourite recipes of this year as well as a little piece of wisdom that Diana shared with me – “You don’t go looking for your passions, they come and find you.”

Happy New Year, dear readers. Thank you for sharing my food journey with me.

My favourite breakfast, inspired by the scrambled eggs of my childhood

Chive Scrambled Eggs with Local Goat’s Cheese on Rye Bread

My favourite salad, inspired by the Simple and in Season blog event and meeting Marco Pierre White

Beetroot and Feta Salad with Walnuts

My favourite vegetarian dish, inspired by a trip to my local supermarket and the gorgeous Yotam Ottolenghi

(would love to meet him next year,  just putting it out there!)

Roasted Aubergine with Buttermilk Sauce

My favourite pasta dish, inspired by a trip to a local Italian deli

Fresh pasta with Asparagus, Goat’s Cheese and Lemon

My favourite cupcakes – inspired by the sunny weather this spring!

Lemony Spring Cupcakes 

My favourite kitchen activity with the children

Making Easy Peasy Homemade Pizza

My favourite chocolate party cake, made for my daughter’s 2nd birthday, inspired by Ina Garten, Barefoot Contessa

Beatty’s Chocolate Cake

My favourite food photo – final project during the Leith’s Food Styling Course I have just completed

Polish Pancakes with Cream Cheese – photo taken by Stuart Ovenden


With very best wishes for the New Year!

The only real stumbling block is fear of failure. In cooking you’ve got to have a what-the-hell attitude.”
Julia Child


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  1. Ooo, yum! I especially love the beet salad.
    And you’re right, everything is better with food.
    Happy New year

    1. Thank you Joyti, yes the beet salad was a real stand-out! Good at almost any time of the year too 🙂 Best wishes

  2. It was truly wonderful meeting you, Ren, and I love your blog as well! Gorgeous photos, beautiful writing and recipes I want to make (Nigella’s Chocolate Cloud Cake?!!). I agree that it IS often about the food, but as you know, food isn’t just food: it is culture and family, travel and adventure and you, like I, love to explore it all! I wish you and your family a wonderful Happy, Healthy and Prosperous 2012 and I do hope we have the chance to spend time together again! x

    1. Dear Jamie, thank you for your lovely comment. Cognac was a real highlight of my foodie calendar and part of that was meeting you and getting to know bloggers outside of my normal comfort zone. You are so right that food is culture, family, travel and adventure and it makes me so happy to look back on my year and appreciate all of that. Looking forward to many more adventures in 2012!

  3. great posts, excited to read more in 2012! and i’d say all your photos are gorgeous, not just the last one! I often look at your photos for inspiration, just so you know (:

    1. Aah thank you so much Shu Han, that’s very kind of you to say. Here’s to 2012!

  4. what a lovely set of favourites. I am sure you had plenty to choose from as your recipes are lovely and of course the photography divine. Looking forward to more in 2012 x

    1. Dear Nazima, thank you so much. I did have a fair few to look through but my favourites did stand out. Looking forward to focusing on plenty more recipes this year. All the best to you and your family and your soon to be new addition 🙂

  5. Briiliant post and such a lovely round up. Everything looks amazing, I want to try them all. Look forward to reading your blog next year. Happy New Year 2012!

    1. Thank you so much 🙂 I hope you had a wonderful New Year’s Eve and all the best for 2012 too. Looking forward to lots of baking this year!

  6. Great stuff Ren! You are so right about the “food angle” thing. I find the same applies with photography – I’m always on the lookout for a good shot now (double bonus if it’s a Foodie one). I think your photos are top-notch, and the food-styling course will no doubt push the boundaries even further. Your daughter must be about the same age as my granndaughter Lara, who is already a keen Foodie, so I reckon it’s about time you started her on GROWING her own food! 🙂

    1. Thanks Mark, you’ve been such a great supporter. I think if anyone is going to inspire us to grow our own food this year it will definitely be you! All the very best to you and your family for 2012!

  7. Such a lovely round up. It’s been so wonderful to meet and connect with you in 2011. Looking forward to sharing more recipes in 2012. happy New year Ren xx

    1. Dear Urvashi, thank you so much for your lovely comment. I’ve really enjoyed becomming friends with you too. Huge congrats on all your achievements in 2011, here’s to 2012 x

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