2008 seems to have whizzed by faster than a fast whizzy thing and I am finding it a little hard to believe that here we are again, toasting in another New Year. Although I nipped back to London to celebrate with friends, I'm now back on the Isle of Wight enjoying the final night of my hibernation. I'm trying not to think about the fact that tomorrow I'll be heading back to town to the grit and grime of the daily commute. Quite a contrast with the quiet, peaceful beauty that can be found here...
The passing of the year is a time to reflect, but also to look forward. Food-wise, 2008 was an exciting year in the kitchen for me. I cooked many things for the first time and been more experimental than ever before in the kitchen (bearing in mind that I'm essentially a fairly traditional cook). In 2009 I hope the trend will continue and I have a few culinary resolutions which I'm going to share with you alongside the highlights of last year.
rhubarb and ginger version. Just divine.
I'm starting with ice-cream. Though I received my ice-cream maker in 2007, it was in 2008 that I really started to get to grips with it and discover just how good (and easy) homemade ice-cream can be. The texture is completely different to store-bought and I'm not sure I'll ever be satisfied with the latter again (...unless it is Ben and Jerry's cookie dough flavour). My favourite of 2008 has to be this
Resolution for 2009: make more homemade ice-cream.
summer pudding as the dessert when I went to Glyndebourne for the first time. The picnic situation at this spectacular opera event is quite hilarious - some even bring their own butlers, candelabras and table centres to their picnics. But everyone look on with envy as I turned out the perfect summer pudding (transported in the pudding basin) and then dusted the top with icing sugar (having also packed a small sieve). There is nothing like a little dramatic flourish to lift the rain-soaked spirits!
My next highlight involves a moveable feast. I just love the way the British are so very... British about the weather. Cold winds and torrential rain couldn't dampen the spirits at either of the outdoor events I attended this summer. It is without question that food always tastes better outdoors and in good company. I was particularly pleased to present my favourite
Resolution for 2009: never mind the weather, more al fresco dining.
here), but let's just say that I'm glad I gave them another chance.
The next highlight for me has to be the epiphany I had as regards the broad bean. I'm not planning to go on about it (you can read it all
Resolution for 2009: learn to love lentils (...or at least try)
lovely lemony birthday cake. Not only was this the first item I mixed in my new Kenwood mixer (love at first sight), but it stands here for the huge enjoyment I get from baking. I've always enjoyed baking but it has become a real passion this year. Only problem is that I've as yet been totally unable to master bread baking. Which leads me neatly onto...
The final item which gets special mention is my
Resolution for 2009: learn to bake good bread
I could continue with highlights (lunch at Fifteen in Cornwall, my mother's chilled avocado soup, running the British Food Fortnight Challenge,rhubarb pavlova and new weeknight favourite smoked mackerel fishcakes), but I won't. There are just too many.
'Normal' service will resume on Monday once I'm back in my own kitchen. Until then, a huge thank you to everyone who stops by my blog to read and comment. It is hugely appreciated. I wish everyone a very Happy New Year and much deliciousness in 2009!
I do have one more resolution though which is to be better at making my own lunch to take to work. It might sound like an easy one but for me it is quite a challenge - I can never be bothered to do it yet I always regret it. I am however planning to start afresh in 2009 and declare it the year of the packed lunch. I'd welcome any ideas so that I can keep them varied!