My Cooking Odyssey: One-Year Later

It was one year ago today that I opened up a cookbook (How to Cook Everything by Mark Bitman–received as a gift from my mother over 9 years ago) and started my Cooking Odyssey.  Prior to this, “cooking” to me was heating up a Trader Joe’s meal or maybe hard-boiling an egg.

Of course, I’ve followed a few recipes and made a few things prior to my Cooking Odyssey. But really I was known as non-cook and my well-supplied kitchen was more of a museum. I had visions of becoming a gourmet cook when we registered for wedding gifts.  I’ve used them all now! It just took 7 years 😛

I can’t pinpoint what made me  decide that I can and should cook. Something clicked inside me and not only did I decide to cook, I also decided to document every recipe I made in a journal. In a year, I made 433 unique recipes. I finished #433 —Maple-Walnut Scones from Baked in the nick of time at 11:30 pm on 3/7/09.

I didn’t start Pink Stripes until August 2008. Because I didn’t cook, I didn’t realize the world of food blogging was so big and widespread and truly global.

The very first recipe I made was Roasted Buttered Nuts from How to Cook Everything. Very simple, very straight forward and the perfect food to start off my journey: Nuts + melted butter+ salt & pepper, stirred together and thrown in the oven to roast.

Soon, I discovered food magazines and shortly there after which led me to food blogs and Google Reader.  I started to bring in treats to work for my co-workers. Now everything has changed. It’s expected that I bring in goodies and when I don’t they start to squirm. 😛

I did take pictures of things I made prior to starting a blog, but for some reason in a fit of cleaning I’ve deleted them all. Which kind of sucks, but really I would only use them for this post so I guess it’s okay. 🙂

Here is a chronological list of some of my favorite and adventurous (for me) things I’ve made since I started cooking and baking:

  • Scrambled Eggs–okay everyone knows how to cook scrambled eggs, but I really learned how to make them great. The secret is slow-cooking them. Turn the burner to low and you get the creamiest most delectable eggs. Its the only way I cook them now.
  • Pasta with Browned Butter and Sage–again, very simple. It’s something I can turn to in a jiffy. I always have butter, Parm cheese, and pasta at home. If I have sage, even better.
  • Strawberries with Balsamic Vinegar & Cracked Black Pepper–OMG, so good and easy.
  • Pizza Dough–so easy and simple and so much better than frozen pizzas. It’s the only pizza at home I eat now.
  • Scones–I love making scones. You don’t have to wait for ingredients to come to room temperature and they are so quick to throw together.
  • Veggie Burgers–I’ve made all types: potato and pea, black bean, sweet potato, bulgur, etc. Again, better than frozen store bought
  • Mayonnaise–The first time I made my own mayo it took me four attempts. I tried the food processor, the blender, the immersion blender, and finally had success making it by hand. Now, when I make it, I only do it by hand because I know it works for me.
  • Chocolate Eclairs–These are my husband’s favorite pastry. When the San Francisco Chronicle food section published a recipe for them on his birthday, I knew I had to make them that night for him. He loved them and said they were the best birthday gift ever.
  • Graham Crackers–Who doesn’t love graham crackers?
  • Cheese Soufflé
  • Macaroni and Cheese
  • Garam Masala, Curry, Chili Powder–making spice mixtures at home makes the kitchen smell so good.
  • Sour Cherry PieI can’t believe I made this. The crust was so flaky and delicious.
  • Pesto–I didn’t realize how easy it is to make.
  • French Bread–I still haven’t achieved the perfect hard crust, but I’m still trying.
  • Pita
  • French Toast made with Challah
  • Ice Cream, Sorbet, Gelato–I made ice cream before starting my Cooking Odyssey. We received the maker as a gift when we got married. We made ice cream a few times soon after and then didn’t use it for years and years. Now I make ice cream at least once a week, sometimes twice. I love homemade ice cream a lot. I’ve written about 15 different posts about ice cream. You can see them all HERE. My most surprising favorite flavor is Sweet Basil Ice Cream, so good.
  • Granola–I always have homemade granola in my pantry now. It’s my go-to quick breakfast.
  • Vegetable Pot Pie
  • Caramels
  • Flour Tortillas
  • Foccacia
  • English Muffins
  • Ciabatta
  • Challah–I now make challah just for French Toast. How ridiculous is that?
  • Crème Brûlée–I bought a torch, I burnt the sugar!
  • Layer Cakes–I still need to work on my decorating skills. These are not pretty, but I’m getting better every time.
  • Biscotti
  • Old-Fashioned White Bread
  • Cheesecake
  • French Yule Log
  • Pretzels
  • French Pear Tart
  • Fougasse
  • Nine-Grain Whole Wheat Harvest Bread
  • CROISSANTSMy biggest achievement to date. These were a lot of work, but worth every minute of it.
  • Whole-Grain Cooking–in general, I love all the new to me grains I’ve been cooking.
  • Vegan Baking–so far I’ve made chocolate chip cookies, lemon bars, jelly doughnut muffins, carrot-pineapple sunshine muffins, almond-quinoa muffins, and chocolate raspberry cookies.  It’s fun, I love it.
  • Apricot, Almond, and Chocolate Coffee Cake
  • Brioche Raisin Snails

And here’s a list of food I want to make for the first time during year 2 of my Cooking Odyssey:

  • Bagels
  • Doughnuts
  • Pasta, from scratch homemade
  • Sourdough, with my own starter
  • Soft-boiled egg (I’ve never soft-cooked an egg)
  • Sushi
  • Falafel
  • Tamales
  • Ricotta

Is there anything else I should have on my list?

I also learned to scuba this year. I'm the second from the right.

I also learned to scuba this year. I'm the second from the right.

26 thoughts on “My Cooking Odyssey: One-Year Later

  1. Congratulations!! I have a great bagel recipe on my site that you must make right away- so good!! Also ricotta is so easy, you will love it!

  2. Reading this post is like reading my own mind! My own cooking journey is almost exactly like yours, even down make challah just for french toast! I can’t believe what and impact cooking and blogging have had in my life when a couple years ago I could barely boil water. I look forward reading about year 2!
    Oh, and soft boiled eggs are my new breakfast- with home baked bread of course!

  3. Congratulations on a year of cooking/blogging – that’s quite a list! I’m sure a year from now, you’ll have done many more amazing things.

  4. Congrats on your anniversary! I love making bagels, it’s actually not too difficult and once you try it, you’ll never want to eat a store bought bagel again!

  5. Happy blogiversary! What a great blog you’ve got. I just love it, and I look forward to more years of wonderful recipes. Congrats on your wonderful cooking/baking adventure!!

  6. Congratulations on your odyssey…and I’m so glad it’s going to continue. It’s an inspiring list – past and future. I love to make lists like this (though I wish I was better at following them). And now I want to make the brioche raisin snails soon. I wasn’t part of TWD when you all made them but I remember eating them in Paris once in a while instead of pain au chocolat. Congratulations again!

  7. Congratulations! What an awesome milestone to reach. And an impressive list of accomplishments. Sourdough is on my list for this year, too.

    BTW, I wanted to check out your flour tortillas, since I’ve been looking for a good recipe, but the link takes me to tomatillos instead.

    • Pictures of the tortillas are in the link. The actual recipe came from Deborah Madison’s “Vegetarian Cooking For Everyone”.

  8. OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG – I just learned how to make ricotta the other day – it’s so ridiculously easy you’ll never buy it again.

    Congrats on the list – you’ve certainly accomplished quite a bit.

    And, you’ll be happy to know I cooked quinoa for the first time every today. I like it. It’s different.

  9. Congratulations on an amazing cooking odyssey, thus far! What a way to start cooking, I am continually impressed by your creativity in the kitchen. I don’t have any suggestions as to what you should make but I’ll pass this on: I’ve heard that mascarpone is every bit as easy and fun to make as ricotta. Maybe it’ll be a cheesy sort of year?

  10. This is so amazing and so inspiring. I have been drooling over that book for quite a while and I am thinking now is the time! Thanks for sharing all this…your list is incredible…look at all you have accomplished! Gold Star, Gold Star with Sparkles! Great job.

  11. That’s so impressive. Congratulations on your accomplishment 🙂 I should embark on something similar. My baking has improved a ton but I’m still not much of a chef.

  12. This post is awesome and so inspiring! What a great year you’ve had. I honestly can hardly believe that you’ve only been cooking seriously for a year. I really enjoy your blog, and look forward to following your year two adventures!

  13. This is so cool! I never would have guessed that you’re new to cooking. I’d love to have a log of all the recipes I’ve made. I’m working on bread baking and I’m very close to making sushi for the first time. There’s always something new to try!

  14. I LOVE this post! Lists are so much fun to read – you get a little glimpse into how someone organizes their thoughts in addition to an accessible form of information. I’ve been working on a list for my 1 year blog anniversary (in July).

    Boy, when you decide to do something, you really get it done, don’t you? I’m always inspired by your cooking, and now I’m impressed as well after learning that you’ve only been at this a year. Isn’t Bittman’s book the best? I just bought it this year and I’m mildly obsessed with it.

    One of my New Year’s resolutions is to make pasta. I’ve already bought the semolina; just waiting for a block of time to devote to it. Several times a year my daughters and I make tamales – it’s a blast and soooo good. Plus when you make your own you can control the ingredients; I use oil rather than lard. I got my recipe from the Mexican Grocer online – you can find it on my blog.

    Thanks for sharing your journey with us all. Onwards to more cooking adventures!

  15. I am so impressed! Like you, I went from not cooking (having to call and get advice on making baked potatoes in the microwave) to trying many new recipes and becoming somewhat of a fanatic. I laugh now, thinking back to the time that I found cooking/baking so intimidating. Now it’s an adventure!

  16. Wow, you’ve done a lot this past year! I’m impressed. Your list for this coming year sounds interesting too. I’d like to add sourdough and ricotta to my list too.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s