SmartCooks here. Drats. Not much blogging, Facebook-ing or emailing from mid-November till now. It was partly work and partly holiday preparations. (I hereby forswear all things holiday-ish next year by booking two weeks south somewhere in a house/cottage that is warm and un-Christmas-like. An open invitation to everyone to join me/us.)
But also on the menu in November-December was the preparation of the 2012 version of SmartCooksBook. Last year it took me a month to figure out the MacBook technology, iPhoto project formats, converting the project to a PDF (btw Mr. Apple... this is NOT an intuitive feature!), and then figuring out the layout and printing. Self-publish are me.
I gave out about 50 copies last year to friends and families -- deliberately low key as not all photos were credited. I acknowledged this and credited where I could.
This year I vowed that SmartCooksBook 2012 would use all original photos. I bought a good, but not too expensive, camera that came with a learner's permit aka easy-to-understand instructions, snapped away, and.... promptly lost it a month later in Charlottetown somewhere after a weekend taking photos of some of the amazing scenery. Luckily, I had uploaded most photos; some (like the Confederation Bridge) are included in this year's edition (see Facebook page). I chalked it up to a lifelong bad-luck string with cameras. Add to that a year with a new, senior level public service position, overcoming travel anxieties, and general coping with life. But It means that this year's edition is once again a mix of photos by me and others.
So, I limited distribution accordingly, remembering that all of this is meant to bring me up to speed on laptop and tablet technologies, as well as social media, keep track of recipes, and is a cool way of saying 'Happy Holidays' to friends and family.
2013 will be different. Christmas Santa/Husband gave me the long-coveted iPhone5 and I will afix it to my arm to prevent accidental forgetfulness. I'm still learning my way around it but so far so good.
This year's edition features a few favourite appetizers, including 'Bob's Bourbon Cheese Ball', which is a Christmas treat made with Maker's Mark bourbon, only the best!
This year's revelation was the lunchtime 'Mighty Jars of Salad Goodness,' with creative mixes of salads in wide-mouth mason jars. The fav dressing is a mix of apple cider, ginger and orange juice. Given my penchant for detail, I searched recipes with exact quantities (like quinoa, vegetables, lettuces) that would equal a week's worth of jars.
The time spent on Sundays prepping for the week was well worth the effort given the 'lunch jar grab-n-go' style I needed throughout most of the year. I even hauled some jars in luggage to Charlottetown to have at the office. There's a good pix of the jars over at my Facebook site.
My favourite of all of them -- and I make it often -- is 'Michael's Chicken Cashew Curry', made with Sri Lankan white curry from the Montreal-based "Spice Hunters". They have a terrific internet store and deliver promptly in smallish containers of spices that don't have to linger on spice racks for decades.
And, yes Brigid, this year's edition contains a few desserts, which as you know are not my specialty. However, thanks to Smitten Kitchen (Apple Charlotka) and a smidgen of my own imagination, I came up with a few desserts that fit the bill, mostly because they are made with fruit (like apple or pear).
I'm planning next year's edition early. The ingredients are already in place ...
-- the iPhone5 camera for original photos of food, friends, family, frivolity and frolicking here there and everywhere;
-- an appetite to research and try new foods;
-- lots of friends who are also fabulous cooks in styles ranging from vegetarian, carefully guarded family dinner recipes, to desserts and breads;
-- creative writers, many of whom are now 'Retired!' (no, I'm not jealous ... much);
-- a multitude of upcoming events from baby and wedding showers, weddings, retirements, graduations, deck BBQs, friend/family gatherings etc.; AND
-- a burning desire for personal, useful, memorable souvenirs of 2013!
It means this is an open invitation to any and all to contribute to next year's 2013 edition. Contributors welcome! All the best in 2013.....