Top 13 Foodie Recommendations 2012, The Spiced Life Style

child eating browned butter chocolate chunk cookie

It’s that time of year! Lists, lists, and more lists! I love them! I spent the day perusing the 50 top singles and albums of 2012 from Rolling Stone. My Pay Pal account is lighter because of it. I have been checking out the top cookbook lists, although I have not seen a ton yet. And it is time, of course, for my (starting last year) annual tradition of randomly chosen favorite foodie things from this past year. This year I have 13!

Before I forget, however, some housekeeping. First, I am still sick. So please don’t be surprised if my posting is rather spotty over the next week or 2. Second, I have a winner for Rinku‘s The Bengali Five Spice Chronicles giveaway: Lady Wild! Congrats, I am sure you will love it!

So, in no particular order….

      1. Indian Food as Comfort Food 2012 was the year that Indian food edged out Mexican food as my comfort food. It is actually the cuisine I am most comfortable cooking at this point. That boggles my midwestern brain!
      2. 1,000 Indian Recipes (1,000 Recipes) by Neelam Batra Every year it seems like I stumble upon a real hidden gem in the used bookstore. This is this year’s gem. And a perfect segue from #1. Neelam Batra has been teaching classes in America for quite some time and it shows in her cookbooks, which are always easy to use. One of the winners made from this is Stir Fried Cabbage with Baby Potatoes and Chaat Masala.
      3. 2012 saw some fantastic cookie cookbooks published. Nancy Baggett’s Simply Sensational Cookies and Anna Ginsberg’s The Daily Cookie: 365 Tempting Treats for the Sweetest Year of Your Life both made my fall a lot more fun! Check out Salted Brown Butter, Honey and Oat Cookies, Rosemary Citrus Biscotti and Cashew Chipotle Beer Brittle. And I know I am not done baking–stay tuned for more!
      4. Bundt-a-Month 2012 was the year I discovered and consequently (instantly!) joined Bundt-a-Month, a group of bakers committed to baking cakes in bundt pans. Which I love. Each month revolves around a different theme–I have had so much fun being “forced” to experiment with different flavor themes.
      5. Aida Mollenkamp’s Keys to the Kitchen: The Essential Reference for Becoming a More Accomplished, Adventurous Cook Regular readers of this blog know that my primary (savory) inspirations are international and regional. I am just not often really inspired by “American” food. I don’t think it is because I dislike said food–I eat it in restaurants all the time.  I am just not inspired to cook it often. This book is definitely the exception to that rule. Rarely have I come across a book that is aimed equally at novice and experienced cooks and that has so inspired me. I have made several recipes from it–all successes, but have so far only had the time to post one: Roasted Smoked Sausages with Potatoes and Apples. I think this book belongs in the kitchen of anyone who cooks.
      6. Browned Butter Speaking of the recipes I have not had time to post from Aida Mollenkamp’s book, one of them is an angel hair pasta with browned butter. 2012 was the year I really discovered browned butter. YUM. If you have not yet tried baking or cooking with browned butter, I strongly encourage you to try. I talk a bit about the technique in this post for Salted Browned Butter Chocolate Chunk Cookies; I also used browned butter in these Salted Brown Butter, Honey and Oat Cookies. I also made some wonderful browned butter snickerdoodles, but much like the pasta they are languishing in my “to do” pile. Sigh.
      7. Mandoline 2012 was the year I finally got a mandoline. I have been lusting after one for eons, and OXO made my dream come true at Eat, Write and Retreat. I started using it in early November (I think after lusting I then was a bit overwhelmed, unsure of what to use it for next). The first dish was a dud but here is a picture of the mandoline at work. I squealed the whole time I was using it! The next dish turned out fabulously, but it was a Thanksgiving side dish, and my life has been either frantically baking cookies or lying in bed sick since Thanksgiving. So I hope to share a dish start to finish that uses a mandoline soon!OXO Chef's Mandoline
      8. Salad Dressing Shaker Speaking of OXO, 2012 was also the year I received their salad dressing shaker. And fell in love. Seriously. It lives in my fridge now all the time. You can read more here.
      9. Fried Rice Yes, fried rice. 2012 was the year that I started always making extra rice and eating it the rest of the week for lunch as fried rice. Not every single day, mind you, and usually without meat. This recipe is my general blueprint, but these days I am more likely to take out half the soy sauce, add some fish sauce and add nam prik pao, which has tied with tamarind chutney for being the most used storebought condiment in my house.
      10. Eggs 2012 was the year of the egg for me. We went from using about 8 eggs or so per week, mostly from baking and some girls’ breakfasts, to almost 2 dozen, mostly from frying, scrambling, boiling, you name it! It just goes to show it is never too late in life to approach a simple, common ingredient with a fresh perspective. For me what has really done it is the role of the egg in international preparations. I love it fried or scrambled in fried rice (see links above). I love it hard boiled with dijon mustard and mango chutney, I adore it cooked into a Moroccan tagine, this Persian rice dish blew my mind with a fried egg, and, perhaps strangest of all, my most common fast lunch lately, when I don’t have rice to make fried rice, is to caramelize an onion and then crack some eggs over them. Swoon.
      11. Evernote I am frequently late to the game for anything technological. So many of you might be rolling your eyes. But I love Evernote! It syncs between my iPhone and my MacBook and I use it for everything. Grocery lists, ideas for my blog, ideas for dishes, you name it.
      12. MacBook Pro OK this is cheating a bit as it is more a recommendation for bloggers, but wow having a nice laptop has changed everything for me as a food blogger. Thanks, Mom and Dad! Thanks, John! My pictures go with me everywhere now, to be edited whenever I can grab a moment. Online recipes now travel to the kitchen. And, perhaps most important, I, the wife who once banned laptops from the bedroom, can now work on my blog in bed late at night, as I am doing right now. Or search the web for foodie inspiration. Or chat with other foodies. You get the idea. And yes the ban has been reversed for both of us.
      13. Blog Love In these end of year lists I like to give a shout out to any blogs I have discovered and been reading regularly in the last year. Especially because, see previous note, I actually get around to reading other blogs a lot more often now that I have a laptop. So, in no particular order, these are the blogs I have tried my best to keep up with (I often fail, and then berate myself when I see what I have missed out on):

Because I regard this list as quite casual and personal, and certainly not professional, here are some recent acquisitions I am super excited to delve into (but can make no guarantees about since I have barely opened them since receiving them!). There is a lot because I have been sick and, more important, Santa was good to me!:

    1. Burma: Rivers of Flavor (Duguid)
    2. Jerusalem: A Cookbook (Ottolenghi)
    3. Fat: An Appreciation of a Misunderstood Ingredient, with Recipes (McLagan)
    4. One Pot of the Day (Williams-Sonoma): 365 recipes for every day of the year
    5. The Slow Cook Book (Whinney)
    6. Gran Cocina Latina: The Food of Latin America (Presilla)
    7. Vietnamese Home Cooking (Phan)
    8. Michael Symon’s Carnivore: 120 Recipes for Meat Lovers (Symon)
    9. The Sugar Cube: 50 Deliciously Twisted Treats from the Sweetest Little Food Cart on the Planet (Jensen)
    10. Vegan Indian Cooking: 140 Simple and Healthy Vegan Recipes (Singla)
    11. Bouchon Bakery (Keller)
    12. It Rains Fishes: Legends, Traditions, and the Joys of Thai Cooking (Loha-unchit) (out of print and hard to find–go Mom!!)
    13. Grains, Greens, and Grated Coconuts: Recipes and Remembrances of a Vegetarian Legacy (Ramachandran)

So clearly I need to get reading! And cooking/baking! Happy New Year!


***I am an Amazon affiliate, which means if you purchase any product (cookbook) through any of the Amazon links on this page I will receive a small fee.


  1. says

    Aww I’m honored that you included me on your blog list!! It’s always interesting to see what others think of as their own personal foodie trends. For me this year was all about eggs, pies and savory tarts.

  2. says

    Oh my goodness, I am so honored to be included in your favorite list of blogs for the year. You can’t imagine how wonderful you made me feel. Thanks for your faith in me, Laura. Thanks for your warm support and friendship with your blog visits, the RTs on the networks, and whenever we meet at EWR.
    Wishing you and your family all the best for the New Year!

  3. says

    Laura!! Thank you so much for the shoutout, I’m honored and so excited! Also, I’m super down with you on the Evernote Love. I don’t know what I did without it. Have a wonderful New Year and I can’t wait to see what 2013 brings ya. xx

  4. says

    glad to see my blog on the list. will check out the other blogs too as well as the book recommendations. get well soon. wishing you and your family a happy 2013.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *