Happy New Year’s, everyone! I’m looking back to what’s just been a crazy year for me! It was actually October of 2017 that I came back home after an extensive time caring for my folks and it took more out of me than I realized, the emotional and especially the physical labor of it all. It really was all too much for me.
I started off 2018 with my Georgia vacation at my daughter’s and talk about a reboot! Honestly, I was determined 2018 was going to be fabulous but I struggled. A lot. And tried to ignore it. A lot. And I think that all accumulated and I found the physical issues didn’t go away any more than the emotional ones did. And I found that maybe time doesn’t heal all wounds any more than sheer determination does.
There were and are a lot of family issues and resentments, uncertainty and angst surrounding my folks and decisions made. And then we had one of the worst winters ever, the amount of snow was unbelievable, and summer storms with flooding and wind damage & seven trees lost. In addition to two large ashes lost, a huge willow went down and five good sized oaks, bushes, and landscaping went down with it. And there was so much damage to my home and gardens from the neglect suffered while I was gone. And through it all, although I try to focus on the positive, I’ve just had an overwhelming sense of loss.
And my answer to all that was to try to ignore everything out of my control and focus on where I find my joy. My children, their significant others, my grandchildren. That irascible scamp, Chance, my two-year-old “labradorable” as I call him. (He isn’t helping that shoulder/hand issue!) And then there’s Homer, the cat, who was 12 last year! And friends and neighbors who have supported me even though I’ve gone through long periods of where I just haven’t been able to do things. Thank you guys for being there still for me, even though I wasn’t always able to be there for you!
But one of the biggest places I find so much joy is in this blog. And so I thank all of you, too, for following along and indulging me throughout this past year and all the years since I started what I call my “little” blog. Which actually isn’t so little, anymore! And has been going through its own struggles and growing pains, mostly in slow loading and issues I’m struggling to fix. My blogging, though has taken on a life of its own, given me a creative outlet, a sense of purpose and brought so much happiness to me with the connections I’ve made with you guys.
It was my blogging, too, that really let me know how bad things were getting. I’ve been struggling with my legs, a shoulder and elbow ever since that move – and it got worse after a fall. I was just hoping that would heal when some unthinking neighbors began feeding animals and Chance started lunging after them, tugging me and eventually took me down a couple of times. So add in my ankle, the other shoulder and my right wrist.
It got to the point that I could hardly lift my arms, and I started letting things go. I even stopped hanging or folding clothes so I wouldn’t have to reach up into the closet or open drawers and instead began draping them over the living room furniture. But it took getting to the point that I could no longer type and comment and visit everyone that stops by that I pulled out of my blindness and took some steps to help myself.
This year, my goals are to focus more on myself, and healing and letting go, and boy do I have a slew of medical appointments, doctors and physical therapy appointments coming up. There’s a lot of advantages to aging and hopefully garnering some wisdom along the way but it’s a shocker to realize that mind over matter is no longer a viable solution – that sometimes the old adage “The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak” holds true. It’s also a shock to realize that the majority of my social engagements are doctors appointments! But as they say, it’s better than the alternative. 🙂
But let’s talk about food. That always brings me joy, lol! This past year has brought changes to my site that I never expected. I’ve been paying for several years for a business site and finally, the blog had to start paying for itself, so I apologize for the ads. I’ve also been trying to slow down and take better pics – even though sometimes all I want to do is dig in, lol! And I’ve been focusing a lot more on simple, very doable food.
It’s always a surprise to me to see what are the most popular posts each year, and this year many recipes on the top 10 list are here for the first time. Every year a recipe or two will drop off the top ten to be replaced by a new one but this year brought an almost total change up! Some are brand new recipes while several are recipes that languished on my site for years and all of a sudden took off with renewed vigor.
Claiming spot number 10 is my Instant Pot Swiss Steak with Mushrooms. This is a relative newcomer to my site, posted in September 2017. You’ll notice this year, three Instant Pot Recipes made the top 10. What can I say? Get yourself an Instant Pot and make this luscious dish and so many others.
In the number 9 spot are my Nebraska Runzas (Bierocks). When I first posted I could find no recipes on the internet for this marvelous heritage recipe. I had an old book and I found a youtube video, and a few bloggers who were discussing it, mostly using Rhodes Bread Dough. That’s ok, too, but don’t be afraid to try the quick homemade dough; you’ll be blown away. Nebraska Runzas have been in my top 10 since I started my New and Old Posts in 2013.
15-minute Broccoli Cheese Soup is nestled snugly in the number 8 slot. This Instant Pot Soup is divine and that’s not a word I use often, especially when describing soup. There’s a lot of quick steps so it’s not necessarily a beginner Instant Pot user recipe but ohhhhh it is soooo good! It’s another relative newcomer to my blog, posted just over a year ago.
Da Bomb Oven Roasted Burgers, which have been on my site with very little attention since February of 2014 (seriously for three to four years it averaged from 0 to 20 views a month while some recipes have multiple thousands) it took off January of 2018 and shot up to the number 7 spot for total views this year. It still has very few shares which puzzles me. I took new photos last time I made them so don’t be afraid to pin these tasty burgers!
Isn’t it disappointing that canned refried beans just don’t taste as good as you’d hope? That’s probably because you want them to taste more like a restaurant version. Here’s how to doctor them up and make them creamy and delish. In the number six spot, Canned Refried Beans, Restaurant Style. This is an another old post that shot into the top 10 last year and has stayed there. It is just so easy it’s barely a recipe.
Oven Baked Hotel Eggs have always been a popular post on my site since I first added them in 2015; they’re one of my “OG” posts. Absolutely delish, easy to make they can be made with a few eggs and up to two dozen. And making these frees your stovetop up for all the other goodies you might want with breakfast. (Maybe some Chorizo, below.) They’re perfect for a holiday or when the fam is home.
I took a new photo of an old recipe, my Homemade Chorizo. On my site since 2012, it was averaging about 53 views a year it jumped up to over 10,000 views a month. You DO eat with your eyes, first. Just make sure to eat with your mouth next. This chorizo is delish, easily customized and is a fraction of the cost of store-bought when you make it at home.
Steakhouse Mushrooms blew up this year. They are scrumptious, and the recipe is worth a look. I went against everyone’s advice on how to cook mushrooms and came up with these gorgeous browned beauties. Yep, I crowd them all together and then lid them and what a difference that makes. Someone on Pinterest said they didn’t think they were anything special…why not give them a try and let me know what you think?
In the number 2 spot and rising is Ruth Chris’ Au Gratin Potatoes – I developed this recipe in November of 2018 and it jumped to the 2nd highest viewed recipe on my blog in less than a two month period. Thank you to everyone who has shared these marvelous potatoes. Yesterday, New Year’s Eve, they became the top shared recipe on my site. Is there no end to the madness? I hope not because they are seriously good & everyone should get to try these!
And can I get a drumroll, please, for the number 1 recipe? In October of 2017, I posted my Instant Pot Pork Chop One Pot Meal. I almost didn’t post it because I hated the photos, but I had just moved back from helping the folks out for 2 1/2 years in South Dakota. I was tired, and went ahead and posted it because I had it in my drafts. Surprise – it took off and made the top 10 in 2017. This year it’s number 1! I think it’s the gravy. It’s always the gravy that gets ya – or is that just me?
Edged off of the top 10 list this year are some of my old “standbys’ some of which were the most viewed posts of the past for many years. I almost feel just a bit sorry for them. I know that sounds strange since I’m talking about a recipe, but my recipes are a little like pseudo children. Except they never talk back and they often show up for dinner on time, lol!
So, bye, bye Cheesy Chicken Noodle Casserole, Million Dollar Dip, Scottish Oatcakes Oatmeal Pancakes, Best Banana Sheetcake, Chipotle Pulled Pork Empanadas and my New Mexican Pozole. I still love you all! You’ll go to join my Mom’s Old Fashioned Swiss Steak, Cook’s Illustrated Meatloaf (my fave!), my Split Pea Soup (oh, how I love that soup) and Scalloped Potatoes Like Your Grandma Made, all which dropped off the most viewed recipes in 2017.
So what does all this tell me? I’m def seeing a Meat & Potatoes, Restaurant Style and Steakhouse type recipe trend this past year, rather than so many of the down-home comfort food or heritage (even if they aren’t my heritage) recipes of the past.
I’m also a little surprised by the popularity of my Instant Pot Recipes. I absolutely love the three IP recipes in my top 10 spots, but beyond that, there are close to 20 recipes for the Instant Pot in my top 50 most viewed posts this last year. I love love love my Instant Pot and you’ll see a lot more recipes as I develop them. But the IP is just a tool, and does some things well and others, not so much, so no worries, they’ll still be a majority of traditionally cooked recipes on my site.
Every year, I like to pick what I think of as an “underdog” recipe. One of my favorite recipes that’s never gotten quite the love I think it deserves. Think of this as a kind of Best Personality Award. This year I want to give a shout out to my Lemony Chicken with Green Beans. In the winter, I use canned artichokes in this dish and in the spring, asparagus can sub in for the beans. But do tell, doesn’t this just look like a breath of fresh air?!
So here’s to 2019, and to hoping this year will be truly fabulous, and not just through sheer force of will, and I’ll leave you with a reminder to take joy in the small moments because, in the long run, they’re all small moments.
I’m so glad you’re here and so glad you’re following and commenting and sharing. I hope you’ll continue to stop by, and we’ll keep cooking together. It means a lot to me. And tell your friends and family, too, if you think they might like my blog. Ask them to follow by email or on Facebook. As I say every year, like that old Girl Scout song:
“Make new friends, but keep the old, one is silver, but the other gold…”
Happy New Years Everyone! And may you have many more new memories this year to cherish along with the old…