As you know, this month I celebrated the one-year-anniversary of the Book of Yum by holding a contest for readers to win a Bette Hagman book or copy of Peanut Butter Planet. All together we had 29 wonderful entries, and I got so much blog love I think I’ll be vain for a month. You know, when I started this contest, I was just hoping to find out what my readers enjoyed most over the previous year so I could expand on that. What I found out was that my readers have as varied of interests as I do! Some of you like the more traditional, bread-type recipes, while others enjoy travel articles, others enjoy my vegetarian experiments with tofu, and still others love exploring international foods. Others were touched by our tribute to Bette Hagman, or enjoyed posts on local produce. You said my blog was “wild” (I got a huge kick out of this), “different” and “unique.” Nobody said “weird,” but I don’t mind admitting that sometimes this blog can be weird, especially given the mix of posts in a given week- we might hop from Austrian rosti to Japanese bento and then to traditional American banana muffins. How tasty would that be all together in a meal? We’re practically talking pickles and ice cream here, folks! But ultimately, my goal is to take something that can be restrictive, like our gluten-free diet, and share some wild and crazy international ways to have fun with it. You can look forward (I hope, I hope) to lots more vegetarian experiments with Asian, European, and North American (Southern, aww yeah) cuisine in the future.
By our reader’s vote, the two most popular posts this year were for vietnamese summer rolls with three votes and this Savory Tofu Peanut Sauce Stir Fry with two votes. These were two of my favorite recipes as well, so I’m glad we agree!
Some things will stay the same, but as I keep hinting, the blog will be getting an aesthetic and functional makeover in the immediate future. DH is programming his little fingers to the bone as we speak, in fact, and we’ve got all the visual elements designed. I’ve got lots of ideas on how to make the blog easier to navigate, including diet-specific navigation and category based browsing. But this would be the perfect time to hear from YOU about what type of entries you’d like to see OR what functions would make the Book of Yum more user-friendly.
PLEASE POST any ideas you have for improving the site or any topics you’d love to read about IN THE COMMENTS. After all, I do this site for you guys!
Now, about that contest…
I am pleased to announce that a winner has been selected (from a basket, actually, not a hat OR a shoe box), and our winner is…. drum roll…
Mary Frances of Alabama, a GF and dairy free, vegetarian reader with a lovely blog of her own, Gluten-Free Cooking School. Mary Frances is a self-confessed onigiri-aholic and her favorite post is Like Water for Onigiri 2: with a Vegetarian Sesame Spinach Onigiri Recipe that she says is “out of this world.”
UPDATED Feb 2 ‘08 *Mary Frances emailed me back right away, and she asked me to pick my favorite of the four books, since she didn’t have any of them. It was tough to pick between The Gluten-Free Gourmet Bakes Bread: More Than 200 Wheat-Free Recipesand The Gluten-Free Gourmet Cooks Fast and Healthy: Wheat-Free and Gluten-Free with Less Fuss and Less Fatbut ultimately we went with the latter. Her book has been ordered and should arrive any day now!*
On that note, here’s a roundup of your favorite posts:
We Like Travel/ Restaurant Reviews!
Theresa needed travel advice for her trip to Oregon, so she liked my posts on GF Portland, Oregon restaurants and bakeries. She drove 1 1/2 hours EACH WAY to visit a certain GF coffee shop DAILY during her whole trip and said that she was in HEAVEN eating there. Portland GF Coffee shop Post
Theresa’s daughter will also be traveling in Germany soon, so she also enjoyed this post on Health food stores and gluten-free food in Germany and Austria.
Orlando resident Lisa Vance was excited to see the post on Indian Buffets because she used to love Indian Buffets.
StillLearning said that this post made her realize that if Sea can travel to the ends of the earth (India and Austria) and still eat gluten free, surely she could live in a foreign country and do the same. (Awesome!)
We like international foods!
Southern California resident Shelly loves Chinese food and my Zucchini Szechuan Pepper Chili Fried Rice Recipe is something that her boys scarf down like candy and she and her DH can dress up with something more.
Super-nice North Carolina resident Carrie, the Ginger Lemon Girl, said she likes the Book of Yum because it introduces people to real international cuisine and vegetarian cooking! Her favorite post is this Savory Tofu Peanut Sauce Stir Fry because it was the first tofu dish that she has ever made that she enjoyed. (Yay! some tofu-love!)
Local Bay Area resident AllergicToAll loves indian food, especially things wrapped in dough so she liked this recipe for Aloo Samosa.
Canadian Heidi really liked this post on salad/summer rolls because she was always too intimidated to try making them and the post encouraged her to try them. (Yay!)
MoviePalaceFan took those same Vietnamese wraps on a trip and they were fantastic! (they really are perfect for travel… I need to make some! mm!)
Diana Pierce also enjoyed the various posts on spring rolls and has saved many of our recipes.
North Carolina resident Natalie liked the Mexican soup with corn dumplings, but she likes pretty much anything with greens too! :)
Maryland resident Mars loves international foods, esp Japanese and our Okonomiyaki was something her whole family enjoyed making together. (She notes that where she lives, “a traffic jam is usually the result of farm equipment on the road.” heh heh)
We have multiple allergies!
Virginia resident Cheryl liked this allergy friendly PB quinoa cookie recipe because she canâ€™t have gluten, but also canâ€™t have dairy, eggs, soy, yeast, corn (she subbed it), pb (she used almond) etcâ€¦. Her wedding anniversary was July 17th and she wanted to make cookies for her sweetie and herself and the post came out a few days before and saved the day. When she find a recipe that she CAN have, itâ€™s cause for total shock, followed by great celebration. Thanks! (Awesome story, Cheryl, I’m so glad the recipe worked out for you!)
Mostly vegetarian Washingtonian Gaile (aka Fidgety Budgie) had to cut out cheese, which may explain why she loves this pine nut ricotta recipe so much. In fact, it has graced her kitchen three times in the last 6 weeks in lasagna as well as stuffed shells. She also enjoyed following the blog on our trip to India, and has been inspired to try more India recipes, especially those filled idlis that remind her of her much missed bao.
We like eating local Vegetables and/or are Vegetarian!
Virginia resident Julie enjoys reading about our travels and is a big fan of eating locally and organically whenever possible, so she likes this post from August about heirloom tomatoes. She also grows her own tomatoes in the summer, but squirrels take at least half of her fruit. (Doh! And I thought them stealing my bird seed was a problem!)
Ontario, Canada resident Queen Adeena loves our chebe pizza experiment with grilled veggies but also re-discovered brussels sprouts in these posts. Until she read these posts, they only bought the frozen kind, and ate them rarely. Now, they roast up a batch of fresh â€˜Barbie cabbagesâ€™ once a week. Super Yum. The Maple ones are their favourite – but they also roast them with a drizzle of honey. (Yay, fantastic to hear!) She also loved reading about our recent travel adventures and drooling over the pictures! (Great! I’m glad we could share them with you!)
Japan resident Vegetablej’s favorite post about Southern Fried Tofu prompted her to try a similar recipe with great success, around Christmas time. Since everyone here in Japan was eating chicken, she was able to enter into to spirit of the celebration and stick to her vegetarian diet.
Karen Mahoney said that it was hard to pinpoint a favorite, but finding a good gluten free, vegetarian burger for summer cook outs was tough until we had this portobello “burger” recipe in August She has celiac and is vegetarian and her son has celiac as well. (Great! Karen, did you see this post on gluten-free prepared veggie burgers?)
SF Bay-er Carla loved the the roasted veggies and our 4th of July (cuz itâ€™s her favourite US holiday!) post but her favourite so far has been the peanut tofu stir fry
We cook for Gluten-free Kiddies!
Rhode Island resident Esther cooks for people with single digit ages so her favorite blog post that she’s most likely to successfully make and feed to people (esp. glutenoids) is our recent Pamela’s Banana Muffin recipe. She plans to make some for Saturday morning when she’s the â€œTreatmasterâ€ for a meeting sheâ€™ll be attending. (Cool! I hope they go over well. Re: agave- I would try an established recipe like these Babycakes brownies rather than subbing it into an ordinary recipe. Those brownies are legend for DH, who LURVED them, and my own experiments were a flop.)
Keri in Antioch said that her favorite post is for Fish Cheese Crackers. Her 3 year old son is the celiac in our house, and the one thing he misses that she couldnâ€™t find a substitute for was Goldfish crackers. Once she finds a fish cookie cutter she is going to make them.
We love Bette Hagman!
Oregonian Donna Spencer especially likes soy-free posts about roasted veggies and our Bette Hagmanâ€™s bread recipe recommendations.
Debi Bussell’s favorite post was the tribute to Bette Hagman because it gave her an opportunity to express to her eternal gratitude to Bette Hagman and her work.
Kate sweetly said that she doesn’t have a favorite postâ€¦ she just loves it all. (aww, so nice!)
Sheltie Girl @ Gluten A Go Go said congratulations and that she hopes there are many more anniversaries] to come for the Book of Yum. (awww, me too!)
Ontario Grand Pooh Ma Janet (who has 12 GF kids, including Queen Adeena and 14 GF grandkids- wow!) says that she doesnâ€™t really have a favourite but your blog is my favourite gluten-free spot out in cyberspace. (Aww, thank you!)
Jaye from the Pacific North West said Happy Anniversary, and shared that all four of their family are disgnosed celiacs, with dairy intolerance and soy causes problems also.
Betty wished us a happy anniversary as well. (Thanks!)
It has been really fun re-living the year’s posts through your comments, so thank you! You all made my week a bit brighter, and made all the love and work I pour into this baby worth it. With love and thanks, Sea
PS Don’t forget to tell me what you’d like to see NEXT YEAR in the comments! Post wish list, anyone?