Popular: we discussed that idea last year, what it meant to a frustrated mom and her twelve year old girl, in the 2008 Simmer review. At the time I was stunned by our rookie junior high kid’s new habit of throwing that word around and believing it might be true. My daughter spent her first year of junior high as most adolescents do, stuck in middle-ground fog and testing friends like mirrors, tilting them this way and that way to see if they catch themselves. Now halfway through second year she likes what she likes, and what she likes is herself, fiercely discovering music and ripping her jeans in, you know, a pattern all her own. She’s settled into a happy little group now, smart independent girls who just happen to flock together. They all agree but, as Josie says, they do not have to agree.
For my part, I spent some time over the year exploring the full landscape of food blogs. I examined them all and eventually came to read success fast, to immediately sniff out where and why a blog had it going on. Clearly food blog readers throng to sites with recipes, scads of recipes, preferably daily recipes. It seemed that I should get Simmer to act like a real food blog – as in smile, Simmer, don’t you want everyone to like you?
I attended a huge Chicago-area high school with nearly five thousand students, 1,200 in my graduating class alone. A place where freshmen might consider popularity for a month, then throw up their hands and do their own thing. You could drown in that ocean or you could shake out your dozen good friends, and share awful pizza in the lunch room, and put your laughing heads together against the crowd.
No, I would not make Simmer dress like a real food blog. It’s crowded, these voice-filled corners on the web. Why be anyone else? When we tell Josie “be yourself” we mean it, and what’s more she believes it; it seems I should follow and let Simmer grow its own quiet way.
With that I give you the ten top-viewed posts of 2009. Of course numbers don’t tell the whole story; I’d like to think every post has a few friends, cookie bakers, dog lovers, people who don’t mind rambling. Something you enjoyed didn’t make the cut? Wave its flag in the comments and thank you, kind readers, for hanging around another year. You’re a loyal, compassionate bunch of true individuals, and I’m so pleased to share at your table.
1. Retriever Retriever, Pumpkin Eater A staggering number of people tuned into the year’s top post, in which Cleo’s upset stomach leads to pumpkin-brown rice flour biscuits.
2. Upside-Down Tomato Basil Bread In which unlikely sticky-bun logic worked magic on bread and summer tomatoes.
3. Sweet and Low: Caramelized Banana French Toast Josie’s oral surgery, a sweet reason to share this challah-soft treat.
4. French Onion Cider Soup: Take Care Technically from December, 2008, this soup brought warmth home after my father’s funeral, and readers kept it gathering steam all year.
5. Two-Bite Jam Tarts: By Any Other Name Are they tarts, or are they cookies? Munching flaky cream cheese dough and marmalade, it doesn’t really matter.
6. Ginger Peach Pandowdy The tale of one messed-up peach dessert leading to another, plus the word “pandowdy” and how it rings like Kansas.
7. The Secret Life of Oven Mitty I say goodbye to a trusty oven mitt, and kitchen puppetry ensues.
8. Shallot Surprise: Raspberry Basil Caprese The shallot that looked like a mouse, and a surprisingly good salad.
9. The Baker’s Alphabet Words and pictures started way back for baby Josie get completed for an expectant friend.
10. Moms Will Be Moms, But Judy is Forever I was happy to see a not-quite-food-post make the list – a personal favorite, it’s the story of a forbidden book, a drunken divorcee, and Wiener Wraps.