2011 Resolutions and 10 iSpice Giveaways


03 Jan 2011 Resolutions and 10 iSpice Giveaways

This is the time of year I look over last years’ resolutions, publicly admit defeat and prove my optimistic tendencies by giving it yet another go. This year? For the first time ever, I actually met all my published goals. Admittedly, they weren’t grandiose, like landing a guest spot on Oprah or writing a best selling book. But I can now look a pastry recipe in the instructions and say, “Bring it on!” Nightfall no longer means bedtime for my camera. And I posted a goodly number of vegetable recipes, which is harder than you’d think given my sweet tooth.

But am I ready to hire a marching band or grab passersby by the arm and shout, “I did it, by Jove, I did it!” into their startled faces. No. Not at all. You see, although I met 100% of my goals, I actually lost ground. Between the marathon kitchen reno and Andrew’s knee surgery, I published — get this — 99 fewer posts than last year. Given the previous year’s 204 posts, that’s a 48.529% drop in production. How bad does that make me feel? Well, bad enough to pull out a calculator and check the math — twice. And that painful task it something I usually reserve for the Tax Man.

Don’t get me wrong. This isn’t about mere quantity. It’s actually a matter of quality — of life. You see, as my production took a nose dive, so did my sense of joy and connection.

With a fresh, undented 2011 staring at me in an accusatory  manner, let me state for the record that in an effort to embrace joy, I will not be the person who reinvents food photography. I will stubbornly cling to my dislike of beets even if confronted with The World’s Best Beet Recipe. And rest assured that the topic of cookies will arise far too often for my own good (and yours). There. That should take some of the pressure off.

What will I do? Unless I am impossibly busy flogging a national best seller on Oprah, I’m not going to let Life derail me again. And to set the tone for a prosperous, joy-filled 2011, I’m giving away 10 (you heard me! 10!) free downloads of  iSpice courtesy of my friend and food writing mentor, Monica Bhide. If you have an iPhone, iPod Touch or iPad, you’ll love this easy-to-use electronic spice encyclopedia. To enter, just post a comment by  5:00 PM Wednesday, telling me your favourite spice or herb. Leave a link to a related recipe if you like. Feeling social? Post your favourite spice on my Facebook page or mention your herb of choice on Twitter for an extra chance to win. I’ll select 10 names at random and announce the winners on Thursday, along with one of Monica’s favourite spice-inspired recipes.

In the meantime, may you all have a happy, healthy, spice-filled, beet-free New Year.

Photo © echiner1. Published under a Creative Commons License.

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  • Dan @ Casual Kitchen
    Posted at 08:30h, 03 January Reply

    Love it Charmian. Absolutely love it. And you are excused for having a lower output last year… totally understandable.

    And my favorite spice? Cayenne pepper. By a landslide. Here’s one of my blog’s easiest recipes that uses a generous amount of it: Vegan Potato Peanut Curry: http://casualkitchen.blogspot.com/2010/01/vegan-potato-peanut-curry.html

    Here’s to a great 2011!

    • Charmian Christie
      Posted at 16:11h, 03 January Reply

      @Dan @ Casual Kitchen, thanks for the understanding, Dan. I still can’t believe I’m almost 100 posts behind.

      Cayenne? I’d have never guess it. That recipe sounds so simple, but a whole teaspoon of cayenne will give it quite a kick! Perfect for cold winter days.

  • Joni
    Posted at 10:30h, 03 January Reply

    Cumin, hands down. It has such a wonderful aroma, all warm and spicy and nutty. I love to use it with black beans, add it to chili, make chickpea patties flavored with it, just everything.

    • Charmian Christie
      Posted at 16:12h, 03 January Reply

      @Joni, oh, I’m a cumin fan too. Can’t imagine curry without it. Thanks for posting!

  • Amui
    Posted at 10:55h, 03 January Reply

    well, you had few posts last year, but probably new readers for the starting one, and I’m one of them.
    for the spice part, I can’t really set appart one, as I’m really, and I mean “reaaally” biased when cooking and give in my Cuban upbringing, that is, plenty of cumin and garlic, although luckily I’ve never incoporated the pork fat also typical, and I use instead olive oil. Soy sauce is another -spice?- quite common -probably too much too- in my cooking, given my Chinese ancestry. I’m learning American and international ways nowadays and I’m loving them, but I haven’t found any smells to substitute yet those of my infancy, nor have I mastered how to blend them, although I’m on my way .

    • Charmian Christie
      Posted at 16:14h, 03 January Reply

      @Amui, I’m ashamed to say I’ve never had Cuban cuisine. If it hinges on garlic and cumin I’m happy to give it a try.

      I think it’s impossible to replicate the smells from your childhood, but it’s always fun to try. I hope you master that spice blend very soon.

      Thanks for posting.

  • Lindsay at Kitchen Operas
    Posted at 11:19h, 03 January Reply

    Ooh, my favourite spice is asafoetida (“hing”), for that garlic/onion taste in dhals and curries but it really does stink up the kitchen!

    I love it in a carrot salad called Carrot Koshambri:


    • Charmian Christie
      Posted at 16:17h, 03 January Reply

      @Lindsay at Kitchen Operas, I have this spice in my cupboard but have been too afraid of the smell to use it. But it’s your favourite? Guess I’ll have to plug my nose and give it a try!

      Thanks for entering such an interesting spice.

  • Elisabeth N.
    Posted at 12:12h, 03 January Reply

    Ever since I was introduced to Mary Ellen Rae’s Pistachio Cardamom Cookies, I have been absolutely smitten with cardamom. It’s so exotic and leaves you with a sense of “what is that!”

    • Charmian Christie
      Posted at 16:18h, 03 January Reply

      @Elisabeth N., black or green cardamom, or do you love it so much it doesn’t matter? I prefer the green myself.

      Have you tried cardamom sugar in your tea? I suspect you’d love it.

      Thanks for entering the contest.

    • Mary Ellen Rae
      Posted at 16:23h, 09 January Reply

      @Elisabeth N.,
      Glad to hear you love cardamom too! My scandinavian grandmother introduced us to the heavenly scent of cardamom when she made her delicious yeast cardamom buns everyone Christmas. It is my family’s tradition now. I use it in a lot of other baking recipes too. I’ll send some your way if you are interested.

  • Lindsey @ Hot Polka Dot
    Posted at 12:19h, 03 January Reply

    Cinnamon for sure! It’s not terribly original and very common, but I love it to pieces. Next to coconut and almond it’s my favourite smell. I’m actually going to be baking with it today!

    • Charmian Christie
      Posted at 16:21h, 03 January Reply

      @Lindsey @ Hot Polka Dot, you are talking to the woman who spent $112 on an ice cream maker so she could have cinnamon ice cream. Cinnamon, when properly used, is never unoriginal or common. It’s a gift to the senses.

      You are now making me hungry for cinnamon buns. Not sure whether to thank you or curse you. :-)

  • TinaW
    Posted at 13:14h, 03 January Reply

    My favorite herb is cilantro.

  • Lynda T
    Posted at 15:32h, 03 January Reply


    My fave spice right now is cardamom! Thanks!

  • Lynda T
    Posted at 15:32h, 03 January Reply

    I like u on FB & left my spice comment! I am Life’s A Gift on FB!

  • Lynda T
    Posted at 15:33h, 03 January Reply

    I tweeted you my fave spice! I am MommyPowers on Twitter! Thanks!

    • Charmian Christie
      Posted at 16:31h, 03 January Reply

      @Lynda T, thanks! I appreciate you popping by here to let me know. And thanks for the support!

  • Lindsay
    Posted at 17:35h, 03 January Reply

    I absolutely love dill!! A little salt, dill and olive oil on baked fish for easy weekday dinner, it’s so easy but tastes like you did something really special!

    • Charmian Christie
      Posted at 12:32h, 05 January Reply

      @Lindsay, fresh dill is a real treat. Fish is natural match, but I use it most in salad dressings.

      Thanks for entering.

  • Kathryn
    Posted at 19:44h, 03 January Reply

    I missed you Char!

    Even as recently as a year ago, I probably would have said basil, but it seems that I have become more adventerous this past year. At first, I was going to say curry powder, but decided that that was cheating, so my favourite spice is cayene.

    Great giveaway; the iPhone always welcomes new apps.

    Happy New Year.


    • Charmian Christie
      Posted at 12:34h, 05 January Reply

      @Kathryn, thanks so much. I really missed being here.

      I’m a huge basil fan — especially in summer when it grows outside my kitchen door. But I rarely use it in winter.

      You’re right. Curry powder is a bit of a cheat. Cayenne is Dan’s pick, too. Wonder which one of you likes it hotter?

  • Cheryl Arkison
    Posted at 09:56h, 04 January Reply

    Okay, I don’t have an i anything, but my current (well, for the last year) spice addictions are Tonka Beans and cardamom.
    Remember, it’s quality, not quantity that counts!

    • Charmian Christie
      Posted at 12:36h, 05 January Reply

      @Cheryl Arkison, thanks for the support. But you have to have SOME quantity :-)

      Confession time. I’ve never had Tonka Beans. Okay, I’ve never heard of them either. You get bonus points for originality!

  • Sally
    Posted at 12:36h, 04 January Reply

    Sorry if this appears twice but I don’t think my last comment went through. I was tempted to say nutmeg…freshly grated on custard, enriching ragu, spicing a roux but due to the amount I use it I must be honest and say basil. The wonderful varieties from Greek, to Thai to lemon and purple (which I am growing right now) it lifts a salad, is the perfect complement to anything with tomato and how could you live without pesto. Peppery heaven – worth it for the scent alone.

    • Charmian Christie
      Posted at 12:38h, 05 January Reply

      @Sally, oh basil. Yup. That’s a winner in my books, too.

      And I’m all for fresh nutmeg. I used a fair amount this past month on eggnog — which I used in lieu of milk for my lattes.

      Nice choices.

  • Sally
    Posted at 12:37h, 04 January Reply

    Oh forgot to add – I’ve loved the quality so don’t worry about the quantity!

  • Amy Proulx
    Posted at 20:38h, 04 January Reply

    I don’t have any iThings, so don’t count me in the contest. I just wanted to say that I resonate with your unapologetic resolution to move forward and embrace joy. What a perfect resolution!

    Favorite spice, it’s got to be anise or fennel. From the charcuterie in my fridge (work related), or the vegetable form served up crunchy fresh, to Italian grandmother home made cookies (another work related perk), or even my toothpaste, it’s the best!

    • Charmian Christie
      Posted at 12:41h, 05 January Reply

      @Amy Proulx, I’m surprised you’re the first to mention fennel. Never had it in cookies, but I bet that would be good. Care to share the recipe sometime? I’ll provide the tea / coffee (hint, hint).

  • Kulsum at JourneyKitchen
    Posted at 01:06h, 05 January Reply

    thats such a difficult question for an Indian like me, I mean just about every spice in my cabinet is fav. But if I had to had to choose got to be “cardamom”
    ah that spice!

    • Charmian Christie
      Posted at 12:42h, 05 January Reply

      @Kulsum at JourneyKitchen, yes, it’s an unfair question. And cardamom seems to be a favourite here. Do you like green or black best? Just curious.

      Thanks for entering.

  • Zehra
    Posted at 15:06h, 05 January Reply

    Salt counts as a spice, no? I can’t imagine my life without salt.

    and even though i’m a hard core indian food lover and cooker….thyme. i love thyme.

    • Charmian Christie
      Posted at 20:44h, 05 January Reply

      @Zehra, of course salt counts. It’s the oldest and most commonly used spice of all.

      And thyme is an endearing herb. Thanks for mentioning it. I grow three types in my garden, so I have a soft spot for it myself.

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