The “52” Challenge

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Do you like food? (Cooking it, eating it, looking at scrumptious pictures of it?) If the answer is yes, you’re invited to follow along with my “52 in 2017” challenge!  

I’ve never been much of a cook, but I love what food represents: community, family, health, love, adventure, joy… For me, spending a few hours on Sundays in a tiny apartment kitchen is like “soul therapy;” after hours of staring at a screen checking emails or writing or binging TV shows, it’s rejuvenating to use my hands to create rather than consume. However, I tend to always pull out the same few recipes (I’m looking at you, baked lemon chicken) and soon I felt like I was in a food rut, which is a complete waste when you think of the myriad tastes readily available to us.  So in January 2017, I made it my goal to expand my cooking abilities and make 52 dishes I’d never made before.

Spoiler alert: I succeeded! (Thus this humble-brag of a blog post.) But in all transparency, I didn’t cook one item per week; in fact, when life got super busy, I got behind–enough so that I made my final three items on New Year’s Eve Day and met my goal with less than an hour and a half to spare.

What matters most–more than cooking frequency or numbers of dishes or how well I cooked them–goes back to my sentence above about what food represents: I felt like I had “taken back” food and, consequently, my health; I could share my creations with family and friends; I supported Indiana farmers as much as possible (about half of the dishes listed below included ingredients picked up at farmers markets in Broad Ripple and Zionsville); and the simple act of cooking helped me slow my overloaded mind and focus on a simple happiness.

So, on to what you’re probably most interested in: what I made. All 52 are linked to their original recipes, most from the New York Times’ robust cooking section, and pictures in this post are actual photos of what I prepared. I’m not a food stylist, and naturally some foods just don’t look all that great on camera (sorry, blueberry-peach cobbler and cottage pie–you were both delicious though!), so the foods pictured are simply the ones that wound up looking yummy and less like Pinterest fails.

P.S. Kudos to my husband, who patiently waited to eat each meal until after I painstakingly tried to photograph it. Such is the unfortunate life of an Instagram husband. Then again, our first year of marriage involved spoiling him with 60ish home-cooked meals, so he probably got the better end of the bargain. 😉











So, what’s next for me? A new challenge involving 3 seasons of the Great British Baking Show’s Masterclass and my newest kitchen addition, a pistachio KitchenAid stand mixer. Here’s to a lot of yummy baking (like my first bake of the year: a chocolate-walnut streusel coffee cake, pictured below)!

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