Best of .... Smashed Muffin 2011

Today, I had some unexpected time to myself and for once had the time and space to think and recollect about the happenings of 2011. So, I decided to come up with a list of random things, thoughts, happenings and ideas of Smashed Muffin related things (aside from the obvious) that are the "bomb dot com" in my book. (A friend of mine started saying that, or maybe she's been saying it for a while, but regardless, I love it and I'm totally stealing it.)

1) New Cookbooks and Foodie Reading Material
Flour by Joanne Chang

A friend at work tipped me off on this one as she had worked at Flour and let me borrow her personal copy of the book. However, shortly after it became quite clear that I would need my own copy. And let me tell you, discovering the cookbook has brought a lot of joy to this household. I've only made a handful of recipes so far, but all of them have been winners. Still need to try the sticky buns, but they will be a must make in 2012!
A Homemade Life by Molly Wizenberg
When I worked at the Sun-Times, we had quarterly book sales of material that had been sent for our review. Books, CD's, DVD's. I acquired quite a collection over the years and picked a lot of books and such at random intending to get to them later, A Homemade Life being one of those such books. A friend was visiting from out of town and noticed the book on my bookshelf in my kitchen and told me I had to read it. I finally got around to reading it and I was not disappointed. Now, I'm obsessed. So obsessed, that I'm hoping to plan a trip to Delancey (the restaurant the author opened with her husband in Seattle) sometime in 2012.

Lucky Peach Magazine
While doing my Holiday Shopping this year, I came across the magazine Lucky Peach. I missed the first issue, but the second issue was kind of perfect for me because it was surrounded by the theme "the sweet spot." Not only am I obsessed with it because it's published by McSweeney's, but this issue also had an article about someone else I'm currently inspired by, Christina Tosi of Momofuku Milk Bar. I can't wait to try making the grilled ham and cheese sandwich (with smart balance "ham" of course), which is wrapped between two corn cake cookies. As one of the editors writes in the introduction of the issue, the sweet spot in your life can be anywhere, event that moment "when you've eaten too many cookies and decide to try making a ham sandwich with cookies as bread." What's not to love? The mag even came with a page full of stickers for you to decorate your fruit with. Cuz, let's be real. Even if you're not a kid anymore, it's still hard to eat your fruit and veggies sometimes. But making it fun, makes it go down easier at the moments when you need an extra nudge.

2) Good Eats
The Pickled Carrots at Birchwood Kitchen
Obviously, I couldn't recollect without mentioning the pickled carrots at Birchwood Kitchen. Not only was it the inspiration for this blog's beginnings, but those carrots were also one of my favorite go-to holiday gifts this year. With a feature on Tasting Table, I certainly hope others were as psyched as I was to bring a piece of the BK home with them.

Jeni's Spledid Ice Creams
This August, I was fortunate enough to visit Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams in Nashville, TN. They have other locations in Ohio, however, I really wish they would expand to Chicago. There are a handful of retailers throughout our local area that sell their pints of premium ice cream, however, it's not quite the same. Although, after discovering the new Jeni's sublime holiday video (I'm also obsessed with all their George Lange/Lange Studio videos by the way), I'm convinced that this should be the only way I chose to celebrate my new years, or any holiday for that matter.

4) All things Craft-tastic
Pinterest is my new favorite hobby. When I'm not writing, or at work, or crafting, or baking, I'm probably pinterest-ing. Ok, that's not a word, but you get what I mean. It's got it all, fashion, food, crafts and a whole lot of randomness that will make you smile. Check it out. You might find yourself perusing for hours. Or longer. It's kinda dangerous like that, but still pretty great.

5) Movie Moments
Stranger Than Fiction
Ok, so maybe this movie isn't from this year, but I did watch it recently. And while doing so, was reminded how perfectly cheesetastic (yet oh-so-loveable) the scene is where Harold Crick brings Ana Pascal "flours" in an attempt to win her over. I mean, seriously. Who needs "flowers" that are going to wilt and die, when you have "flours" that you can bake with and enjoy the benefits of for weeks or months (thank you freezer)?!  And I also second Ana Pacal's wish to make the world a better place with cookies. Bite by bite, it'll happen. Watch out world. Nothing makes the end of a long, terrible day seem to wash away than a delicious, gooey, out of this word cookie or dessert.

6) More videos to love
DOSE Market
This year, my new favorite thing to do when I'm not feeling Green City Market, was to splurge a little and visit Dose Market. The video sums it up pretty well, but if you're not convinced.... well I'm really not sure why you wouldn't be convinced, to be honest. 

I think I've already professed my love of Tattly, however this video just solidified my love that.much.more. It's very cute. And as they say on the blog, you won't be able to watch it without smiling, even just a little. Go ahead and try not to. I dare you.

Tattly from Made by Hand on Vimeo.

Butcher & Larder video by Big View Makes
I know it seems weird coming from a vegetarian, but I completely stand behind the message in this video. Bring the neighborhood butcher back! And heck, the owner used to be a vegetarian too, so you really can't fight me on this one. We're all on the same side, regardless of what you choose to and choose not to consume.

P&S Ep. 1 | Butcher & Larder from Sergio Salgado on Vimeo.

So, dear readers... What are/were your favorite moments of inspiration that you stumbled upon this year? What are you looking forward to the most in the coming year?

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