A Blogging Good Anniversary

I occasionally allude to an interesting-to-me fact: I’ve been posting my thoughts online in the form of blogs for a long time.

To give that claim some context, as of today I have been a blogger for twenty years.

That’s right.

On April 20, 2001, twenty years ago to today, I posted my first dispatch post from a hot little apartment in metro Vancouver shortly after moving there for a post-university job.

I don’t want to sour this post in any way with recollections of why I shelved that blog or mourning all the other little temporary websites that lived for a time online before fading into the obscurity of a backup file on my computer. Needless to say, the digital road from there to here has been long, rewarding, introspective, emotional, and likely worn out more than one keyboard.

I’ve been read by lot of people for too many reasons to list.

I’ve been scraped by content farms stealing my words and photos.

I’ve been recognized by media and linked from news articles.

I’ve been hacked.

I’ve been awarded for words, design, and concept.

I’ve been undermined by people I had trusted for things I’d written in good faith.

I’ve told stories.

I’ve had regrets.

I’ve corrected mistakes.

I’ve learned, grown, shared, and opened myself up.

Literally millions of words have appeared online at times, and as many of those words as I have cared to keep are safely archived and privately backed up in safe digital spaces for my personal future reference.

If you have been reading and enjoying this blog, thanks. It is the latest in now-twenty years of efforts to share my words and thoughts and creative soul online. It has been a big part of my life, mostly for good, and always interesting… well, at least for me.

It has been an outlet and an inspiration to step out of a pandemic-based rut (an even more significant thing to say today as my age-group eligibility for a vaccine starts this morning!)

I write and post, and I write therefore I am. And while this blog may still be young and new, for me personally this is a blogging good anniversary worth pausing to blog about.

Our Well-Loved Cookbooks: How to Cook Everything

Had I realized how often over the last fifteen years I would be referencing Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything I would have splurged for the hardcover edition.

As it stands, our trusty copy of this loaf of paper filled with basic recipes rarely makes it back onto the bookshelf, and is so tattered and splattered, I’ll likely be lamenting it’s numbered days before it stops being useful.

I’ve started a small series of cookbook posts here on castironguy.ca because despite adding to my collection almost monthly, I find that most cookbooks are only useful or interesting in a limited way. Sure, you can learn a great recipe from almost any book out there, and half the fun is picking something that looks like a challenge or a tasty goal, and seeing how well your skills match with the intended product. That said, there are perhaps only a dozen cookbooks on our shelf that would make a cull if I was forced to simplify my library… and these are them.

The best analogy I have for this book is that it’s like my paperback edition of Google.

You know those times you are standing there in your kitchen, hands covered in flour, thinking about how you are actually supposed to be cooking something, say a roast or a whole spaghetti squash or maybe a pie crust.

How long at what temperature?

How much water was I supposed to add?

Should I be covering this?

Today I might Google it, or ask my digital assistant. Hey, Alexa, how do I… ?

But even still, and especially back when I bought this, it was and still is that one reference book that gives solid, simple advice on the nuances of basic food prep.

Sure, there are a few fancy recipes hiding in it’s pages, and lots of ideas about stuff like how to make your waffles more interesting, or how to spice a whole chicken, or variations on making your own salad dressings. But the core function of this book is basically aimed at people like me who mostly know enough to get started, have the ingredients in their hands, but are stumped on locking down the process. The how-to. The what was that one crucial step or ingredient that is going to change the outcome if I get it wrong. A reference guide.

This might not be the exact title for you, but there are a few big reference cookbooks out there with a similar purpose and you should generally keep one on your shelf. I do.