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the last recipe

30 September 2013
chocolate hot pot & my husband’s salted caramel ice-cream

Victory lap! I’m finished! Every single recipe from Donna Hay’s Fast Fresh Simple has been cooked. I completed the last savoury recipe in July and as suspected, headed towards the finish line with about 15 desserts in a row. I have made more desserts this year than I have made in my whole life!

163 recipes – 121 savoury & 42 sweet.
3 recipes made prior to challenge.
5 recipes made by my husband & some others a fun team effort.
49 recipes were rated with capital YUM to definitely be made again.
18 ingredients used for the first time.

I don’t like eating too many bottled sauces so they were substituted sometimes.
I used gluten-free substitutes most of the time.
I got a bit sick of chicken after eating it in 30 recipes!
Some recipes look quicker because the “serve with” foods are not included in the cooking instructions.
There were a few bland recipes.
I don’t like doubling up pasta & breadcrumbs in one dish. Too many carbs.
The tv shows or videos on the Donna Hay website share extra hints to improve the recipes.
The emphasis on food styled, attractive images inspires me to cook the dish.
Some meals were not generous in size so needed doubling.
Yes, I had a couple of failures too!

Standouts (recipes made without modifications):
Chorizo, Spinach & Ricotta Frittata
Fig & Gorgonzola Tart
Orecchietti with Brussels Sprouts & Pancetta
Chicken Waldorf Salad
Cider Roasted Pork Belly with Fennel
Spice Roasted Ribs
Moroccan Cous Cous with Spiced Chicken
Roasted Potato Salad with Fetta & Mint
Roasted Cauliflower & Hazelnut Salad
Mango & Banana Yoghurt Gelato
No Fuss Banana Caramel Pudding
Baked Whole Lemon Pudding
Cheat’s Raspberry Brulee
Lemon Yoghurt Cake

The accomplishment of this goal feels really good. These months have brought on more confidence in the kitchen, precious times around the table and interesting conversations. And that feeling of empowerment from expanding one’s cooking skills, knowing more about what we’re eating, nurturing loved ones, create memories around the table, providing health and pleasure. The love of putting a plate in front of my husband when he comes home from work. The satisfaction of improving even as my eyes deteriorate – I wonder if I can claim the title of being the first legally blind person to complete the whole book?!? The idea for this challenge came about shortly after christmas when I was chatting with my husband about the need for a new personal project. Many of our friends are having children and we talked about wanting to have them in our lives as the years go by even as our journeys differ. My supportive, wise husband said, “People love & have to eat food and that is powerful in bringing them together around a table. Our table. Why don’t you make every recipe from a book in a year?”. Challenge accepted. Thank you, love of my life, my favourite, my teammate, my taste tester.

When I set my mind to something, I kind of run with it fully. I’ve completed it in 9 months. Smile Thank you for joining and cheering me along the way. It’s been heart-warming knowing some of you took it on for your own self-paced challenges too. I truly hope it’s bringing you joy, laughs at the table and contentment in the mind and belly From River’s EdgeDown by the SeaExplody FullJuanita Tortilla. I hope others are inspired to start their own personal cooking projects and please do share with me if you do. I will be continuing to work my way through our 17 recipe books to clear out any uninspiring books and capture love and life on a plate. This has been such an enriching journey.

16 Responses
  1. September 30, 2013

    Wow! I am so impressed! How insightful your husband is, to see your cooking as a way of being together around your table with the people you love, as well as being nourishment for your body. I don’t think I could do this (but my husband might….I’ve just shared your blog with him and he says he’ll have a look and see!). Beautiful photograph too, Lucent.

  2. September 30, 2013

    Congratulations of achieving the challenge and in only 9 months too!
    I am still enjoying cooking my way through my book , but I fear it will still take some time! I keep getting side tracked by new recipes on blogs, repeating favourite recipes from my book already or cooking dishes we have always eaten.
    Your husband ‘s idea was such a good one. It has bought us joy and contentment in the mind and belly too.
    Sarah x

  3. September 30, 2013

    PS Tell me you didn’t put on any weight with all those desserts!

  4. September 30, 2013

    Wow congrats that is super exciting! As I said when the challenge started cooking everything from a cookbook is not something I could do because there would be tons of recipes I would want to skip over. So I am super impressed you did it all and so quickly too!

    Loved your thoughts on the recipes, serving sizes and comments haha. I am curious about what those 18 new ingredients are…?

  5. September 30, 2013

    Congrats on finishing the challenge! So quickly too!

  6. September 30, 2013

    Congratulations!! Woot!!! I have been nowhere near as dedicated as you – I got a little bored with the website I picked about a month ago and have been just making up recipes as I go recently. But that in itself is something I can probably attribute to this challenge – before I started cooking more as part of this club I didn’t have the confidence to make up my own recipes! So I call my experiment a success, even if it doesn’t come close to your efforts. Well done again!

  7. October 1, 2013

    September already. When you break it down to 163 recipes made, it does sound a lot :D

    This year’s cookbook challenge got me thinking about taking my time to invest in a good collection of cookbooks. The ones I have were all bought on a whim, or worse, on discount, so recipes in there aren’t all that grand. I also realise that I do not like to refer to cookbooks, if not for baking desserts and bread. I wonder why that is?!?

  8. Megan permalink
    October 1, 2013

    Lucent your accomplishment is awesome and hearty congratulations on the title that is undoubtedly yours! What a wise man is your husband! He offered you a challenge that brought not only joy and satisfaction to you but also to himself and the friends and family who shared many of those meals.
    Looking forward to hearing about your next project :)

  9. October 1, 2013

    Oh I love everything you shared about this journey. Big congrats to you! Food is definetly an expression of love. xx

  10. October 2, 2013

    Job well done! I’m so jealous of your accomplishment. I have it in the back of my head that i want to do this with a couple of cookbooks I have – just not the one book at the one time. Some of those recipes you have listed sound delicious!

    P xo

  11. October 2, 2013

    Super congrats on your accomplishment. I loved reading all your comments about the recipes, what you learned, and how it was a project inspired by your good husband. You are truly amazing. Thanks for bringing us along on your cooking adventure. ox

  12. October 3, 2013

    Congratulations! I have quite a few recipe books at home but I never tried all the recipes of any of them. It’s nice that it made you cook with new ingredients and try new things, there is nothing worse than boredom in the kitchen.

    My challenge this month, as we enter Autumn in Europe, is to cook new recipes around pumpkin and chestnuts. We’ll see!

  13. October 4, 2013


  14. October 6, 2013

    What a perfect idea! And how accomplished you must feel. I think you’re the only person I know who can say they have completed an entire cookbook!

    x Jasmine

  15. October 7, 2013

    Wow, how fun to finally be back checking in with you and see you’ve finished not only a delicious goal, but one that must’ve been so rewarding to have stuck to for so long!! As always (I’ll never stop fangirling), your photo is stunning. I really love your husband’s idea to bring your friends and family together with food, and he’s totally right. It’s one of my favourite things, to get together with everyone and enjoy really good food and the really good conversation that follows. Kudos to you, and thanks for the inspiration to get back in the kitchen, if not to refine my skills than to have a reason to get together with friends !

  16. October 10, 2013

    A delicious accomplishment! Congrats. It encourages me to look up some new recipes to try in my favorite cookbooks.

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