The Very Best of Casual Kitchen 2012

Every year at this time I share the very best articles of the past year--and thank readers for joining the conversation here at Casual Kitchen.

CK passed some huge milestones in 2012:

1) A week or so ago, this blog turned six,
2) In June I published my 800th (!) post,
3) For the past several months pageviews have been running 60,000-70,000 a month! (for me, that's a lot.)

I can't begin to describe how grateful I am to you, readers, for continuing to visit and participate. Not only have you stayed with me, but you've also added hundreds of thoughtful and provocative comments along the way. You are the reason Casual Kitchen exists.

So without further ado, here's the very best writing of Casual Kitchen in 2012. Once again, thank you so much for being here.

PS: Next week, I'll give YOU a chance to promote and share *your* best post of 2012. Stay tuned!!

Countdown! The Best of Casual Kitchen 2012

12) Attack of the Cheaps! Eight Great (And Temporary) Ideas to Save $500-$700 a Month
Best title of the year. Put these ideas to work and you'll save up to $6,000-$7,000 every year. See several excellent reader-submitted ideas in the comments too.

11) Anticipated Reproach, And Why Vegetarians Are Such Jerks
If you've ever wondered why otherwise well-behaved people start insane arguments correcting perfect strangers over the internet, this post pretty much explains it. Groupie moment: Mollie Katzen, one of my culinary idols and author of the incomparable Moosewood Cookbook, complimented me on this post on her Facebook page.

10) The Judgment of Paris: The Blind Wine Tasting That Changed the World
How history's most embarrassing wine tasting ended up putting California wines on the map once and for all. I know everyone loves hating on the French, but, well... this time they deserved it.

9) Review: The Mindful Carnivore
My review of one of the most unusual and intriguing books of 2012: Tovar Cerulli's intelligent and honest exploration of the ethics of hunting. If you're interested in this topic, don't miss A Mindful Carnivore: Books For Further Reading.

8) How Do I Follow the Wheat Belly Diet?
From my series on the controversial and inflammatory book Wheat Belly, this post explains step-by-step instructions on how to follow the book's dietary guidelines. This post quickly became one of my most searched-for articles. See also: Does Wheat Belly Eating Always Cost More?

7) Extreme Savings
Why the conventional wisdom to save 10% of your income is not only insufficient, it will condemn you to a lifetime of wage slavery. See this post for some of 2012's angriest comments, and see my response to them in On Excuses and Insensitivity.

6) Thinking Through Pink Slime
An important side of the pink slime debate that you'll never see in the mainstream media. Given the extremely emotional nature of the subject, this post received surprisingly civil comments.

5) Is Organic Food Healthier? Or Just Another Aspirational Product?
If you want to get real value from organic food, you simply must consider it from the perspective of those selling it to us. And those soft popping sounds in the distance? Those are the exploding minds of thousands of fanatical organic food buyers. By far 2012's most controversial post.

4) Who Gains From Fair Trade Certified Products?
It almost never occurs to people how skillfully companies capitalize on our desire to feel good about ourselves. Beware: this is one of the worst retail ninja mind tricks out there.

3) Two People, Fifteen Days, Thirty Meals. Thirty-Five Bucks!
Based on a real 15-day trial of simple, low-budget eating that I actually carried out. This post gives readers a full recipe list, a full menu list and an complete itemized grocery list that you can use to create 15 days' worth of simple, healthy dinners for the hilariously low cost of just $35. That's right--more than two weeks of eating for thirty-five bucks. I thank both Reddit and Get Off My Internets for picking up this post and sending me a ton of traffic.

2) How Food Blogs Disempower Their Readers
We all use mental lenses to look at the world. But why is it that most food blogs impose a disempowered, victim-based filter on their readers? More importantly, what can we do about it? Readers, I'm as proud of this post as I am of anything I've ever written all year.

1) How To Be Manipulated By a Brand
In just 300 words, this post unlocks a deeply empowering idea about the consumer products industry. Read this post and you'll never be manipulated by branding ever again.

Best/Most Popular Recipes of 2012:

1) Coconut Curry with Collard Greens and Black Eyed Peas -- An absolute home run recipe with unforgettable flavors that you can make in just 30 minutes. This was the runaway best recipe of the year.
2) Garden Pasta -- Possibly the easiest recipe in the entire history of Casual Kitchen, and you can easily get it on the table in 15 minutes.
3) Red, White and Blue Sangria -- Three sangria recipes in one post! Please enjoy responsibly.
4) Laughably Cheap Carrot and Fresh Cabbage Curry -- At just 50c a serving, this outrageously healthy and delicious recipe permanently disproves the ludicrous notion that healthy food has to be expensive.
5) Moroccan-Style Carrots -- A simple, memorable and delicious side-dish. You'll wow your guests with it.
6) Chickpea and Tomato Salad with Fresh Basil -- A delicious, distinctive and laughably easy dish. Just steer clear of the $6 heirloom tomatoes!

Bonus! Your Money Or Your Life
Finally, a bonus entry--one that isn't even about food. Rather, it's an archive of one of my most ambitious writing projects ever: A chapter-by-chapter companion resource to the one personal finance book that influenced me more than any other.

Readers, I'll make you a solemn promise. If you...

1) Read Your Money or Your Life,
2) Complete each of the book's nine steps, and
3) Carefully read this companion resource, will solve all of your financial problems once and for all. Don't think for a minute that I'm exaggerating.

Honorable Mention:
And Ghirardelli Was Third
An Eight Point Manifesto Against Big Food
Zombies, Processed Foods and the Advertising-Consumption Cycle
Three Books In Three Days
How to Blind-Taste and Blind-Test Brands

How can I support Casual Kitchen?
For those readers interested in supporting Casual Kitchen, the easiest way is to do so is to do all your shopping at via the links on this site. You can also link to me or subscribe to my RSS feed. Finally, consider sharing this article, or any other article you particularly enjoyed here, to Facebook, Twitter (follow me @danielckoontz!) or to bookmarking sites like reddit, digg or stumbleupon. I'm deeply grateful to my readers for their ongoing support.


Sally said...

"Two People, Fifteen Days, Thirty Meals. Thirty-Five Bucks!" was my favorite article this year. I think Cory Booker should have read it before doing his SNAP challenge.

Daniel said...

Thanks Sally, really glad you enjoyed it.

It's interesting, Mayor Booker actually follows me on Twitter, believe it or not. I tweeted him my The 25 Best Laughably Cheap Recipes at Casual Kitchen post, but clearly--based on what he's eating--he failed to follow it. :)


Sally said...

As Linda Watson wrote in her blog post Snap Challenge Menus and Tips for Cory Booker, Booker needed some help in shopping and cooking. I'd add meal planning as well.

I do think that's the problem for many people, not just Cory Booker. While many can find the information on the internet, I think there's still a huge number who don't have access to it.

On the other hand, Cory Booker obviously had access to the information, but didn't make use of it. That's true of many others as well.