I cannot believe four whole years have gone by since my first Hungry Bookworm post. When I couldn't consistently find a resource for book-inspired food to accompany the books I was discussing at my book clubs, I decided to do it myself. I had no idea that it was something I would still be doing four years down the road, but, here we are! To date, I’ve posted 280 times. I’ve reviewed, in some capacity, almost 300 books. I’ve made 188 recipes. I’ve blogged elsewhere, and hosted a few guest bloggers here as well.
I’ve also had some obstacles along the way — my pregnancy last year left me too nauseated to read or cook most of the time, severely limiting my usual post output; my attempt at a cute little online Blind Date with a Book shop received a lot of love and compliments but not much business (and I "closed" it earlier this year) — but I’ve continued on. I’m so proud of myself for taking the leap to start this blog in the first place, but then to be able to keep it going week after week, month after month, and year after year is more than I would’ve thought myself capable of.
I hope you, dear readers, are finding it as enjoyable to read as I am in creating its content. Obviously, I love reading and cooking and would be doing it regardless, but I put all this work into it for you. I’ve always said that if you have any books you’d like to see reviewed and paired with a recipe, please let me know! I would love suggestions, and I’m always happy to hear from readers.
I’m excited to be using this milestone to kick off some exciting changes here at The Hungry Bookworm, but don’t worry, what you love is staying the same. Books and food will, obviously, continue to be at the core of my content. That is why I created this blog, and it will remain the focus.
I’ll also continue to participate in Show Us Your Books each month. I’ve found them helpful in recapping my latest reads — especially because it gives you a peek into what I’m reading outside of my food-and-book posts. And, I’ll keep curating Top Ten Tuesday lists about once a month.
As for what’s changing, you may have noticed a new look. In honor of the occasion, I commissioned a new logo (thank you again to my amazing friend, Liz, who also created my first logo!) and talked my husband into updating my website to go along it. I’m in love, and I hope you like it too!
You’ll start receiving post updates in real time. Unlike most bloggers, I used to create and send a newsletter about my latest posts (and other bookish content) every other week. It was fun, but it was also a labor of love, and I’d much rather spend that time reading, cooking and writing new posts! So, look out for an email from the Hungry Bookworm Blog whenever I post something new. It’ll be straight to the point and link you right back to this site. (You can sign up for my newsletter here.)
I’m throwing all of my support behind Bookshop.org, a newish website that allows you to buy online while supporting local bookstores. From here on out, all of my book links will take you to Bookshop.org instead of to Amazon.
I’m going to begin incorporating some kid lit content. I’m reading a lot of children’s books these days, and I’m excited to share those reads with you! They will, of course, include a book-inspired recipe that I will do my best to make kid-friendly, so you and the kids in your life can make it together. (One day, I hope I can actually create them for the blog with my son... but he’s still just figuring out how to eat, so one thing at a time. ☺️) Look out for them on the third Saturday of each month.
Okay, and now onto the actual post!
I did a similar post to this one on my first blogaversary, and I really loved the format of it, so I thought I would do it again. Today, I’ll be taking a look back at all the recipes I’ve made and books I’ve read over the past four years and choosing some highlights. (I’ll primarily focus on the last three years, but if you’d like to look at my first year highlights, check them out here.)
Without further ado:
Favorite Savory Recipes
Tuscan Bean and Proscuitto Stew: This stew is one I had made several times before featuring it here, and it went so perfectly with Tell the Wolves I’m Home, which I paired it with. I love when a tried-and-true recipe fits really well with a book because I know the recipe will turn out, and I can more wholeheartedly recommend it.
Bagels: Making bagels was so fun! And, it was much easier than I expected it to be. They were also, of course, a wonderful complement to their book about an ad agency. Have I made them again? No. But I absolutely would. It made me feel super accomplished, and they were delicious. (P.S. This post makes me miss working in an office...)
Shrimp and Pimiento-Cheese Grits: I had always loved shrimp and grits from afar — in that, I never made them but ordered them a lot when I went out to eat. So, it was really exciting to be able to make it myself finally. It’s also one of the rare recipes I didn’t make alone — I made it with my book club before we discussed the book (Where the Crawdads Sing), so that was extra fun.
Chicken Tikka Masala Pizza: This is a recipe I definitely need to make again! With naan as the crust, this pizza was bursting with delicious Indian flavors. I thought this was a really fun recipe to feature alongside a rare YA rom-com read, When Dimple Met Rishi.
Runners-up: African Yam and Peanut Soup (this has since become one of our favorites at home) and Bacon Wrapped Dates (a super easy yet impressive appetizer that I really love)
Favorite Sweet Recipes
Double-Crust Apple Pie: This is hands-down the best apple pie I’ve ever had, and I couldn’t believe I had made it! It’s from The City Baker’s Guide to Country Living, and the author, Louise Miller, is a legit baker — she included the recipe in the back. The book is nice and cozy, and the pie embodies that exactly. I cannot wait to make another in the fall.
Lemon Blueberry Scones: Like the pie above, these are probably the best scones I’ve ever had, let alone made. I’ve made them a few times, and they have been amazing every time. If you’re into scones (and even if you’re not), I still highly recommend giving them a try.
The Most Dangerous Chocolate Cake in the World: When I first read about this in Goodbye, Vitamin, I didn’t really think it was real, but I looked it up, and indeed it was. The reason this is the "most dangerous" cake is that it takes less than 5 minutes to make (seriously!) and you just use the microwave. This makes it a perfect summer time cake — no hot ovens! It’s also great if you want some cake but don’t want to have to eat an entire cake. I have made this literally dozens of times since first posting about it. I’ve also given the ingredients (and a mug!) as gifts, and people love it. If you take one thing away from this post, it should probably be this recipe — you won’t regret it! (Okay, maybe you will…)
Chocolate Chip Cookies: I’m picky when it comes to chocolate chip cookies, but I somehow got lucky enough to stumble on two amazing recipes through this blog, and I can’t decide. So, it’s a tie! Both Lucy Knisley’s from Relish and the ones I made to go with Things You Save in a Fire are soft and chewy with the perfect amount of chocolate. One uses mini chips, one regular, and one has coconut and one doesn’t. I strongly suggest a bake-off to pick your favorite.
Runners-up: most of the ice cream, including Stracciatella Gelato, Salted Caramel Ice Cream, Strawberry Ice Cream, and Pistachio Ice Cream (basically I’m obsessed with ice cream and I can’t choose a favorite); and Tres Leches Cake (an easy and fun cake — it cools upside down! — that has been very well-received at potlucks)
Favorite Dog Recipe
Cran-Pumpkin Peanut Butter Treats: I’ve made dog treats only three times on the blog, and picking a favorite is sort of silly since I haven’t actually tried any of them. (My dog loved them all!) But the fact that I haven’t made any in the last year means I’m definitely in need of another dog-themed read so I can make them again — any suggestions?
Educated: This memoir about a girl trying to better herself against the odds was one of the rare nonfiction books that I’ve featured on the blog. I definitely read more fiction in my life, but even the nonfiction I read doesn’t often make it as a feature-length post because there usually isn’t a natural food tie-in. Thankfully, this one did. I couldn’t put this powerful story down, and I have continued singing its praises ever since.
How to Walk Away: This novel was the first Katherine Center book I’d read, and now she is an automatic read for me. You’ll probably notice a common theme among my favorites, but… I couldn’t put this one down either. It’s definitely rom-com-y but also very realistic as far as the drama/obstacles go, and I loved the hopeful but not overly saccharine ending.
The Dreamers: Karen Thompson Walker wrote the first book I ever reviewed here, and she wrote this one too. It was a novel I highly anticipated, and I’m so happy that it lived up to those expectations! A heads-up that it is about a mysterious pandemic — people fall asleep and don’t wake up but no one knows why — but I’ve heard from people who’ve read it recently (I read it a while back) that it makes for an interesting parallel of what we’re going through now.
Where the Crawdads Sing: Even though it was a bit of a slow intro, this popular novel had me feeling all the things by the end. I thought it made for a great book club discussion, and as I mentioned before, it led me to that very yummy shrimp and grits recipe.
Runners-up: The Dream Daughter (a: I can’t resist time travel stories, and b: I got to make copycat Taco Bell Mexican Pizzas to go with it) and The One (I gobbled this one up, and I’m excited for the Netflix series that is hopefully coming soon)
Let's wrap it up...
From just 600 unique visitors in my blog’s first year to over 14,000 already this year, I am so grateful for the support and feedback I continue to get — not just here on my blog, where there have been over 1200 comments so far (keep ‘em coming!), but on #bookstagram as well, where I get to have genuine bookish interactions every day. I’m so lucky to be able to connect with people over and over again about such joyful things — books and food.
Thank you again for taking time to let The Hungry Bookworm into your lives over these last four years. I’m looking forward to many more years of reading, eating, and sharing it with all of you!
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Megan, congratuations on the 4th anniversary of your blog!