Editor's Choice: Joanna's Favorite Posts of 2009

Picking my favorite posts of 2009 seemed a nearly impossible task, but I've managed to whittle the list down to these few. It's a mix of simple tips, comforting and impressive recipes, and interesting stories – all inspired me to try something different or think about things in a new way this year.

Recipe: Fresh Fennel and Lemon Slaw: I'm always looking for interesting salad ideas, and Faith never disappoints. Even in the middle of winter, she puts together a dish like this that is crunchy, fresh and seasonal.

Recipe: Quick Beets with Chile and Lemon: I sometimes get in a rut with my vegetables, preparing them the same way every time. Emily's simple seasoning twists like this one always inspire me to try something new.

Birthday Cake Two Ways: A wheel of truffle-infused aged goat cheese for a three-year-old's birthday – what more can I say? Eaters of any age would be incredibly lucky to be given such a beautiful and thoughtful birthday celebration.

Kasia's Parmesan Polenta with Eggs & Roasted Mushrooms: The submissions to our Quick Weeknight Meals Recipe Contest back in September were so inspiring. Polenta and eggs were the stars of several entries, and this one incorporated both of them in one perfect, comforting bowl. This recipe is now featured heavily in my winter meal rotation.

Recipe: Potato, Squash, and Goat Cheese Gratin: As much as I love Elizabeth's combination of summer vegetables, goat cheese and basil, I love the thought of her setting up such an elegant and impromptu picnic (with her beautiful casserole dish) in Central Park even more.

How To Make Your Own Corn Tortillas: After a failed attempt at homemade tortillas a few years ago, I tucked my tortilla press into the back of a cabinet and didn't expect to take it out again. But Sarah Rae's post convinced me to give it another try – to much better results.

Is a $15 Can of Tomatoes Really Worth It? I often go back and forth between rationalizing an expensive ingredient for a really simple meal and wondering how much difference it really makes. I loved how Dana took the time to cook three different combinations of tomatoes and pasta and turned it into a fun evening with friends.

Quick Tip: Five Ways to Re-Use Yogurt Containers: This was just one of Emma's many wonderful tips and a great reminder to reuse in creative ways.

Eating Light: Drink Herbal Tea Instead of Snacking: We started out 2009 with a month of eating light, and this tip stuck with me throughout the year. When I felt like reaching for a mid-afternoon snack, I found myself wondering if a cup of tea would suffice. In many cases, it did.

Ten Things I Love: Gear from Nora M.'s Home Bar: I love getting a peek into the other writers' homes and kitchens, and I especially loved browsing Nora's vintage glassware. So cool.

The Kitchn on Cheese: 123 Cheese Reviews, Tips and Guides: My interest in cheese grew beyond simply wanting to eat it this year, and I didn't have to look very far to find lots of great information. I was amazed by the wonderful archive available right here.

My Great Outdoors 2009: Heidi and Art's Green Oasis: Without any real outdoor space of my own, I set out to find a few other Chicago gardens to highlight during the month of June. As I was climbing out of a window onto a spiral staircase with a vintage canoe suspended below me, I knew I was in for something special. The fascinating DIY rooftop garden didn't disappoint.

Recipe Review: Strawberry Tart with Rich Mascarpone Cream, Dark Chocolate Bits, and a Toasted Oatmeal Shortbread Crust (Plus Ganache): This post represents everything I love about The Kitchn, and the world of food writing and blogs. I found the recipe in The Oregonian and featured it in a newspaper roundup. And then Faith tried it out and made it even better (and more beautiful), adding a layer of dark chocolate ganache. Thank goodness strawberries are one of the first fruits to come into season in the spring so I can make this again in a few months.

Wine and Soup: Easy Pairing Tips: I love to read about pairing wine with foods I never would have associated with it – like soup! As always, these tips from Mary are detailed but accessible, and I plan to put them to good use now that soup season is upon us again.

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Welcome to The Kitchn's end-of-year roundup! We are rounding up some of our favorite (and your favorite) posts from the last year, including lots of recipes. We are also shaking out our reader mailbag, and giving you a few more great guest posts from our friends.

(Images: Faith Durand, Emily Ho, Sara Kate Gillingham-Ryan, reader Kasia, Elizabeth Passarella)

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