The Raggedy Awards: Year Four

Welcome to our fourth annual BigLIttleMeals Raggedy Awards.  Each year at this time Ann and I select our favorites from each other’s posts from the past year (see the entire list here).  Aside from our blog, perhaps the best thing about this past year is that it has passed into the past.

Note: We’ve added a new category to our awards – a one-time only thing: the BEST SERIES TO WATCH TO KEEP YOUR MIND OFF OF A PANDEMIC. Choosing the winner has been rough. Just like the pandemic.

We estimate that we spent 360 evenings since March 2020 watching episodes of the following series:

One Day at a Time, Schitt’s Creek, Never Have I Ever, Jane the Virgin, Ramy, Better Things, Killing Eve, and Recitfy.

And the winner of this special Pandemic Year award goes to (tah-dah): RECTIFY!

Yes, Rectify may be slow-paced but the series has moved us, disturbed us, occasionally made us smile, made us contemplate the complexities of families, but – more than anything – made us go deep into thoughts about guilt and innocence – and rebirth – in both the religious and secular sense.

And now to the Presentation of the REAL Raggedy Awards:

ANDY’S PICKS

Andy’s pick for Ann’s BEST BLOG goes to:  The Bluebirds of Happiness

This post is my favorite of the year for two reasons. First, the symbolism of the bluebird is the perfect metaphorical salve for the less than happy year we were experiencing. The opening quote from Margaret Renkl’s NY Times opinion column hits it on the head for me:

… think of happiness as neither distant nor grand. Perhaps it would help to remember that even now happiness is only what it has ever been: something that lights before us, immediate and insistent and always fleeting. Not a promise at all but a temporary gift. It lands, and lifts away, and returns again, ever flashing its wings.

The second reason I selected this post is that the featured blueberry muffins are more than a metaphor for happiness – they are literal happiness straight from the oven.

The Runner up for Ann’s BEST BLOG go to:  Biden Thyme

To my way of thinking Biden Thyme skillfully stitches together some of the more crucial aspects of our everyday lives: puns, cocktails, chocolate cake, drinkable shrubs, and (not-so-nuanced) political references. Published just five days after the new administration officially started, the thyming of the post couldn’t have been better.

ANN’S PICKS

Ann’s pick for the best ANDY’S CORNER  goes to: I’m a Taurus: Does that Mean I’m Full of Bull (and that I Should Avoid Criadillas in my Diet)?

This Andy’s Corner had several things going for it that vaulted it to the top of my picks. First, it paired nicely with my blog The Age of Aquarius (which regrettably was not selected for a Raggedy Award). It cleverly incorporated some touchy culinary issues within an astrological framework. But most important, it included a photo of Andy and me looking just (well, almost) like George and Amal Clooney.

The Runner up for THE BEST ANDY’S CORNER goes to:

Fly Fishing, Pitch, and Salty Dogs: Hygge or Friluftsliv?

Was fishing an incidental part of the fishing trips?

My Andy’s Corner runner-up selection was especially nostalgic for me. Even though I was never invited to my dad’s men’s-only fishing trips to North Park, Colorado, I grew up hearing many stories of these infamous outings. It wasn’t until Andy married into the family and was invited by my dad to join the old-timers that I found out that fishing was somewhat of an incidental activity compared to heated Pitch card games and the consumption of Salty Dogs.


In addition to the above Raggedy Awards, we present awards for Best Video and Best Recipes. We end our presentation ceremony by naming our Food Item of the Year.

The Raggedy for BEST VIDEO goes to: Picky and Piggy: A (Culinary) Tale of Two Kitties

Closing scene from Picky and Piggy

Selecting this video as the best of the last year was a no-brainer, largely because we had only one BigLittleMeals video for the year. Produced, directed, and edited by Andy, you are taken behind the scenes to witness the culinary world of our two kitties: Ono and Choco (aka Picky and Piggy).


Next up are our Raggedys for Best Recipes. Picking out favorite recipes is sort of like having to say which of your kids is the favorite.  Each recipe is a work of love which involves much testing, tasting, and at times, rejecting. But since we have to choose, here are our picks.

The Raggedy for BEST RECIPE (according to Andy) goes to: Turkey Chili. The Moroccan Stew recipe was a VERY close runner-up.

Adapted from a Ruth Reichl recipe, our Turkey Chili features ground turkey and white beans with a fresh tomatillo sauce spiked with chipotle chilis and topped with Mexican crema. It’s always a hit.

Our Moroccan Stew recipe can be made with lamb or be vegetarian without the lamb. It is a delightful tomato-based stew with chickpeas and raisins (or dates if you prefer) spiced to perfection with cinnamon, turmeric, coriander, and ginger. We recommend serving it over a bed of couscous.


The Raggedy for BEST RECIPE (according to Ann) goes to: Chicken Fried Chicken. Our Brown Sugar Blondies recipe is a VERY close runner-up.

Those who know of my undying quest for the perfect chicken-fried steak won’t be surprised that our Chicken Fried Chicken is my top recipe pick The chicken coated with a buttermilk and egg batter comes out of the frying pan with a wonderful golden crust that begs for cream gravy. This would be a star in any diner in rural America. The irony of choosing this fried dish as my favorite – after writing a blog decrying the frying process – does not escape me.

My runner-up recipe for Brown Sugar Blondies has the perfect ingredients for a super-simple yet deliciously-decadent treat – brown sugar, pecans, and lots and lots of butter. Not only are these blondies irresistible, the recipe is adapted from Sara Deseran’s Picnics cookbook (nepotism is alive and well at the BigLittleMeals award ceremonies).


The Raggedy for OUR FAVORITE FOOD ITEM OF THE YEAR goes to:  SOUR CREAM

Whether it’s Mexican Crema or Sour Cream, we’ve used it over and over this year. We think almost every stew tastes better with a little dollop on top, often with a little lime juice and salt added to it. But mostly we’ve come to appreciate what sour cream does for batters, such as in pancakes and muffins and cakes. Here’s a great article which details the value of sour cream way more than I can. We’ve already raved about Blueberry Muffins made with a mixture of crema and sour cream and we’ve posted a yummy Mexican Chocolate Cake recipe with sour cream.

And here’s a recipe to conclude our Annual Raggedy Award ceremony. Ann’s assessment?

I’m pretty fussy about my pancakes; it’s actually hard for me to rave about anything other than Swedish pancakes and I have consistently resisted Andy’s efforts to impress me with his pecan pancakes or his oatmeal pancakes or even his sour dough pancakes. But I like these. REALLY like them. It’s all about the sour cream – and the tenderness and lightness achieved by its use.

Edna Mae’s Sour Cream Pancakes

  • Servings: 2-3 or about 12 small pancakes
  • Print

NOTE: this isn’t enough batter to feed a family of 4 – so be sure to increase accordingly! Adapted from The PioneerWoman and SmittenKitchen

7 T flour
1 T sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1/ 2 tsp salt
1 c sour cream (or a combination of sour cream and Mexican crema)
2 large eggs
1/2 tsp vanilla 
Butter
Maple syrup and/or Fresh Strawberry Sauce 

Heat a cast iron skillet or griddle over medium-low heat; you want it to slowly get nice and hot.

Stir the flour, sugar, baking soda and salt together in the bottom of a medium bowl. Dump the sour cream in on top and stir it together very gently. Whisk the eggs and vanilla in a separate bowl and stir them into the sour cream mixture, once again, being careful not to overmix.

Melt about a tablespoon of butter in your skillet or griddle and pour the batter in, a scant 1/4 cup at a time. You’re aiming for about 4″ pancakes. Cook for about 2 minutes on the first side, or until bubbles appear all over the surface, flipping them carefully and cooking for about a minute on the other side. Repeat with remaining batter.

Recipe brought to you by BigLittleMeals.com and Andy and Ann.

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