Last year I did a year in review, and so I figured that I may as well make it a bit of a tradition. If you're just here for the recipes, feel free to skip right on over this recap. New recipes are coming soon! 😉
If there's a silver lining to 2020, it's that many people have started cooking more, and others have learned how to cook for the first time. Food blogs in general have seen a lot of growth. If you found me this year, welcome and thank you for following along! And thank you to all my readers who have stuck with me through the years. I really appreciate all your positive comments and kind messages. It really makes me so happy to hear that I've made someone's year just a little better through my recipes.
It goes without saying that this has been a tough year in many ways. And, for me, an interesting one as my first full year of this being my primary job (I started this website as a side gig way back in 2015, and I left my old career in late 2019). My readership and social media following has increased substantially in the past year, which is great, but I guess with the good always comes the bad. 😛 People's frustration has certainly been bubbling over and manifesting in various ways, and it seems like food blogs are easy targets.
One particular incident stands out in my mind. I laugh about it now, but I was actually crying one fateful day in March 2020 (things were escalating quickly and everyone was on edge) when I featured this now notorious Ranch Chicken Casserole on Instagram. It's simple, uses few ingredients, and it was perfect for when stock was low in grocery stores. Or was it?! Many people did not feel that way. Is it the prettiest thing? Heck no. I even admit that in the blog post. People on Instagram weren't AT ALL shy to express just how much they disliked the look of the dish. Some people even announced that they were unfollowing me (why do people feel the need to do that?!). That was my first real experience with internet people en masse directing anger at me, and let's just say that it was eye opening.
Luckily, the good people of the internet have majorly outweighed the bad, but I will forever be careful not to post chicken that looks too anemic. 😀 Or at least I'll try. Oh, and if you have any tips on how I can grow a thicker skin for 2021, please let me know in the comments below. I'm kidding... sort of.
In 2020, readers continued to flock to my other chicken recipes (like my Creamy Garlic Chicken that's been going strong for a couple of years now, and Chicken Fettuccine Alfredo has become a new favorite in 2020). This Ground Beef Casserole was the comfort food that people were looking for.
A couple of my personal favorite additions to the blog this year include my Cream Cheese Mashed Potatoes and my revamped Penne alla Vodka.
Some 2020 highlights:
- Salt & Lavender added 147 new blog posts, most of them being brand new recipes, a handful of older recipes were updated/improved enough that I republished them as new (like this refreshing Creamy Cucumber Salad), and a few were recipe roundup posts or info posts like How I Stock My Kitchen.
- This website received over 23 million pageviews.
- I gave the site a little facelift back in the summer to make it more modern. My front page was the old style blog "diary" format, but it's now more in line with current website design best practices and hopefully a bit easier to navigate.
- I did 3 podcast interviews (they're linked in my about me page if you want to listen).
- I finally updated my headshots/did a kitchen photoshoot (that's not my kitchen btw) in early March 2020... just before the you-know-what hit the fan. This was actually my first ever "real" photoshoot (complete with a professional photographer, makeup artist, and some La Marca prosecco for my nerves), and I can tell you that I had a new respect for models after that day haha.
- Started the year at around 160,000 Instagram followers and ended the year with over 280,000. That's a lot of people.
- I took the plunge and learned flash photography halfway through the year. In a nutshell, I used to photograph recipes using daylight, but it's unreliable and can be frustrating when it's not cloudy outside. Flash photography (studio lighting) allows you to control the environment. I'd say my photos have improved/become more consistent, and it's also allowed me to be more flexible (and thus more productive) since I'm not constrained by the weather (especially dark Canadian winters).
- We tried something new and wrote an opinion piece for Flique Editorial about how to survive Thanksgiving 2020 without going crazy during these strange times. The best part for me was having illustrations done for my recipes... that was really fun.
Onwards and upwards:
For 2021 I want to get many more popular favorites on here (think Chicken Parm levels of popularity) with a Salt & Lavender twist but also balance that with some more unique creations that I think you guys will like. I always aim for my recipes to be approachable and relatively inexpensive to make... that is not going to change.
I get a LOT of questions about when a cookbook is coming. 2021 is not the year (I'm sorry!). I am very determined to get as much content on here as reasonably possible, and a cookbook is a huge labor of love that would take me away from that. Never say never, though! I would not rule out doing one someday.
I don't talk about much besides food on here too often, so hopefully you enjoyed this little peek into some of the inner workings of Salt & Lavender. Thank you for following along! If you'd like to see some more behind-the-scenes stuff (ok, it's mostly my cats), follow me on Instagram. Here's to a better 2021!
Thea Monforte says
Kristen Kennedy says
I've just recently found your website/blog and the first recipe knocked our socks off. I'm happy to be your newest fan! And good lord - pay no mind to internet trolls - they have nothing better to do than try to hurt those that, well, do! You're amazing and I'm so excited to follow your journey this year!
Thank you, Kristen! I'm so glad you found me. 🙂 Thanks for your sweet comment. I need to reread the good ones when the bad ones come in, I think!
Betty Hill says
H there, it was my daughter in Maryland USA who introduced me to Salt and Lavender and very happy that I have joined. She told me that you were out of Edmonton and with me living in Stony Plain I said that I would look you up,and I'm happy that I did. Looking forward to your recipes for 2021. Happy New Year.
Hello neighbor!! Haha. I'm so glad your daughter introduced you to my website. Thank you for following along and Happy New Year to you as well! 🙂
Congrats on the growth of your blog and your increased popularity on all of the social platforms. I also "accidentally" discovered you and your blog in fall of 2019. My family and I have been so happy ever since. They are all on a first name basis with you - "Is this another Natasha recipe?" I've shared many with my sister and my mother and they also rave about them.
Personally, I love that your recipes really truly are easy to follow and don't have a high degree of difficulty in the ingredient list and most importantly, are always delicious! This year I learned from you how to successfully pan fry chicken and added about a half dozen recipes that make use of them.
I am also an incredibly picky eater which probably eliminates more than half of your recipes (no fish, no seafood, no pork, no spicy). I love steak and hamburger but need to really restrict my intake on those. Same for cheese.
However I would be remiss not to mention your love of cream. I also should restrict that, but it has become one of my guilty pleasures! I'm at peace substituting light cream for the heavy cream and trying to space out the meals that use it. You know, everything in moderation.
So keep doing what you are doing, you really have helped more than you'll ever know this way below average cook that needed to control something during 2020, and providing easy, quick, and delicious home cooked meals for my family gave me such pleasure! Thank you and I wish you much continued success with your Salt & Lavender endeavor.
Aww thank you for your sweet comment, Angela! I really appreciate you (and each and every recipe review you've left me!). I strive to make the recipes easy to follow, so it always makes me happy when people who haven't cooked a lot in the past tell me that they're simple to follow. Agree on the cream... haha everything in moderation. XO
My family gets excited when I tell them I'm trying another one of your recipes because they know it will be delicious! We've loved trying your recipes & I always share them with others!
I love that!! Thanks for letting me know. I appreciate you following along and sharing the recipes!! XO
Graham Bull says
I found you via a recommendation from my eldest granddaughter and I’ve never looked back. Thanks for some great recipes that have become regular family favourites!
You're very welcome!! 🙂 I'm so happy you're enjoying the recipes. Thank your granddaughter for me!
Reggi Williams says
I forgot to say ... congratulations on the growth of your Salt & Lavender endeavor and being able to devote all of your time to something you love and can make a living doing! Continued success in 2021!
Thank you very much!! 😀
Reggi Williams says
Hello. I discovered this blog/website just a few weeks ago. I'm not even sure how, but I am beyond happy and pleased that I have. I am so looking forward to trying quite a few of the simple recipes you have so considerately provided. I love to cook and sometimes grow weary of trying to come up with something new each time. I have my staples I can make in my sleep that my hubby and bonus kid love and often request, but adding some of your recipes to my existing repertoire will be so much fun!! Thank you!
I'm so happy you found me!! 🙂 Thank you! I hope you find some that everyone likes. XO
Toni Brayer says
Thank you for your great recipes and photos. I am inspired and make many of the vegetarian ones and they are so good. You do a great job with your newsletter n
Thank you for your sweet comment, Toni! 🙂
Patti B says
We, as a family, have looked to your recipes over this strange year and have made some of them multiple times. Have never had a fail and love that all the ingredients can be bought here in Canada at your local grocery stores. Over this past year our family has taken turns cooking, since I work full time in healthcare and I did have some time when I was able to take on the cooking when time permitted. I’m looking forward to what Salt & Lavender has in store for 2021.
Aww that's great to hear, Patti! Thank you (and appreciate all you do in the healthcare field... must not have been an easy year for you!). I'm in Edmonton, so I can relate to not always being able to find some ingredients that other websites call for. Thank you for following along, and I will try my best to get plenty more tasty recipes on here this year.
Really love your recipes Natasha. Easy and delicious.
Thank you so much! 🙂
Amanda B says
I used to hate cooking, and now the weekly emails from your blog are something I greatly look forward to. I love every single one of your recipes we have tried! The creamy garlic pork chops is GENIUS. The internet can be a harsh place (I’m still learning how to get thicker skin myself...), but know that you are talented, and your blog is the reason I love cooking now, so you have made a difference in my life for sure. I can’t wait to see what 2021 has in store! Happy new year!
That makes me so happy!! 🙂 I really appreciate your comment... thank you so much and happy new year to you! XO
Matt S. says
Many of your recipes are “creamy.” I love that but trying to limit using heavy cream etc. Is yogurt an acceptable substitute? Offering that as an option in the recipes would be helpful. Thanks!
Hi Matt! Thanks for following along. 🙂 I'll typically write within the blog posts (usually under the recipe notes & tips section) if there's a good sub for the cream or not. Unfortunately, yogurt is not a great substitute most of the time. Heavy cream contains a high enough fat content that the sauce won't curdle. Yogurt usually has a much lower fat content, tastes different, and doesn't really have the same properties as cream so you get that silky sauce. I wish there was a lower fat sub for cream that worked just as well, but I guess that's why it tastes so good haha.
All things considered, 2020 was definitely yours and Salt And Lavenders year! Congratulations on hitting some pretty huge milestones! Can't wait to see what 2021 holds for you!
Thank you so much!! 🙂 Yeah, it was definitely a bittersweet year. Just have to keep going, I guess. XO