Let's dive into the very best of the ACBN in 2022
LOUISVILLE, KY (ACBN) — The following statement was released today by Scott “Action Cookbook” Hines, through his personal attorney and business manager G. Olaf Hines, Chairman of Action Cookbook Management Enterprises (“ACME”), located in Louisville, Kentucky, in response to questions about his newsletter publishing schedule:
I’ve only been dormant for eight days, but friends? It’s felt like a lifetime.
For the past three and a half years, I’ve kept to a three-times-a-week publishing schedule with very few interruptions. I enjoy this cadence—the mild panic of a tight, self-imposed deadline has generated some of my best work over the years. That said, it’s been nice to have this past week-plus off to rest, recuperate, and recharge for another year of The Action Cookbook Newsletter.
The break is over, though.
Monday morning, I’ll be back with the very first edition of The Action Cookbook Newsletter for 2023. First, though, I’m going to take today to indulge in a bit of reflection, with a look back at the year that was. And it was a good one!
Over the course of 2022, I published 147 individual newsletters, 51 of which were the extra-large “Friday” editions—each filled with original recipes, drinks and book/music recommendations, among other things. I’d estimate this to be somewhere around 230,000 words of writing, or a bit more than the total word count of Moby-Dick.
I am rather terrible at assessing the quality of my own work, but I think there was some pretty good stuff in there!
Let’s review, shan’t we?
Coca-Cola and Chipotle-Braised Beef
A rich, delicious, smoky/spicy/sweet stew perfect for a long simmer in your Dutch oven or slow cooker, courtesy of Friend of the Program @GeorgiaIsAVerb.
Sheet Pan King’s Hawaiian Cubanos with Mojo Pork
A Cuban sandwich is a thing of beauty; a Cuban sandwich scaled up to sheet pan proportions is a party waiting to happen.
My Kids' Favorite Pizza
This pizza—topped with French fries, hot dogs and macaroni & cheese—was done somewhat tongue-in-cheek, but it turned great and my kids still bring it up fondly.
Achiote Mustard Turkey Breast
An absolutely killer marinade/rub takes an air-fried turkey breast to smoky-and-savory-but-not-spicy flavor heights you wouldn’t think possible from white meat.
Chicken Chile Verde Burgers
Chopped green chiles and hand-carved chicken thighs make for a burger patty that can stand toe-to-toe with any red meat creation.
Sweet Potato, Kale, Mushroom & Black Bean Soup
I can go veggie, too! This soup comes together easily, sticks to your ribs and is bursting with flavor—while being 100% vegan.
Chicken and Sausage Gumbo
I traveled to Louisiana to learn from the best this fall, and figured out how to replicate this magic in a bowl by taking my time.
A quick, easy and crowd-pleasing appetizer that’s (unscientifically) the one recipe that ACBN readers have made most this year. Perfect for NYE or a Super Bowl party.
ACBN Wedding Soup
I take an Italian classic and crank all the sliders to 11, making a hearty, flavorful soup with so much in it that you can stand a spoon straight up in it.
And the #1 ACBN recipe of the year is…
Salmon Burgers with Cream Cheese-Dill Spread
This recipe started out as a weeknight dinner, quickly became a reader favorite, and headlined the menu when I joined up with Lou Oyster Cult for my restaurant pop-up at Louisville’s MerryWeather in July; we sold out quickly to rave reviews!
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The Handsome Idiot
A magnificent rye-based cocktail named after my own handsome idiot dog, Olaf.
St. Charles Punch
A New Orleans cocktail classic in the comfort of your own home.
An oft-forgotten cocktail that’s become our household favorite this year.
The signature cocktail of springtime in the South.
The World’s Best Iced Coffee
A creamy, chocolatey and caffeinated drink that doubles as a low-grade science project.
The New Fashioned
Want to impress your friends with a unique bourbon cocktail? Here’s your secret weapon.
In preparation for this summer’s restaurant pop-up, I perfected my own version of the Tiki-bar staple.
Summer Jam 2.0
A perfectly-balanced blend of brown liquor, blackberries and bitter liqueur come together to make a burst of sunshine that’s in season any time of year.
A gentle, effervescent, low-octane cocktail that became a sleeper hit with ACBN readers this summer.
And the #1 ACBN cocktail of the year is…
The Sea Serpent
This is a powerful rum punch, one that I made several gallons of for my guest spot at DVA’s tailgate for LSU-Ole Miss this fall. There wasn’t a drop left, and the consensus was that it was dangerously delicious. It works just as well in a single-serving format as it does by the barrel, and it’ll warm your coldest cockles during these long winter months ahead.
I’m not going to rank a top 10 here. Tastes vary, and there’s a good chance that some of my recommendations land perfectly for you while others don’t. I’ve pulled together a Spotify playlist of each song I’ve featured in a Friday Newsletter this year so you can just hit shuffle and discover for yourself.
(In two instances, my weekly music sections included user-assisted playlists; for the purposes of this exercise I just chose a song I liked off of each.)
Every book I recommend on the ACBN can be found at my Bookshop.org affiliate page. I do receive a commission when you shop there, but that’s really secondary to it being a great way to browse through the hundreds of previous book recs.
That said, a few favorites from this year:
Devil House by John Darnielle
A Psalm for the Wild-Built and A Prayer for the Crown-Shy by Becky Chambers
The Kaiju Preservation Society by John Scalzi
An Immense World: How Animal Senses Reveal the Hidden Realms Around Us by Ed Yong
Runaway: Notes on the Myths That Made Me by Erin Keane
The Mosquito Bowl: A Game of Life and Death in World War II by Buzz Bissinger
Ducks: Two Years in the Oil Sands by Kate Beaton
Lark Ascending by Silas House
The Things We Did Together
After the weirdness and awfulness of 2020 and parts of 2021, this year brought with it the promise of being face-to-face for the first time in a long time—and for many of us here, for the first time ever.
I was very lucky to gather with friends old and new at Drive-By Truckers Homecoming in Athens, GA in April, co-host the aforementioned Lou Oyster Cult X Action Cookbook restaurant pop-up here in Louisville, KY in July, and help Zach Rau and the DVA crew stir gumbo in Baton Rouge, LA in October.
I have high, high hopes for more things like this in 2023.
The Things That I Wrote
Okay, right. This newsletter isn’t just about Fridays. I write a lot of things on a range of different topics, from food to parenting to sports, dogs, and just plain weird stuff.
(The weird stuff always seems to be the biggest hits.)
As previously mentioned, I’m terrible at self-assessment, but here’s a few things I think were pretty good here in 2022:
Who ate the food off the counter?
A criminal investigation sweeps up my dogs Holly and Olaf:
Kelly’s Pub Is Closed
A lament for a mediocre bar that I can’t be totally certain ever really existed.
Somewhere, there’s baseball.
An appreciation of the sport’s ubiquity after an unexpected stop at a minor-league baseball game while on a long drive.
A World Like This
On being a parent in times where the world seems impossible.
Flying Over Water
Watching a cautious child take a big leap, and reflecting on what it means.
Did you have any posts you especially enjoyed? Not to fish for compliments, but I’m always fascinated to hear what resonated with whom. Let me know!
It’s been a great year here.
In April, I was named one of eleven fellows in Substack’s Food Writers Intensive, an honor that paired me with far-more-credentialed writers and served as a great learning experience for moving this newsletter to the next level.
I’ve had a big leap in both free signups and paid subscriptions, and the prospects seem great for continued growth—growth that will allow me to do bigger and better things for you, from merch to live events to giveaways and special projects.
Finally, the pets.
Normally, I end every Friday Newsletter with a selection of reader-submitted pets; it’s my favorite part of compiling these, seeing all your best furry friends land in my inbox.
Well, there’s no way to pick a best of—they’re all good pets, Brent—so instead I’ll pay homage today to the older of my two dogs and my longtime internet avatar, Holly.
Holly turns 12 years old today, and while she doesn’t get around as well as she used to, she’s as big a personality as ever, and we love her dearly. She’s going to get some special treats today and continue to bully her big little brother Olaf around.
UPDATE (12/30/22, 6:50pm ET)
Here is a picture of Holly in a party hat. Her patience in staging this photo was rewarded with a disproportionately large bone.
She’s a very good girl.
That’s a wrap on 2022, friends.
Thank you, from the bottom of my overly-wordy heart, for your continued support of The Action Cookbook Newsletter. I couldn’t do this without you, and having this place means a great deal to me. I hope you’ve enjoyed it this year, and I hope you’ll stick around for much more in 2023 and beyond.
I hope you have a very Happy New Year, and I’ll see you on the other side.
—Scott Hines (@actioncookbook)
I see “G. Olaf Hines” and I cannot help but think that the G stands for “GODDAMMIT”
I can't complain about the picks. The wedding soup is legit (and I followed you fearlessly over the cliff and added more pasta than I knew better to.) My oldest daughter refers to it as Mommy Daddy soup because she now believes that the soup is what we had at our wedding.
The book recommendations were a hit for Christmas. Dad got the Mosquito Bowl and The Baseball 100, he acted like a kid with a new toy at Christmas and all he wanted to do was sit and read with our youngest napping on him.
Scott, have a Happy New Year. I am excited to continue this journey with you. Your newsletters have become a staple in my household, and my wife loves your Insta and will quiz me on whether I saw a dish/drink and when will I be making it for her.