After years of recession and slow recovery, maybe you didn't notice. But it turns out, 2012 was a fairly good year for the U.S. economy.
The Standard & Poor's 500-stock index has risen nearly 14 percent this yearand the unemployment rate has fallen to 7.7 percent, the lowest point in four years. Inflation and interest rates have stayed low, allowing families to cut their debt loads.
"Just throw the whole lemon in the food processor for lemon bars." "Don't just soak your dried beans — brine them!" "You don't need a whole day (or two) to make a good sauce."
Some of the things this year's cookbooks said to me as I tested them were downright contrarian. But that's the brilliant thing about cooking in a global, crowdsourced, Web-fueled world: People no longer cook according to some received wisdom handed down by a guy in a white toque. They figure it out as they go along, and if they stumble on a shortcut, it's blogged and shared in no time flat.
Jakarta Governor Joko Widodo fields reporters' questions after meeting with residents of a Jakarta slum. Recent polls say Widodo is currently the most popular choice for Indonesia's president in 2014.
Credit Yosef Riadi for NPR
Jakarta Governor Joko Widodo (in white shirt, at left) examines the muddy waters of the Ciliwung River in Jakarta. The city government is planning to dredge the river and relocate residents away from its banks to prevent chronic urban flooding. His talk of providing more services has won him widespread popular support.
Residents give a boisterous welcome to Jakarta's newly elected governor, Joko Widodo, when he shows up for a town meeting with the residents of a Jakarta slum where residents' shacks overlook the muddy, garbage-strewn waters of the Ciliwung River.
The governor's administration plans to fix chronic flooding here by dredging the river and moving residents into subsidized apartments.