Julie & Julia

image from http://www.istockphoto.com

While I’m away on my imaginary vacation, I’m leaving the pantry stocked with posts from Exit 51 that would have been part of the Flashback Friday series.  The following originally appeared on 7/15/09 at Exit 51, where I promise, it was completely topical at the time.  Now, not so much.

Julie & Julia

Did you think that I would not eventually get around to talking about this?  The movie trailer has made its way across the Internet and the movie opens soon.  So I guess it’s about time for my two cents on the whole Julie/Julia thing. Continue reading “Julie & Julia”

Tastes Like That Good Old Fashioned Lemonade

image from http://www.istockphoto.com

While I’m away on my imaginary vacation, I’m leaving the pantry stocked with posts from Exit 51 that would have been part of the Flashback Friday series. The following originally appeared on 7/17/09 at Exit 51.

Tastes Like That Good Old Fashioned Lemonade

In my childhood, a container of Country Time mix was the closest we ever got to homemade lemonade.  You remember Country Time, don’t you?  It “tastes like that good old fashioned lemonade”, or so they say.  I say it tastes like: Sugar, Fructose, Citric Acid (Provides Tartness), Natural Flavor, Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C), Maltodextrin, Sodium Acid Pyrophosphate, Sodium Citrate (Controls Acidity), Magnesium Oxide (Prevents Caking), Calcium Fumarate, Soy Lecithin, Artificial Color, Yellow 5 Lake, Tocopherol (Preserves Freshness).  How’s that good old fashioned lemonade? Call me silly but I thought lemonade was lemon juice, water, and sugar. Continue reading “Tastes Like That Good Old Fashioned Lemonade”

Big Summer Potluck

I’m not a gambler by nature. The risks I take are calculated, not reckless.  However, there are moments when I throw caution to the wind, say what the hell, and let the chips fall where they may.  These moments are few and far between, but they do happen.  My most recent spontaneous, caution thrown to the wind decision involved me, one untested cookie recipe, a set of Mapquest directions, six hours of driving, 39 food bloggers, several food professionals, and three deer.

The destination was called the Big Summer Potluck.  Organized by women who know food, blogging, and photography – Maggy Keet and Sharon Anderson of Three Many Cooks and Erika Pineda of Ivory Hut – this was a day to come together with other food bloggers to talk about the challenges we all face. It was an opportunity to build our food blogging community, to support and encourage one another, to learn more about our craft, and to eat some amazing food.

These ladies pulled out all the stops.  On the agenda:

Pam Anderson (food columnist, cookbook author, Three Many Cooks food blogger, and former executive editor of Cook’s Illustrated) shared her thoughts on recipe development and recipe writing, in addition to graciously hosting us at her home.

Abby Dodge (food writer and instructor, cookbook author, and contributing editor to Fine Cooking magazine) demoed a dessert from her upcoming Desserts 4 Today cookbook (brilliant concept y’all…a cookbook full of desserts that utilize four ingredients), and shared some of her tips and tricks (stabilize whipped cream by replacing half the heavy cream with marscapone…yum).

Melissa DeMayo (food stylist extraordinaire) shared her food styling expertise and tips (texture, height, ingredient shots), demoed building the picture perfect sandwich, and told us the best way to do {fill in the blank with your question of choice} is whatever results in the prettiest shot.

Erika Pineda (photojournalist, sports photographer, and Ivory Hut blogger) spoke about the Holy Trinity of photography (Aperture, Shutter Speed, and ISO), point and shoot vs. dslr, and processing.

We had a lively discussion about video content and media campaigns with Auritt Communications.

And then there was Alice.  Alice Currah of Savory Sweet Life and Everyday Alice.  Alice Currah who was named one of Forbes.com’s “Eight of The Very Best Food Bloggers” and Saveur’s food photography “Cover Contest” winner. Maybe you’ve heard of her?  She’s the bomb.  Alice spoke to us about the importance of being authentic in our craft, speaking (and blogging) from the heart and from what we know, carving our own niche out of the blogosphere while also supporting and encouraging and honoring other food bloggers.

I go on and on about The Universe this and The Universe that and it may sound trite but hear me out.  I was originally supposed to be in New York city for BlogHer this summer.  My plans changed and I didn’t have the opportunity to attend and to finally meet in person some of the people that I have grown to think of as part of my extended family.  And I was disappointed about that.  But The Universe more than made up for it by getting me to Big Summer Potluck.  BlogHer is mega big. It’s huge.  Which for my socially awkward self is completely overwhelming.  Big Summer Potluck was intimate.  It was warm and welcoming.  It was a conversation among old friends who may have just met each other that morning.  It was exactly where I needed to be.

Remember my post You Might Be A Food Blogger If… That’s how Big Summer Potluck made me feel.  I was anxious about walking into a room with an untested recipe (and we know I have strict rules about untested recipes) where I didn’t know a soul.  My lack of navigational skills resulted in me getting lost in rural Pennsylvania and being the very last person to arrive 30 minutes late.  Hello, I consider showing up on time being late.  And yet, once I set foot in the door all of that melted away.  I was embraced by these people.  I was part of their tribe.  I belonged.  And isn’t that what we all want?  To be accepted.  To be validated.  To be inspired.

There was laughter.  Warm sun, clear skies, and cool breezes.  Amazing products supplied from KitchenAid, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, New West Knifeworks, The Spice House, Fine Cooking, Green Valley Organics, Green Mountain Coffee, Cypress Grove Chevre, Naturally Nora, and Lindsay Olives.   And incredible food.  Because you have to know that at a food blogger get together we’re going to nosh on good eats.  To see people who know and make good food eat my potluck contribution and have their faces light up was priceless.  In my head, I sounded like an insecure adolescent saying OMG, Alice Currah is eating my cookie and she LIKES it!!!  There may have also been jazz hands and the Peanuts dance going on in my head as well.  I was too excited in the moment to accurately recall now.

So I’ve been quietly sending my thanks back to The Universe for giving me the opportunity to be part of Big Summer Potluck.  For the people who made it all possible and the people whose presence made it what it was.

I’ve also been thanking The Universe for allowing me to come to a complete stop on that winding back road in time not to hit the deer that decided to pop out of nowhere and lazily cross the road.  I don’t know if there is any symbolic meaning to seeing three massive bucks other than the obvious – slow down.  But that is one of the small moments from the weekend I hope to hang on to.  Yes Universe, sometimes I hear what you’re trying to tell me loud and clear.

Hungry for more Big Summer Potluck?  Check out:

Bread and Putter

Wenderly

Sugarcrafter

Smells Like Home

Tickled Red

Add A Pinch

The Sensitive Pantry

Three Many Cooks

Fine Cooking

The Dinky Kitchen

Dine & Dish

The Coquettish Cook

What’s Kookin’ In Kara’s Kitchen

How To Simplify

My Kitchen Addiction

Four Chickens

Modern Wench

The Ivory Hut

Smith Bites

Souffle Bombay

The Peche

She Wears Many Hats

Bluebonnets & Brownies

Abby Dodge

Do you wonder what a Big Summer Potluck looks like?  Check out Erika’s lovely photos of the day.

And stay tuned for the Peanut Butterfinger cookie recipe that I took a gamble on being Big Summer Potluck worthy.

Waste Management

image from http://www.istockphoto.com

While I’m away on my imaginary vacation, I’m leaving the pantry stocked with posts from Exit 51 that would have been part of the Flashback Friday series. The following originally appeared on 7/24/09 at Exit 51.

Waste Management

Buying items just because they are on sale is only a bargain if you use them.  Otherwise they’re a  huge waste of money.  Impulse grocery shopping usually comes back and bites me in the butt.  My most recent example?  Those cherries on sale at The Fresh Market were a great price.  I was expecting cherries as delicious as the ones I got direct from the farm at Baugher’s.  What I got instead was a heaping serving of disappointment. Continue reading “Waste Management”

Flashback Friday – Know When To Say When

Flashback Friday

The following originally appeared on 6/2/08 at Exit 51

Know When To Say When

I have a handful of recipes that try and create homemade versions of popular treats – Thin Mints, Peppermint Patties, and most recently, Oreos. I adore the idea of a diy approach to a classic. Really, who wouldn’t jump at the chance to have Thin Mints anytime they wanted? Nothing to get in the way of enjoying minty thin goodness on a whim.

But here’s the thing that nobody says. It’s a lot of freaking work. I read over the recipe and think ’sure, I can do that’. But it doesn’t occur to me that this undertaking will consume hours of my life. Hours that I can never get back. And why? All because I had to see if I could do it. Continue reading “Flashback Friday – Know When To Say When”

GOOPy

image from http://www.istockphoto.com

While I’m away on my imaginary vacation, I’m leaving the pantry stocked with posts from Exit 51 that would have been part of the Flashback Friday series. The following originally appeared on 7/27/09 at Exit 51.

GOOPy

Dear Gwenny,

You really do make it too easy to pick on you.  You can’t help the fact that you are genetically blessed, so I won’t hate you because you’re beautiful.  I also won’t hate on you for your career success (truth be told, I really enjoyed you in  View From The Top and I was sorry to see you lose your head in Seven) or for landing a rock star husband.  Some people are just lucky. Continue reading “GOOPy”

Behind the Music – Food Blogger Style – BAH Edition

While my mental vacation continues, visit Jennifer Walker at My Morning Chocolate for the story behind the BAH blog.  It’s like VH1’s Behind the Music, blogger style.  But you get recipes instead of voice overs, hang overs, and mug shots. And you find out what I really think about “original recipe”…not in a KFC way (I’m devoted to extra crispy).