how i do it ::::
Quite a departure from my normal posts, I thought I’d give a bulleted list on some of my success on on staying (somewhat) consistent with posting on my blog, even through the ups and downs.
Translation (and ironically): I’ve had so many work activities and other writing projects going on, preparing a typical blog post has been difficult. Many of them are completely unfinished! But I figure it out eventually.
Writing your own kitchen Story (or, how to write and have a food blog):
1. Good-quality baking pans. While the flimsy baking pans are not without some merit, I find that my sturdier (and more expensive) pans are more predictable. The same goes for a cast iron skillet or cast iron Dutch oven and their meager duplications, though there are exceptions depending on what you are baking. Sometimes a good aluminum pan makes a perfect pie crust over the glass Pyrex pan. Roasting vegetables needs a high heat sear, better accomplished on a thicker stainless steel plan
2. Disbelief and suspicion of reported baking and cooking times in original recipes is a must. Every oven is different. Buy an oven-safe thermometer to place in your oven to get a better idea of how hot it runs and if truly calibrated to the dial.
3. Taste-testing, always. I used to think that a recipe was set in stone: if it said to add one teaspoon of salt, then that was it. Perfectly seasoned. No, not so. “Correct the seasoning” is an antiquated phrase that throws me back to girdle-steadied housewives using heirloom cookbooks for ambrosia salads and boiled meats. I used to abhor reading that phrase. But now I get it.
4. A good quality potato peeler. I know it sounds crazy but getting a good potato peeler changed my kitchen experience. And it took me 10 years to do it. 10 years!
5. At least one really sharp knife. This will prevent accidents. Or really, really bad accidents. No, really. A sharp knife, in fact, prevents accidents such as lopping off a finger in that it will stay in place to cut properly rather than slip off that said thick tomato skin onto your thumbnail. But there’s a catch: you actually have to LOOK at what you are chopping. All too often I’ve seen people look away from their chopping block and EEK! — a finger gets sliced. It’s simple advice but easy to forget in this world of multi-tasking. In summary: get a good, sharp knife, always watch what you are doing with it, and respect it. Remember to give it a spa day: get it sharpened when it dulls. Our local farmers’ market when we lived in California had a knife sharpening stall. Some hardware stores can also do it. Buy an electric knife sharpener if you sharpen often (though some do not accommodate Japanese knives, so make sure you find one that is compatible).
6. Use glass storage containers instead of plastic. Glass is inert and usually microwave safe. Why not plastic? Even in “microwave safe” containers, there may be some migration of toxins from the plastic into the food. Plus, glass is cleaner than plastic. Its non-porous surface doesn’t absorb food odors and germs, so food tastes better. It also can be safely washed at high temperatures in your dishwasher, unlike plastic.
7. Try new things. Experiment. It’s okay if it’s a flop. It may not be. It may be funny to blog about. Order hard-to-find ingredients on the Internet. You can find just about anything.
8. Get a decent camera and learn how to use it well. Or, get a really great camera and learn how to use it well, if you have time to figure it all out. I still have not, but it’s fun to experiment with light, colors, and angles, even if I can’t figure out all the settings on my camera (maybe someday).
9. Don’t let the hackers get you down. There are always people out in Internet Land who are jerks, biotches, or just plain mean. After I was hacked, my website held hostage for a few days before I had help to rectify the situation, I was poised to post a vitriolic rant about my feelings for my hackers. Friends warned me not to. Wisely, I chose to listen. Hackers and mean-spirited posters essentially have nothing better to do than to try to ruffle someone else’s feathers, just for the fun of it. And often, it is anonymity that gives them so-called strength. Actually, they are not strong enough, nor brave enough, or smart enough to be transparent or be fully visible. Pathetic.
10. If you have a hiccup or two, don’t let it deter you. When I found out that I had gestational diabetes with my third pregnancy in 2013, I panicked on how I would create blog posts and taste the goods. I still cooked and baked. I improvised and re-fashioned some recipes that were more diabetes-friendly. I still cooked for my family and tasted vicariously through them. I also wrote an Epilogue about the experience. When I took a few months break from the blog after the 2016 Presidential election, I let the time be rejuvenating (and got the blog a makeover). Change of tack or taking breaks are a good thing.
11. Tend your garden, your garden of words, frequently. Write your own story by practicing. At age 11, I started keeping a diary which I diligently wrote in almost every day for long spurts (a few months, long break, a year, a week off for vacation, etc). I did this for many years without a pure purpose except for a recording of my life for posterity. With swaths of breaks due to work and family, I now intermittently do it all on the computer. The blog has become part of this process, though, topics are often truncated these days as the kids get older. Everyone has a story. Everyone. Not everyone is a writer, but everyone has a story worth telling. Remember that.
And Happy St. Patrick’s Day!
No recipes today, so here are some random ones from long ago to try:
These sugar cookies are fun and colorful — and learn about my trip to Santa Fe (not so good): sugar cookie dreg cookies
British comfort food: cornish pasties
So fresh and lovely on a hot day — maybe watching some dead beetles: green apple basil fizz
I love apricots — simple: apricot-earl gray tea jam
Summer is way more fun with a purple potato salad (not sweet potatoes, actual potatoes): purple potato salad with gorgonzola and bacon
For the best onion breath ever: handkase mit music
I’ve been craving these brownies recently (checking my cupboards for ingredients in 3…2…1): chocolate cheesecake brownies