Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Turning My Table

There are so many people out there who are doing what I merely try to do, and that is to be a food blogger.  Granted most of these people do this full-time, and they have beautifully designed and well organized blogs and websites.  It's their job. For me, this is not my job, though I wish it were. I don't get paid for any of my ideas, my posts, or my recipes. To some this may sound absolutely crazy.  The goal of course is to turn this in to something... some day.  Most of my spare time I'm posting on Facebook or writing up a recipe.  Just ask my family and they will tell you I spend too much time on my iPad or iPhone. I am always searching for something to post about or to cook. I do this out of the shear joy and pleasure that cooking gives me. 

I have looked at many food blogs over the last year.  I am amazed at the talent that is out there, and the passion that all of these food enthusiasts have. Most of these people appear to be regular people, not trained chefs. Some are moms and wives, some are single and young. They share their daily cooking experiences and what is going on in their lives. Some bloggers share in such detail, it is as if they know their audience. And they have hundreds or thousands of people who "follow" their every post. Typically, I am a private person. I don't share much with just anyone. If I truly feel comfortable with you I will tell you my life story, and if I have had a couple of glasses of wine then watch out.  I become that person who comically forgets to filter, inhibitions are down, I am over flowing with opinions, and I could babble on about any topic. But, I don't think people write their blogs while they're buzzed, though it would be pretty funny.  So, I have to find something to talk about.  What will I write about that will be different than what everyone else is writing about? Why would people want to read about what I'm doing?  What's my angle?  This is a hard question for me to answer myself, because I am literally all over the place.  Call it BADD, Blogger Attention Deficit Disorder.

So, what's a self proclaimed foodie to do?  How do these men and woman appeal to so many people?  What makes one blog better than another?  Hard to say, right?  Is it purely personal preference?  Some of these bloggers don't even write well, me included, and yet they are highly likable.  Is it because the experiences that they share are so "real"?  Can we relate to their situations? The answer is yes. It is likability of the writer, and the audiences connection with them. People make a connection with the blogger when they write about how little Johnny is a picky eater, or how their husband only likes meat and potatoes, or oh no, the in laws are coming for dinner.  Sometimes what they are writing isn't about food at all.  It is just what they did that day.  There are some blogs that do have their own niche, like just focusing on baking, or slow cooker recipes, or quick and easy meals, yet they still throw in those personal situations that we all can relate to.  Some bloggers are even working for food brands and they are creating recipes using what ever product they are representing, while weaving in their personal stories and touches. While reader appeal is important there is another key ingredient of the successful blogger. There have been studies done of when the right time is to blog or post and how often.  There are certain times of the day when people are more likely to view their computer, or to check out Facebook.  These professional bloggers have got it down to a science, and it is making them very successful.  Some food bloggers have even gone on to publish cookbooks, that is how popular their blog and/or websites are. For a person with BADD, such as myself, the regimented way of blogging seems impossible to me since my mind is constantly racing with ideas and with things I want to try and do. For me, I want to do it all, when I want to do it.  I do not like to follow the rules, or the norm, or the crowd.  I am who I am.  Should I have to change, or do I make it work for me?

In thinking about all of this, what would set me apart from the rest? How do I get more followers?  Maybe I should have called my blog the "Spontaneous Table".  I am a horrible week night dinner planner.  I am not one of those who makes weekly grocery lists, nor do I plan every nights meal in advanced.  I cook what ever inspires me at the moment. It really is like having ADD.  I can't focus on the whole week.  I look at each day as it comes, because every day can be different.  Having teenagers will do this to you. The only time I truly plan out everything is when I am hosting a party. Then there are numerous lists, and some how I manage a party much better than I do a typical week. Maybe I should think of the week as an extended party? Should I write about the difficulties of putting dinner together? That doesn't seem very positive. I want to help people to cook, not to be afraid of it.

Maybe my blog should have been called "The Moody Table"?  Sometimes everyone doesn't want to eat the same thing or there was someone who wasn't hungry, or not going to be home for dinner. There were times "girl drama" gave way to a lost appetite for the moment, and "soar muscles" from a basketball game didn't want to get off the couch.  There was also the time that "man of the house" was on a health kick and only ate pre-packaged diet food.  I did it too, and it was a "moody table".  That was the worst.  And even though I love to cook there were the times I didn't feel like it. I could write about all those times. But, that isn't the way it is all the time.  I wonder how "real" some of the posts of food bloggers are.  Does the recipe really come out perfectly all the time?  Did the whole family really love it?  Let's hear about the bad recipes and the bad moods once in a while. Those would be situations that we all could relate to, right?

I could just continue to wing it, for this isn't my full-time job.  I could continue to write when I feel like it, and write about what ever I want to, share a recipe when I want to, and not worry about the food blogging mill. I could continue to choose to share on Facebook at any time of the day or night, and not worry about who is going to see it, like it or comment on it.  Maybe I'll turn the tables a bit and make it work for me, one recipe and one Facebook follower at a time.  Maybe this is just greasing the wheels, and when I am able to do this full-time I will be ready to jump in with both feet at the same time, instead of like now with one foot, and I'll have a better understanding of which direction I want to go in.  The door is wide open, and my table will always be there.


Thursday, February 14, 2013

A word from Banana Joe!

I bet you thought this was going to be a post about that cute little affenpinscher, Banana Joe. No, the kid on the left is Banana Joe.  Not really, I just thought I'd give him a name. I love anything vintage, and have for years, even before it was fashionable. I found this little guy and knew I'd use this picture in a post at some point.  A friend of mine emailed me this information about bananas, and I thought it was very interesting and useful information.  So, I'm sharing it with you.  I do not know where the info came from, so my apologies for not giving credit to the original writer.  I hope they don't mind.

  • Never, put your banana in the refrigerator.
  • Bananas contain three natural sugars - sucrose, fructose and glucose combined with fiber. A banana gives an instant, sustained and substantial boost of energy.
  • Research has proven that just two bananas provide enough energy for a strenuous 90-minute workout. No wonder the banana is the number one fruit with the world's leading athletes.
  • But energy isn't the only way a banana can help us keep fit. It can also help overcome or prevent a substantial number of illnesses and conditions, making it a must to add to our daily diet.
According to a recent survey undertaken by MIND amongst people suffering from depression, many felt much better after eating a banana. This is because bananas contain tryptophan, a type of protein that the body converts into serotonin, known to make you relax, improve your mood and generally make you feel happier.
Forget the pills - eat a banana. The vitamin B6 it contains regulates blood glucose levels, which can affect your mood.
High in iron, bananas can stimulate the production of hemoglobin in the blood and so helps in cases of anemia.
This unique tropical fruit is extremely high in potassium yet low in salt, making it perfect to beat blood pressure So much so, the US Food and Drug Administration has just allowed the banana industry to make official claims for the fruit's ability to reduce the risk of blood pressure and stroke.
200 students at a Twickenham (Middlesex) school ( England ) were helped through their exams this year by eating bananas at breakfast, break, and lunch in a bid to boost their brain power. Research has shown that the potassium-packed fruit can assist learning by making pupils more alert.
High in fiber, including bananas in the diet can help restore normal bowel action, helping to overcome the problem without resorting to laxatives.
One of the quickest ways of curing a hangover is to make a banana milkshake, sweetened with honey. The banana calms the stomach and, with the help of the honey, builds up depleted blood sugar levels, while the milk soothes and re-hydrates your system.
Bananas have a natural antacid effect in the body, so if you suffer from heartburn, try eating a banana for soothing relief.
Snacking on bananas between meals helps to keep blood sugar levels up and avoid morning sickness.
Before reaching for the insect bite cream, try rubbing the affected area with the inside of a banana skin. Many people find it amazingly successful at reducing swelling and irritation.
Bananas are high in B vitamins that help calm the nervous system..
Overweight and at work? Studies at the Institute of Psychology in Austria found pressure at work leads to gorging on comfort food like chocolate and chips. Looking at 5,000 hospital patients, researchers found the most obese were more likely to be in high-pressure jobs. The report concluded that, to avoid panic-induced food cravings, we need to control our blood sugar levels by snacking on high carbohydrate foods every two hours to keep levels steady.
The banana is used as the dietary food against intestinal disorders because of its soft texture and smoothness. It is the only raw fruit that can be eaten without distress in over-chronicler cases. It also neutralizes over-acidity and reduces irritation by coating the lining of the stomach.
Many other cultures see bananas as a 'cooling' fruit that can lower both the physical and emotional temperature of expectant mothers. In Thailand , for example, pregnant women eat bananas to ensure their baby is born with a cool temperature.
So, a banana really is a natural remedy for many ills. When you compare it to an apple, it has FOUR TIMES the protein, TWICE the carbohydrate, THREE TIMES the phosphorus, five times the vitamin A and iron, and twice the other vitamins and minerals. It is also rich in potassium and is one of the best value foods around.
So, maybe its time to change that well-known phrase so that we say to, 'A BANANA a day keeps the doctor away!'
Ok, I couldn't resist to not put a picture of the real Banana Joe on here.  He's pretty cute. 

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Romancing the Stove

Photo from

They say that the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach, and I couldn’t agree more.  What is the way to a woman’s heart?  Is it chocolate, shoes or purses?  I'd take all three for sure! Of course there is much more to a relationship than food and gifts, but there is something that you do most everyday that could be a way to heat things up for both of you. What might make its way to both of your hearts is cooking together.  Yes, that’s right, you and your better half in the kitchen cooking. Not only is it something to do together, it can be really romantic.  Yes, romantic.  
Couples in the kitchen together are a little like two dancers.  Someone takes the lead, and another follows.  It can be a graceful waltz or a comical series of errors.  It all depends on your experience, or lack of, in the kitchen and how comfortable you are being in the kitchen together.  Cooking together offers a way to learn to do something together. If you are experienced cook, preparing a meal together can be a way to show off a little, and showing your skill and knowledge in a confident way is sexy.  One of the romantic things about cooking together is that you really can learn something about the other person and it is a wonderful way to bond with the one you love.  Do they follow directions, or do they give them?  Are they patient or anxious?   Maybe they are bossy or controlling?  It is important to remember that communication is a key element to any relationship.  When you are in the kitchen cooking together you have to communicate, otherwise a step could be missed, a pot may boil over, or the food may burn.  A relationship, and dinner, could go up in flames if there is poor communication.
When I think of couples in the kitchen together I immediately think of a few movies which are contemporary, romantic comedies. The first, and a favorite of mine, is “Something’s Gotta Give”, There is one scene, where Erica (Diane Keaton) and Harry (Jack Nicholson), who’s characters are both night owls, separately step in to the kitchen to get a bite to eat, both in their robes, not romantically involved, not yet,  and decide to make pancakes. They are standing in the kitchen, chatting and something begins to stir between them.  Later on, after a spontaneous afternoon of romance, they are in the kitchen in robes, again, eating scrambled eggs out of the frying pan, by candle light. In one of the next scenes, Erica is offing to make Harry some French toast, to which Harry says to her as she is about to leave the room, “You are a woman to love”.  I think she got to him, without her realizing that it was partly due to her cooking. See, the saying is true.

Then there is, “It’s Complicated”.  Here is another example of a woman cooking her way to her man's heart.  Jane (Meryl Streep) makes a croque monsieur (grilled ham and Gruy√®re cheese) sandwich for Adam (Steve Martin) in her kitchen. The lighting is low as they sit at the kitchen island talking and getting to know one another. Then there is a scene when Jane makes Adam these delicious looking chocolate croissants from scratch in her bakery.  

Hopefully your cooking experience won’t be like in “Annie Hall”, when Diane Keaton and Woody Allen’s characters are trying to cook live lobsters together. Hysterical!  

Don't laugh, but cooking together offers an amount of pleasure in a variety of ways.  Not only is fun and relaxing, it can be a way to strengthen your relationship. Taking a cooking class is a way to incorporate cooking as an activity together.  Another exciting part of cooking is that it uses all your senses.  Seeing, touching, smelling and listening to the food as it cooks and tasting it when it is done.  

You could plan a day to cook a romantic meal together, maybe include a movie, or have an indoor picnic. You could pretend you’re at a concert and play CD’s of your favorite band. You can make it fun or sensual. Where ever your imagination takes you, it will be a memorable night.  Stirring up a little romance in the kitchen is hot.  What will you cook up?  

Seasonal Foods