Thursday, October 9, 2014

The IFBC Inspires and Provokes

More on the International Food Blogger's Conference.

The keynote speech was delivered by Karen Page and Andrew Dornenburg.  Prolific writers, they have co-written 8 books and (they are married!) Check out their website and buy a book!

They shared their journey to success and encouraged everyone to live authentically and write about what you love and believe in.  And not to follow trends, but to start them.

Their new book; The Vegetarian Flavor Bible.

A couple of years ago they began eating plant foods 99% of the time.  Food writer Michael Pollen's famous quote, “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants” has certainly contributed to our countries declining meat consumption. He started a trend!

Karen went back to school and got her degree in Nutrition at Cornell and is a strong proponent of T. Colin Campbell and his "China Study".  Like nutritionist Adelle Davis in her day, T. Colin Campbell is not for everyone.  There are nutritionist who disagree with his viewpoint.

My path is almost opposite that of Karen and Andrew.  I read Adelle Davis's books in 1973 at the age of 18 and stopped eating processed foods and soon after became a vegetarian.

Long story short, I now eat meat.  I am grateful to have the money I need to buy the foods I want.  I do not eat meat every day.  My diet has stayed the same since 1975 when I started working at the Seward Food Coop and includes legumes, grains, vegetables, fruits, nuts, eggs, cheese.  Plus other "real foods" like Bearitos Corn Chips and Kettle Potato Chips.  And now meat.

I appreciate the variety of my diet.  Very important to me are the oils I use, both raw and to cook with and this is something I learned from Adelle Davis - avoid hydrogenated fats.

The 1970's counter culture seems to have had it dialed in: eat whole foods and read labels.

Labels reflect food trends. "Gluten free" is now printed on the labels of foods that never have or will ever contain gluten.

What to eat has been a provocative topic in my world since I work at Seward Coop in Minneapolis. In 1975 the co-op war started over white sugar and margarine.  Should or shouldn't the co-op sell it? It is an interesting story.  Click on the link and read more.

At Karen and Andrew's talk I could sense the currents of what one "ought" to eat swirling around me.

Quinoa is a great example of a food trend.  Quinoa's been available in the food co-ops for decades and now it is so popular, the people who grow and have eaten if for hundreds of years can longer afford it.

Here is another article on the Quinoa topic.  More comprehensive than the above food trends link, which is a bit of a rant.

Not a food trend but related; vegans with pet cats. Read about it here.

I end with a short note on the importance of good nutrition. Two women I know, one 29, the other 40, both are vegans and both have stopped menstruating.   No, the Doc's and Naturopaths say it is not early menopause, but bad nutrition.

If you choose to limit your diet, please take care and get the nutrition you need.

Friday, September 26, 2014

A Bitter Sweet Ending To The IFBC

Bitter was the saying good bye to new friends.   I don't believe I have ever experienced such an instant camaraderie as I did at this conference.

Sweet, the practical stuff I learned and can apply to my blog.

I attended Todd Coleman's Photography (and Video) workshop: Scrappy Light, Hidden Props and Magic.

Down to earth and approachable, Todd shared his photographs, his lighting tricks and ways to work with props.    Mr. Coleman told us the "imperfect is perfect" and I thought, "he is like the Jamie Oliver of photography".

On photo shoots he uses random items as backgrounds.  For instance placing plates of food on a piece of clothing he spots on the set, the design framing the food.  The point being you don't need a studio with expensive lights and props to take good photographs - just like you don't need a glamour kitchen to make delicious beautiful food.

Todd suggested techniques to get a good shot without heavy expensive equipment.  He uses flashlights, speedlights and aluminum foil to get the light right.  If he needs a soft box and doesn't have one, he creates it.
He shared examples of his work and told us the story of each photo as a way for us to learn his approach.  I dug this.

Tips I remember -
Big items in the corners
Use red
Color trumps all
Fill in the spaces
Go for bold - stand out
Look for frames and place food inside
Food is flat so you want light to rake over it

Mr. Coleman worked at Saveur Magazine for seven years and many of the photo's in his presentation I remember admiring in the magazine.  His work is powerful. 

More practical stuff - Erin Coopey's workshop on making home videos.  I appreciated her tip on purchasing refurbished video cameras, instead of new.   Her power point informed and inspired those of us considering expanding into short, 4 min max, videos for our readers.  She shared what she'd learned on lighting and sound through her trial and error.  Good stuff.

More sweet and practical stuff, the SEO workshop.   Tim Resnik could write a book on all he knows about taking up real estate on the internet.   More than informative for me, I know my limits and have decided to accept the help of others on this topic.  My time is better spent on other aspects of my business.   Tim, a great presenter!

Needing to define my blog and target my audience I attended -
How to Build and Manage Your Brand with  Angie Schneider and Barnaby Dorfman. Consider this readers "brand is making choices".

Questions for you to  answer:  Why do you blog?  What are you hoping to gain using Facebook? What are you telling people that you will do for them in your branding?  BRAND MINDFULNESS - Communicate genuinely and be consistent in your message and direction.

 A whole day workshop with these two would benefit anyone in business today. Thanks!

My next blog:
The IFBC Inspires and Provokes.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

IFBC Giveaways

No Seattle freeze at the 2014 International Food Bloggers Conference.  
For those unfamiliar the conference is a gathering of people who write food blogs.  Some writers get paid by advertisers and others write for friends and family.

Above is a photo of items I picked up at the opening reception. 

Notice the Aneto Broth - it came all the way from Spain.  All participants were given Aneto aprons with our blog names printed on them!  A sweet crew worked their table.  Thank you!

To me the most interesting product in the photo is the endive.  I learned that endive is grown in two steps which explains why it is so expensive.

A member of the chicory family, the sown seeds grow into a green leafy plant with a deep tap root. After 150 days of growing the tops are cut off and the roots are dug up and moved to a dark cool room.
A second growth sprouts up out of the root and it is endive! Pictures and more information can be found on this CA Endive site.  It is worth a look.

The new Theo Chocolate Peanut Butter cups are supposed to be delicious and the tea, I love the Bigelow green tea.

But the peach was the best gift - look at it, Washington, Washington farmers.  Oops, it's not in the picture!

Here it is -

Tomorrow is another day.  That's all for now from the IFBC 2014.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Pretty Colors

I think this is a pretty dish and pretty cool that the vegetables were harvested from the garden.  Our garden used to be our front lawn - GRASS - which we permacultured into a rich soil to grow food! Delightful results.  Purple cauliflower steamed lightly and then added to the sauted shallots and chard.   Next I added chopped kalamata olives, cooked pasta, salt, pepper, a dash more olive oil and I ate it up.  I liked it and felt sassy cause I grew the vegetables.  I will really be sassy when I grow olives in Seattle.  

Friday, August 29, 2014

More from the NYT

Butter Chicken is not a low calorie meal. I rarely order it due to how rich it is.

August 26th I read the following recipe in the New York Times and realized life is too short to miss out on the "General Tso's of Indian Food", as Sam Sifton refers to this dish.  I made it last night and highly recommend this recipe.

"Butter chicken is the General Tso’s of Indian food, a great, ever-evolving, cross-continental dish found in Delhi, London, New York, Perth and most points in between. In its purest form, it is yogurt-and-spice-marinated chicken dressed in a velvety red bath comprising butter, onions, ginger and tomatoes scented with garam masala, cumin and turmeric, with a cinnamon tang. This version was adapted from one a young kitchen hand at the restaurant Attica, in Melbourne, Australia, made for staff meal, and that the photographer Per-Anders Jorgensen included in "Eating With the Chefs," his collection of photographs of top restaurants around the world. It is wildly luxurious. Serve with basmati rice and mango chutney, with papadums or naan if you can find them, with extra rice if you cannot."

TOTAL TIME 1 hour 15 minutes
1 1/2 cups full-fat Greek yogurt
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 1/2 tablespoons ground turmeric
2 tablespoons garam masala
2 tablespoons ground cumin
3 pounds chicken thighs, on the bone
1/4 pound unsalted butter
4 teaspoons neutral oil, like vegetable or canola oil
 • 2 medium-size yellow onions, peeled and diced
4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
3 tablespoons fresh ginger, peeled and grated or finely diced
1 tablespoon cumin seeds
1 cinnamon stick
2 medium-size tomatoes, diced
2 red chiles, like Anaheim, or 1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and diced
Kosher salt to taste
2/3 cup chicken stock, low-sodium or homemade
1 1/2 cups cream
1 1/2 teaspoons tomato paste
3 tablespoons ground almonds, or finely chopped almonds
1/2 bunch cilantro leaves, stems removed.

1. Whisk together the yogurt, lemon juice, turmeric, garam masala and cumin in a large bowl. Put the chicken in, and coat with the marinade. Cover, and refrigerate (for up to a day).

2. In a large pan over medium heat, melt the butter in the oil until it starts to foam. Add the onions, and cook, stirring frequently, until translucent. Add the garlic, ginger and cumin seeds, and cook until the onions start to brown.

3. Add the cinnamon stick, tomatoes, chiles and salt, and cook until the chiles are soft, about 10 minutes.

4. Add the chicken and marinade to the pan, and cook for 5 minutes, then add the chicken stock. Bring the mixture to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer, uncovered, for approximately 30 minutes.

5. Stir in the cream and tomato paste, and simmer until the chicken is cooked through, approximately 10 to 15 minutes.

6. Add the almonds, cook for an additional 5 minutes and remove from the heat. Garnish with the cilantro leaves.

 YIELD 6 servings

 The article by Sam Sifton, published 8/24/2014 New York Times Dining & Wine.

Just One More

I wonder, did I drink as much alcohol when I was young as I do now? Now that I am 58? No.

I crave beer brewed near where I live in Seattle. I salivate for hops. My beer of choice, India Pale Ales, IPA'S. I enjoy the social side of breweries.

I enjoy wine too, Washington State bordeaux style blends. There are over 600 wineries in our state.
Now the cocktail revival attracts my palette. I stay busy visiting bars and restaurants, enjoying the creativity of small businesses. Do I worry that I consume more alcohol than is healthy for me? Yes.

I want to share Mark Bittman's article "The Drinker's Manifesto" published in the New York Times August 26, 2014 with you. I like his take on the subject. Hope you find it interesting as well.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

The Harvest Is On!

For dinner last night I tossed chopped plum tomatoes, diced garlic, olive oil, salt, and basil in a cast iron pan and roasted the sauce for 15 minutes, outside on the gas grill. I closed the grill lid and kept the temperature around 475 degrees.

While fifteen minutes is not long enough to caramelize tomatoes, the end result was sweet and fresh. No I did not skin or de-seed the tomatoes. I finished it off by mixing in a few ounces of goat cheese for a creamy tomato finish. Wait! I also threw in one chopped cayenne pepper for heat, before I roasted it; all vegetable ingredients from the front lawn garden!

 To accompany the pasta I made a kale salad, cutting the greens in thin strips. I added diced grilled patty pan squash, chopped raw almonds, and dressed it with a balsamic vinaigrette. (Gardening rocks!) My sweetheart and I ate dinner outside, thrilled at our efforts and harvest. Next, grilled plums from the plum tree!