Blogs by people I like

August 7, 2008

Nepotism generally has a bad name. For some reason helping friends and family advance in their careers is considered sharmy.

Well, I say ‘fie’ to that and give you a list today of blogs I like for, among other reasons, the fact that they are written by people with appealing personalities and good grammar.

1. 5 Second Rule is the blog written by Cheryl Sternman Rule who I met a year and a half ago at a writer’s workshop. Her blog is almost always funny and very often fruit filled.
2. Rona Maynard used to be my boss and although I didn’t have a lot of reason to speak to her often in those days, we’ve become frequent e-mail friends. Her posts are always wonderfully well written whether they are about food, shopping or a more serious topic such as abortion. I save her posts for when I have time to savour every word.
3. Roots and Grubs is written by Matthew Amster-Burton who I met at the same workshop Cheryl and I attended. His blog is original and quirky. He doesn’t expound or try to teach as much as he provokes thought about the everyday food experiences others might not mention.
4. Christie’s Corner is the food blog of a fellow Canadian food writer, we’ve never met but I very much enjoy our e-mail correspondence and her lively, witty writing style.
5. The Healthy Plate is written by one of my favourite people, Mairlyn Smith, PHEC. She’s very funny and smart and realizes that real people eat chocolate, too.

Mini interviews with foodies

August 6, 2008

I’m not much for biographies. They are usually way too long and exceed my interest in their subjects by far. That’s why I like Casey Ellis’s 4 Questions 4 series of notable food professional interviews.

Unlike Bill Buford or Michael Ruhlman who create sagas by cataloging the minutia of their subjects’ childhood food phobias, professional influences and food allergies, Ellis keeps it short and sweet. In fact, her interviews are the perfect length to read while you’re waiting for a fresh pot of coffee to drip.

Among my favourite interviews by Casey:

Dorie Greenspan

Tamasin Day Lewis

Gary Kunz (not someone whose name I knew before but an interesting block, just the same!)

A virtual friend with cupcakes

July 30, 2008

“A friend in need is a friend indeed. A friend with cupcakes is better.”

I’m considering making this my epitaph. It’s kind of a twist on “Let them eat cake” but still all my own, don’t you think?

Regardless, those words remind me of one of my favourite blogs: Cakespy, where baking history and facts, butter cream, bakeshop tours and whimsical art come together in a happy little confection.

Check out these favourite Cakespy offerings:

Faceoff: Cupcakes Vs. Muffins
Donut Speak: Sweet talk about the iconic treat’s name
Cake walk in Victoria, BC.

PS: Today is the day that the Daring Bakers (Cakespy and I both belong!) will be posting their latest challenge. I’ve opted out this month for obvious vacation-related reasons but I hope you’ll visit the Daring Baker’s Blogroll and check out the wares produced by the hundreds of other Daring Bakers who are participating.

Food party!

July 28, 2008

When I attended the IACP conference in New Orleans this spring, all the food bloggers were buzzing about adding video to their sites. Since then I’ve been trying to form my own opinion about the necessity for video on a food blog which means that I’ve been checking out popular food video blogs. While I’ve found some great online resources that were entertaining, fun and worth watching, the Food Party video blog has left me confused.

I’m literally not sure if I love Food Party or hate it. (I mean there’s a Donut Tree and that’s good but then there’s also a lot of silly costumes and juvenile music and that’s bad…) Do you have to be high or a genius to watch this show? You tell me.

PS: If you happen to be either high or a genius, you may want to know that Food Party videos are now available on DVD. No, really. I’m telling the truth.

I am, in fact, a Daring Baker

March 31, 2008

lemon layer cake

Although I’ve been a professional food writer for many years, writing a blog is relatively new for me. I joined the world of glogging (as the mother on Corner Gas would say) only last October. To be honest, this kind of writing is much different than writing for magazines, newspapers or books. On the one hand, it’s easier to write for a blog since you can write about any old thing without a pushy editor breathing down your neck. On the other hand, it’s difficult to write for this medium in ways that aren’t a problem with other published works. With a blog, you can tell whether people cared about what you wrote based on how many comments each post generates and how many page views your writing receives. (Although book sales also give you a barometer of popularity, it takes months to know if your book is hitting bottom or scaling the best-seller list.) It can be a bit disheartening to be a blogger on the days when fewer than expected people drop by to read or comment.

So, when I heard about an online group that was designed to help blog writers meet and interact in a virtual way, I joined. The group is called the Daring Bakers and although you don’t have to tithe your first born to the group or make any blood pacts, you do have to keep the monthly baking projects double top secret until the agreed upon publishing date.

This month the Daring Baker assignment was to bake a lemon layer cake from one of Dorie Greenspan’s books. That’s my effort above. I made it and served it to my family as our Easter dessert (also on the menu was glazed ham, roasted new potatoes and a frisee and mache salad with grapefruit dressing. It was a yummy spring feast!).

Everyone else in the DB group made the exact same recipe and you can have the fascinating experience of seeing how the appearance of their cakes differ from mine by clicking on the Daring Bakers link in the blogroll and then clicking through to their blogs. It’s amazing how each baker found a way to add his or her own creative expression to what is a very well written and specific recipe.

I’m not sure what will be on the menu for next month’s Daring Baker’s challenge, but you’ll see it here once I’ve had a chance to preheat the oven.

Daring Bakers logo