Foodbuzz 2010 Food Blog Contest – Challenge (#1)

Presented by The Joy of Caking

The next food blog star?  Of course I’m prepared to take that role.  Why wouldn’t I be?  Certainly, I can see (The Joy of Caking) in bright lights, and I can see me walking (stumbling with those dreaded high heals on) down that red carpet that has been so carefully rolled out for me. Handle the cameras flashes going off furiously in my face, and leaving me half blind for the rest of the day? No problem. Yes, I’d be honored to autograph your pot holder.  Where do you want me to sign it?  Above the burnt on apple pie, or below it?

Kidding aside, first let me say – WHEW!  This is a difficult challenge.  It’s difficult in the sense that it’s hard to write good things about yourself.  There is a fine line between sounding confident and up for a challenge, and sounding arrogant. So, I just want to make it very clear that I do not intend to sound like the later. I’m fairly new to the blogging scene and I realize I still have a lot to learn.  I’m grateful to all the fellow bloggers who’ve helped me along the way.  Since starting, it has taken me awhile to figure out what works for me, and what doesn’t.  My blog is still a work in progress.

With that said, The Joy of Caking is prepared to be the next food blog star because it continues to cumulatively grow, and as it grows, the readers grow with it.

When I started The Joy of Caking in March 2010, I was looking for a way to exercise my writing, photography and kitchen skills.  These are all things that I have a passion for.  That passion helps set my blog apart from others.  I don’t blog to make money, although that would be a nice perk, I do it because I enjoy it.  I want readers to feel like they are stepping into my kitchen and country life, and are welcome there.  I’m sincere, and The Joy of Caking reflects that in the following ways.

I work.  I’m always working on improving my blog’s content to keep it interesting, down to earth, and visual.  I want visitors to be able to take something from it when they leave, whether it be a recipe, a good laugh, an image, or a place to leave their thoughts.

I’m honest. If I make something and it turns out a disaster, I share it.  I want my readers to know it’s not always roses in my kitchen.

I listen and value input – the good and the bad.  Recently, when one of my followers told me that The Joy of Caking was “one of the first, and few food blogs (she) reads,” I asked her why. She said when my blog uploads “the image is beautiful, and the Joy of Caking title is smart, making (her) want to venture further.” She went on to explain it is a “photo blog with content that is useful and reachable to the public. I’m just starting out cooking, and want to read about food that is not intimidating, you accomplish that.” She ends with the following, “You are down to earth and sincere. When you are testing out a recipe you are clear when/if you made changes and why – that’s always a huge plus for the readers!“ On the other hand, when some of my photographs were turned down as entries at a particular site a while back I asked myself why. What do I need to do to improve their quality? Since then, I have been working tenaciously to improve my photo’s.

I understand.  I won’t soon forget my early posts that got no visits, referrals, or comments.  I don’t want my readers to feel that way.  I always make an effort to visit their blogs, comment on them, or respond to comments they have left on mine. It’s important to me to let them know I appreciate their time, and interest. In other words, “I haven’t forgotten where I came from.” Unfortunately, I have seen bloggers who fail to interact with their readers, and that turns me away from their sites.  I don’t want to lose a single reader because they feel under-valued.

Should I go pick out those high heals for the red carpet, get a pen ready for autographs, and find a pair of sunglasses to reflect those bright lights? I’m ready if you are!

Thank you foodbuzz and fellow bloggers for the opportunity to share and challenge myself. Best of luck to all!


“Try it you’ll like it”

Brussel Sprouts Galore

“Try it, you’ll like it.”  Who hasn’t heard that line before?  My parents tried desperately to get me to try new foods.   There wasn’t any amount of convincing that was going to get me to taste or eat certain foods as a little girl.  Specifically, vegetables.  Sure, I liked potatoes and corn but forget the cauliflower, broccoli, peas, brussel sprouts, artichokes,  and asparagus.

As I’ve aged so have my taste buds (thankfully).  Veggie recipes have come a long way too.  What I remember about  brussel sprouts?  The strong odor they produced as my mother cooked them.  What I’ve learned since then?  She probably was over cooking them creating glucosinolate sinigrin, a sulfurous acid to emanate from the pot convincing me they were horrid long before she set them on the dining room table.

Slowly, over the years, I have come to like all of the vegetables I disliked as a child. It wasn’t until my husband and I took a recent trip to Charleston SC  that I was brave enough to try brussel sprouts.  A restaurant where we dined served pancetta braised brussel spouts.

These sprouts were so tasty.  When we got home I bought some on my first trip to the supermarket.  Winging their preparation without a recipe, my husband who is an awesome cook, whipped up a special marinade of olive oil, red wine vinegar, herbs, and garlic to brush on them as he grilled them.

These little beauties were to die for.  I’m now looking for plants or seeds to put in our garden so we can grow enough to stock our freezer for next winter.

Does anyone have a good veggie recipe to pass on?  I’m game…

Giant What?

Pumpkins….. My latest endeavor came on a whim. To grow one of New York State’s largest pumpkins. Although I’m not really out to set any world records, the idea of growing a 500 pound pumpkin in our back yard motivates me – just a little.

I found this packet of seeds for growing giant 400-500 lb pumpkins as we were strolling through the garden center at Lowes the other day. I figured it would be a couple bucks well spent just to see how easy, or not, it is to grow a giant pumpkin.

The package contained six seeds (was supposed to have seven). Last night I planted three seeds each, in used yogurt cups (with holes in the bottom for drainage) and I used dirt from our garden (nothing fancy about our garden dirt). The pack say’s it should take around 7 days to germinate so I’m watching for the first sign of life. The pumpkins will need 120 days to mature so I figure we will need a big set of scales handy sometime in September.