January 31, 2012

What I Learned at FoodBlogSouth

I spent last Saturday at FoodBlogSouth mingling with people who also love to talk food and blogging. What a delight! Here's what I learned (and ate)...
1. Drinking vinegar (like this pomegranate variety from Pok Pok Som) is a food trend as is:
-the return of niche bakers- proof: the cupcake trend won't go away
-a return to animal fats-amen, bacon
-packaging wild foods- look out for dried wild mushrooms
-sprouted grains- ancient wisdom meets raw foods
-yogurt- Greek, Kefir, love, love
-wholesome beverages- heard of coconut water but not yet Honest Cocoa Nova
(Source: Kara Nielson from the Center for Culinary Development)

2. Vegan meatballs can taste better than meat. Never thought I'd say that. (Source: Shindigs Catering's Food Truck's LA Meatballs (smoked mushrooms, beats and nuts, only really) over spaghetti squash.)
3. Ales should be drunken at a mid-50s temperature to bring out its flavors and notes. Also, I still don't like beer all that much, even though I really want to. No offense, Good People, because I so want to appreciate my local brewery. (Source: Ale Sharpton)
4. You get good loot from food blogging conferences. But if I blog about it, I need to disclose that I did in fact get it for free. So for the record, I got this stuff (plus Jim N Nick's cheese biscuit mix) for free. (Source: Dianne Jacob's ethics discussion)
Fancy ice cream from High Road Craft
5. I too can apply for a James Beard Award, because they have been democratized to consider us lowly food bloggers. Or so says the very cool Kat Kinsman, who edits CNN's Eatocracy and makes my heart pitter patter when she talks about compelling, fact-checked reporting and telling the the story only you can tell, ahhhh.

6. I want to volunteer with the Desert Island Supply Company so I can talk writing with generation next.
7. Food blogging conferences make a good excuse to finally make blog business cards. I created mine by using pasta boxes and cereal boxes. 

January 23, 2012

Outrageous Brownies

These might look like ordinary brownies.

 They might go into take-to-friends containers like ordinary brownies.
But they are certainly not ordinary. They come from scratch, not a box.

And they are filled with a sea of rich, dark chocolate, with only a sprinkling of flour.

They come from Ina Garten, only I made my version in a 13x9-inch pan unlike her special 12x18x1 pan (hello, I don't have a professional kitchen), and I did not let any nuts to mess with my chocolate.

Unlike  my delectable Chunky Chocolate Brownies, these are a little more cakey than uber-fudgy, like a box mix, yet you can still taste the butter/chocolate goodness from scratch. Mmmm.

January 17, 2012

Sticky-Bun Pumpkin Muffins

Cinnamon roll meets pumpkin bread meets pecan pie. Leave it to Southern Living to dream up a baked good that wondrous.
This recipe had been calling my name since October. If this blog were a food magazine, now might be too far past fall and holidays to bake pumpkin. But I make all editorial judgements for my kitchen, and I don't care to be perfectly seasonally exact. I wanted these muffins. Plus, I had canned pumpkin to use up from my stock piling a few months ago (that stuff tends to disappear from shelves).
A pecan/butter/brown sugar mixture goes in the bottom of the tins, and you top it with pumpkin batter. Once they cook, you invert the pan to reveal magical mini upside down cakes.
I wasn't sure I could get rid of a whopping 24 decadent pecan-topped muffins at my work meeting, so I made half a batch as the recipe instructed and the other half with more fiber, less sugar, and dried cranberries inside instead of sticky-bun topping.
 And then there was a sinful/healthy variety for the meeting... and for coworker snacks and roommate snacks and then weekend breakfast for my most wonderful Memphis weekend hostess (who had hoped I'd show up with a baked good for breakfast, how lucky). It sounds more generous than reality; I definitely ate a majority of these guys.

January 10, 2012

Sausage and Apples

In school they teach you to write in complete sentences. 

In my attempts at writing not-for-teachers, I prefer things short. And concise. Short and concise, sometimes incomplete sentences. To be catchy. And add emphasis on the important words.
Addendum: Subheads. I like them.

Memory: Cafe Berlin, Columbia, MO: The kind of hippie-food breakfast place whose menu items make you pause, then delight

Menu item: Apples, garlic, red onion, local andouille sausage, a hint of chili powder and cinnamon cooked in maple syrup and brown sugar.

Re-creation: Sunday brunch with home group ladies

My dinner for the next two nights: This wondrous concoction served atop Sweet Potato Pancakes.

Inspiration for that: Trattoria Centrale appetizer of bread spread with sweet potato puree and topped with apples, pork and other good things I can't recall.

January 2, 2012

Best of 2011

I am a bit late on my 2011 recipe reflections, but here they are at last, now that I have to go back to work and back to catching up with those things I do online (even though I do want to spend less time online in 2012 and more time with people and books, or so I put in writing in one of my little papers).

Part One: Chocoholism, with lots of Oreos.
Qualifier: Taste-testing oh-my-goodnesses. And my initial oh-my goodness as I layered buttercream on a chocolate cake crust and sealed it in the ganache. Ohmygoodness.

Qualifier: Lots of blog traffic who, poor things, got inflicted with my rant about period piece romances and how they are like creating layer cake masterpieces. Also, the most awesomest moist chocolate cake recipe ever, via the Chocolate-Peanut Butter Cake I got paid to remake later in the year (woohoo, a first).

Qualifier: The number of people who off-blog went on about how amazing these were. Good thing I shared them because it was tempting to hoard them for myself.

Part Two: The white of Black and White, with some veggies.
Qualifier: My mother's compliments. All 4,928 of them. Also my pride in completing the from-scratch, no cream-of-blah-blah-soup challenge.

 Qualifier: Number of times it was made x Number of yum-moist-almond-flavor expressions= BIG wow factor.

Qualifier: Bacon. Also, a wonderful story from someone who remade and ever-so enjoyed it.