Tour de Food Blogs January Stop!
Welcome to the Tour de Food Blogs. I hope you’ll enjoy our first Tour Stop. In the upcoming weeks I’ll share my attempts at recreating some recipes from the Tour Stop. For now, please enjoy our January Tour Stop!
Blogger: Karen, 31, married, works part time from home
Blog Name: Loves to Eat
“I’m finally doing this blog thing.” That’s the title of the first entry Karen posted to her newly created blog, Loves to Eat. Almost one year ago, Karen embarked on her culinary journey, starting out as a “basic, low maintenance cook” and evolving into “a comfortable intermediate”. Karen’s blog chronicles her experiences in the kitchen and aims to show readers that you can keep your daily dinner budget down while once a month having a little fun, again without breaking the bank.
Karen’s “blog thing” is doing well, receiving 200 to 400 hits or visits a day, depending on what she is blogging about and how often she posts. Karen admits to checking her stats daily and sharing her blog with everyone she knows. There is certainly a lot for her readers to devour. “My blog is unique because I try to share recipes with items people usually have on hand for daily meals and baking and then every month I try to make something with a new ingredient, technique or tool,” Karen says. She has shared countless recipes and ideas, reaching 100 posts on July 11, 2008. The last line of the 100th post reads: “Off to create 100 more…” On November 15, 2008, she did just that, posting #200.
In the kitchen, Karen loves to use her Kitchen Aid mixer, bread maker, microplane zester, cookie scoops, and knive sets, among other tools and gadgets. She also tries new foods and products. Loves to Eat readers can enjoy features such as product reviews of items like Fruit Leather (7/21/08), Green Bags (9/17/08), and Edible Arrangements (9/27/08). Karen also participates in “Tasty Tools”, a blog feature hosted by Joelen’s Culinary Adventures*, where Karen posts a recipe using a specific tool, like a blender (5/24/08 ) or roaster pans (11/29/08 ) and shares her experiences. Many blogs have gone to prize and giveaway features and while Loves to Eat hasn’t featured give aways yet, Karen hopes to in year 2.
Year 2 surely holds huge promise for Karen and Loves to Eat. Karen says she had no real cooking experience or variety in her meals when she began her blog last January. Since then she has barely repeated a meal or idea. When you visit Loves to Eat, you’ll find the look and feel of the blog to be very user-friendly, showing only “Home” and “About” tabs and a quick and dirty list of post Categories, blogs Karen frequents, and a search option. The page style is simple and elegant, with an at-home feel. The prominent sage green color is soothing and easy on the eyes.
Another feature that makes the blog feel easy to digest is the length of posts and amount of pictures. Every entry is concise, with a short explanation about the dish and recipe. The posts contain 1 to 2 pictures each. Quick and too the point, Karen’s brevity is a welcome respite in a blog world that can sometimes feel overrun with step by step photos and lengthy kitchen narratives. Not to say that this style of blog is better or more preferred, but in a blog culture where new features, contests, and content are added daily, a “back to basics” approach can be just as eye catching and entertaining.
Karen has done a great job of posting entertaining and thoughtful meals and recipes. Her dishes often evoke vivid memories and feelings that she shares with the recipe. Here’s what Karen has to say about a simple recipe her mom makes, Cheeseball with blue cheese: “This is a very old recipe that my mom always made us on U of M football Saturdays. We couldn’t watch the game without it. Everytime I eat it I feel like I should be hearing the fight song in the background and my dad yelling at the TV!” And describing her favorite family recipe: “My mom’s potato salad. There is something about the salting of the potatoes and the potato she chooses that makes my mouth water just thinking about it!”
Karen also shows her sense of humor and creativity in posts such as Halloween Pulled Pork Sandwiches (10/27/08 ) and Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month (10/14/08). In the Pulled Pork post, Karen takes a normal BBQ Sandwich and dresses up the bun “in costume” with other edible ingredients in honor of the holiday. A typical chocolate chocolate chip cookie is turned into a specialty item for Breast Cancer Awareness Month, simply by adding Pink M&M’s. Not only can Karen make you giggle, she also shows how food can be our gift to others. Here’s what Karen shares about a Lemon Semifreddo recipe: “I was home visiting my family this past summer while my mom was sick and while taking care of her I wanted to make her something light and refreshing. Knowing she loves everything lemon, this was the perfect recipe.”
So where does her recipe inspiration come from? Cooking websites such as cooksillustrated.com, cooking shows like America’s Test kitchen, her friends and family, and cooking magazines. Karen often modifies recipes she finds to fit the tastes of her and her handy husband, Mike. Thanks to Mike, Karen now has an updated pantry and kick ass grille. Lucky lady! The grille makes many appearances in her recipes. Seafood dishes are plentiful as well. The blogs I normally frequent typically do not feature much seafood, but in Loves to Eat you’ll find shrimp, salmon, & tilapia, all cooked several different ways (I counted almost 50 seafood recipes!).
In addition to seafood recipes, you’ll find a collection of diverse recipes that leave you wanting another course. Over the next few weeks I’ll be trying my hand at 3 of Karen’s recipes. Each additional post will also provide you with some more facts regarding Karen and her blog Loves to Eat. I hope you’ll visit Karen’s blog and experience “another crazy year in the kitchen” with her.
*Watch for Joelen’s Culinary Adventures to be featured in March.
[Let me know what you think of the first entry on the Tour de Food Blogs. I love your feedback!]