I finally have time to post!
We have officially made it to our Tour de Food Blogs February stop! But first, some housekeeping:
#1 — This is my 100th post!!! I’m pretty excited to have made it this far and that it coincides with a Tour stop!
#2 — I’ve decided that I will be making Tour posts during one week each month instead of spreading them out over the month.
#3 — Lisa of Lime in the Coconut has generously made some avatars for the tour! I will be unveiling those soon. Thanks Lisa!!
Okay, now it’s on to the Tour stop!
This month I got to learn more about Joelen of Joelen’s Culinary Adventures. And WOW was there a lot to learn. If simplicity was the theme of last month’s stop, then “adventure” is truly the only way to describe this month’s blog! Joelen is one busy lady and I have to say I am extremely impressed with all of her Culinary Adventures!
Raised by parents who were caterers, Joelen’s first cooking memory is of her parents preparing for an event: “They’d sit me on the counter … where they were prepping ingredients … and I would practice my counting skills and naming colors with the ingredients on the table.” Since then Joelen has developed her culinary skills in an enjoyable way. “I haven’t had any formal training, however I know by doing and spending years in the kitchen,” she says. “What I enjoy most about cooking is learning something new each and every time.” Fortunately for us, Joelen decided to start a blog in January 2007 as a way of sharing “[her] passion from [her] culinary point of view”.
Cooking is truly a passion for Joelen and it shows in her blog. Joelen does more than just share recipes. By her own admission, “there are quite a few things” going on at Joelen’s Culinary Adventures. In addition to hosting local events such as Wine & Dine, Foodie Films, and Chef Spotlight Dinners (more on those later), Joelen posts to her blog several times a day. Her posts range from techniques taught during one of her culinary classes to recipes she grew up on. Still, Joelen’s least favorite thing about having a blog is “not having enough time to blog everything I’d like.” It’s incredible to know Joelen has even more to offer considering that in addition to her events and MeetUp group (more on that later too), Joelen also works full time in corporate human resources.
So what exactly is this busy blogger up to? Here’s a brief run down, but I suggest you spend some time at Joelen’s Culinary Adventures and discover it all for yourself. You won’t be alone: Joelen reports an average of 400 hits per day. Read on to see what others are checking out:
First, there’s the blog which serves as home for all the special events and giveaways Joelen hosts. Then there is the MeetUp group. Joelen is the organizer of over 1200 Chicago Foodies at “What’s Cooking Chicago”. From that group, she hosts several events.
Chef Spotlight Dinners invites foodies to try recipes of a chosen chef. Those in Chicago are invited to a potluck dinner to share dishes. Past Chef Spotlight Dinners include Julia Child, Health Conscious Chefs, Chicago Chefs and most recently, African-American Chefs.
Wine & Dine occurs monthly where the group highlights a specific cuisine and drink. Another potluck dinner includes an educational presentation on paired wines and cocktails. Wine & Dine has included Fall Eats & Reds, Tailgating & Zinfandel, and Brazil’s Carnivale.
Foodie Films pairs the fun of movies with food. Think Chocolat.
Tasty Tools is an event that involves bloggers more directly. Each month Joelen announces a new tool. Participating bloggers make dishes using the tool and then post about their experience. Past tools have included Dutch ovens, scoops, and food processors.
Foodie Freebie Friday is just what it sounds like. Free stuff on Fridays!! Every week Joelen posts a giveaway of items that Joelen likes or that highlight Chicago. A few weeks ago the giveaway was Crate& Barrel. Can you say fabulous?
Clearly this blogger is busy! You really must visit her blog to see it all for yourself. Everything is organized very well and is easy to navigate. The look of the blog is fun and playful, very well laid out. You can access all events and features using the left sidebar. Across the top is a navigation bar that will lead you to Joelen’s bio, link to her MeetUp group, an incredibly well-organized and easy to use recipe index, blog awards, and other miscellaneous links. You really can’t go wrong here.
With all this going on, you might be asking where else does Joelen get her inspiration. Clearly, she is inspired by movies, chefs, and different types of cuisine. But there’s more. As far as cookbooks, Joelen says “I go through phases with cookbooks depending on my mood or time of year. These days it’s Ina Garten’s cookbooks. They are fresh, simple, and straightforward.” When asked what her favorite cooking blog is, Joelen was very descriptive of a blog called [eatingclub] Vancouver written by sisters. Here’s what Joelen had to say about it:
“[The sisters] are of Chinese descent and grew up in Manila, Philippines who now live in Canada. Perhaps it’s their Asian background, as I am Filipino who married a Filipino Chinese guy… maybe its partly because they currently reside in Canada as I am a Canadian citizen living in the US… but their culinary viewpoint draws me in. Everything they make triggers memories of my childhood with the various ingredients they use, the techniques they share and the foods they blog about… I admire them for blogging about dishes that not many other bloggers blog about. It’s truly a unqiue blog unlike no other and I have a great respect for what they both do. “
I encourage you to head on over and check out Joelen’s latest adventure. You’ll find so much worth reading and exploring. I’ll leave you with a taste of some of Joelen’s expertise.
Quick cooking tip: Fried Rice
Many friends and family ask me for my fried rice recipe. I can’t stress enough how important it is to use COLD, day old rice. Friends try making it with fresh, hot rice and it just doesn’t work as well. Also when I make fried rice, it’s not because I specifically plan on it, but rather because I need to use up random ingredients on hand. Growing up, fried rice was how we used up leftovers and anything goes!
Stay tuned for my experiences with some of Joelen’s favorite recipes. Thanks for sharing with us Joelen!