It's no secret that my favourite topic of conversation is food, and when I talk about this dish or that I have been creating, people often ask for the recipe. So, when I first started blogging a bit over five years ago, it was really just a way to make that recipe sharing easy. It was also a way to give voice to some of my thoughts about food, travel, yoga, and occasionally life in general.
Back then I never imagined anyone, other than immediate family and acquaintances, actually reading my posts. I never dreamed that this "little hobby" would connect me with people, not only from all over my own country, but also from all corners of the globe, some of whom have touched my life in remarkable ways, and several of whom have become genuine friends.
So when the lovely Tina from Squirrel Head Manor invited me to participate in the Cross Country Culinary Tour, I was keen for the opportunity not just to tell you a bit more about myself, but also about Tina and a few of the other blogs I like to visit.
As I just mentioned, Tina hosts the blog Squirrel Head Manor, which I first discovered through the I Heart Cooking Clubs group. Of course, like most of us, Tina loves to cook and share her delicious recipes. Like me, she also likes a good wine with the food she creates, and often shares posts about her latest wine finds - from time to time she comes up with a New Zealand wine which always makes me smile. Tina loves to travel, has a passion for genealogy, is a proud army mum, and also "mum" to a couple of shiba inus dogs. Tina has a great sense of humour, and living in Florida, where I'm convinced they have perpetual sunshine (she assures me they have a winter, but I'm not buying it), you can often find her and her husband enjoying a grill and dinner on the patio. There are many months of the year when I am insanely envious of that.
Check out this Bourbon & Brown Sugar Tenderloin, served of course with a Bordeaux Chateau Blouin.
Now I'm supposed to answer a few questions so you can get to know me better.
What am I working on currently on the blog?
Since starting my blog, I have found that there are several of my recipes that I go back to time and time again. Having my laptop open on the kitchen bench so that I can look at the recipe is not always that convenient, so I recently had a go at creating recipe cards for the last couple of posts I published. I was so pleased with the results, that I'm planning on revisiting a lot of my older posts and making recipe cards for lots of my favourite recipes. I may even put together a few selections of cards for Xmas gifts for friends.
How does my work differ from others of its genre?
I'm not sure that there really is anything particularly unique about my blog. I like food, I write about food, I try to take pretty pictures of food - doesn't everybody?! My principal point of view though would be trying to encourage you, as much as possible, to develop a genuine "awareness" of what you're eating and to make food from scratch. It's actually not as daunting as it might seem - it just requires a little bit of planning.
Why do I write what I do?
Several years ago I read a book called "The Ethics of What We Eat". At the same time, through my regular yoga practice, I was developing greater consciousness in many areas of my life. It might sound cliched, but that was a life changing read. It brought into question for me many ethical issues around the food that I eat. Questions of eating local versus imported food, supporting farmers and growers in third world countries versus supporting local producers, the environmental impact of growing and producing everything we eat, eating animal products - or not, and many, many more issues. I could write volumes on this subject, but I'll spare you. In short, the main conclusion I came to, was that unless I had the time to spend hours and hours researching every single ingredient I purchase, it's impossible to make an ethically sound judgement about everything I consume, and I shouldn't beat myself up trying. I can, however, take the time to consume as little processed food as possible, and I can take the time before blithely throwing ingredients into my supermarket trundler to consider where it has come from, who might have produced it, what animal may have given up its life for it. That "consciousness" of what I consume is what I'm passionate about, and is what I hope readers of my blog will pick up on over time.
How does my writing process work?
I'd love to try and sound like a real writer and tell you all about "my process", but in all honesty there isn't one. Sometimes I write things in my head while I'm standing in the shower - in fact, I come up with some of my best lines in the shower. But it's usually forgotten by the time I come to write a post.
Now that's enough about me. I'm supposed to now introduce you to three blogs I enjoy and visit regularly, and then it would be their turn. I didn't have any luck in finding any fellow bloggers who wanted to participate, but I thought I would nevertheless take you on a quick "world tour" of some of the bloggers I visit regularly and who also host some of the events I regularly like to participate in.
So first of all we're heading north across the Pacific to Hawaii, where my friend Deb at Kahakai Kitchen, is not only one of my co-hosts at I Heart Cooking Clubs, but also hosts a weekly event called Souper (Soup, Salad & Sammie) Sundays. As if that wasn't enough, Deb is also one of the co-hosts of Cook the Books, and Food 'n' Flix. On top of all that she manages to dish up plenty of beautiful, mostly healthy food, along with book reviews and the occasional restaurant review. I have only one question for Deb - how do you do it?!!
From Hawaii, we're headed to Malaysia, where I'd like to introduce you to Joyce at Kitchen Flavours. Joyce is another blogger I got to know through I Heart Cooking Clubs, and I love the way no matter what the theme or who we are cooking with, Joyce always manages to come up with her own "spiced up" version of things. I read Joyce's posts and the tantalising smell of spices and curry leaves swirls through my mind. Joyce hosts Cook Your Books, a monthly event to get you cooking out of that collection of cook books you have; The Home Bakers, currently dedicated to baking every recipe from "Coffee Cakes" by Lou Seibert Pappas; and co-hosts Bake Along.
Now, we're flying off to the south of France to meet the lovely Karen at Lavender and Lovage. I first "met" Karen just a few months ago through the Secret Recipe Club in which we both participate. It didn't taken long to discover that we had a great deal in common - a culinary history hugely influenced by our grandmothers, and a shared philosophy of cooking mostly from scratch, growing what you can, and cooking with seasonal, locally grown produce. I have a fantasy of one day turning up in the south of France, cycling up to Karen's back door, and sitting at her kitchen table to enjoy a natter over a cuppa and cake. Of course there would be cake, but why my fantasy involves a bicycle I have no idea, since I never ride a bike in my normal life - still that's what fantasies are for I guess. Karen also hosts Cooking with Herbs and Tea Time Treats.
You still with me? Next stop on our tour is Berkshire in England, where I want you to meet April at The 21st Century Housewife. April grew up in Canada before moving to England in her early twenties. April's blog grew out of a series of essays she wrote to help herself and other stay at home mums overcome the negativity that can often arise around being a full time homemaker. April and her busy corporate husband travel and entertain extensively, and you'll find April's blog chock full of travel, entertaining, style and fashion tips. April also co-hosts the Hearth and Soul blog event - a weekly event around family and comfort food posts, sustainable living posts, gardening, family, kids, crafts and DIY.
From England, we're headed across the Atlantic to visit the delightful Michelle at Ms. enPlace in the state of Louisiana. Michelle writes passionately about Cajun and Creole food, as well as Louisiana music and Mardi Gras. She is equally passionate about the coastal erosion that is changing the landscape of her home state. And whilst there is sometimes a serious note to her posts, she more often than not truly makes me laugh out loud. It has been said that a "really good friend is one who makes you snort when you laugh, and will still hang out with you when you do it in public". I always imagine Michelle to be exactly that kind of friend. Michelle hosts the weekly See Ya In the Gumbo blog event, a tribute to her great grandfather who always used to say see ya in the gumbo instead of goodbye.
There are a few others I could add to this mix, but I figure five is enough - you should all be pretty jet lagged by now. I hope you've enjoyed this tour with me, and come back tomorrow to see what's been cooking in my kitchen.