Thursday, December 31, 2009

11 things food blogging has taught me

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Well, it's been a year (plus a few days) since the birth of this blog, and a year (minus a few days) since I started as the LA Cooking Examiner over at A year in which I've shopped, cooked, photographed, chronicled, compiled, and edited.

And other things happened, too: I made new friends. I went back to work full-time after eight years as a full-time at-home parent. My kids are one year closer to first dates, first kisses, driver's licenses, high school, college, real life. Yesterday was the 17th anniversary of the day Michael and I met. Milestones and progressions. But the biggest event in my own life this year, the biggest new thing I took on, was becoming a food writer - something I had wanted to do for a long time, something I'd talked about doing for a while, and something I finally decided to tackle this year.

So today, the last day of 2009, I thought I'd make a list of the things I've learned during this year of writing about food. I warn you, it's a list of personal discovery. No recipes. Hope that's okay.

1. I am not likely to write any recipes that involve separating eggs, white chocolate, whole fish, or organ meat (with the exception of chicken livers). In order, lazy, dislike, lazy, dislike.  

2. I am still scared of pie crust, or, more accurately, of the rolling pin. But I'm working on it.

3. Put me in front of my pantry and refrigerator, and even if we haven't shopped in two weeks, I will pull together a pretty tasty meal. It will include capers.

4. I really like vegetables. When I went through my archives the other day for my LA Cooking Examiner article "New Year's resolutions: Eat more vegetables," I was truly astonished at the number of vegetable recipes I've written this year. Every single one was a dish I loved eating. Who knew? And this from a girl whose mother served only frozen veggies - yes, really, particularly that mix of carrots, peas, corn and green beans. All the time. Sorry, Mom, you know I love you.

5. Nothing makes me happier than having the people I love at my dining room table. The fact that my family and friends support this crazy desire to cook all the time and test my creations on them, that they're willing to try anything, that they give me honest feedback, and that they tell me how much they like it when I cook for them - it fills me with joy.

6. I am really lucky to have married a guy who is "party compatible." He likes being the host. He likes that when people come over there's always interesting food on the table. And he's always willing to do the stuff I'm not as good at: bringing folding chairs and tables up from the garage, making sure everyone's got a glass, staying out at the party while I fuss in the kitchen. Also, when we remodeled our house 10 years ago, he designed me the most functional, comfortable, and beautiful kitchen I could have asked for. It's not the biggest, nor the most elegant, but it is truly a cook's kitchen. Lucky, every day.

7. I will love truffles (the fungi in the photo at right, not the chocolates) for the rest of my life.

8. My photography skills are, at best, mediocre - and I'm okay with that. Truthfully, I do get a bit jealous when I see food bloggers with the big cameras, the big lenses, fiddling with the white balance, knowing that they can lighten shadows and change backgrounds and whatever else people do in Photoshop. But I have to do the cost-benefit analysis. I have a full-time job, two kids, a husband, three blogs, and a definite need for eight hours of sleep each night. I'm a writer, not a photographer. So I'm learning to get the most out of my point-and-shoot, use a sheet of printer paper to reflect light, do basic editing in the program that came free with my version of Microsoft Office, and that's that.

9. Although it surprises me, I am now willing to write boring, SEO-friendly headlines so that search engines will find my articles more easily. So much for journalistic standards. Welcome to the new world. Adapt or die.

10. I am territorial in my kitchen. We were lucky enough to have two different professional chefs prepare elegant, multi-course dinners in our home this month. Both times, watching other people take over my kitchen gave me hives. I thought I could handle it. I could not. Next time, Xanax.

11. Writing is better than therapy. The single best thing food writing gave me this year was the ability - no, the mandate - to sit, focused, uninterrupted, and concentrate on one thing at a time. As those of you with jobs and children and husbands and houses know, working moms are the queens of multitasking. I'm right up there with the best of them, but that doesn't mean it's good for me. Everyone needs time to think about One Thing. When I'm writing - about food, about my kids, whatever - I am thinking about the story in front of me, how it moves from beginning to end, whether the words I type truly reflect the thoughts in my head, the voice that goes with my name. When I'm done, I read what I've written and I smile. Yes, that's me.

Happy new year to everyone - may 2010 be the start of a wonderful decade for all.


Gaby said...

I am right there with ya on the territorial thing in the kitchen!! So happy to have met you this year - can't wait for more great things to come in 2010!

Michelle said...

Cute post and so appropriate for the end of a year!

I would add one more if it were my list, "If I can use butter, I do!"

Laura said...

Wow quite a list! I love it. Here's to another year Erika! Cheers

Anonymous said...

Excellent synopsis! Can't wait to try your salad recipe. For what it's worth, I think your photos are excellent! Happy New Year!

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