Sunday, March 17, 2013

Some thoughts about me, my food and my Blog Posts

English Farnhouse Loaf
Tallest one yet!
*recipe is on blog

I'm going to have a chat with you all for a moment, if that's alright.  Get a glass of wine or a coffee and ride along with me. 

One of the delightful things about my own blog is that no only am I lucky enough to share help or thoughts and suggestions about something in which we obviously have a shared interest but it's also where I can share my thoughts about other things that are related to the straight up recipes and tips and tricks I share. 

More people come to the blog to visit and I find my recipes and blog address on many sites which is so very exciting!  The down side is that there are people who send me challenging notes and comments about what I do here.  To be clear, I do this for fun, you come here for fun, let's just play nice.

I have had some questions put to me lately that I think require some shared thought.  These are not all from one source.

I was recently asked to link a recipe to another site, the owner of the site claimed to have "invented" the process I used.  

Well, come on now.  There are really no new ideas or recipes.  We all just take what we have and work it in a way that makes us happy and supplies us with good tasting food.  We have all been cooking in vessels of every description since the invention of the cooking vessel.  I don't steal ideas, I don't steal recipes or methods.  I research sometimes and I use my old, antique, cookbooks that are piled up on my kitchen table.  I get a large glass of wine and comb over them like well known, well loved novels.  I rarely put one down without a dreamy moment envisioning the 1865 housewife holding the same book.  I wonder, will a mom, in 2155 read my blog posts?  or hold these books?  It boggles the mind.  Well, it boggles mine.  Look at me digressing...  ANYway, I post on my blog what I do and how I do it.  These bread recipes are all mine, I test them constantly and tweak them all the time.  I tell you when I use a recipe I found in an old book, I tell you how I changed it and I give credit to the original writer.  I don't use or read current recipes.  Ever.  If I see something interesting somewhere that I think you'd like to know about, I'll tell you where I saw it.  Honestly, I don't have the energy to thieve.

I was asked if I use professional cookware or professional kitchens or appliances and why I would dare suggest purchasing equipment at a restaurant supply store

Firstly, I most certainly do not have professional equipment or cookware. I wish I could, don't we all wish we could. 

I use what I can find in my local low brow stores. I shop at thrift shops, the sale aisle in my grocery store, at standard big box stores like Walmart (where I got the Nesco pressure cooker on sale for $65) or my delightful discovery of the restaurant supply stores.

I think everyone should be told about all of the options.  I found roasting pans at my restaurant supply store that were 1/3 the price of lower quality (but prettier) pans at Williams Sonoma, Sur La Table or Bed Bath and Beyond.  I love all these stores and shop at them frequently but if I can find an alternative that will save me a bunch of money then I will absolutely, positively, share that information with you.  You can decide where to spend your hard earned dollar.
I look for ways for the home cook to achieve exquisite, delicious, results. I cook old fashioned food. I cook from scratch. I look for inexpensive options, always. 

I shared the information on the blog about utilizing restaurant supply stores that are open in most major markets and most have online ordering. Many people think those stores are only for the professional or only sell high ticket items. I wanted to share my discovery to the contrary. I find the supply stores sell high quality, low cost, items. The staff is generally knowledgeable, helpful and know about food and about cooking and that is exactly the expertise I'm looking for. It's all they do. That's a bonus.

Specifically, most recently, I had been looking at extra large loaf pans because I wanted tall straight sided loaves instead of "mushroom" loaves. I found some pans online, in other countries, but found them cost prohibitive. I went into the supply store to look to see if they had any of the size I wanted. They didn't. While I was there, I spied a stainless steal steam pan in the exact dimensions, for $6 and snapped it up. I experimented, found it was completely and totally successful and then shared that information with my audience. 

I feel my job is to experiment with recipes and with alternatives to overpriced brand name equipment (pampered chef pan was $24 and even Walmart wanted $11). I try to share what I find with those who are interested.

There are so many options out there, I'm glad I could pass along one that will save some money and give extraordinary results.

I was asked is who do I think my audience is.  

I think my audience is people who love food.  People who cook.  People who eat food.  People who wonder about food.  People with a question, a suggestion or a thought about food.  I think my audience is everyone. 

I hope my audience finds my suggestions, recipes and processes helpful, useful and interesting.  I hope sometimes they giggle, roll their eyes or giving a knowing nod when I wax poetic about adding just a little extra butter or bacon fat. I hope they smile, take notes, carry me into the kitchens on their laptops, tablets or phone.  

I'll tell you, one of the delights of my day is when I sit down with my coffee in the morning and look at my statistics on the blog.  I grin and often giggle when I see I've been visited from locations around the world.  I see visits from a country on a regular basis and I imagine it's a friend from far away who pops in regularly just to see what I've been up to.  No google search, no specific question, just someone who came across my little food blog spot and decided to remember to come back.  Sheer and utter delight. 

More often than not, I decide which culinary adventure to take based on what posts have had the most hits in any given day or week.  For example, pressure cooker meatballs is the current big winner on the blog.  That makes me want to improve it, cut the time, increase the flavor or just streamline it for you.  

Finally, I was asked, what makes you a so called expert in anything and why should anyone listen to you?" 

Well, I'm no expert.  I'm a gal who loves to cook.  I come from a line of cooks, mom cooks, who loved what they did.  I watched my mom and grandmother cook.  I have told friends before, it's not that I CAN cook, it is that I DO cook.  Everyone CAN cook, it's not rocket science, the question comes into whether or not they DO cook.  Some people have other interests, obligations, time constraints or just find it dull and pedantic.  I've never claimed I CAN cook any better or worse than anyone else.  I simply DO cook and I enjoy it. 

I have a deep passion and it brings me joy to do it.  I cook when I'm sad to make me feel better.  I cook when I think I'm not good enough, because it makes me feel better.  I cook when I'm joyful and celebrating.  I cook for groups, friends, family, for myself.  When I am alone for a meal (it's so rare but I love it) I cook a 3 or 4 course mini meal just for me.

When I cook, I like the process, the experience, the science and the end result.  I don't claim to be anything other than someone who loves what I do every day regarding food and decided to write it down and share. 

I don't get paid to push a product or company.  I don't get perks for reviews of anything.  I just take some time out of my day to share what I think is interesting, helpful and fun. 

I simply hope you enjoy the blog.  I hope you can use the information, tidbits and you decide to make whatever it is I've shared with you when perhaps, before, you'd been afraid to do it.  I hope you have a little smile when you read my "LOOK! LOOK at what we DID! Can you BELIEVE it?!" that I tend to share in my posts because when I write that, I mean that, I said that.  I'm genuinely tickled with the results and I write as I said it to you, here in my kitchen with me, peeking into the oven, under the pot lid or opening the proofing box. 

I'm going to keep doing what I do.  I love it and so far, you all seem to be totally supportive so, let's see what we do next.

Ok, that's my little sharing moment done.  I'm working on the final details of a pressure cooked, individual serving, steamed pudding with golden syrup on the bottom.  Oh yeah, baby, it's crazy good.  My international tester played with my original recipe and I'm testing it now.  I see a juicy, mouthwatering blog post about it in the very near future (tomorrow) so come back with an appetite and sweet tooth. 

Thanks so much for playing with me today. 



  1. Love love love! This is actually the first post of yours I have ever read, I have never read a recipe of yours, I was sent here by linked in since we are both members of the cookbook writing group and I thought the title was interesting. Having said all that, your words describe me to a T. I look forward now to "surfing" your blog!

  2. Tracy, YOU KNOW I love, love, love your blog. I enjoy reading your blog, not just trying out your recipes. Sometimes at 7 am with a cup of coffee or a glass of wine. Yes, wine at 7 am is fine if you do it once or twice. If you drink regularly, you should not think it ok to have wine at 7 am. Since I hardly ever have a glass of wine but want one at 7 am, I have nothing to worry about.

    I love your "expert because I have done it and it came out well several times" point of view. I don't think of you as someone with a masters degree in Culinary Arts, I think of you as a Culinary Master because you have mastered your recipes. I know if I want to make something from your recipes I have to fine tune it to my tastes and that of my family. I know that I use FAR more garlic than you do and I use more seasonings than you do for some of the recipes. I also know when I read a recipe you have posted not to use spicy ingredients since I don't like spicy food. To me, your blog is all about COMMON SENSE. I know, there is nothing Common about Common Sense, but there should be!

    I am saddened that anyone would attack you even in a small way like, "What makes you an expert?" Any person with the ability to read knows you don't ever claim expert status, you just share your expertise!

    I ordered your bread bag but it still sits in my kitchen drawer, unused. Not because I don't trust your recipes for bread, I just have not had time to make bread. I am retired. I have learned that since I have so much extra time on my hands, I have to really work at being organized to complete half of what I used to get done in a day. The more time I have to do things, the less time I have to get them done!

    Whether it is your pressure cooker soup (last night's dinner was split pea and it was perfect, of course), your Cheap Roast tastes like expensive (our go-to roast-beef-for-sandwiches-recipe which is on the list for this week as we are out of it) or just a recipe for something I have never made your way or a new way of making the same old thing, I can count on YOU and your blog to provide me with all the details I need to make it perfect. This site is my first stop, and usually my only one, for something new and/or different. I appreciate your humor, your style and your down to earth approach to anything food!

  3. You should be a part of a contest for one of the greatest blogs on the internet.
    I will highly recommend this site!

  4. bookmarked!!, I like your blog!