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Back in action!

March 4, 2013 in Chicken, Uncategorized

You may have noticed that I haven’t written a post in a while, the post production work after Dinner Diva’s kept me very busy plus my mom had some life threatening complications after an operation in December. In addition to being really busy with my parenting and work commitments, as well as helping my mom regain her strength, I let my blog slip a little.

So I am very happy to announce that Mom has bounced back, and is in the swing of things behind her PC doing what she loves most – writing recipes!  And they are all available on our website I Love Cooking.

In the weeks to come, I will share those delicious recipes with you.  And because chicken is so popular, we decided to start increasing our chicken category, so here is a really delicious one, perfect for the busy working mom:

Italian-Style Chicken Steaks

  • 4 chicken fillets, kept whole
  • 10 ml garlic paste
  • 90 ml low-fat buttermilk
  • 200 g Rosa tomatoes, halved lengthwise
  • salt, freshly milled black pepper and sprinkling of sugar
  • olive oil
  • 1 very large onion, finely sliced into rings
  • 30 ml butter
  • 15 ml dried Italian herbs
  • 125 ml freshly-grated Parmesan cheese
  • small handful of chopped fresh herbs like parsley and basil

Put the chicken fillets in a glass dish. Mix the garlic into the buttermilk and add to the chicken. Toss the chicken to coat it evenly with the mixture, cover and set aside until required.

Place the Rosa tomato halves in a small baking dish with the cut side facing uppermost and season to taste with salt, pepper and sugar. Place in the oven, preheated to 190º C for 25 to 30 minutes, or until sticky and baked to your liking.

Meanwhile, heat a little oil in a large frying pan and add the onion. Sauté until translucent then allow to brown lightly. Turn heat down and cook for about 20 minutes or until the onions have caramelised nicely. Remove from heat and set aside.

In a clean, oven-friendly pan, heat 15 ml of the oil and the butter. Lift the chicken fillets and strip some of the marinade off with your hands or pull the fillets against the rim of the dish to let some of the marinade drip off. Now, quickly flash-fry the fillets on both sides, taking care not to cook them: you just want the surface lightly browned as this adds flavour.

Remove the pan from the heat, season the fillets to taste then top with the onions and baked tomatoes. Mix together the dried herbs and Parmesan cheese and sprinkle the mixture over the top of each fillet. Place the pan in oven and bake at 190º C for 10 minutes, no longer.

Remove the pan from the oven and allow to rest for 5 minutes. Scatter the fresh herbs over top and serve with buttered bow-shaped noodles and a green salad.

Serves 4

Hint: A few slices of mozzarella cheese (before you sprinkle the Parmesan over) will do wonders for the drool factor of this dish. However, it will also increase the fat content … so you decide :-)!

Until next time!

From my busy kitchen to yours,

Michéle

For more easy & delicious recipes go to: 

I Love Cooking

Only six stages to becoming a food blogger

October 24, 2012 in Uncategorized

For many passionate cooks and diners, food blogging is the perfect creative and social outlet. Having your own blog means you can share your passion with kindred foodies who already have food blogs as well as your family, friends and online fans. And it could become a highly emotionally-satisfying hobby whilst having the potential to become profitable if you do it well and often. But possible fame and fortune aside, many bloggers simply do it for fun and to let off some steam created by their passion for food albeit planning the menu and buying, gathering, preparing, serving or eating the food!

The blogging world is a fabulous place in which to exchange ideas, information and learn about each other’s habits, traditions, beliefs and way-with-food. It would be wonderful if we could have more men and more cultures joining this world.  As food is central to a culture’s traditions, many of us crave knowing more about other cultures’ habits and traditions and of course, their yummy recipes.

To start blogging is easy, there are six stages to begin with and you require just a few skills: the ability to write well, to cook well and to take (at least) recognisable pictures. You probably have the tools already: a digital camera (a cell phone with a good camera facility will do), a laptop, PC or tablet and of course, access to internet. And then, this is how you go about it: prepare a dish that you are crazy about, style it nicely and take picture of it. Transfer the pictures to your laptop or PC or tablet (you can even take the pictures with your tablet) and then choose the nicest one. On your laptop or PC you can use a program as simple as Microsoft Office 2010 to crop your picture the way you like and then to resize or compress it to a smaller, online-friendly size. Then you type out the recipe, add some information or a little personal story, check your grammar and spelling and finally, save it on your system. You now have a saved document with your yummy recipe-story and a saved picture that you love.

The hardest thing is probably thinking of a name for you blog. And be cautioned, ‘cute’ is not always sellable. People looking for wonderful recipes online will not search on Google for (say) ‘Monica’s Hot Chows’. No, they will more likely use words and descriptions like ‘best’ or ‘easy recipes’ or ‘quick’ and ‘easy cooking’ and ‘simple’ and most probably also ‘delicious’ and ‘tasty’. So make sure you give your blog a descriptive name that will ‘sell’ online when people use words on Google or other search engines looking for great meals and recipes. Think of the food that you love and love to eat and will now write about: Is it delicious? Is it easy? Is it Italian? Mediterranean? African? Asian? Homely? Budget beaters? Baking? Pickling? Once you are sure that the core word you have chosen for your blog’s name is a popular search engine term, use that word in your blog’s name. Create a simple free account for yourself with Google Adwords and play around with your own words (click on Tools and Analysis and then select Keyword Tool on the drop-down list) until you find the word(s) that Google says is most popular. Now use your findings as clue to a name for your blog.

Whatever name you choose, know that your blog is about you, your food, your way of cooking and what your food ‘voice’ is. So also decide on your blog’s ‘food voice’. Is it going to be homely, fancy, using local ingredients, using only fresh ingredients, low-fat, vegetarian, wheat free, diabetic cooking or whatever? Whatever it is, is has to be authentic and be your own sincere lovely voice. It’s good to know that the general public who reads blogs are people who love to eat and want ideas. But beware, they can and do ‘read between the lines’ so, if you are not true in your food passion and not sincere in your intentions and (actually) want to promote your home catering or hubby’s toaster-repair business, your pony will only have one trick and it will be a short show. Blog visitors know their oats, literally.

Right, one last thing before you can start: you need to decide which online blog platform you are going to use to showcase your talents and share your passion. Although there are many, with the biggest being WordPress.com, Blog.com and Blogger, we highly recommend that you start with Food24 as your blog platform. It is the local meeting place of most of our food bloggers and this is where you will get warm and enthusiastic acceptance, meet loads of other passionate foodies, get great advice and support but above all, get traffic! Always remember that traffic to your blog (traffic means people reading or looking at your blog) is what you want because it creates loyal followers and fans which could turn into fame which may lead to fortune J and if not and over and above that, you will have a lot of fun getting all that traffic.

It’s simple to create our own blog on Food 24. You just need to create an account for yourself. On their home page you click on ‘Blogs’, and on the blogs page, you click on ‘Create an account’ and fill in the easy-peasy form. Your account needs to be approved so be patient, within a day you’ll be able to upload your first post.

Finally, once you have:

(1) figured out how your digital or cell phone camera works,

(2) written a good, original recipe in your own words (!) (cutting and pasting somebody else’s work will land you in trouble faster than you can say Pick ’n Pay),

(3) decided on a name for your blog that will attract traffic to it,

(4) created a free and easy account with Food24 and

(5) had a little look-see how the buddy WordPress within Food24 operates,

then you are ready to rock and roll, sister! Or brother …! And then you blog. And blog and blog and blog. The more you do it, the better you’re going to get. But there is a 6th step – social networking As soon as you are comfortable in your blog space and know that it is something that you want and can do forever, begin social networking – Facebook and Twitter for sure. Be active and proactive and tweet and post a lot on Facebook. Post and tweet what you blog about including lots of hints and tips and food-newsy stuff.  And finally, when you have found your blogging ‘boots’ and love it to smithereens, then start doing some serious SEO (search engine optimisation) to improve the traffic to your blog and to showcase your beautiful work to more people. But, more about that another day …

First, just start. Eveeeeeentually when you’ve fallen deeply in love with your blog (and other people’s blogs) and know for sure you want to be a blogger forever, you can start thinking about upgrading your camera and even go for photography course. And if you are sincere and serious about food blogging, always remember that bread dough does not keep, you need to make fresh dough often… and it is the same with blogging.  You have to do it often to maintain the online attention and momentum to your blog.

And finally, when you are an established food blogger – you may want to consider migrating to your own big, unique blog. But never let go of Food24, continue to post your recipes and pictures on their platform. It will keep your traffic alive and your beautiful face and unique blogging voice and work under the foodie and advertiser spotlight.

Just believe this: if you consistently produce great, original work in your own authentic voice that people find safe, useful, fascinating, or entertaining and amusing, you will make a pretty big name for yourself, it’s almost guaranteed. And, who knows what doors your blog can open for you? The future lies online and consistently good, creative and strategically-thinking bloggers will richly enjoy the fruits of their labours.

Click HERE to see an interview with Caro de Waal, editor of Food24 and click HERE to see Andrew Lieber, editor of The Gourmet Guys about their views on food blogging.

Written by Anne Myers for I Love Cooking.

October 2012

OOOOOPS! Thank you for your comments everybody ! I appreciate them all  but I accidentally lost some of them when I deleted 621 SPAM messages as well!! Yes, six hundred and twenty one! Advice any one how I can stop it? Caro of Food24 has already zapped them for me installed whatever flytrap she could, yet they still slip through. Grrrrr. Wish they were nice comments, rather. :-(

Divas CAN launch!

October 19, 2012 in Uncategorized

I can safely say that Dinner Divas is now officially launched… and my word, what a launch it was.  I know… some of you are lifting your eyebrows saying that the launch was ages ago!  But the two blonds are still recovering… eish!

As the editor of I Love Cooking, and consequently being the Dinner Diva host, the responsibility fell on my shoulders to MC the whole affair.  And now my little secret is out… I am awful at public speaking, and always a nervous wreck when faced with it – but I tackled it head on, and presented to the contestant bloggers, judges, some more fellow bloggers, and members of the media, our first episode of Dinner Divas, a premiere of sorts… and judging by the response in the room it went down a hit!

Then we could all relax, kick off our heels, and have lunch and loads of wine!  And of course mingle and be merry.  After all, as some of you know, shooting can be grueling, and we thoroughly enjoyed being out of the office and socializing a bit.

So I’m not going to waffle on, I just want to share some of the lovely pics taken on that day.

Enjoy!

Judge Aubrey hanging out with Anél and Lungi Nhlanhla (Drum), gorgeous judge Caro, and ever so willing to take the mike, judge Andrew from Gourmet Guys.

Some of our speakers:  Janice Tripepi, Kristy Snell, SABC2 representative, Lisa Vilakazi and MC, Michele.

Bloggers hanging out.  Does Andrew look hungry? 

And finally, lunch!

And now, on a sober note, remember to watch Sue Green and Tami Magnin this Saturday, 8:30 on SABC2.

Until next week!

Our next best blogger

July 10, 2012 in Uncategorized

Believe me when I say that standing in front of a hardcore reality TV crew, staring into two massive HD cameras and hearing terms like favor the camera, freeze and cut, knowing those are not referring to the culinary terms, can be a little daunting even when you are doing what you love and cooking your own recipes.

Just ask Sue.  She excitedly arrived before sunrise, and in her generous fashion, brandished a large bowl of homemade sausage rolls which she lovingly prepared for the crew and brought them with on her flight to Cape Town.  Once warmed through in the oven, and their aroma filled the kitchen, they flew off the plate before her make-up was even done!

Once Sue took to the kitchen and the cameras started rolling, it only took a short while before she was in the swing of things, baking her delicious and oh-so-easy beat and bake cake.  This is definitely one to put on your to-do-list.  It is easy as pie, and delicious to boot.  And best of all, you can dress it any which way you fancy.   She also prepared an oozingly delicious monkey-gland sauce, crumbed chicken fillets and scrumptious meatballs.  You could hear the crew salivating, and once our director called ‘cut!’ those meatballs had no chance – and they were great with the monkey-gland sauce.

We are extremely happy and proud to welcome Sous-Chef into our Best Blogger category on I Love Cooking, so why not check out her video clips and recipes here.

Chicken pie, anybody?

June 5, 2012 in Baking, desserts & sweets, Chicken, Uncategorized

The two blonds have been working super hard on some very exciting projects, so therefore the absence, and like a lot of people this time of year, I’ve been battling some winter bug that takes the wind right out of your sails for a while … But, life goes on, and so does my job.  They say chicken soup is the way to go when feeling under the duvet, but I think this chicken pie could come in a close second!

Part of my job is to test the recipes we put on our website, I Love Cooking.  It’s very exciting, because I get to practice my skills a lot, as well as play with my favorite toys – my whisks, spatulas, pots, pans, colanders, zesters, quirky timers and best of all, my Wusthof!  (Honestly, it’s my hubby’s because Mom bought it for him as a birthday present with a card saying every man needs a good kitchen knife,  nudge, nudge, wink, wink… She inadvertently always tries to coax him into the kitchen to prepare stuff, and actually got him to make pasta once – which turned out great – and something which he is very proud of) Needless to say, I am the only one who actually uses (and sharpens) the knife on a regular basis. :)

This recipe is perfect for using the Wusthof!  Taking large veggies, chopping them coarsely. Portioning a chicken – great stuff to get your shoulder into and tossing everything into a large pot and letting it simmer away to release those big flavors – yum!  I suggest donning a crisp white apron to complete the whole experience. Add if the buttermilk pastry is too much for you to prepare this time, use a roll of bought puff pastry.

Chicken Pie with Hearty Buttermilk Pastry

  • 1 free range chicken (about 1.4 kg)
  • plus 4 chicken breasts (on the bone)
  • 3 large carrots, thickly sliced
  • 3 brown onions, skin on, quartered
  • 6 large stick celery, thickly sliced
  • 250 g large brown mushrooms, quartered
  • 3 large bay leaves
  • 8 large cloves of garlic, not peeled
  • 2 generous pinches of ground cloves
  • 5 ml ground nutmeg
  • 1.8 litres cold water
  • 2 chicken stock cubes, crumbled
  • 30 ml canola oil
  • 1 large bunch spring onions, sliced thinly (with the green tops)
  • 250 g white button mushrooms, grated
  • 1 x packet cream of mushroom or cream of chicken soup  
  • 65 ml finely chopped parsley
  • milled black pepper
  • some prepared Hearty Buttermilk Pastry  

Cut the chicken in portions and place in your largest saucepan. Add the chicken breasts as well as the carrots, onions, celery, brown mushrooms, bay leaves, garlic, cloves, nutmeg, water and stock cubes.  Bring to a boil, skim off any foam that may develop on the top, and reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer gently for an hour or until the chicken is cooked. Remove saucepan from heat and allow to cool in the stock until you can handle the chicken by hand.

Strain, reserving the stock and the chicken. Discard or re-use the veggies as you deem fit. Pour the stock in a jug so that the fat rises to the top then remove as much of that fat as you can. Remove the bones and skin from the chicken and discard or re-use as you deem fit. Flake or cut the chicken meat into small pieces and set aside.

Heat the oil and add the spring onion, fry briefly then add the grated white button mushrooms. Sauté until they are cooked then add the reserved chicken stock. Bring to a boil and boil rapidly until it is reduced to a total of 800 ml. Mix the soup powder with a little water until smooth then whisk into the simmering reduced stock. Stir until thickened now add the chicken meat and parsley. Stir lightly with a fork to mix through (you do not want the meat to break into stringy parts) and remove from heat.

Taste and now adjust seasoning: you may need salt (doubt it), milled black pepper.  When you are happy with the taste, transfer to a deep 20 X30 cm-baking dish and set aside.

Spoon the pastry dough on top of your pie filing. Flatten the dough for a neat finish. Bake for 40 – 50 minutes in the oven preheated to 180 ºC or until the pastry is puffed up and golden brown.

Serve with a simple tomato and lettuce salad.

Serves 6 – 8

Chef’s note:  this is really a very large pie, perfect for those festive extended-family feasts. For normal meals, you can halve the recipe or even just omit the chicken breasts for a smaller pie.  And if you are using puff pastry, crump the edges, make a few small slits in the top and brush with an egg wash made with an egg beaten with a little water.  Bake in the oven preheated to 200 ºC for 20-25 minutes or until the pastry is golden brown. 

Enjoy!

And if you really must, you can see me in action preparing the buttermilk pastry by clicking this link –  and on that note: apoligies for the bad image above. It was lifted staight of this video clip as a JPEG.

 

Food blogging is love in action!

April 17, 2012 in Articles, Uncategorized

No doubt you might have picked up on some morsels which Anne has dropped over the past few weeks, that we are launching our Best Blogger category on our website, I Love Cooking.   The reason?  Because we would like to acknowledge and focus on the excellence, skills and hard work of local food bloggers and let their followers and fans see them in person, in action.

That day has finally arrived!  And we are launching Italian style, with Janice Tripepi showing us Italian Sapori (flavor for us non-Italians :-) ).  When the clips were shot, she had the crew drooling over their gear when she cooked five of her tried and tested family favorites.  She treated us to lovely hand-made pasta, pesto, two divine main courses and a beautiful dessert using fresh peaches poached in sparkling Lambrusco wine.  You can find all these mouth watering recipes on her very own page on I Love Cooking and read what Anne has to say about it today.

Pesche Affogate in Lambrusco

We think Janice fits in perfectly into our Best Blogger category;  she is witty, a passionate and generous cook, energetic, an excellent writer, and above all, her recipes are from her own pen, they are easy and they work.  And, being one of FOOD24’s very own restaurant reviewers, I for one, take what she says about food, seriously.  To me, her voice is unmistakably Mama. In fact, when you view the video clips, you will not see a blogger in action, you will see love in action.

So there is no recipe today, just a tribute to one of our favorite bloggers!  See you tomorrow with a really scrumptious treat! But for now – bon appetito!

See all five Janice’s video clips and recipes on

I love cooking

 

 

Not so good today…

March 30, 2012 in Uncategorized

For decades, collections of printed and handwritten recipes used to be the enthusiastic cook’s treasure trove. Everybody I know had files and boxes and shelves and drawers full of them. And you hardly ever saw a recipe that did not come with personal little sub title like ‘Myna’s best’, ‘Baie lekker’, ‘Piet se favorite’ and ‘Tried’ or ‘Tested‘.

But then a few cooks started using a very efficient and powerful way to hand down those treasured recipes: they created internet weblogs for themselves,  took pictures of their dinners and long before the family stirs the next morning, the picture, recipe and a little blurb was posted on their weblogs. Friends and family were alerted who in turn alert their friends and family and everybody was so excited they posted the most inspiring and flattering comments about that post. And obviously, those dynamics and volumes of praise and share and care and affiliation was so satisfying that the hobby of writing a food blog ignited like brandy-drowned Crepes Suzette over a gas plate on steroids. And that caused the rapid demise of the handwritten recipe while it got it’s hands firmly around the necks of recipebooks, slowly squeezing the life out of them…

And so food blogging grew exponentialy until nowadays there are more food bloggers in the world than we have grains of sugar in your tea. And food bloggers don’t only share their dinners lately: they have vastly expanded their culinary repertoire. It’s not strange to read huge praises for anything from cheese toasties to all sorts of eateries, food festivals, food shows and back to the latest trend in cupcakes. It’s great for workaholics like me as I feel a sharing in the experience without the need to interrupt my usual work schedule. And naturally almost everybody involved with food are currently trading on the growing food fascination of social urbanites by having blogs deliberately to sell merchandise, promote TV shows and to establish themselves as human brands.

And that is where I fear the paw paw hits the fan big time … the torrentuous volume of posts from food bloggers, foodie facebook pages,  foodie twitterers, celebrity chefs, restaurant owners, small food producers, online foodie magazines and even foodie television shows in an effort to promote themselves, is making it very hard for home cooks to get what they primarily want from food websites and blogs: recipes and menus that will make their urban lives easier and nicer.

Those of us with a statcounter on our blogs and websites will know that more than 80% of visitors to our foodie websites are working women who quickly pop in during weekdays to check out what’s co0king online. And a quick search of Google Adwords verifies that an average of 832 000 South African online searches are currently being conducted every month using the keyword ‘recipe’. You need not be a rocket scientist to figure out what is in demand here … :-)

And that is where the other stuff hits the fan …

In the old days when we wrote recipes books, we spent hours and hours and one massive amount of money in testing and trying out our recipes. We and the publishers knew that if our books got a bad name, it won’t sell, causing those of us who invested a year or more of our lives and the price of a house (yes!) into the book, to loose all we invested. And we knew that it would give us such a bad name that any future books were doomed to fall like a cold souffle. So we tested our recipes. And tested them until their were flop-proof. So that consumers could not tell each other how they lost money on a useless book as well as on the ingredients because some recipes flopped. We knew then already that word-of-mouth is the most powerful marketing tool in the history of man and that was long before the term going viral on the Internet!

Also, if we used any intellectual property that did not belong to us we could have been sued by the originator of the material, we could have been forced to withdraw the book from sale and we could have been criminally charged if the originator laid a complaint against us. It was also a huge, dreadful scandal if we used another persons work without their permission and crediting them or tested our recipes. And any of these lack-of-integrity actions would have ended our careers for ever. So we wrote every word ourselves. The glory and praise we received for work if it were copied, stolen or used without permission of the originator, was not worth the risks or losses of money and income.

But nowadays laws have not held-up with the rapid growth of online content and permutations of use and abuse. Besides, there seems to be an online attitude of who cares and who can check that it does not happen and so what. Fact is if you post offensive or dangerous or simply incorrect content, you can instantly remove it if somebody squeals without any loss of money or goodwill or face.

But we real recipe book writers actually created the perception that recipes that are published, can be trusted. They work. They are original and authentic. Or at the very least, they are a variation on an old theme like milk tart with cinnamon crust. And so currently 832 000 fellow South Africans go online every month to find a recipe. They are working women. They want something fail proof. Easy. Quick. Hearty. Above all, they want to prepare a meal for those they love and it has to be good and wholesome and delicious.

Unfortunately those unsuspected believers and followers of Woolworth’s online who tried the Nutella Crepes posted last week, must have gotten a little shock and suffered some embarrassment if they served it to their loved ones in this lovely Cape pancake weather. It was not a recipe that can possible be tasty or healthy, for that matter. It called for 5 teaspoons of salt of which 4 were coarse salt. It called for baking powder that is not usually used in crepe recipes, the method asks that the flour and salt be sieved together and it took a lot of effort to rub the coarse salt through my sieve …  and once made, we all had lemon lips from all that salt. Was the recipe tested? Probably not. Erm … definitely not! Is the blogger to blame? If that recipe is from his pen, definitely. Is the online food editor also to blame? If they received the recipe like that and allowed it through, for sure …  the basics of such a job is to check for glaring mistakes and there it was …. 5 teaspoons salt of which 4 were coarse salt, hello.   But which online editor can test all the recipes from bloggers who feature recipes on their website? Very few can and do. They can just check the basics of the content: we bloggers have to ensure our work belongs to us and is tested even if we ‘borrow’ a recipe from another blogger. And is that not the very essence of working online … to each his and her own? To each his own conscience and reasons why they post what they post …. and to each his own sense of care and respect for those consumers who choose to believe them and have faith in what they post or sell …?

Also on the same post Woolies Pantry has on this platform, we were referred to the dark chocolate souffles. As an old hand at writing styles and proofreading, it immediately struck me as not the usual writing style of the blogger and I Googled the content. It took me www.bonappetit.com within seconds to an almost word-for-word replica of the recipe with a few changes made to it. But it even contained the same slight grammar oddities! If discovered, Woollies Pantry may find themselves at odds with the owner of this intellectual property. I wrote them an email about my concerns that they are exposing the main brand Woolies to possible law suits and embarrasment if they do not take a policy decision to (as a rule) get permission from and credit the real owners of intellectual properties they publish. Their website/blog’s terms and conditions clearly state that they own the intellectual property on the blog. Well. I included a comparison of the recipes to prove my point and so far I have heard not a word. I have noticed subsequently that the blogger actually acknowledged on her blog that she was ‘inspired by’ and gave the URL of the original recipe. Albeit  a nice thing to do, I should rather say ‘provided by’. To cap it all was that the assistant editor’s fluffy ricotta and olive-baked eggs contained no olives – another oversight and puncture to slow down the traffic to (and respect for) food blogger recipes. 

My point? If a blogger wants to use a blog to sell themselves as a social persona or to promote a brand or a retailer or something, do so without harming others. Not the brand, not the consumer and not other bloggers. This is a plea for originality. A plea for content, facts, advice and recipes  that are safe and trustworthy. A plea to be responsible and publish tested recipes that actually work and not waste the cosumer’s money. A plea to be of service to the consumer and not harm or disappoint or embarrass. A plea to place ourselves in our reader’s shoes when she excitedly goes out, buys the ingredients, prepares the recipe and waits with excitement and anxiety combined, for the reaction from her loved ones. She is hoping to get acknowledgement, gratitude, praise, love … like us. And yes, this is a huge a plea to keep food blogging active and vibrant and popular and in keeping with the original intent: to share great recipes we cooked ourselves – even it they are not strictly original, we made them, we served them to our loved ones, we ate with them and with integrity and pride, we can recomment it to our readers/visitors/consumers. That’s what its about. 

Writing a blog is actually not about us. It’s about those who follow us, who believe in us and who trust us. Our focus groups complain bitterly and our consumer inbox weekly gets at least three complaints from consumers about terribly bad recipes .. and they refer us to the websites the latest being Angela Day (can you believe) and Your Family (can you believe). And as the complaints escalate, the number of visitors and comments to all food blogs and webisites get less … even internationlaly, I am told, the same trend is happening. 

So finally I decided to speak again despite that beleaguered post of mine last year about bad blogging when I was attacked and maligned and the tweets apparently were rife with indignation. But since then most local bloggers with high ethos have agreed with me in person and since then, we have seen some of our best bloggers’ material stolen by an ego-monger who merely wanted to be admired by much traffic. And since then, complaints from consumers about online recipes that totally flop have literally boomed. 

I know that cooking is subjective and some people dislike some of my own best recipes. And that is how it is … not everybody has the same taste or affinity for what we dish up … but brazenly bad recipes can kill food blogging in a short few years time, believe me. It is part of my job to actively study consumer trends and this is what is going on: the consumer is losing faith in online recipes. Just please do a quick summary of your own stats and compare the count of the comments you receive per post  these days and compare them to a couple of years ago. Surprised?

I’m not. So in advance, I apologize to anyone who takes this up the wrong way and think I am trying to finger anybody. I am not. I have pointed out three examples of what in my opinion are potential nails in the coffin for food blogging. If you believe me, help me and if you don’t … so be it, but don’t attack the voice of reason and common sense as you will then actively assist to hasten the end of our beloved passion: food blogging. 

There is no recipe today as the topic of this post is not so good and it was written with sadness and disappointment. But after sleeping on it, I just decided to not let the fear of attack and rejection rule my good sense, my honest love and respect for our good food bloggers, our readers and my own natural urge to protect and keep wholesome and real that which is valuable to me and other kindred spirits.

So here is just a funky pink Easter egg to put a smile on your face  wish you peace and faith and love and a great break if you re going to be travelling. Please return safely.

Love
Anne

POSTSCRIPT (Sunday April 1, 2012 at 17:54):  Almost as if the Universe planned to confirm that me taking the terribly huge personal risk to speak out above is the right thing to do, here today appeared this article in the Rapport, our national Afrikaans Sunday newspaper with millions of readers (exactly our target market!!) about what the journalist thinks of (especially) local food bloggers. It is not the first time this kind of media report has appeared locally. I do not know about you, but I am embarrassed and saddened by it and unlike before, fighting and attacking the journalist is not going to make it better … or go away.  

 

 

The hype continues, and it will for much longer …

March 28, 2012 in Uncategorized

As I continue to be gobsmacked by the fabricated hype around Masterchef SA, my mind keeps walkies in wide circles … I am thinking of this ‘duh’ set of question that some interviewers love asking during a job or media interview (as part of the nauseating “where do you see yourself in five years’ time …?” section of the interview) and it is “What’s your strongest point and what’s your weakest point?” I mean …! Who on earth will (or can) be honestly objective under these circumstances!? But anyhow I usually don’t play smart Alec by asking which area of my life they want to know about as they each have different weak and strong ‘points’. As I have been self-employed for donkey’s years, my interviews were usually media interviews and you don’t alienate de meeedia, you know. No. So I rather liked to mess with their minds and give one answer for both questions: passion.  So … when I watch any Masterchef series, that is what I see: people whose best qualities are their passion … and people whose worst qualities are … their passion! And it seems that the same goes for Masterchef SA viewers … they passionately hop onto the emotional roller coaster first and foremost and then they knock the poor judges (not unlike people rugby fans who love to hate the referee) and only eventually, they get to the food – if ever (unless of course, you’re a foodie!)

Understanding what makes this series tick has to be a no-brainer to realize that the ‘food’ aspect is just the reality format’s deus ex machina. It’s a Latin term used  in ancient Greek and Roman drama for a ‘god’ created and introduced by the storytellers to resolve the dramatic complications of the plot. In the current reality television genre, the term refers to the series mechanism and dynamics deliberately used to stage jeopardy, suspense, losses and wins of the real people on screen and so, to cause the phenomenal addictive emotional arousal for us voyeuristic viewers.

In a nutshell, that ancient Latin term is the reason for this kind of format’s success. And it will be even more so in the South African series with the most frenzied of emotional roller coasters and opinions in this realm, our foodie realm. ‘Cause why? Another no brainer: foodies are the most passionate of all people about what we do … have you ever seen a knitter freak out over a few fine stitches as a foodie can freak over a perfectly beaten meringue? The series is set to upset and we will find plenty to bitch about. But we just have to bear in mind that it is just one helluva hype from beginning to end. And every scene has a grid that is carefully plotted to up the hype from delivering a crate of onions by helicopter on that iconic, busy bridge (How the hell did they get permission to shoot there???) to a sorry little potato under a huge silver cloche.

If you are passionate about food and cooking and food shows, get this now and save yourself a lot of upset: this show (as anywhere in the world) is not about food. The series ultimately is watched by more non-foodies than foodies. They are the viewers who will overlook all food standards, recipes, methods, food shots and purely relish the excitement caused by the jeopardy of possible failure and elimination, they will love the walks of shame the losers have to take and they will look at the winner as a great game player …. not as a great cook and inspiration for their future dinners. The format is clever and designed to excite and evoke emotions in viewers. So there is deliberate and careful manipulation of scenes and challenges, ways to make it easy for people to reach or break their dreams including even choosing quite a few dorks in the ‘cast’ to annoy, offend and irritate viewers so that we keep coming back with a perverse knowledge that we are going to be upset, offended, entertained and surprised. It is like any other realitity competition series, just think Idol. Think America’s got talent. Think Survivor. To get viewers involved emotionally is a big part of the procucer’s job when devising these formats. The folk of Masterchef SA are doing it well in spite of many grating issues to the trained (and even not trained, but sensitive) eye. I doubt if it wil end up being the blockbuster the meeedia manager in charge of the hype wants us to believe. But, for the viewers who are emotionally hard-up for thrills and insist on receiving their paying privilege, they will sit on the emotional lorry until the final destination so that they may also experience the winner’s triumph and the losers agony and grief while pretending to be classy and brave and incredibly grateful for the opportunity. Hell, this is riveting stuff! I have just written myself into my own little emotional frenzy …. ha! Just goes to show :-)

Long story short …. (nearly lost my point!),  some of us may enjoy the hype (and the series) more if we keep reminding ourselves that this not about food. It’s about entertainment. So I suggest we go on an emotional diet and keep our feelings about the show lite. Let’s watch the Barefoot Contessa or Goddess or any of those peeps also on DSTV. That way we’ll see some real food action while purely enjoying Masterchef for its human thrills.

So, in keeping things lite, I am like a mad woman hanging onto the last of the summer’s fruits, albeit not such good quality. So, to swallow any gripe that you may have about Masterchef SA, I suggest that you get a variety of melons (sweet, musk and winter melons). Then grab your baller and stuff some glasses with chilled little balls of delight. Add some mint and go sit and cleanse your mind with the refreshing taste and crispness of the last of Summer’s sweetness  … well at least until episode 3 airs next Tuesday!

Chilled melon balls

 

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Just to say thanks, Caro!

March 15, 2012 in Uncategorized

Yesterday morning, as aI looked at our blogger’s home page it occured to me that a very special person must be behind all this …. I mean, if the rest of you are as taxing as I am, our dear Caro deserves an olive tree or an almond tree planted in her honour in all of our garden’s!

So Caro darling, here is a virtual thank you for all that you do for us. You had big boots to fill, honey, and you are filling them beautifully and freshly, every day!

Love

Year of the dragon …

January 23, 2012 in Uncategorized

Taking a bow of thanks!

Oy, a pitch is still ruling my life …!  That means I am still (bow) tied to the PC but luckily the deadline of Thursday looms … Nina from My easy Cooking sent me a e-note yesterday asking if Sunday lunch is 2-minute noodles again and luckily I could report “no!” I have HAD to shop and the fridge looked like mini Woolies again!

Anyway, I just have to post this message as darling Caro, she of great grace, unflappability and professionalism,  decided to tie my little bow-tie post to her story about the Chinese year of the dragon and hyperlinked it. It landed on my previous post, the most boring of all posts and a moaning one at that, so I decided to take a break and post this. It will quikcly link you to the recipes (there are more than one bow tie recipe on that post) but let me share the joke of the year so far with you: I received a few emails to tell me and without fail, they said more or less the same thing: “Don’t want to hint or anything, but you are mentioned prominently today on the same page as the Chinese ‘dragon’…”

LOL!  It made my day – and Caro darling, I know you did not mean it like that and also see the funny in it! Must confess though, I always kind-of knew that I’d be a grumpy old woman but the truth is even scarier … I am born in the year of the Tiger  … ! LUV it!! Thanks for the laugh, girls, you made my day! Now back to the pitches …

Here is the post and the recipes, dears. Click here to go to that post (you may need to scroll past ‘Basil’) and enjoy! If you want more recipes for easy desserts, go to I love cooking our most awsome website that we love and work with a passion!