Every once in a while, a writing challenge comes along and makes my ears prick up. WP’s “Writing 101” series is one of them – I’ve been doodling along in private, occasionally scrunching up my nose at what comes out of the keyboard (would a quill and parchment make me write more thoughtfully? Or a typewriter?).
Another is the writing process blog tour that’s sprung up around the blogosphere. The lovely Petra @ Food Eat Love nominated me to be part of the blog tour. Have you visited her blog? Go on, I’ll be waiting here when you come back. It’s filled with delicious recipes and gorgeous photos. Most of all, a love of food and cooking really shines through, and isn’t that kind of energy and passion what blogging is about?
So here I am, doing the Tour with a little twist at the end (you didn’t expect a “straight” blog tour, did you?)… The rules are basically to acknowledge the person who nominated you, answer four questions about my blog writing style and process, and then nominate others to continue the Tour de Blogs – read on for my take on these rules – which has a list! Possibly the first list on this blog!
Also, here be unrelated photos of mushrooms – I found the bailin mushroom! Their firm, meaty texture have led people to use it as a vegetarian alternative to abalone. I think these are sold canned in some S-E Asian countries, but fresh ones are harder to find. A quick turn in rich chicken broth, a bed of garlic chives (barely wilted with a teensy bit of oil), bonito flakes and white sesame. And we had an impromptu star atop our daily rice.
Onto the Tour de Blog Writing Process:
What am I working on?
Right at this moment, the Tour de Blog post! And this week, posts that can be scheduled to publish while I’m on holidays. Expect catch up travel photos, and a couple of easy peasy recipes.
Over time, the things I “work on” change according to the seasons and cookbooks and the bloggy universe. Sometimes, it is all about taming the Yeast Beast; or, it is about baking powder, baking soda, brown sugar vs granulated vs raw sugar. Summer is about that magical salad. During winter, it’s braises, anything with chilli, and that elusive perfect char siu.
What is constant is the idea that food is fun, unexpected, pretty, lumpen-ugly, frustrating, intriguing, but most of all fun. Cooking, baking, jam-making requires method, albeit leavened with a dose of madness. Madness? Call it madness or creativity or inspiration, or “je ne sais quoi”, it makes me want to pick up the camera and say “hey guys, look, I made stuff – !”
How does my work differ from others of its genre?
There are so many food blogs out there, I don’t think the things I publish are very different. But it’s fun, and more importantly it’s a way to meet other cooks, bakers, story-tellers. People who get excited about a perfect glaze for a lemon loaf, polenta pastry, lavender and pear jam, or a new way with familiar spices. People who join in the virtual victory dance / conga line when I say “hey guys, I made stuff”.
Why do I write what I do?
Because, sometimes I get so excited about having made stuff, that I just want to share it with as many people as I can. Stuff = cookies, cakes, bread, croissant, danishes, a 7-course dinner, farsumagru, artichokes (a post waiting to happen), no-churn yam ice cream, and even that pesto whizzed up for a weeknight dinner.
I also write about places we’ve visited and sights we’ve seen. These travel related posts are prompted by the same sense of excitement and wonder – “hey guys, look, we saw stuff!” …
Stuff : the stuff of legends and food blogs.
How does my writing process work?
I don’t have a single writing method, and still (un)consciously try out ways of telling a story. How I write a post also depends on the dish/cake/trip. Some days, a dish names itself and a blog post sort of happens around that name (like bird seed bread, badass chillli cheese bread). Sometimes, I try out a new technique or recipe, and have a lot of technical notes that I want to record on the blog (like making brioche, or croissant). Or, I find or remember a poem that is tangentially related to the recipe, and my inner English major does a little tappy toe gig.
Other days, I spend a bit of time looking at a blank screen, until an unrelated story comes to mind, and then it becomes a challenge to link the story back to the recipe, or not.
Maybe it’s all about ways of telling stories, which is no different to chatting to colleagues at work or with friends over a lazy brunch. Well, the only difference is having to proof read a blog post before it is sent into the ether.
And writing regularly helps. Even over the lifespan of this little blog, it has become easier to sit down and bash out a few hundred words about something (the editing and formatting still takes forever though). Hopefully people are out there reading, or this becomes one of those existential puzzles about the sound of one keyboard tapping to nothingness – !
Annnnnnnnd my turn to pass on the Tour de Blog baton. Instead of nominating people to take part in the tour, I am –
a) opening this up to anyone who wants to have a go – this is your nomination. Have a go!
b) listing blogs with quirky / instructive / funny / otherwise memorable writing, either blogger buddies or blogs I admire from afar. There are so many – like the inimitable Angie (who hosts raucous Fiesta Friday parties) and Prudy the story-teller, I wish I could list them all. But I’ve kept the list to ten blogs that present a range of blogging styles.
1. The Garum Factory: A food blog that teaches me more about cooking and food than real life classes. After all, cooking classes in real life don’t usually include a nonchalant reference to the Augean stables or the Cretan bull, or a story of a kitchen in Haiti, or the story of Roxanne’s chicken (which is a beautiful recipe, do make it. Or make the original Long Island Duck).
2. Hot Pot: Danielle’s blog combines thoughtful writing with gorgeous, wish-I-was-there photos, particularly photos of chai wallahs in Old Delhi. Not quite a food blog, but one that makes me want to read and re-read every post.
3. Polianthus: from comments on Swedish style and casual trips to Italy, to offhand posts about just about anything else, and – apparently – a cookbook collection that could see me disappear into Poli’s library for months, if this is everyday life in Switzerland, count me in.
4. My Name is Yeh: If you haven’t found Molly’s blog, head over and I dare you not to fall for her sassy and delightfully honest voice. And she made these courtesans, this bubble tea, chocolate tahini cake. And scallion pancake challah, be still my beating heart.
5. Gourmandistan: I can’t remember which post, recipe, anecdote first made me a fan of this blog (beaten biscuits? carbonnade with marmalade? boiled custard? rosemary grapefruit tart?). Or maybe it was the blog name. It’s the kind of blog name I wish I had thought of, rather than a slightly strange moniker referring to an inelegantly waddling flightless bird.
6. Dorie Greenspan: I know, I know, Dorie is some megastar in the food world. But reading her blog, you would (almost) never know it, many of her posts could be written by a best friend or next door neighbour, if she happened to be a megastar baker (and jammer) in her spare time.
7. Kitschnflavours: Sir Johnny Hepburn. He who makes a mean stock, knows his way around Indian spices, bakes, jams, porks, and rocks up to your party in a magenta onsie. And tell a story about the baking disasters that look good in the photos anyway. ‘Nuff said.
8. My New Roots: I like to eat (or at least try to eat) anything and everything, but am a fan of a number of special diet blogs because of their creativity and joy in good food. Sarah’s writing and food ideas retain a sensual, tactile, ‘must eat this now’ quality which is pretty magical, no matter what you (can’t or don’t) eat.
9. Food for Fun: Those three words just sum up how I would like to approach cooking and food and cocktailing. And ice cream making without an ice cream maker. Is it any wonder that I quickly became a fan of Liz’s blog? Besides, boy how does Liz make a mountain of marshmallows every month?
10. Three Little Halves: Last but not least (at all!), I first stumbled across this blog when searching for Sri Lankan Christmas cake. And that was it. The combination of dreamy photography, creative recipes, writing that ranges from heartbreaking to laugh-out-loud-on-the-bus, and a sense of wonder about the food and the world, this is a treasure.
Over and out.