Thursday, February 26, 2009

Blogger Aid Week: Some of my Favorite Blogger Aid Bloggers!

I went through the Blogger Aid member pages today, as I knew that many of my food blogging friends are Blogger Aid members and being of "a certain age" I sometimes just forget who is doing what in the blogging world. Of the many talented food bloggers who have joined Blogger Aid, I was delighted to find many old friends and old favorites. I'd like to share these wonderful blogs with you - I know that some of you know all of them, but if there are any that are new to you, I highly recommend that you go stop by and see what wonders they have to offer:

Jenn of The Leftover Queen. Jenn truly runs a foodie empire (in a good way). She runs, among other things, the Foodie Blogroll, which has just reached over 3000 members. She also is a use-things-up chef extraordinaire and a great educator in terms of sustainable/local foods. On Fridays she hosts "Finest Foodie Fridays" which showcases various food blogs, and she also runs the ever-popular, monthly Royal Foodie Joust - there's always something fun going on at Jenn's place.

Peter G. of Souvlaki for the Soul Okay, so even if you're the most selfish person on the planet, you NEED to buy the Children Are the Future Cookbook for a totally selfish reason - Peter G. is submitting his souvlaki recipe. From the pictures I saw, it is justifiably famous and from all of his creativity and superb photographs, I have a Down Under vacation every time I visit Peter's blog. And for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere, it's such fun to go over to Peter's and see his beautiful photographic eye capture goodies from the opposite season. His posts this winter have gotten me through the worst of Michigan doldrums.

Bren of Bren's Flanboyant Eats. Bren has chosen the best title for her blog, because she is indeed flamboyance in essence, and I mean that in a totally rockin' good way. B shares her Cuban heritage, family gatherings and up and coming food and entertainment career. B has got to live one of the most interesting lives anywhere, and when you combine that with her extraordinary creativity in the kitchen, you know it will be a party. View her blog with mojito in hand!

Maggie of Dog Hill Kitchen
. What can I say about Maggie? Well, she's one of those folks who makes me proud to live in Michigan (she does, too). Maggie cooks dairy-free and includes many vegan recipes that are simply spectacular. The combinations she puts together astonish me on a daily basis. I've also been lucky enough to taste Maggie's cooking, and I'll tell you, she is "da bomb"! Truly. I've heard something about a plan for cherry cupcakes for the cookbook, and if that rumor is true, I know they're going to be outstanding, because nobody does cupcakes like Maggie.

Marye of Baking Delights. Okay, so I can't be grateful enough to Marye, because basically, she taught me to get over my fear of baking. I never would have thought I could learn baking in Michigan via a teacher in Texas, but through Marye's entries, I did just that. My family would bow down to her if they could. Seriously. Who knows, she may even have strengthened my marriage. And if you want to talk food porn, just see the shots of Marye's luscious desserts. Visit Marye's blog early and often, just throw your calorie counter to the wind when you do so!

Susan of Sticky Gooey Creamy
. Okay, Susan has been my other baking tutor. Susan does up EVERYTHING well, from what I can see, but from a personal standpoint, she introduced me to Dorie Greenspan through Tuesdays with Dorie. After several months of drooling over Susan's blog, D bought me my own copy of "Baking: From My House to Yours" for Christmas. We've all been having fun ever since. The other thing that astonishes me about Susan is that whatever recipe I'm most thinking of trying from the book, she seems to have just written about - beautifully. Also, her photographs are such that I'm sure she has a secret career in a bakery.

Michelle of Bleeding Espresso. Bleeding Espresso was one of my first "regular" blog visits. I don't even remember the way I found it, but it continues to be one of my favorite stops. Michelle's warmth and heart come across in everything she does, and her fine writing skills never fail to satisfy. She was the one who introduced me to What's Cooking Wednesdays, and she also has a marvelous feature called "Love Thursdays" where she gathers images of hearts and love from all over. Michelle also has run her share of food events, including from the silly (but fun) World Nutella Day, to a wonderful event that brought awareness to ovarian cancer. Michelle is also a crackerjack cook, and her What's Cooking Wednesday entries are always mouthwatering, but generally in reach, which make them all the better.

Ben of What's Cooking. Ben was another early food blogging buddy - Ben's enthusiasm and love of food and people are contagious. Additionally, he has waged his own campaigns for healthier food, for educating U.S. folks to the fresh cuisine that is true Mexican cuisine, and to creating wonderful meals on a budget. Ben is also a wonderful networker, and like Jenn, has pulled many people in through his projects and challenges. In the kitchen, Ben always puts a new spin on old favorites, whether they be Mexican or more traditional "American." I simply can not read Ben's blog if meal time is coming up, because I know I'm not going to come near what he's created and it just. makes. me. sad. His entry for the cookbook are avocado-corn muffins - how delicious do THEY sound? I can't wait!

Nuria of Spanish Recipes pic by pic. Nuria - huge heart and even greater talents. Nuria will teach you about Spanish cooking and Catalonia in depth and in beauty, and then she'll throw in a dash of humor and often a twist of some wonderful music. Nuria's joy in life and in cooking is completely infectious and her generosity with her posts and patience in answering our questions (she is definitely the go-to lady about squid and some other things that we narrow Americans might not use regularly) and I never fail to learn something wonderful when I go to visit. Like Peter G., I always feel like I'm on vacation when I visit Nuria's blog, and in this economy, with my lack of REAL ability to go on vacation, this is a rare gift. So turn up the tunes and wander over to Spanish Recipes!

Bellini Valli of More Than Burnt Toast is another food blogger of huge heart and huge talents. Now, I have to also say, that I'm persistently in a fit of jealousy when I visit her blog because she lives in NW Canada, which is my dream place to live, and the photo montage in her banner leaves me almost in tears every time I see it. But, putting jealousy aside, I've noticed over time that whenever there's a good cause to be supported, Val is right on it. She also has impeccable taste, is a fabulous "seasonal/local" cook, a fan of Ina Garten and has Greek background, so could there be any better combination? I think not. We can learn all sorts of cross-cultural references, find the freshest of recipes, and learn about anything that's happening to help others via blogging by visiting Val's site. She's truly a treasure of the food blogging world, and it's no surprise that she'd be a founder of Blogger Aid.

Now, I have a confession for the last two blogs. These are NEW favorite bloggers, not old ones. Having said that, both Ivy of Kopiaste and Giz and Psychgrad, her daughter, of Equal Opportunity Kitchen have long been known in the food blogging world. I'm ashamed to say that although I would see their names frequently on blogs I visited, I did not visit theirs... why? Well, honestly, time constraints. Sometimes, I think we all get caught up in our regular "groups" and the idea of adding new visits is overwhelming, but again, how could I resist exploring the blogs of the other two founders of Blogger Aid?

Ivy of Kopiaste. Ivy greets us with "kopiaste" a Greek term used to invite you to share food. She even shares her kitchen via a lovely photo on her "about" page. (And Ivy, I'm so envious of your housekeeping skills!) Ivy set out to record her Greek and Cypriot recipes, and not surprisingly, she is absolutely as talented as this entire community of food bloggers that I've gathered here. Ivy is also all about using fresh, unprocessed ingredients and she is also a wonderful teacher about Greek and Cypriot culture and life. Her photography is lovely, and her recipes even lovelier (maybe?) Also, not surprisingly, Ivy's blog is wall-to-wall badges and buttons of events and projects that she's involved in. It's also another wonderful "vacation" blog. Pour yourself some crisp white Greek wine and join her for a wonderful tour of the Mediterranean.

Giz of Equal Opportunity Kitchen. One look at the banner of Giz and Psychgrad's blog, and you know you've come to a good place. In fact, I will really, really need to go eat something after I finish this post, because yikes, I'm so hungry now after looking at everyone's amazing recipes and photos! It's clear that this is another "heart" blog with all kinds of events and ideas showcased on the sidebars, along with wonderful recipes and photos in the center. There's also a wonderful dash of humor, and Giz and Psychgrad both write in a wonderfully entertaining manner. Additionally, Giz has donated some of her fine jewelry-making skills as a fundraiser for Blogger Aid, and you can see her work through her site as well.

So enjoy, read and cook!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

What's Cooking Wednesday: Blogger Aid Cookbook Recipe - You Decide!

Please go to The Fairy Blogmother for more What's Cooking Wednesday participants.

So... there's this cookbook:

If you don't know what this is all about, just check out yesterday's post.

The rules for submission are that you can post ABOUT the recipe on the blog, but you can't post the recipe.

I really struggled with what to choose. First of all, I've been sick, sick, sick with one thing or another since early January and my cooking production is not what it usually is. Second, for a whole variety of foods, there are other bloggers who would blow me out of the water - not that this is a competition, but I just would feel... out of my league. Entirely. And I'm going to write about those bloggers tomorrow.

Finally, I realized that desserts would work. Especially healthy desserts that are low in calories and fat, but big on flavor. I do those well.

So I leave you with two choices:

The first is Bittersweet-Banana Power Muffins:

Imagine your house smelling of melted chocolate and rich banana. Imagine cheating on your diet for breakfast (or dessert). Imagine a complete meal of whole grains, fruit and protein and anti-oxidants in a delicious, chocolate muffin. Imagine the whole thing coming in at under 150 calories and under 5 grams of fat.

Imagine... Bittersweet-Banana Power Muffins.

The second, though, is actually my favorite - Orange-Pistachio-Apricot Biscotti:

Imagine biting into a burst of Middle Eastern flavors. Imagine the delicate smell of orange flower water and the tart goodness of dried apricots mixed with the salty goodness of pistachios. Imagine the delicate crunch of this biscotto, which uses a secret ingredient for a slightly different, more delicate texture. Imagine a perfect accompaniment to that morning cup of coffee that won't even put a scratch in your calorie budget. Imagine biting into Spring.

Imagine... Orange-Pistachio-Apricot Biscotti.

Okay, gang, what I submit is up to you. Please just leave a comment below, and that recipe will (hopefully) become part of the history that is Children Are The Future Cookbook. Please leave your votes in the comments section.

And while you're at it, don't forget my Blogger Aid Give-away. Do a good deed and be entered to win a good book!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Blogger Aid Week: The Cookbook "Children Are The Future"

Isn't this a lovely cover?

This is the current major initiative of Blogger Aid. I think it will be no surprise to my readers that anything that promotes children and education is something that I love to support.

And what a lovely challenge to support this through creativity.

This cookbook will include recipes from many of your favorite food bloggers. Over 100 people have pledged to participate so far, and the numbers are rising.

You have until March 31st to submit your recipe, and all the details are here. 100% of the profits will go to School Meals, a program of the World Food Programme. You can learn more about it here, but if you don't want to click over to the site, here are some facts:

• 75 million primary school-aged children do not go to school
• 97 percent of them are in developing countries
• 57 percent of them are girls
• 150 million children drop out of school before attaining basic primary education

The School Meals program is designed to keep students in school, to provide a nutritional safety net for the poorest families, and to keep girls in school (as they will receive food to bring home when they attend school).

To participate, you do NOT need to be a member of Blogger Aid. You do NOT need to be a food blogger. You just need to have a recipe and a blog that's yours and to follow the guidelines posted here.

So, now... a little giveaway. For everyone who joins blogger aid between now and Friday with the intention of helping this project, just leave a comment on this blog, (AFTER you've joined Blogger Aid), and I will enter you to win one of these two incredibly important books about food, culture and the future of our planet:

The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals (Paperback) by Michael Pollan


The Earth Knows My Name : Food, Culture, and Sustainability in the Gardens of Ethnic Americans by Patricia Klindienst

To join Blogger Aid, go here.

Tomorrow? A poll. You get to choose my recipe for Children are the Future.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Music Monday: Blogger Aid - "Imagine"

For other tales of musical adventure, please visit Soccer Mom in Denial.

So, just what is Blogger Aid? Blogger Aid is the brain child of Ivy, Giz and Val and has been set up to raise money for the United Nations' World Food Programme, which helps children all over the globe. Since this is an international group, the World Food Programme was a wonderful choice. Blogger Aid is primarily a group of food bloggers, and the major fundraiser will be the Blogger Aid cookbook. I'll have more about the cookbook in future posts. It's not too late to join and help - join the Blogger Aid ning group and you can learn more. Just click on the link below.

There's a meme going around Facebook that asks for your 20 most influential albums. This is definitely up my alley, and I'm planning to play for real next week here. It got me thinking, however, about which "inspirational" songs have hit me most over the years. I'm not talking about spiritually inspirational - that would be a whole 'nother post, but more the banner songs that have been written for causes: Band Aid, Farm Aid,, Melissa Etheridge's "I Run for Life". I've loved various pieces that have been written for these causes over the years, and I've loved the compilation projects that have come out of these fundraisers.

As I thought and thought about what to include on a "list", however, I realized that I indiscriminately love many of these songs - they're filled with great hope and joy and cooperation.

But then one song kept coming back to me as the granddaddy of them all. Yes, I know there was great protest music long before this song was written, but there's something about this one song that seemed, for me, to turn the world on its proverbial ear, and to give hope for a generation and beyond.

So for this, and for so many brilliant songs, I turn to John Lennon:

Sunday, February 22, 2009


Yup, that's where I've been this week. Not a pretty place to visit.

Plans for this week?

Catch up on blog reading (but not all of it, sorry). Also, this will be a special week on a2eatwrite. This week will be all about:

More will be explained tomorrow.

How was your week?

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Happy Valentine's Day!

And remember... love the one(s) you're with!

For those on your own - to you, especially, love the one you're with.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

What's Cooking Wednesday: Parisian Roquefort Walnut Salad

Please go to The Fairy Blogmother for more What's Cooking Wednesday participants.

We're finally beginning to thaw here in Michigan. We've had truly glorious weather this week, and last week the temperatures began to creep up.

During early spring, my thoughts run towards Paris.

I had the great good fortune to be able to go to Paris several times in my 20s. Good fortune and perseverance - like an addict, I would make enough money until I could get my next "fix".

There are still aspects that feel like home there for me, and there are things I miss on a daily basis. Sadly, some of those things that I miss are missed by Parisians, as well, because Paris, like all other places in our superannuated world, is changing rapidly.

One thing that hasn't changed, however, is the relatively cheap salad that you can get at most bistros. It's a simple combination - romaine, blue cheese, walnuts tossed together in a basic vinaigrette. Add a bit of baguette and you have a delicious meal, if you're me.

I don't have the budget to go to Paris right now (who does?), and I don't have the calorie budget to add in the copious amounts of Roquefort and walnuts that I'd find in the actual version, so I decided to create my own. Something that would give me a taste of what I was missing. And add this to a chunk of my whole wheat version of Bittman's speedy bread (okay, it's half whole wheat, but it's working), and I have a lovely meal.

Bon Appetit!

Parisian Roquefort Walnut Salad


3 cups salad greens (preferably organic) washed and torn into bite-sized pieces
1/2 oz. blue cheese, crumbled (roquefort would be the traditional choice)
7 walnut halves, chopped
1/2 TBS olive oil
1/2 TBS balsamic vinegar
1/2 TBS anchovy paste
1/2 TBS water
1/2 TBS favorite mustard (preferably not yellow - poupon or whole grain is better)
lots of fresh ground pepper
a pinch of thyme

1. Place salad greens in a salad bowl. Sprinkle the blue cheese and chopped walnut halves on top.
2. In a small bowl, whisk together all other ingredients until they are emulsified and a dressing is made
3. Drizzle dressing over salad.

Number of Servings: 2

Nutritional Info

Fat: 10.6g
Carbohydrates: 8.3g
Protein: 6.3g

Nutritional information, as always, provided by

Monday, February 9, 2009

Music Monday: "Easy Silence"

For other tales of musical adventure, please visit Soccer Mom in Denial.

The start of this year, despite some new feelings of hope, has been stressful for many, including me.

In many respects, I'm an introvert in the sense that I need alone time to regenerate. For the most part, I hate the phone. I also don't really like instant messages, especially when I'm trying to get work done. A challenge I face working several jobs part time, most of them from home, is that people don't understand that you do, in fact, work, and they often feel that any time they call or contact you that you should be "free" to talk, since you have a flexible schedule.

One place of refuge is my family. We are all kind of quiet, kind of nerdy. We're pretty happy to hang out together reading or following individual pursuits.

This song pretty much sums up how I've been feeling lately - anyone or any place that gives me that "Easy Silence", that refuge from the chatter that is everyday life, is a true gift right now.

And speaking of which, I think the Dixie Chicks are a true gift in and of themselves:

Monday, February 2, 2009

Music Monday: Novel Play List

For other tales of musical adventure, please visit Soccer Mom in Denial.

If you look to my side bar, you'll see a word count meter, with the title Blessed above it. Marianne Arkins, being the wonderful, writer-cheerleader that she is (she's also a darned fine romance writer with a great sense of humor), decided that those of us who punked out on Nano this year deserved another chance and put a "Jano" group together for January. Our goal: 50,000 words. Well, as you can see, I didn't quite make it, but I'm very happy with the progress I did make. I'm especially pleased with this progress because on December 28th, all I had was a germ of an idea. Yup, I had nada. Zilch.

But then my other favorite writer cheerleader, Charity, came to the rescue (who is also, along with her writing partner, Darcy, a darned fine YA writer). She puts together play lists when she's getting ready to write a new piece. I always thought this was a little weird, and I actually teased her about it.

Somewhere around December 30th, however, I was working out, and "Angels Wanna Wear My Red Shoes" came on my shuffle list, and I got an idea for the novel. And by the end of the work out, I started to think of songs that made sense. And by December 31st, I had a basic plot based on my play list.


I will always use these play lists in the future. This rocked.

So if you want a preview of my novel, I give you the play list for Blessed below. The songs that have been struck out are ones that don't fit the current plot. I think there are others I'm going to add in, too.

Oh, and I added in a 1977 version of Elvis Costello doing his thing with "Angels" because he just so rocks.

Happy Music Monday!


(The Angels Wanna Wear My) Red Shoes – Elvis Costello
I Got Money Now – P!nk
Clubland – Elvis Costello and the Attractions
‘Cuz I Can – P!nk
Paralyzer – Finger Eleven
I Need a Man – Eurythmics
How Bizarre – OMC
Bring Me to Life - Evanescence
Lullaby – Shawn Mullins
I Can’t Stand Up For Falling Down – Elvis Costello and the Attractions
Take Me Out Tonight – Rent
New York – U2
New Lace Sleeves – Elvis Costello and the Attractions
Could’ve Had Everything – P!nk
Single – Natasha Bedenfield
Wicked Game – Chris Isaak
There Must Be An Angel – Eurythmics
Grace – U2