What is dis tour de blog? Apparently it is a far-reaching trek across the blogosphere asking bloggers, with subjects vast and varied, to look inside their process and share what makes them do what they do with the masses (errr, well, in our case, with our beloved 94 followers and whomever-else deems our insights worthy of reading – we thank you in advance).
(France-living canine) Hugo, via (France-living Mom) Fiona of the Healthy Epicurean, passed this tour-de-blog torch to our 10 little legs (2 legs actually not-so-little, but 8 legs quite dainty, messy and cute) for contributions to this blog tour. We are particularly honored because the Healthy Epicurean is one of our most-coveted blog sites, filled with delicious food, solid health advice, and best of all, charming wit and personality. Whether the antics of the day are to do with the horses, the chickens, eleven-year-old son Leo, curmudgeon (and news corespondent) canine Hugo, or BHFF (best hen friend forever), the story always amuses, plus the whole clan lives in Southwestern France (and how idyllic is that?). I might also add that her header is an ever changing array of perfectly depicted watercolor scenes done by her father-in-law? (Fiona, did I get that right?) We just love them!
Bear with me as I am (happily) obligated to answer the following four questions, but be forewarned, I may have exceeded the average word count!
What are you working on?
I have multiple balls in the air right now; multiple pencils on the page, fingers on the keyboard…and so on.
In addition to answering these questions, I have recently tried to resurrect my focus toward publishing a cookbook (which is what got me writing in the first place). I am shaking off the dust, seeing where I left off and deciding where I want to take it going forward.
I also have a running list of things I want to post on my blog but am having a hard time keeping current posting on things as they occur. I have a file of posts “in progress” and a list of ideas for future posts.
How does your work differ from others of the same genre:
I think the main way anybody’s work differs, one from the other, has to do with their voice. I try to write with my heart, which means my personality will show through, and hopefully, come across in the spirit with which it is intended (for better or worst). Also, since my dogs Ginger and Buddy are such a large part of my world (as is Tom), there is an infusion of their stories with my writings about food (sometimes from their point of view); we are so intwined that their inclusion is really just another extension of me and my (our) kitchen.
I try not to put the main emphasis on a recipe, because for me, it is the story surrounding the food that is as interesting (if not more so) than the food itself, even if that story is a description, in some form, of the food. Food marks certain times in my/our, life/lives (similar to the way a song or a perfume scent evokes nostalgic memories) so I like to remember what I was eating, cooking, making, growing and buying as our lives unfold.
I don’t spend a lot of time “styling” my food for photographs; not because I don’t want to but mostly because it is our dinner (lunch or breakfast) and we like to eat it at it’s best (AKA, still warm). The photos I use are “in the moment” as we would (and do) eat if the blog did not exist. Plus, and I think this is important, I don’t consider myself a “foodie”. Not sure where that term came from but I am just a lover of food, not a snob about food. I can be a snob about food (as my family, not Tom, would surely tell you) but I mostly just think of food as a benefit of life. I love grubby food as much as fancy food but want any food to fit the moment or the experience presented. Mostly, now, I am so aware of the better foods and try to skip the processed foods. I grew up with the stuff our government (in the USA) “made” for us and am now in a position to move away from that processed crap and eat smarter.
I try to form a meaningful connection between the story and the food, rather than just being “The Turtle” on Sex in the City who bores Samantha by reciting everything he knows about mushrooms or the Jim Nabors character on the Love Boat who describes to the passengers each night exactly what he ate for dinner, boring them beyond belief (although, admittedly, I found it very entertaining which was an indication that I am, in fact, a food geek).
Why do I write what I do:
I write about food because, I can’t think of anything else that defines my life so much as food. When I talk about my life, the subject of food always bubbles up. After I began journaling my food (well over a decade ago), I decided to write a cookbook, but wanted it to be something more than just a book of recipes. I dabbled in a myriad of ideas but as a designer (of interior environments), my work-life finally consumed me and eventually I quite writing. I started my blog because it was a more manageable chunk to bite off and has now inspired me to write again.
When I/we (Pete, Tom, Ginger, Buddy and me) first launched my/our blog, I planned only to post once a month. As I began, I realized that in addition to enjoying the writing, I began craving the connections to a community that thought about food in a similar way as I think about food. I became excited to write and allowed myself more freedom to pay attention to what I was making in the kitchen. I post once, sometimes twice a week rather than once a month. I don’t write for an audience as much as I write for myself though, but I am always thrilled when what I write resonates with someone else. I continue to write about food and life because it excites me and I don’t want to forget my experiences; plus, those experiences often include food.
How does your writing process work:
My process works in multiple ways and is more of an evolution than a process. Sometimes I start talking to myself (quietly, inside my head) and I realize that I am onto something, so I write it down. It is usually involving food but not always. Other times I might have a random thought, this could be a thought about food (what to make, what to eat, what to do with an ingredient) or a random thought about life (what I did, what I want to do, what I saw, where I have gone, where I want to go, or what happened in the world). The thought could be about a feeling, or a season, or just about anything; if it sparks an emotion that makes me want to write about it, I just start writing. If I run out of something to say or hit a road block, I store it away for another day (and many of those jumbled thoughts sit parked forever on my iPad). I develop recipes this way too and then try them out later to see if they turn out or make sense. I tend to be a thinker though and like to sit on things a bit, then revise, read, revise, read and then finally edit. Tom is always the final editor (so you can blame him if it still doesn’t make sense to anyone but us).
Then there are times when a fun title pops into my head and I mold a subject around that title. I might bounce ideas off Tom and through our discussions come up with something very different then what it started out as being. I always edit, edit, edit and then Tom edits a bit more.
I often write in the car on the way to work (don’t worry, Tom is driving, and also not editing). I might add to that throughout the day here or there, or I might not. I usually write again on the ride home, or I read what I have written instead and try to figure out where I want to go with the story or the recipe.
Finally, there is the sheer emotional experience that gets me writing. If something happens to make me happy, sad, nostalgic… I allow that feeling to wash over me and see what comes out from that in writing, or in cooking. Often, if too emotional, these moments get lost because I have a hard time writing them down.
My writing is merely a compilation of my life as I see it, expressed in the form of food.
Now, in the spirit in which we received the tour de blog torch, Ginger and Buddy have asked that it be passed onto the following two bloggers (and each will describe their choices and a then Tom and I will describe ours; of course, we are grateful to Hugo and Fiona for thinking of us):
Ginger: It has to be Minnie from Minnie in Manhattan. I think of myself as a stylish gal, with my red hair, soft, thick and cut on trend; my wardrobe boasting a colorful and interesting array of fashion-forward pieces partial to pink even though I am a tomboy at heart. I have a prance about my step that could rival even the most highly-trained runway models, albeit heavy-hoofed and fancy-free will typically win my step over in the end. I like to frequent all the best outdoor patios for dining and prefer to eat my food from a silver fork rather than out of a bowl. I can bat my big eyes and win over the toughest of crowds, but when I read about Minnie’s escapades in Manhattan, I just knew that I found a friend. Minnie has some great sources for fashion and is not stingy with her insights. Her Mom takes her to some great East Coast places and if you check out her site you will feel like you are “in the City” as well.
Buddy: Em parchall to Pattee from Patty Nguyen. Lyke me, she haaz A intresteng heretage an juzt az My Mommy lovz me, Pattee lovz her itzee Bailey beeond wordz She iz kine too everyonze and is a thotfull Mentor, teach perzon an frend. her photographingz iZ stunnig and her foode lookz yummiez 2. plus shez iz one of my biggeszted followerzz
Stacey and Tom: Sheri, from the Unfettered Fox is an inspiration both as an artist, gardener, writer and cook. No pretension, quirky and fun. Her house made for bees won our attention and our hearts. Her preference to wearing pajamas all day hit pretty close to home, as did her “plough through the work” attitude once motivation sets in. This artist knows how to entertain, work hard, relax and have fun. She also knows how to cook, eat and write. We especially like that she and her husband co-exist on the same property, both at work and play. Loving the life, given twice the reward.
Buffy: And in the not-to-be-forgotten category… Buffy (our dear but sadly departed blonde dog) would want me to add on:
Rachel Mankowitz of The Cricket Pages is one to be read. Her heart-warming humor shows how our four-legged friends can both mystify and delight, comfort and amuse you, watch over and protect you. Most of all, she has two blonde gals that will changed to course of her life, just as my blonde gal, Buffy, changed the course of my life – Stacey.