If you love buttermilk dressing, blogging, recipes, the writing process, or you believe hospitality is the gold of life, read on.
One of my favorite Nashville bloggers asked me to join the “my writing process blogging tour.” Teresa from Food on Fifth is one of those blogs I open right away, just to salivate over her beautiful food, as Teresa is a professional food stylist. Last summer, I was fortunate enough to take a food styling class from her. Her expertise and warm teaching style gave us a day to remember, and for me, sealed a friendship.
I’m coupling this with the most fitting buttermilk ranch dressing recipe that comes from the Hedgebrook Cookbook.
The land at Hedgebrook feeds women writers at a farmhouse table while they are on retreat. I have a signed copy of the book, which has as its subtitle, “celebrating radical hospitality.” The recipes represent so much of my heart, as they use seasonal ingredients in a rustic, yet elegant presentation, meant to nurture the soul, create community and stir creativity. If I were ever asked to name a cookbook that is not my own, yet represents me, it would be the Hedegebrook Cookbook.
The Writing Process Blogging Tour is an ongoing tour of bloggers who are enlisted to join and share their journey. At the end of this post, you will see that I’ve invited three other bloggers to join me, and they will be posting next Monday, June 16th.
I was asked to answer the following questions, and I’ll pose these interview style.
What am I working on?
When Teresa answered this question, she replied, photo shoots, photo shoots and more photo shoots. This past week, I can say I’m working on recipes, recipes and more recipes.
A well known food company has contracted me to develop five recipes as part of a promotion, which will be presented here starting June 23rd and go for five days. I have 4 recipes done and one to go. I’m also working on developing three innovative salad recipes for the Williamson Source, an on-line magazine, as they’ll be here Friday to shoot a video. Tomorrow, I’ll be working with a new client, a food brand, developing recipes for their website. When I’m not in the kitchen creating recipes and doing photo shoots, I’m writing about restaurants and food events. I just completed two fun articles for the Nashville Arts & Entertainment Magazine that were not food centric. The 2014 publication will be at the bookstands and in Nashville hotel rooms in September. I am most excited about the feature piece and can’t wait for people to read it. The blog was the reason I was approached by the publisher, which reinforces my decision to include Nashville centric posts. I felt honored to be a part of such a quality publication.
Of course, I never forget my readers. I’m working on this week’s posts which will be centered around buttermilk. Think buttermilk fried chicken, buttermilk blueberry pie and some new twist on buttermilk biscuits.
This buttermilk salad dressing incorporates fresh parsley and chives from my garden. Aren’t those chive flowers pretty?
How does my work differ from others of its genre?
I have never considered Spinach Tiger a hobby, although it took years for me to develop my brand and value. Even from the beginning, I moved with intention, striving to make it look like a beautiful magazine and finding my voice. I do mostly original recipes and all the food styling and photography.
Amongst thousands of food blogs, how do I manage to be different?
Most bloggers fall into one of two categories. They either write recipes, or they share restaurant reviews. I do both with equal excitement and dedication, but I believe the photography helps me to stand out, as food is not that easy to shoot. I had a long learning curve, and I’m still learning. I make the food as appetizing as possible and I will put just as much time into the visual appeal as I do the integrity of the recipe. It’s not that easy to find great recipes that are truly tested and approachable. I focus on using easily attainable, ingredients, and simple food that is memorable.
If I compare myself to other food bloggers (which I try not to do), I think I’m very clearly branded by a certain style and food presentation. I hear that people like the writing too, and that makes me happy.
Why do I write what I do?
I am compelled to share my life through food. I can’t not do it. It’s difficult to be this vulnerable, but I’m driven by a strong belief system about food quality and food style. I grew up eating great food at the family dinner table, but we also dined out several times a week.
I cherish the local food scene in Nashville, as many locally owned, chef driven restaurants have popped up. I love to tell the world what Nashville is doing. The other half of me wants to show the world easy ways to prepare whole foods and have fun in the kitchen.
Originally, I wanted to connect with like-minded, food-centered people. I still do, but I want more than that. I want to help people who don’t know much about food, but dream of being better in the kitchen, and want more family food time.
Nothing makes me happier than emails, like the one I got from Julian from Wales yesterday, asking me a few more questions about this bolognese that he had on the stove.
I want the story to matter. I want to move people with words, because as a child, books saved me when I was lonely or anxious about situations I had no control over. It was words that inspired me, kept me company and gave me a healthy escape.
Words have power, and when I attach a personal story, especially the transparent ones like this one, I am hoping it resonates with someone who needs to see that people do overcome bad experiences. Teresa described me as funny, and I hope there are times my words entertain as I do believe laughter is medicine and just as necessary as food.
How does your writing process work?
I am always writing in my head. When I’m observing a situation, I’m writing. When I’m cooking, I’m writing. When I’m working out, I’m writing. I keep white boards and huge post it notes to keep me focused and on somewhat of a schedule, but I leave myself space to yield to where the blog might take me.
I write the stories early in the morning, usually in bed before anything crowds my mind. However, I have this cute kitchen table, and if no one is home, I can sit there and focus for hours without getting up. Sometimes, I go to this coffee shop and sit in the far facing, right dark corner against the wall, cocooned in. It’s very productive when I find myself too fidgety to stay home.
I have a crazy writing habit. I write partial posts, hopping from one to another, which may be considered a bit manic. I never typically finish a post from start to stop, because I’ll get an idea and jump over and start something new. To date, I have 70 blog posts in draft, not finished, but all started. Some will hit the cutting room floor. Some I’m insecure about, as they are too personal and I don’t know if I can hit publish. Some don’t have enough of a wow factor or some I need better photos for.
If I were to advise anyone about blogging, it would be write, write, write, but only plan half of it, and yield to the process. Blogs have minds of their own. You might start the process and believe you are headed down a fast highway, but the blog takes you to mountain roads or a breezy sail ride. Let it happen! Your creative side is not as conscious as you think. Most of us plan with the left side of our brain, and then think we will attempt to blog the same way. However, the creative process, tucked up in that right side of the brain may reveal itself to you in surprising ways.
You are more creative than you think you are. You have more to say than you think you do.
The Three Bloggers I’ve Invited to Join the Writing Process Tour
As part of this process, I invited these three bloggers to join me on the tour, and I’m happy they accepted and will be writing just like this next Monday.
Jane Bonacci of the Heritage Cook lives in Northern California, and most recently was a guest speaker at a BlogHer Food conference. She’s talented, warm and friendly. If she were my neighbor, we would be great friends. I met her as leader of my group in the Secret Recipe Club. You’ll especially want to visit her blogs on Mondays, where she posts a chocolate recipe. Coincidentally, we are both traveling to France and Italy this Fall. We really are kindred spirits.
Phillip of Southern Fatty is another new Nashville blogging buddy. Let me set the record straight. He’s not fat, but his food sure looks so delicious that he must work out a lot. Southern Fatty is Southern eye candy. Beautiful pictures and a great story always accompany a mouth watering recipe like baked blackberry brie. Yesterday, we judged an ice cream contest together. His tag line is “Loosen your bow tie, mint your julep and stop in for a bite to eat!”
Susan Williams of That Susan Williams is new to the Nashville Food Bloggers Association, where we met at a special blogger’s dinner. I liked her right away and I was captivated by her blog posts where she uses words to provoke a discussion about faith and destiny. A few days after we met, we ran smack into each other at the Nashville Farmer’s Market. Destined to be friends because we live about 50 miles apart.
Now for that recipe for the best buttermilk dressing you will ever eat. Creamy, herbal, spicy, perfect. Oh, and please tell me, do you think buttermilk dressing is outdated or making a comeback? Here’s the recipe for what I call the Farmhouse Salad.
- 1 cup sour cream
- 1 cup full fat buttermilk
- 2 tablespoons chives, minced
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 4 tablespoons parsley, minced
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1½ freshly ground black pepper
- ½ teaspoon hot pepper sauce (I used Tabasco)
- If using a Vitamix, mix all ingredients except the fresh herbs. Once they are mix, fold herbs in
- You can also use a blender.
- Refrigerate for at least one hour, preferably 8 hours.
- Stays fresh in fridge up to three days.