Saturday, January 25, 2014

Food Blog South 2014

I'm currently taking a little break in my hotel room before going to the after party for this weekend's Food Blog South Conference. It's been a really fun experience. I've met some great people, and it's been nice to be with "my tribe" so to speak.

While this blog is obviously just an occasional hobby for me, I found that I have a lot in common with many of the people here. We all have different angles, personal stories, approaches, and even a fairly wide variety of topics that we tackle in our blogs. Some people here are professionals, either in the food world or the writing world; some are like me - just hobbyists. Many people here are accomplished photographers. As you have no doubt seen from my blog, I am NOT. But we all share an interest and saying something about food or broader lifestyle / entertaining topics. Even the topic of food itself is quite varied. From people who are concerned with cooking, with restaurants, with gardening and farming, with food politics, or even food anthropology, we're all drawn in some way to this topic of sustenance and the craft of creating it.

Although this is a small conference, I've been really impressed with the quality of the speakers and with the level of intellect and passion by my fellow bloggers. It was fun to meet some Nashville bloggers I have not had the chance to meet yet, and there have been all sorts of interesting people from elsewhere in the South and other parts of the country.

I've learned a lot about making this blog better and I hope you'll start to see those results gradually. I also plan to update my blogroll to include some of the wonderful blogs I've learned about here.

Now, time to get ready for the party!

Monday, January 6, 2014

Old-Fashioned Beef Stew

The arctic cold snap we've experienced this week, on top of the holiday season, has put most people in the mood for comfort food. When the weather is seriously cold -- with or without snow and ice -- you tend to want hearty, warm home-cooking. One-pot meals such as soups, stews, chili, and the like spring immediately to mind.

I have a few favorite dishes in this category, and today's post presents one near the top of the list. This Old-Fashioned Beef Stew is adapted from a recipe in my beloved The Fannie Farmer Cookbook. It is one of a dozen or so recipes from that book that I consider a core part of my repertoire. Naturally I've tweaked it a bit over the years, but the central idea is the same: A rich, somewhat thick broth studded with chunks of tender beef, potato, carrot, and onion. The beef is given a long, slow simmer to tenderize and develop the flavor of the broth, while the vegetables are added toward the end of cooking so that they don't get mushy.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Yeast Bread - Yes You Can!

When I was out on my own and expanding my culinary skills beyond the (very good) Southern basics I learned from my mom, I decided to tackle yeast bread for the first time. I had a number of failures, a number of mediocre loaves, but gradually with practice I got better. One day I came across this recipe for an enriched white loaf, and everything finally came together. I've been making this loaf since the mid-80s, and now I'm excited to finally share it.