Just Biscuits and ‘My Writing Process Blog Tour’

2 ingredient BiscuitsSit down, relax. Get a cup of coffee or tea. Today we are just having biscuits while I tell you about the “My Writing Process Blog Tour” which is a great way for bloggers to connect with other bloggers who they might otherwise not know about. It expands your blogging horizons…you find others, they find you and on and on. It is also a way to share part of what motivates you to keep blogging. Once you are nominated/invited to participate by someone who loves your blog, you then invite 3 bloggers that you’d like to join in. I have chosen some dynamite bloggers that I hope you love as much as I do.

I was invited by Tina, whose blog “Mademoiselle Gourmande” is one great read. She is a well-travelled lover of food. Her recipes for “HIbiscus Flower Sirup” and “Foolproof Mushroom Risotto” are absolutely lovely. Thanks so much for thinking of me Tina and for the invite to join in the “My Writing Process Blog Tour”.

1. What am I working on?

Photo shoot, photo shoots and more photo shoots. I am a food stylist by trade & passion. Today I was working on the final images for a cookbook soon to be released. I got out my vintage Olympia Typewriter and old faded recipe cards from the flea market and typed out labels for jars to hold various BBQ Rubs.

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Earlier this week I had a shoot with a photographer helping create a promotional piece for her photography business. I did both the prop and food styling, setting it up in my backyard underneath some birch trees with the sun shining through creating beautiful dappled light over the food and plates. Such fun it was.

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2. How does my work differ from others of its genre?

As much as the recipes and the stories are satisfying to cook and write down, the photographs are very important to me. I see life in my mind as a film strip, framed just so &  lit just so.  I am very, very happy when I am taking the photos for my blog…it is a little piece of Nirvana and I hope this comes through to the viewer. As a stylist my blog allows me to become my own client and go to styling places just to see what happens.

I also don’t do ads, product placement (unless it is something I just personally am enamored with no financial connection to the product, see “Falling In Love, Ines Rosales Tortas with Dark Chocolate & Pistachios”...I would only do a “give-away” if it was for an extra special reason or good cause. Otherwise my blog might end up like a “job”! Of course, I also never say never.

3. Why do I write what I do?

I am very much a “doer”, a “maker of things”, a bit of a “mad scientist” and “tinkerer”. This all has to come out somehow, right now for me, Food on Fifth is my outlet.

I grew up in a small town in West Tennessee where food was grown, cooked & eaten within a few miles of where one lived. One did not stray to far afield…but I did.  Although these days I might be eating “Bitterbollen” in Amsterdam, or fresh-caught “Lobster Ceviche” in the Yucatan, I still adore anything made with cornmeal, sorghum molasses or buttermilk. I hope my recipes reflect all of this.

Also, One day a few years ago I realized that my two sweet daughters would not be receiving any handed down recipe cards from me. There were no quickly scribbled recipes for pies or cakes, no family favorites jotted down for sharing…nada. At that same time I became more aware of the world of blogs. “Food on Fifth” was started with the idea of creating a modern version of the “recipe file box” along with short stories for my daughters.

4. How does your writing process work?

I love to write and life is just full of inspiration of one sort or the other. Something in the news can spark an idea (see “Borscht in a Bowl for Cold February Dinners” inspired by the Olympics in Russia), or what is in season right now (see “Ruby Red Strawberry Victoria Sponge Cake with Lemon Mascarpone Filling”), or an unusual comestible that captivates me (see “Buddha Hand Good Luck Marmalade”), or finally a special occasion or holiday that merits acknowledgement via food (see “Blackberry Pie on the Fourth of July”)….the list goes on.

Literally how do I design a post?  I figure out a recipe or how-to process, shop or use what I already have, measure, cook, photograph along the way through the process. I set up a final “beauty” shot trying out various looks & photograph those. I process the images on my computer, cropping, adding script at times, adjusting the color, generally noodling around until my images look as I want them to. I move all the images over to my blog site, start writing, placing photos where they look best until I get everything the way I want it. I add tags & categories, choose a blog opening image, edit and edit again and hit publish. I can pretty much do all this in about 3 hours depending on the recipe. Sometimes more, sometimes less. That is it, plain and simple! When I am pressed for time I go to my “Blog Bank” (see next paragraph) and choose something from there.

Here is my best writing/blogging tip: One of the things I learned early on is that you want to “bank” some blog posts when you have the time to play around and experiment because the days and weeks will come when blogging time is precious and scarce. I call this “Banking the Blog”.

….Who’s Next? Some of Blogs I Recommend….

Nancy – Good Food Matters I have been delightfully following Nancy’s blog for over 5 years. She is a cook extraordinaire, a food activist, a recovering caterer,  and is about to have her first cookbook, “The Thursday Community Potluck” released nationally. Nancy’s blog is one of my favorites. Her writing style is sophisticated-homey, the stories that connect to the recipes are just delicious always leaving me wanting more.

Charles – Local Forkful Charles’s blog has wonderfully charming stories about his family and his life. He manages to bring in his boyhood history which has many parallels to mine. He is a trained Chef who makes his food very approachable & doable for anyone. He includes lots of Southern traditional foods with a modern twist. Charles is also very engaged in his food community. When you take a look at his blog and see his photograph you will see that his smile says it all.

Angela – Spinach Tiger I first got to know Angela via her blog. She would visit my blog and I would visit hers. We sent emails back and forth about various things we have in common and became quick “blogging friends”. Angela is great about touting local restaurants, sharing her latest recipes, and culinary information about what is going on about the area. We finally met and she is not only a wonderful blogger, but very funny indeed. Check it out. You will see what I mean.

(Sorry folks, but I had such good response to my query to join us I am slipping in a fourth of my favorites)

Jill – Jill Cooks Here Jill travels, she cooks, she edits a national magazine, she’s a Mom, she runs, she cooks….a lot. Her blog is fun and has some of the easiest recipes I have ever seen. Nothing at “Jill Cooks Here” is fussy or overworked. Her recipes and her fun stories are just as down to earth as she is and that is a good thing. Oh yeah, she is a registered dietician and can answer almost any question I have proposed to her about food, nutrition and what all those weird ingredient words are on the back of processed foods!

Oh by the way, the biscuits are ready…do you need a fresh cup of coffee? Some homemade butter? How about some homemade marmalade?

DSC_7074“Just Biscuits” Recipe:

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2 cups Self-rising flour

1/2 cup plain Greek Yogurt whisked together with 1/4 cup whole milk

Melted butter to brush on top

To Make:

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

2. Add self-rising flour to a mixing bowl making a “well” in the center with a fork.

3. Gently pour yogurt-milk mixture into the well. Blend dry and wet ingredients together with the fork. Dough should be a bit wet and sticky. Add a bit more milk if necessary.

4. Turn dough out onto a floured work surface. Shake flour over the top and gently pat out to about 1/2 inch thick. Cut into rounds with a 3 inch cutter & place biscuits on a sheet pan or black iron skillet or biscuit pan that has been greased. Brush tops with melted butter.

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5. Place in pan in oven & bake until biscuits are golden brown. Remove from oven. Serve with softened butter & preserves.

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Light and airy, warm and buttery!

(Just Biscuits recipe was adapted from Tammy Algood’s recipe found in her book “The Complete Southern Cookbook: More than 800 of the Most Delicious, Down-Home Recipes”

See you soon.

“Blood Oranges, Poundless Poundcakes & a Poem”

Blood Orange

Blood Oranges

They reach out to you….. 

…..Glow 

like brilliant sons. 
Silent and sleepy
in the aisle 
of imported fruit.
They call to your amazement-
these prodigals far from home.
But, this is not Italy.
No Alimentare here.

Poem in part by ari’ anna arena (click here for full poem)

Enchanted….seduced…far-away-longings…These are all brought about each late winter when the “Moro Blood Oranges” begin to show up in the markets. I can never resist them.

In posts from the past, “Blood Orangecello & Bootlegging” and “Bloody Sweet Orange Tartlets”, I have proclaimed my devotion to this most exotic & engaging citrus.

This week I turn to musings about pound cakes (doesn’t the name sound fattening?).

Recently on a photo shoot for Relish Magazine I baked a couple of pound cakes using no butter, just olive oil. They were delicious & absolutely moist, dense & sturdy, yet delicate in flavors & texture…lower in fat…here is my version using Blood Oranges.

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“Blood Orange & Olive Oil Poundless Pound Cake for Waltzing into Spring”

Ingredients for cake:   1 cup self-rising flour, 1/2 cup self-rising yellow cornmeal, pinch of salt, 1 cup plain Greek yogurt, 3/4 cup brown sugar, 3 eggs, 1 tsp vanilla extract, 2 generous Tbsps. finely chopped Blood Orange rind, 1/3 cup olive oil, 1/3 cup freshly squeezed Blood Orange juice

Ingredients for glaze: 1/2 cup Blood Orange juice & 1/2 cup powdered sugar

Blood Orange Peel

Juicing Blood Oranges

Chopped Blood Orange Peel

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a standard loaf pan. Line with two sheets of parchment paper cut to fit…overlapping in the bottom of the pan.

2. Whisk together the self-rising flour & self-rising cornmeal & salt.

3. Whisk together the yogurt, sugar, eggs, vanilla, chopped rind & olive oil. (or use a stand mixer). Add the flour mixture, blend well. Scrape batter into prepared loaf pan. Bake for about 50 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean. Remove to a wire rack.

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4. While cake is baking, make the Blood Orange Glaze. Put juice & powdered sugar in a small saucepan, stir well, bring to a low boil and remove from heat. While cake is still warm poke holes in top with a skewer. Drizzle glaze by spoonfuls over cake until half of glaze is used, allowing glaze to soak into the cake through the holes.

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Blood Orange Glaze

5. Remove cake from pan when cooled somewhat using the edges of the parchment paper to lift.

Serve sliced with additional glaze drizzle if desired.

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Tip: One of favorite simple things to do with slices of Blood Oranges is to dip the edges in Turbinado sugar & eat!

Add sugar dipped wedges of Blood Oranges to the rim of a cup of tea. Just squeeze juice into tea & stir.

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A short, sweet season is close to the end…until next year my beauties!