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Three years blogging

June 26th, 2009 | 17 Comments »

Today marks the 3rd anniversary of this blog. Am I happy about it? That depends on the day, but usually yes. And sometimes, more often than not these days, I would say no.

I admit that I’ve toyed a lot lately – a lot!-  with quitting this past time of mine. Part of me feels if I hit the ‘Delete’ button that there wouldn’t be many people who would notice. You see, the thing is, everyone is writing a blog these days; it’s the thing to do- it’s cool, trendy etc etc. And the sheer number of food blogs out there is astonishing beyond imagination. It seems like anyone who’s ever been told ‘Hey, this is GOOD!’ has decided to write a food blog. Some of them are amazing, and they humble me greatly. Others? Feh. A can of soup poured over a microwaved potato somehow doesn’t strike me as being fodder for a blog, but hey, who am I to ask what other people want? After three years it has become apparent to me that I still haven’t got a clue, and that maybe I never will. This has become OK with me, in a hard-fought and harsh sort of way.

roadsign

I’ve had some recent face-palm moments of anxiety though, there’s been ranting and grousing; Facebook conversations with treasured blog buddies and true friends have been able to talk me me down off the ledge which is why I am here to write this anniversary post. These moments of extreme instability have thankfully had a purpose. I have at least come to understand the most important reason why I continue to do this even when it often makes me crazy; I would rather have half a dozen genuine and honest comments about what I post that come right from a readers heart lush with praise than a hundred fickle and shallow ones that only say ‘Yum!’. Because it’s important for me to touch someone through this giant web we live in, to touch a part of them that matters. Our lives are too informal and detached. We type messages to one another instead of speaking face to face, fall into television shows and disappear, plug in our earbuds and tune out the rest of the world. If this is how life has turned, I can jump aboard with the rest and I certainly have. You all know, if you’ve been here long enough, how much I love Facebook and how it keeps me connected with so many, over thousands of miles, the past and the present colliding all in one crazy spot, and this blog is yet another way that I can reach out across the spaces in between and give everyone a part of who I am. That is what’s important to me. I want it to feel like coming home to an old and trusted friend. My reward is in your words, and I want you to know I appreciate them immensely.

hugging

The rest of it is certainly still evolving and no one is more surprised than I am about how this blog has pushed me to stretch and re-define my food tastes and more thoroughly examine both what I do and how I eat, and in keeping with the way I choose to nourish myself and my family, the food will remain real and honest. My hope each time I post a recipe is that you find something in it that lights a spark. That you read the recipe and say not only “I can do that!” but “I WANT to do that!” Because I don’t find it at all coincidental that as we strive towards that always elusive brass ring, surrounding ourselves with technology and silencing the voices of those around us in favor of an array of electronics, that the urge and need to feed our stomachs AND our souls grows ever louder and more persistent. We congregate where there is nourishment for every aspect of our lives and our hunger isn’t always for food; it’s for something to touch us, to touch our lives and give us a reason to smile, a means for being connected – really connected and not just with a power cord-  and I hope that you’ll find a small part of that here.

This blog- this three years in the making blog of mine, it’s not about mass appeal and I hope someone smacks me a good one if I even think to post an ad on it. It isn’t about my stats, or readership. I don’t feel I need to roam the USA going to blog conferences and schmoozing (I hate schmoozing for schmooze sake….I just like to hang out and talk to people). I’m not big on posting recipes that have worn out a welcome, I don’t jump on food trends, I’m not a locavore and I dislike labels. I love to cook and I’m really darn good at it. That’s all I want to share.

cooking

And I did promise you something food related as you put up with me in my last post going on about learning life lessons in the garden and talking about my darling shaved cat, so I won’t disappoint but this is something pretty simple. Almost too simple. That’s what makes it so good though.

It’s a wrap.
wraps 001wraps 002

Nothing superbly special, right?

But I’ll tell you, start with this creamy Avocado White Bean Spread and any wrap you make will be just a titch better. Grill some chicken, beef strips or shrimp, get some good crab meat or top quality tuna and add whatever vegetables you prefer. Grate some good cheese into it. Wrap it in a nice flavorful tortilla and pour some ice tea. The weather has been HOT here, and this cool and quick dinner was just the ticket. We were picking at the crumbs and sighing in contentment at each other. A few fresh cherries rounded out a perfect summer meal.


Creamy Avocado and White Bean Spread

From Eating Well magazine (and adapted slightly by Kate)

1 15-oz can Great Northern beans, drained and rinsed
1 ripe avocado
1/2 c. grape tomatoes (my addition)
1-2 T. finely minced red onion (or use some good onion powder like Penzeys)
Fresh ground black pepper and coarse salt to taste

In the bowl of a food processor, combine all ingredients and process until slightly chunky. Scrape sides. Pulse once or twice more to fully combine and scrape into a clean bowl. Season to taste.

Spread about nice layer of this on a tortilla and top with your choice of fillings. Roll up tightly and enjoy. It’s also delicious as a chip and raw vegetable dip (but it does NOT photograph well! Sorry!)

Would you like something equally delicious and appealing with little fuss? How about a nice Mexican Rice?

Kate’s Mexican Rice

1 15-oz can diced or whole tomato
1 medium onion
1 jalapeno (seeded if you wish)
1 4-oz can green chilies
1 1/2 c. white rice

Fresh lime wedges and oil for cooking.

In the bowl of a food processor, place tomato, onion (cut into fourths) jalapeno and green chilies. Blend until mixture is finely chopped, almost to the point of being like a thin salsa. Pour into a measuring cup. It should be about 3-4 cups.

In a deep skillet over medium high flame, heat about 2 T. of cooking oil until very hot. Pour in the rice and stir to coat with oil. Turn heat down to medium and continue to cook, stirring regularly until the rice is turning browned and becoming very fragrant, about 5-8 minutes. The pan should be smoking hot by now. Carefully pour in the tomato mixture- careful of the steam!- and quickly stir to combine it with the toasted rice. Allow to come to a simmer and then cover, reduce heat and cook until liquid is absorbed. Turn off heat and allow pan to stand, covered, for about 10-15 minutes. Fluff with a fork and serve, squirting some fresh lime juice over the top.

NOTES FOR THE RICE:
You can stir in another chopped jalapeno before serving the cooked rice. It adds another level of heat to the dish. Other good additions are canned black beans (rinsed), frozen corn, sauteed zucchini or roasted peppers. Or all of it. For varied flavors, try using fire roasted tomatoes. If you wish to use fresh tomato, the equivalent would be about three medium sized ones and it’s a good idea if you peel them before using. This is excellent as a rice to use with burritos and tastes fabulous topped with cold chunks of avocado.

17 Responses to “Three years blogging”

  1. Eric F says:

    Hi Kate,

    Congrats on 3 years of blogging. What a feat! My wife has been doing it for a year and a half now (see end of this post for her site) and I know what dedication it takes.

    I must admit that I’m a total newbie to your blog. I don’t know if another soul will even read or appreciate my comments, but sometimes writing can be it’s own reward too. I came across your blog today by accident looking for a recipe to help me make “Stir Fry Chicken with Bok Choy.” When I googled the words bok choy & stir fry your recipe from your April 13, 2007 post came up and it sounded way more adventurous than some others I quickly ignored. Plus, you have a voice, a joie de vivre, a personality that comes jumping off the page…I love what little I’ve read and seen (pics are great too!) here in the 30 minutes I’m taking to devour the slightly morphed Franken-creation I made from your original transmogrification of some F&W recipe. (I think you said you found the original version in an issue of Food & Wine?)

    Well, I’m an American guy married for 12 years now to an awesome, strong, smart and sophisticated Japanese woman, mom & film journalist who does most of the cooking in our household. I grew up as the oldest child (and only boy of 4) around a Mom that could cook, with grandmothers who could really cook, and a father who appreciated great food. We lived in 7 countries and several parts of the U.S. growing up so I was exposed to a tremendous variety of cuisines and good food early on in my life. I learned to cook a bit myself as a kid and young adult. Hey, I wasn’t stupid, “Gourmet Club” in high school was a blast and only had 2-3 guys and 15-20 girls! So I like (& sometimes love) to cook myself, but due to work I usually only make dinner for the family on Sundays.

    I have been lazy when it comes to watching and learning how my wife makes Asian (Japanese, Chinese, pan-Asian fusions) dishes, I just enjoy her Mabo Tofus, stir frys, Japanese curries, Chirashi Sushi and many other dinners when I come home late from work. Alas, she & my nine-year old daughter, Toscana, go to Japan for 2 months each summer and so I’m a bachelor left to my own culinary devices for 7-8 weeks. In summers past I would just stock up on prepared foods, frozen stuff, eat a lot of fast food, etc. But I vowed this summer to eat healthier, and to take the time to cook more for myself.

    So here I am on the Friday afternoon of the long weekend holiday and my one client meeting cancels. I haven’t had lunch yet and I remember the 2.5 lb bag of Baby Bok Choy that I bought on Sunday at the “99 Ranch Market” in Monterey Park (strongly Chinese area just East of downtown Los Angeles.) I don’t know if you have anything like “99 Ranch Market” in your neck of the woods, but in California anyone who cooks asian knows these are AWESOME asian supermarkets with incredible, fish, meat (some things most of us gringos wouldn’t be caught dead putting in our mouths,) produce & asian everything at incredible prices. The market was next door to a new Dim Sum restaurant (New Capital Seafood…very good dim sum) one of my Chinese friends took me to. So for $0.69 per pound, or under $1.75 total, I get more bok choy than $7.00 would get me at Trader Joe’s. But what do I do with it, aside from stir frying with a little garlic and some asian sauces I hope my wife has left in the fridge?

    Well, now that I have digressed for 5 paragraphs, I come back to your blog & “Stir Fry Chicken with Bok Choy” recipe. Great recipe which I had to improvise on a bit. No black bean sauce in our fridge so I substituted some Japanese “Ten Men Jan” (basically a soybean paste sauce). And I had a red bell pepper and some onions I thought would add some color and variety, so threw those in with the bok choy. Finally, some aging crimini mushrooms (would have preferred shitakes) and away we went. My wife would be horrified to hear that I had this with some leftover basmati rice since I was too lazy to wash and cook some short grain Japanese rice and delay eating my little masterpiece another 15 minutes. To my humble taste it turned out delicioso. Yummy, healthy, clean (well there were about 4-5 tablespoons of Canola Oil for stir frying…) And, although not so great when it comes to stir fry, a lot left over for another 2-3 meals. I keep on forgetting I should not, at my age, try to eat 4 portions worth in one meal (but I can’t bring myself to make less, it seems like a waste of time to cook for 1-2 portions).

    This is my very first ever post to any food blog or website…THANK YOU for having such a great site. Perhaps I have too much time on my hands this lazy Friday afternoon and I’m trying to avoid some household projects like recaulking the bathtub or actually setting up a useable home office. I look forward to reading YOUR POSTS in more detail late at night when I can sneak the time. I’m loving the camping smores pic and lots of other tidbits I’m seeing.

    I welcome email or comments back from you or any of your readers.

    Congrats on 3 years+ of blogging! What you do is great.

    Eric G.v.R. Finke, MBA
    Finke Financial
    Helping teach individuals and families in all walks of life how to stop spending money they don’t have to buy things they don’t need to impress people they don’t really care about anyway and start making smarter choices with their money to achieve financial peace of mind and independence sooner.
    Culver City, CA
    eric@cinemanerd.com
    (BTW, my wife, Junko Ogihara, blogs in Japanese about our lives in LA, and working as a film journalist at http://www.cinemanerd.com)

  2. See, Kate, that’s why I have been coming back since the day I first met you (over 2 years ago now). You’re honest and genuine. Please don’t ever change, my friend.

  3. Congrats on your three year anniversary. Us newbies are coming up on our first! Thanks for sharing you life and stories! We look forward to hearing more!
    Love, the gals at LoveFeast Table
    Chris Ann (from Minnesota!)
    Kristin (from Maryland)

  4. Just made the wrap from Eating Well last night. I thought the Avocado Bean Spread recipe sounded very familiar!

    Congrats on your blogiversary :)

  5. Sshebba says:

    Dear Kate,
    This is my first trip to your blog. I stumbled upon it quite by accident and enjoyed it immeasurably. Not only for the wonderfully unique recipes, but also for the warm and loving snippets of your life that you share so graciously with your readers.
    I have bookmarked your blog as one of my favorites and cannot wait to return for another delicous bite. This in itself is highly unusual for me. Your writing surprisingly surpassed my expectations from a personal blog. Alas I must confess that I devoured it like a starving waif.
    I must admit I will be returning here often to scurry through your blog, like a hungry little mouse who has found entry into the pantry, just in case I may have overlooked one last moist, warm, melt in your mouth morsel!
    If I knew you and I had a vote on the life of this blog, I would say to you that “You should continue to develop this divine blog and you should turn it into a book.”
    Let your candle shine brightly so others may light their’s from yours! And thank you for your wonderful, well written blog!

  6. janelle says:

    Kate: I think YOU are one of the big reasons I have kept going. You actually stop by and comment on my blog, and I crave the familiarity and comments of consistent visitors.

    I always say to people, I enjoy writing my blog but I suck at promoting it.;) I love the writing and photographing but the technology wigs me out a bit.

    And there IS a lot of blog-noise out there. And I DO wonder am I just writing to myself. But what do you say, another year? Shall we make a pact;)?

    Thanks Kate, keep it up!

    Janelle

  7. Claire says:

    Well, happy three years! I missed my three year anniversary because of a daring bakers post last month. Oh well! That wrap looks so yummy!

  8. Suzie says:

    I have read a few posts similar to yours recently, and my only comment is to focus on what you enjoy. If you enjoy the cooking and the writing, continue, if not, don’t. Your food and your thoughts are engaging, and you deserve a wide readership. I hope you decide to continue, but it has to come back to being something you love. If the blogging isn’t something you love, then there are never going to be enough hours in the day…..

  9. Happy blogoversary!

  10. katessisterkris says:

    I come here every day Katiekins and it would pain me if you quit – but not if you felt it was the right choice for you. You know I will respect whatever you decide.
    So, enough with the mushy stuff!!
    Give all your guys a hug for me and I’ll see you soon….

    Krissykins

  11. Balisha says:

    Once in a while…I post a recipe on my garden blog. Only if it has received lots of comments from family about how good it is. I love to come here and read your posts. Your recipes are, for the most part healthy, and always are photographed beautifully. I have two vegetarians in my family and once in a while you post a recipe for them. I would miss reading this blog of yours…if you quit. I enjoy all the bits and pieces of your life too, Kate. You do a wonderful job of combining.

  12. Carole says:

    Kate – I thoroughly enjoy your blog. You are a very good writer and photographer. Life has other things, flowers, shaved cats, nieces & nephews, kids, hubbies. Glad to hear about them and how they fit and how food works in with it all. Keep it up.

  13. Kristen says:

    I, for one, can’t believe how much things have changed in the food blogging world in the past 3 years, can you? It is a whole different beast now than it ever was 3 years ago.

    I love you, love your blog, and hope that you keep up with it forever and ever! I’m glad to have met you back in our overly ambitious days of attempting to conquer the F&W 100 :)

    Keep writing and cooking!

  14. Kirby! says:

    Congrats on your three-year anniversary…. and I hope you don’t stop!! I feel you about the urge to quit occasionally… it is a time-consuming activity, and time is definitely something I’m short on these days. But you have to know that people (like me!) do love your blog. And personally, I know that blogging may not be easy, but it has definitely exposed me to a lot of new foodie experiences and cooking experiments… and it’s also totally been therapy for me to sit down and write when I am feeling stressed out. There are certain busy weeks when I may force myself to make time to blog, but that time I set aside is usually really enjoyable for me, and that’s what keeps me going. I have a feeling that you can probably relate! So please, pretty please, keep it going!

  15. Jamie says:

    A perfect post! You have covered everything for me, from the amazement and confusion about how other people’s blogs either make it big or don’t. About the real reason behind blogging. About the value of the few meaningful comments we receive that show that we have actually touched people out there. About the friends we have made through food blogging and FB. And about your wonderful recipes that are creative and fabulous and not only make me want to do them but actually think that I can.

    Happy Anniversary, my dear friend, and I, for one, hope you continue.

    And I love that Creamy Avocado and White Bean Spread recipe and this I will do!

  16. Aubrey says:

    This spread would be perfect for me to take to lunch. I take a wrap almost every day for lunch. Usually, I just fill it with veggies and either chick peas or great northern beans. But I love the idea of making a big batch of bean/avocado spread and then using it on the wrap as well.

    And since I started reading your blog a few months ago, I’ve always enjoyed your recipes. Keep up the good work!

  17. SarahKate says:

    I just had my one year blog-birthday… so your three years sound very impressive to me! Congrats! Keep it up as long as it’s fun!