Blog Writing 101

I had the opportunity to spend a weekend with Elena in Wilmington, NC to discuss blog writing, food photography, recipe development and goals for my practicum project. We started out by visiting the Columbus County Community Farmers Market and stopped at Dale’s Seafood in Lake Waccamaw on the drive back. To my delight, this was the start of a summer filled with visiting small, local restaurants and trying the local cuisine such as steamed baby shrimp and hush puppies.
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Throughout the rest of the afternoon and weekend we discussed many topics as I picked Elena’s brain to absorb all the knowledge I could and learn a few steps she took in becoming a successful food blogger. Below is a list of list of important and interesting tidbits of what I learned over the weekend. Talk about a motivating 24 hours! I walked away with pages of notes and a feeling of excitement and eagerness to dive into the project.

Blogging: How to connect further with readers and gain audience?

    • Stay consistent. Write quality posts on a regular basis.
      • Google will start to verify posts as current

Photography: How to photograph food?

      • Use angles and beauty from natural light and serving dish to form beauty
      • Move body around subject
      • Keep an eye out for dishes online/thrift stores/clearance
      • Paint foam board preferred color for backdrop
      • Using a phone’s camera (specifically iPhone 5) can work as well as a DSLR camera, mainly for convenience purposes
      • Use Instagram for process shots
      • Check out Photojojo for gifts & gear for photographers

Posting articles with pictures: How to size images and edit?

      • Make photos the same width website theme/template
      • Photoshop
      • Phone photo editing app: VSCO cam

Using Widgets and plug-ins in WordPress: Which to use?

      • Plug-in to easily print recipes: Shareaholic
      • Option for embedding Twitter feed

Using social media: what to post where?

      • Post different content on different platforms
      • Creating a voice within each will lead to more followers

Computer: Which to buy?

      • MacBook Pro with Retina

Promoting blog: How to choose business cards?

Recipe development: How to start?

      • Relate recipe back to personal life
      • Research basic recipes, experiment to make your own
      • Make recipe 1-2 times…or until satisfied
      • Follow other bloggers and read cookbooks and modify at least 2 ingredients to make it your own, credit original author for inspiration
      • Use Bloglovin’ to follow blogs
      • Use Flipboard to collect and save recipes by URL
      • Remember simplicity
      • Stay seasonal

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‘Tis the Season for Farmers Markets! #1

It is officially summer. This may be my favorite time of the year. Not only do we have sunshine for over 12 hours, but the opportunities for in-season, local, fresh produce are almost endless. From farmers markets to roadside stands to CSA’s, each week we can be sure to find a mouthwatering summertime favorite.

As part of my practicum project, I have the opportunity to make it a point to visit farmers markets outside the Raleigh area. This makes me happy, as I get to drive to new places, meet farmers from various counties and most importantly…..EAT! Eat real, wholesome, locally grown food. Anyone who knows me will agree that I absolutely love grocery shopping. It doesn’t get any better when you actually get to MEET the farmer who grew your food. When it comes to waking up early on a Saturday for a market, I’ll be there.

I decided I will start a series of posts of farmers markets I visit over the course of the summer, which will very well lead into fall and winter. I’m so grateful for those farmers who brave the weather all year round! (Thank goodness I live in the South!)

The first ‘non-Raleigh’ market of the year started with a trip to Columbus County. After a drive through back-country roads to meet Elena, not knowing what to expect, I ended up at the pavilion.

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After speaking with a few farmers and buying cucumbers, beets, and turnip greens, grown mostly pesticide free, I was extremely ecstatic when I found a farmer from Higher Ground Gardens selling rhubarb!! Yes, North Carolina grown RHUBARB!!! Being from WI, this was a treat. I have not once found a farmer who was able to grow rhubarb in this state in the past 4 years I’ve lived here. Every time I asked about it, I received the same response: “It’s too hot for rhubarb to grow here.” Well, this farmer has proven that he is able to grow some great looking (and tasting) rhubarb!

The Columbus County Community Farmers Market is surely one I would recommend to anyone who is looking for good quality, wholesome food who lives south of Fayetteville, near Wilmington or even close to the eastern South Carolina border. Follow them on Facebook and Twitter!

Carrot, Beet, Rhubarb Smoothie
Serves 1

1 cup water
½ cup sliced raw carrots, frozen
¼ cup sliced raw red beets, frozen
¼ cup chopped raw rhubarb, frozen
½ tablespoon Coconut oil
Sprinkle of Ginger
Handful of Goji berries

1. Slice and chop carrots, beets and rhubarb after getting back from market. Freeze together in 1 bag for convenience.
2. Pour water into blender, add frozen ingredients and blend to break up.
3. Add coconut oil and ginger, blend. Taste. If the flavor is too earthy, add Goji berries to sweeten.
4. Enjoy!

I thank Elena for inspiring me to add beets to my smoothies and drink them out of blue mason jars!

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 Read more about my ‘Discovering North Carolina’ project here

Food for thought: What is your favorite summertime food or favorite smoothie ingredient?