#100DaysOfFoodBlogging, Recipes, Thought Nuggets

That time I tried to make pork belly ketchup…

Pork Belly Ketchup Fail | Getinmymouf.com

[This is post #017 towards #100DaysOfFoodBlogging, our goal to do 100 posts in 100 days as part of The 100 Day Project.]

Since I (Evan) am normally the one writing and tweeting and facebooking, people forget how much of an impact Tina has on this blog. To demonstrate, let me tell about the results of a post I was going to do one night while she was away at a bachelorette party:

Pork Belly Ketchup

Sounds like a great topping for a burger, right? I sure thought so…

I didn’t have a clear plan and I’ve tried to forget about it, but from what I can recall there was some combination of these ingredients:

• Pork belly
• Beer
• Hot sauce
• Ketchup

And probably butter. I like to put butter in everything.

First let me start by saying that there are correct ways to cook pork belly. There are fairly easy ways, which when done property can produce brilliant results (See: Momofuku Pork Belly Recipe). I, however, did not choose one of these ways and still expected the pork belly to melt in my mouf.

Melt in my mouf, it did not.

I threw all of the ingredients in a saucepan on medium and thought, “This is going to be amazing!”

Amazing, it was not.

You would think the combination of beer, pork, ketchup, and hot sauce would go well together and likely taste fantastically manly.

Fantastically manly it was not.

What is was, was…well…a failure. In other words:

It tasted like the vomit of a frat boy at a man cave convention.

Although, it actually doesn’t look that bad:

Pork Belly Ketchup Fail | Getinmymouf.com

I mean if it were in focus… Good thing I took another picture:

Pork Belly Ketchup Fail | Getinmymouf.com

Better, but let’s lay it on a random piece of cloth…

Pork Belly Ketchup Fail | Getinmymouf.com

Meh. At least the cheese is almost in focus.

Fortunately the burger itself was good, so I scraped off the “ketchup” and my meal wasn’t totally lost. And then I ate instant ramen for the rest of the weekend.

 

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#100DaysOfFoodBlogging, Thought Nuggets

‘Mise en Place’ for Preventing Writer’s Block

'Mise en Place'

[This is post #015 towards #100DaysOfFoodBlogging, our goal to do 100 posts in 100 days as part of The 100 Day Project.]

Last week’s post, The Recipe for Writer’s Block, covered (in my opinion) what writer’s block is and what causes it. Like the old G.I. Joe saying goes, “Knowing is half the battle.”

But what about the other half?

I think being aware of what causes writer’s block goes a long way, but there are also other small things that can be done to help prevent it before it strikes. So, much like a chef takes pride in their mise en place, which prepares them for the task/meal/night ahead, writers can also take steps to ensure their writing muse keeps on musing.

Here are five things I do that naturally prevent writer’s block:

1.  When an idea strikes, write it down IMMEDIATELY. 

Fortunately (or unfortunately) I work at a computer for my day job, so if an idea strikes during 9-5 I normally send myself a quick email with the idea and any other relevant bullet points. This serves a couple purposes. First, you eliminate the risk of losing the idea to other random thoughts (like which doughnut I’m going to buy from Astro Doughnuts). Second, by seeing it written down it has more life to it and creates more ownership on eventually following through. At lunch or at night I tend to log into our blog and start the idea as a draft post. It doesn’t necessarily have to be fully thought out, just enough that the idea is conveyed. Over time this helps prevent writer’s block, because every time I log into our blog, I see a list of draft posts waiting to be finished. I’d much rather have the issue of having too many ideas to choose from than too few. Just like doughnuts.

2.  Learn to write anywhere.

Although I haven’t done it recently, there was a period where I would write in my car during my lunch breaks. It actually worked quite well as a little writing bubble. No distractions from people. No wifi. No excuses. Most of my writing now is done at my desk at work during lunch, on the couch at home, or at the kitchen table. But I love to mix it up occasionally and work from coffee shops or restaurants. Writing is great because you can do it anywhere. However, in the early stages of writing, I think it’s easy to become fascinated with finding that “perfect” place to write. One with sweeping views of mountains and the ocean, a cup of tea, and 72 degree weather while birds serenade you like you’ve already won a Pulitzer. The problem is if you believe that you can only write under certain circumstances, then you will wait for those circumstances. And over time, this waiting ferments, but instead of turning into something delicious like kimchi, it turns into writer’s block.

3.  Surround yourself with other writers.

In much the same way that watching David Chang eat ramen on Mind of a Chef will make you crave ramen, by surrounding yourself with other writers you will crave writing. And if you truly crave it, writer’s block won’t be able to touch you. Twitter is a good source of finding other writers to connect with, but it doesn’t hurt to have closer friends that write as well. It doesn’t have to be the same type of writing, either. A novelist, screenwriter, and blogger might work in different ways, but the act of writing is the same. A cup of coffee and the question, “So, what are you writing these days?” can go a long way to creating a dialogue that fosters creativity. And at the very least you can guilt your friend into writing more surfing blog posts. Isn’t that right, MICHAEL?

 4.  Invest in a good laptop.

Okay, I’m not saying that you have to have the best computer money can buy to be a writer. And in no way am I insinuating that having a great laptop will make you a great writer. However, by having a laptop that you love, that’s fast, and doesn’t crash, you will look forward to writing more than if you’re running an IBM from ’92. Plus, if it has decent battery life, then you’ll have no problem carrying it around everywhere you go, which will facilitate #2. Would a chef prepare a great meal with dull knives?

5.  Coffee.

Writer’s block loves to take naps.

Everyone’s mise en place is different and what works for me, might not work for you. What’s useful is knowing what helps you prevent writer’s block. If anyone has any tips, share ’em in the comments so we can stop writer’s block together.

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#100DaysOfFoodBlogging, Thought Nuggets

Orange Extract Revolution

[This is post #010 towards #100DaysOfFoodBlogging, our goal to do 100 posts in 100 days as part of The 100 Day Project.]

Why does vanilla extract get all the attention? Seems like every single recipe calls for a teaspoon or so of this tired brown liquid. No disrespect to vanilla, but–wait. I take that back. Disrespect indeed. This King of Extracts has ruled for too long, and for what? An assumed flavor enhancement that we all just accept, even though if you taste the darn liquid straight up it burns like a bitter earthy fire in your mouth.

I know that when “science” comes into play its supposed to make food like cakes taste better, but have you ever forgotten to add vanilla and then truly missed its presence? Probably not. So, why are we stuck worshiping this nepotism-fueled pantry staple?

Well, turns out in 1875 it was actually part of the law set down Queen Victoria, which stated, “Every baked good shall thee include thy vanilla extractacus.”

Okay, that didn’t happen.

But this isn’t a historical blog and right now there’s no need to look at the past, because the future is here:  Orange Extract (or as her supporters are calling her, Orange-X).

Before we get into what Orange-X can help enhance, I encourage you to just taste it straight up (or with ice if you prefer). Not bad, right? I’m not going to be drinking it by the glassful, but it tastes like it should.

I have no allegiance to orange extract brands and nobody has paid me to endorse any, so any type will do. OR if you like the idea of bottles filled with orange rind and vodka sitting around your house for a few months you can follow these instructions from the just-making-noise blog and make it yourself. I do want to try making my own at some point, or I’ll gladly sample someone else’s homemade orange extract.

ORANGE EXTRACT IS BETTER THAN VANILLA EXTRACT

1. Orange French Toast / Pancakes – Many recipes call for vanilla extract, so just swap it out with your new BFF, Orange-X. I think the hint of orange is small change that helps breakfast feel new. Vanilla who?

2. Orange Maple Syrup – If you’re going to spice up French toast or pancakes, you can’t use REGULAR maple syrup. Boring. Add a splash of Orange-X to your favorite syrup. I’ve actually started to like this better than regular maple syrup because it helps cut the sweetness a bit with the citrus tang.

3. Orange Yogurt – You could buy orange yogurt, but what if you wake up one morning and you have a ridiculous craving for something orangey and yogurty? (This is based on a true story, by the way.) All you have in the refrigerator is Noosa honey yogurt, but you do have Orange-X (because it’s now a staple in your cupboard). A few splashes later you’ve just satisfied your craving. Here’s the kicker: Noosa doesn’t even make orange yogurt, so it would be impossible to buy this!

4. Orange Coffee – Even though I like my lattes sweet and creamy like dessert, I’m not a huge fan of flavored coffees. There’s always an overwhelmingly manufactured taste that steps on the coffee flavor. For the most part, I like my coffee to taste like coffee (albeit with copious amounts of milk and sugar), but occasionally it’s a real hoot to try something new and adding a few drops of Orange-X is a nice change. Breakfast often includes OJ and coffee, so why not sort-of-combine the two?

5. Orange Whipped Cream – I love the combination of chocolate and orange. I love the combination of chocolate cake and whipped cream. If only there were a way to combine those two statements into a an easy dessert that my whole mouf will enjoy… Most of the time when making fresh whipped cream, I toss that wretched vanilla extract in, so a quick substitution of Orange-X helps pop a bit of orange into an otherwise pedestrian meal. Just wait for your mother-in-law to be all like, “Is that…do I taste…ORANGE?”

You get the point.

Any other ideas on how we can bring down the Vanilla Extract Empire from our lives and make room for Orange-X?

Orange Extract revolution

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#100DaysOfFoodBlogging, Thought Nuggets

The Recipe for Writer’s Block

IMG_4399

[This is post #008 towards #100DaysOfFoodBlogging, our goal to do 100 posts in 100 days as part of The 100 Day Project.]

As Tina and I have just rounded out the first eight posts towards our goal of #100DaysofFoodBlogging, blogger friend, Emma @ Fork and Good recently posted “Curse of the blogger’s block,” an honest look at why she hasn’t been posting as much recently due to her war with writer’s block. Let’s hope blogger’s block isn’t contagious…after all, we do have 92 more posts to go!

Emma’s post inspired me to think about my own run-ins with that evil block of the writer. Historically, I haven’t dealt with the same “staring at the blank page” form of writer’s block that most people describe. Rather at my worst, I haven’t even gotten to the point of staring at the blank page, because I’m too busy “working on the idea in my head.” Likely story.

Over the years, I’ve been able to mostly quiet the demon, simply by understanding it. And the best way to understand it, is to know where it comes from; i.e. what’s the recipe for writer’s block?

Get it? Food blog? Recipe? Okay, it is a stretch…

In my experience, writer’s block is simply a way our subconscious works to avoid failure. For example, if I don’t write this post, then I don’t risk someone hating it, and therefore I cannot fail. AND I can use that free time for working on more ideas in my head. See, win-win!

This fear of failure is a result of not believing what we’re writing is good enough, and is a created by a desire for perfection. The late and great author / screenwriter / TV producer Stephen J. Cannell talks about this in the video below:

Cannell says it perfectly when he states that writer’s block is caused by “the desire to be perfect.”

With this desire to be perfect comes self-censorship. We start judging everything we write and before long we’re simply not writing, because by not writing we can’t write something imperfect. And if we don’t write something imperfect we can’t fail.

Once you realize what’s causing writer’s block, it’s much easier to fight. The solution is to create an environment that welcomes–and even encourages–failure.

Hence, our #100DaysofFoodBlogging challenge to ourselves. Because we’re cranking out posts everyday, there’s an unspoken idea that by putting out a post day after day for 100 straight days, it would be impossible to expect that every single one will be perfect. The goal isn’t to have 100 perfect posts. It also flips around the definition of failure, because by the nature of this thing we only fail if we don’t do 100 posts. Thus, 100 awful posts is still a success. It’s a pretty sweet deal that ends up stopping writer’s block before it starts.

It also helps to remember that…

You are NOT out of good ideas.

You will NOT never write again.

You have written before and you will write again.

You will fail.

And you will fail again.

And then 30 more times before you succeed.

 That’s okay, because failing is fun

…and perfection is boring.

(And if you need proof that failing is fun, check out Emma’s Food Photography Blunders series. Failure never looked so good.)

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#100DaysOfFoodBlogging, Thought Nuggets

One year later…

One Year Photo Collage

[This is post #001 towards #100DaysOfFoodBlogging, our goal to do 100 posts in 100 days as part of The 100 Day Project.]

From deviled eggs, to foodgawker rejects, to pie, more pie, and yet again pie. I still don’t think we had enough pie on the blog…

Love stories about egg cookers, pick-me-up empanadas, haiku-filled videos about sushi, and roasting fresh coffee with new friends.

We baked, cooked, photographed, ate…ate…ate some more…then ate again. (Technically, Tina did the baking, cooking, and photographing, while I did most of the eating.)

I took more pictures of food with my phone than I felt comfortable doing.

We made silly videos about restaurants.

I stalked Google Analytics for no good reason.

It’s been a year since we started this blog, what’s the point?

Looking back at our year, this food blog wasn’t the final product, rather it was a path towards an infinite number of friends and experiences. Because of this blog, we ate at restaurants, sampled food, and tried recipes that we might not have otherwise, but more importantly we met some fantastic people near and far. No B.S. Thank you to everyone who’s pinned, retweeted, commented, emailed, shared, liked, and favorited our posts. There might only be a few of you out there, but that’s a few more than we had a year ago.

Okay, jeez, put the tissues away. This isn’t the last post for the rest of forever. It is the first post of the rest of our lives. Ha. Gross. No, seriously this is like episode one in Season 2. It needs to be good, but not too good, ’cause you want to make sure you have something to build towards.

Anyway, since we’re kicking off a new year here are a couple of new things we’ll be doing:

Email Subscription

We figured that after a year of blogging we should probably give ya’ll the option to subscribe to a newsletter. Don’t worry we won’t clog up  your inbox, as we’ll try to keep the emails to at most two per month. The goal is to not only let you know about new posts, but to also share some links that we think are cool, send you some free stuff from time-to-time, and occasionally send you funny pictures and drawings. The first email update will likely include a picture involving alcohol, a toaster, and a DIY photobooth. Probably not the best tease, but come on, let’s be email buddies:


#The100DayProject

Some of you may have already seen The Great Discontent’s 100-Day Project, but in short it’s a collective promise to commit to making something each day for 100 straight days. Technically it started on April 6th, but you can start at any time and catch up when you can. Figured with the kick off of year numero dos for the blog, this would be a good experiment. So, we will attempt to publish a blog post every day for the next 100 days. Sure, that’s not that big of a deal, especially since a lot of blogs already have daily posts. But for a small food blog that only had 43 posts during the course of an entire year, it’ll be quite an accomplishment. My buddy Mike over at The Flying Peanut is to blame for this, so if you get tired of seeing an influx of posts here, send him hate mail.  And, yes, this post does count as #1. Only 99 more to go!

CHEERS to one year!

 

 

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