Saturday 20 July 2013

Awards, Food Gawker, Cassoulet and 21 Questions

It is time for me to tell you about awards, and other kudos, while I blush and gaze at my feet.  Oh no I wont.  I actually will be giving an acceptance speech.  That is the requirement of accepting the first award for best moments.  And I have had a few good blogging moments recently!  Then it is a liebster award and a sisterhood award with some questions about me.  I will also let you know why I am reposting some photos of my Vegetarian Cassoulet and my temporary fix for the mobile phone view.

Best Moments Award - the Acceptance Speech

Cass at Food is My Friend kindly passed on the Best Moment Award to me back in May.  The award requires an acceptance speech.  It should have gratitude, humour and inspiration!  I would have posted about it sooner but I have been polishing my speech.

Thank you Thank you Thank you for this special award.  My speech was originally 10 pages long but I have taken out my primary school teachers, my cat and the old lady who advised me which brand of pasta to buy in aisle 3 of the supermarket!  [Pause for laughter!]  I decided that as the award was called Best Moments, I should pick some key moments in blogging!

Firstly I want to thank my lovely family (E and Sylvia) who encourage me to make ice cream and doughnuts, my mum who taught me the joys of home made bread, my dad who gifted me his love of chocolate and all the wonderful people who have commented and emailed and supported my blogging in all sorts of ways.  Recently I have had some great moments in blogging that I wish to acknowledge as part of my blogging journey.

Thank you to Food Gawker who finally accepted a photo from my blog last week.  It was the above photo of French Lavender Salt.  This was all the sweeter for having had a few rejections.  Good photos really do draw me into a recipe.  I still have a lot to learn about photography but this feels like a sign I am getting better.  It also shows I that I should persevere with photography, photo editing software and submissions to Food Gawker.  Thanks Food Gawker for the encouragement.

Thank you to Meredith Steele who featured my French Lavender Salt on the Spoonful blog in her article on 10 Must-Have Home made Seasoning Blends.  Disney created Spoonful as a parenting resource and now I am part of it.  For anyone like me who grew up on a diet of Disney movies, I can't help but be pleased.  It just shows that blogging leads into strange and unexpected places.  Thanks Meredith for sharing the recipe.  And I recommend you check out the other interesting seasoning blends.

Thank you to Maggy of Red Ted Art Blog who chose my blog as her featured blog after I was part of her Kids Get Craft linky party.  She constantly inspires me with her craft ideas.  If you want some fun activities to do with kids, get over there.  As well as her own craft ideas she holds regular linky parties that collate other people's ideas.  Blogging is fun because once we get stuck in the web we make all sorts of unexpected connections.  I've never felt like a craft blogger but it is nice to be accepted in the craft community.  Thanks for your kind words Maggy.

Thank you to the lovely Jac of Tinned Tomatoes who included me in her list of Favourite Vegetarian Bloggers for UK National Vegetarian Week in May.  Jacqueline is a blogger I met online when we were first blogging some 6 years ago.  Last year I was lucky enough to meet her in Scotland.  More regularly I am still visiting her blog for great recipes, beautiful photos and a cheeky sense of humour.  I am delighted to be included among her favourites.  If you check out the list, you will see I am in great company.  Thanks Jac for your friendship.

And finally thank YOU for reading.  I really do appreciate it.

The Food Gawker moment reminded me how bad some of my old photos are (remembering that I have now been blogging over 6 years and have posted over 1000 posts).  They just don't do justice to some beloved recipes and some good writing.  When I can, I update the photos.  I made Vegetarian Cassoulet this week.  If I had been organised I would have posted about it on Bastille Day.  Instead I am posting a few improved photos here and have updated the photos in my original post.

Sisterhood of the World Bloggers Award - 10 Questions

Thanks to Claire from Almost Skinny Vegan Food for nominating me for this award.  Here are my answers to her questions that come with the award:

Two of my childhood dolls.  The Green doll and a kewpie doll in a purple dress.
1. What is your favorite color?
Purple and Green.  I love these colours so much that each has a post dedicated to them. I have included a photo (above) of two of my favourite dolls from my childhood which are indeed purple and green.  Yes, I still have them but they are a faded version of what they once were.

2. Your favorite animal?
Giraffes.  They are so elegant and gangly.  I first was captivated by them when I did a project in Grade 2 on them.  Perhaps being short myself have given me a fascination for their gangly tall frames.

3. Your favorite non-alcoholic drinks? 
Anything cold and fizzy will do me in summer.  Recently I have discovered the wonderfully refreshing Mojito Mocktail.  In winter a good hot fruit tea or liquorice tea warms the cockles.

4. Facebook or Twitter?  
I know they have their uses but I prefer a world without either facebook or twitter.  (And that is why I was called Mary Lou Cabbage Patch in Year 9 when they tried to teach us about computers!)

5. Your favorite pattern? 
1970s bold retro floral patterns.

6. Do you prefer getting or giving presents?
Giving.  It is exciting to find the present that is just right and wrap it up in anticipation of just how much the recipient will love it.

7. Your favorite number?
42.  The meaning of life!  It amused me in the Hitch Hikers Guide to the Galaxy.  Actually I don't have a favourite number but this is a fun one.

8. Your favorite day of the week?
Morrissey sang 'Every day is like Sunday'.  If only!  Actually I don't have a favourite day.  But I love the song.

    9. Your favorite flower?
    Gerberas.  When you are a child, you drew life in a simplistic style and it is a shock to discover how complicated life is.  Gerberas look the way a child would draw a flower.  Simple, bright and cheerful.

    10. What is your passion?
    History.  Buildings.  Food.  Social Justice.

    Leibster Award - 11 Questions

    Thanks to Malitsu from Mammi for this award.  I don't know her well but I can recommend that you visit her beautiful Vegan Finnish blog.

    1. Who are your greatest kitchen heroes besides mom?
    Vegetarian collectives such as Moosewood and Bloodroot.

    2. Best alcoholic drink for cooking?
    Port.  A little goes a long way.  Brilliant with chocolate.

    3. What kind of a food-centered feast would you like to take part in?
    A Vegetarian Medieval Christmas feast.  A roaring fire.  Candlesticks.  Large tables of hewn wood.  Huge platters of vegetarian hogs (see below picture), pies, vegetables, rustic loaves of bread, puddings, sweetmeats, goblets of wine, tankards of ale, holly and rose petals.  Entertainment by minstrels and jesters.  Much merriment.

    Vegetarian Hogs Head
    4. If I was coming over for a dinner, what would you cook?
    Malitsu loves local food and  she appreciates nut roast.  My signature dish seems to be nut roast so I would make one with local vegetables and nuts - perhaps a pumpkin nut roast.  I would probably add my French Lavender Salt to the roast vegetables because I am still proud that I made it from scratch and it adds a unique flavour.  For dessert it would have to be chocolate but with some local flavour.  Maybe Self Saucing Chocolate Pudding with some Wattleseed thrown in.

    5. How much time do you normally use for cooking?
    Probably about an hour on average if I am making the meal from scratch.  Frequently I have leftovers and it only takes less than 15 minutes to heat up in the microwave.

    6. Do you plan your weekly menus in advance?
    I do make plans but I often don't stick to them.  I get distracted.  I run out of energy.  I find I don't have the right ingredients.  For example this week I decided to make Vegetarian Cassoulet and Mexicale Pie.  I found I didn't have enough polenta for Mexicale Pie so I made Matthews Delicious Tofu that I had planned to make the weekend before I ran out of energy.  The Cassoulet would have been great for Bastille Day but I finally made it on Wednesday night to eat on Thursday.

    7. Your most horrible restaurant experience?
    Probably finding a large chunk of chicken in my soup rather than tofu and having the staff not really care much.  I've never been back to the place.

    8. At the moment, what kind of ingredients are the easiest to acquire where you live?
    Middle eastern ingredients.  The area where I live has many migrants from the Middle East here so I can't find liquid smoke or sushi easily but I have no trouble finding dried legumes, pomegranate molasses, and sumac.

    9. What would you cook while trekking in wilderness?
    I am not into trekking and the idea of cooking on a trek is challenging (though I love your ideas).  Can I bring something like a tin of baked beans?  Or maybe I need to devise a dried nut roast mix (like the one I used to buy from Holland and Barrett in the UK) that just needs water added and can be cooked in a frypan! 

    A photo from my travels in Israel - Jerusalem Old City
    10. In what country have you got the best food so far?
    Israel.  I worked in the kitchen on a Kibbutz.  Every meal had lots of amazing vegetarian salads and options.  Unlike most places I travelled I didn't need to be asking what was vegetarian all the time or just eating plain food to avoid meat. I remember most fondly an eggplant salad (like this eggplant salad).  I also loved the falafel I could buy on the streets of Jerusalem - pita bread filled with falafel, salad, pickle and cold chips. 

    11. What country would you like to visit just for the sake of food?
    Berlin.  I was only there a few days but I loved the place.  My memories of the food are vague.  Dense loaves of bread, pfeffernusse covered in chocolate and hipster food in Oranienstrasse.  Cindy and Michael visited Berlin last year and raved about the vegan food there.  This city is high on my list of places to visit.

    All these blog awards are to be passed on but I am just going to leave them open to anyone who wants to play along. 

    My smartphone cover
    Menus on Mobile Phone View update
    Lastly I wanted to add a little note about my Drop Down Menus that I recently installed.  I was looking at my blog on my smart phone and thinking about the problem of not being able to display any menus on the phone view.

    I have noticed that you can still link to my About Me page on this view if you scroll to the bottom of each page.  As a temporary fix, I have gone through this page and made sure it has links embedded to make sure you can find all the top level items and a few second tier items.  It is not perfect but hopefully it will help if you are viewing this on your phone.


    1. Thank you too Johanna, a lovely friend x

    2. Thanks for playing along Johanna :) I really enjoyed this post!

      & I'm so with you on the photos- I have to go back a redo some old recipes too because when I started blogging I was adamant it was for my fun and refused to get out the tripod or lights to get the perfect shot *rolls eyes* letting my dinner get cold to get the right photo just seemed silly. Thank goodness now I can have both!

      Saying that, food gawker is stupidly stylised so just because they don't accept all your photos doesn't mean they are bad photos, they're just not in their style (square, central focus & over exposed). Don't let the rejections get you down, they reject mine all the time too. Keep going with your photos, they're looking great recently and if you're happy with your improvement that's all that matters x

      1. Thanks Claire - I think most of us photos that don't give the dish it's best side :-) I often still take dinner photos on the run and find I have more time for sweet food that doesn't need to be eaten pronto but I confess I still don't use my tripod often and I don't have lights.

        Thanks for your feedback on my photos and food gawker. I haven't submitted too many photos to food gawker because time is tight but I am glad to know I can get one through but I don't judge my photos by food gawker.

    3. Congratulations on the awards!

    4. Well, I'm glad I read this post in its entirety - I loved seeing your phone case at the end. :-D

      Congrats on the awards.

      1. Thanks Cindy - it pays to read the whole post :-) glad you saw the link to you.

    5. Hehe that phone case is just perfect for you! And that vegetarian hog's head is genius! If I ever do a vegetarian Christmas that has got to feature! :D

      1. Thanks Lorraine - I am sure you would do a great vegetarian hogs head - I did this before blogging so I am glad I had a photo I can use but wish it was better

    6. I am, I'll confess, slightly terrified by the vegetarian hog's head. I'm not sure I'd like to eat that!

      1. Thanks Rachel - sorry to foist a vegetarian hog's head upon you but I can assure you he is very friendly and very yummy :-)

    7. Great idea about the mediaeval feast - although I'd just settle for a Christmas in July!

      Thanks for the reminder about nut roast too. I haven't made it for a while, and I definitely need some warming comfort food in our Melbourne weather this week. That wind!

      1. Thanks Linda - I still have to write about our Christmas in July - it is such a brilliant idea. Hope you enjoy some nut roast soon.

    8. What a fun post to read (and you have reminded me I have some neglected awards to get to - you are more organised than I!). I always love reading more about the you behind the blog and am impressed with your photos and the acceptance to Food Gawker. I need to re-make some old dishes on my blog for the sole purpose of re-photographing them too! I am also loving liquorice tea at the moment and your vegetarian medieval feast is an appealing thought.

      1. Also - that is a clever solution to the mobile viewing issue, although I am sorry it hasn't been easier to hit on a more permanent solution :S

      2. Thanks Kari - it is easy for awards to fall down the list when there is so much else to blog but they are fun - I have now made a few old dishes this winter that I have used to update old posts - it is satisfying but there are so many dishes and I suspect that some will never be made again - sigh! I hate most that some have such tiny pics that they don't look very good.

        re the phone - I hope to fix the views some time but I am glad to know there is some short term alternative

    9. You are so cute! I almost forgot about this one :) Great answers. I always enjoy reading them!

      1. Thanks Cass - glad you enjoyed the answers - it was fun

    10. Haha LOVE your speech!! ANd yay on the foodgawker acceptance!

      1. Thanks Joanne - yes great about food gawker - deserved a speech don't you think :-)

    11. Congrats on the Foodgawker acceptance! Yay! And love all the answers here. I think the cassoulet looks marvelous, too--though I don't remember the old photo! ;)

      1. Thanks Ricki - I am really pleased you don't remember the old photos of cassoulet - they were terrible but as my blog is archived on the National Library of Austrlaia Pandora archive, their footprint will remain on the web forever - maybe just as well if I ever feel down about my photos now I can look at the archive to remind myself :-)

    12. This reminded me that I still haven't responded to the award you gave me. *blush* I very much enjoyed reading your answers though. It's amazing that you've worked at a Kibbuz! I've never been to Israel, but my hubby has a couple of times and says it's an amazing country and we want to go there together one day. :) Middle Eastern shops are what we have around a lot here as well, due to the immigrants in the area where I live. I like going to those stores and buy vegetables and fruit and some spices or legumes. Personally, I'm not so much a friend of Middle Eastern foods because I'm not so fond of some ingredients or spices frequently used in that cuisine (such as cumin, chickpeas, too much garlic, lemon, etc). And of course there thends to be a lot of wheat and oil in everything so I can't eat it. The hubby loves the food though, so I often make such things for him.

      1. Thanks Kath - I don't really mind if you don't respond to the award - it is just for fun if you have time. I was actually a volunteer on a kibbutz which was really interesting. I hope you get to travel through the middle east - I wish I had spent more time there - though there always seems to be some political instability or crisis around there. I am quite fond of Middle Eastern food - love chickpeas and garlic and lemon juice but I can get a bit tired of cumin being in everything.

    13. Congrats on the awards, I love your acceptance speech! I always enjoy reading these types of posts and finding out interesting things about bloggers. That phone cover is so perfect for you - what a find!

      1. Thanks Mel - E chose the cover for me - seems quite a few people think it is perfect for me - it gives me a smile


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