Just What Are we Talking About Here?

 

question-mark

Photo: http://www.mynamesnotmommy.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/question-mark.png

 

Basically reverse chronological digital diaries, blogs run the gambit of subjects from acting to zoo life. Blogs became a popular form of self expression during the 1990’s. According to Technorati Media, an internet firm specializing in digital influence, 122,00 new blogs began everyday (Higgins, 2014). Food blogs make up appropriately 1% of US blogs (Simunaniemi, Sandberg, Anderson & Nydahl, 2011), there are literally thousands of US food blogs and millions internationally. Penned by individuals, couples, organizations and businesses, for a spectrum of motivations. Stay at home moms, private chefs, weight loss guru’s, politicians, medical organizations and food producers all use blogs to further there agendas and increase internet prescience.
In order to stand out from the crowd, food bloggers must make there site distinctive. Unique names, colorful photographs, contests, links to famous people and events, ties to Facebook and Twitter accounts are all employed to gather as many subscribers as possible. Blogging has it’s own social expectations and rules, and online profiles are often misleading. In the US bloggers by law must report if they receive incentives for reviews (Federal Trade Commission, 2014), but there are no civil penalties for not doing so and the type or amount of compensation can remain undisclosed. Online recipes containing canned soups or brand name coffee are likely to be inspired by family tradition, personal health beliefs, a desire to connect to the online community, or corporate sponsorship.
Check out the food blogs I follow for examples.

 

And this is a great breakfast recipe, curtsey of Sommer Collier’s food blog “A Spicy Perspective”:

sticky-buns-16

 

Yield: 15

Prep Time: 20 minutes (active time)

Cook Time: 35 minutes

Raspberry Sticky Buns

Ingredients:

  • 2 loaves frozen white bread dough, thawed (or homemade bread dough)
  • 10 oz. bag frozen raspberries, not thawed
  • 8 oz. cream cheese or mascarpone cheese, at room temperature
  • 6 Tb. sugar, divided
  • Zest of 2 lemons, divided
  • 1 Tb. cornstarch
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream

Directions:

  1. Place the frozen loaves in the fridge and let them thaw over night. In the morning, set them on a plate, cover with plastic wrap and let them rise for 2-3 hours. When ready to start, press the loaves together (if not already fused together) and roll the dough out on a well-floured work surface, into a 12 X 24 inch rectangle.
  2. In a small bowl, mix together the cream cheese, zest of one lemon, 3 Tb. sugar, and vanilla. In a separate bowl, mix together the frozen raspberries, remaining 3 Tb. sugar, cornstarch, and pinch of salt.
  3. Smear the cream cheese mixture over the dough, leaving a 1 inch border on the long ends. Then sprinkle the raspberry mixture over the top. Starting on one long end, roll the dough into a log. Then use a serrated knife to cut the log into 15 equal rolls. Place the rolls in a parchment paper lined 9 X 13 inch baking dish and allow them to rise for 30-45 minutes.
  4. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Bake for 30-35 minutes until the tops are golden. Allow the rolls to cool for 5 minutes in the pan, then lift them out by the edges of the parchment paper. Whisk together the powdered sugar, remaining lemon zest, and heavy cream. Drizzle or brush the glaze over the tops of the sticky buns, and serve with a fresh cup of Starbucks Aria Blend Coffee!

NOTE: Although cream cheese and mascarpone cheese are similar, they have a very different reaction when baking. Cream cheese puffs into a creamy layer, filling the swirls of the sticky buns. Mascarpone cheese absorbs into the dough, leaving separation between the layers, but giving the dough a moist decadent texture. Both ways are good–it’s a preference thing!

See more at: http://www.aspicyperspective.com/2014/03/raspberry-sticky-buns.html

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Why Research Food Blogs?

 

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Photo: http://eating4balance.wordpress.com/2013/10/11/coming-soon-to-a-blog-near-you/

I was sitting a my local library pursuing our last assigned reading. Once I was done, I noticed the magazine rack behind me.

Out of approximately forty journals, there were nineteen that featured food both directly and indirectly. Both specifically food titled journals and broader topics with food in prominent cover positions were prevalent.

This made me ponder how media has changed the American perception of food. The internet is filled with blogs scripted by a single person, collecting and writing original recipes or techniques and then sharing them with potential millions!

What motivates these internet food prophets? What does it mean to begin and operate a successful food blog?

Food blogs are an unprecedented research tool. Authors provide frequent updates discussing experiences and  opinions through food culture. The personal nature of entries encourages reader responses in a way official surveys and interviews never can. Food blogs are easy to access and free to survey and record saving research time and money. Chronologically progressive, food blogs can show trends and progression in personal thought or in relation to outside events. Finally, since blogs are built by contributions from both writer and audience they present communal thought development. This blog is a research exploration of starting and maintaining a personal “foodie diary”. Digital presentation and audience interaction are essential elements; therefore,  this blog utilizes replies, photographs and links. Food blogs are the new generation of personal food expression.

Nothing like a salad for mid morning snack:

Arugula and Florida Berry Salad with Candied Pecans (Florida Style Salad)

Arugula-and-Florida-Berry-Salad-with-Candied-Pecans_recipe

Ingredients:
16 ounces arugula, rinsed and drained
1 dozen Florida strawberries, rinsed, hulled and sliced
1 cup Florida blueberries
2 oranges, peeled and segmented
8 ounces goat cheese, crumbled
1 lemon, juiced
1 tablespoon
Olive oil
Sea salt to taste
Fresh ground pepper to taste

Directions:
1. In a medium-sized mixing bowl, add arugula, lemon juice and olive oil. Lightly toss the arugula to coat and season lightly with salt and pepper.
2. Serve on four chilled plates. Add an even amount of the dressed arugula to the center of each plate. Arrange an even amount of citrus, blueberries and strawberries in a decorative manner on each plate.
3. Evenly distribute the crumbled goat cheese over the top of each salad. Garnish each salad with a few of the candied pecans. Serve salad chilled.

Candied Pecans
2 cups Florida pecans
3/4 cup natural Florida sugar
1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1. Heat oven to 400° F.
2. Spread the nuts on a baking sheet and toast, tossing once, until fragrant, 6 to 8 minutes; transfer to a bowl. Once the baking sheet is cool, line it with parchment paper.
3. In a large skillet, combine the sugar, salt, and 2 tablespoons water. Simmer, swirling the pan occasionally (do not stir as it will crystallize the caramel), until the liquid is amber colored, 12 to 15 minutes. Stir in the nuts, and then spread the mixture on the prepared baking sheet, separating the nuts as much as possible. Let cool. Break up any large clusters before serving.
See more at: http://www.freshfromflorida.com/Recipes/Featured-Recipes/Arugula-and-Florida-Berry-Salad-with-Candied-Pecans#sthash.D2ireumK.dpuf

 

How Do Food Blogs Begin?

 

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Photo: http://cookieandkate.com/images/2012/12/how-to-start-a-food-blog.jpg

    Like any good meal a food blog begins with an inspiration.  What inflames your passion: restaurants, home-cooking, corporate sponsorship and kickbacks, original recipes, recipe exchanges with the online community? Do you want to share your story or motivate readers to action? Any and all are common elements. Once the goal is set the process can begin.

Months of work, travel and expenses mixed with frequent content production may eventually lead to a large following.

     A quick Google search reveals a plethora of advice from individuals, organizations and salesmen. After wading through the sales pitches there is one proven track: have a creative and easy to remember name, include eye catching photos and rock solid recipes. Two excellent resources can be found here: http://whiteonricecouple.com/recipes/how-to-start-food-blog/ and here: http://www.eatthelove.com/2011/11/food-blogging-101-how-to-start/ . Creating content is enjoyable and fulfilling in it’s own right. Unfortunately, content, even well designed and masterfully crafted will not draw subscribers (know as followers) without networking and marketing. To be noticed and eventually heard, a burgeoning food blogger must make connections within the community. Much like the new kid in school, an author needs to prove themselves to join the “in crowd”. Following popular food blogs, and making insightful comments that encourage conversation are the first steps. Attending food blog conventions, food festivals, competitions, and even online media marketing events are necessary to get a food blog off the ground. Months of work, travel and expenses mixed with frequent content production may eventually lead to a large following.

 

 

Blue Crab Cakes with Tangy Butter Sauce (Local FL Seafood)

Blue-Crab-Cakes-with-Tangy-Butter-Sauce_recipe

Ingredients:
1/4 cup red onion, finely chopped
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
3 tablespoons light mayonnaise
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
3/4 teaspoon seafood seasoning
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
2 egg whites lightly beaten
1 pound lump blue crabmeat, drained, shell pieces removed
1 1/2 cups panko (Japanese breadcrumbs), divided
2 tablespoons olive oil
3/4 cup fat-free chicken broth
3 tablespoons shallots, chopped
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
2 1/2 tablespoons butter

Directions:
1. Combine first seven ingredients in a medium bowl. Gently fold in crabmeat and 3/4 cup panko crumbs. Cover and chill 30 minutes. Shape the crab mixture into 8 patties each 3/4-inch thick.
2.  In a shallow dish, roll patties in remaining 3/4 cup panko crumbs, coating evenly. In a nonstick skillet over medium heat, heat oil and cook 4 crab cakes at a time for 7 minutes until golden.
3. For butter sauce, combine broth, shallots and vinegar in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil and cook until reduced to 1/4 cup. Remove from heat and stir in butter. Serve with crab cakes.

See more at: http://www.freshfromflorida.com/Recipes/Entrees/Blue-Crab-Cakes-with-Tangy-Butter-Sauce#sthash.ngCnVFLt.dpuf

Who Are the Food Bloggers?

 

Who goes through all the hard work and needed perseverance to produce a successful food blog? In 2009 a team of anthropologists surveyed Swedish fruit and vegetable (F&V) blogs to answer that very question. Fifty noncommercial F&V sites for a total of 250 posts were categorized based on reported gender, age, apparent intent and methodology.

The majority of the authors were women. Thirty-five women to 12 men, one site crafted by a married heterosexual couple with two sites not reporting gender. Only 17 of the 50 bloggers reported their age. Five under 25 years, five more between 25-29 and seven older the 30. Total number of entries varied from 15 to 50, length of each post from 19 to 3800 words, with a mean of 511.

Food blogger ideal types were developed based on either passive or active influential purpose and the the use of either lived or mediated experiences. The four types: the Persuader, the Authority, the Exhibitionist and the Mediator. The most common were the Exhibitionists just more then half of the entire population (56%) and 80% of the women. Exhibitionists focused most on self-expression sharing personal experiences as much as food with little effort toward audience influence. One particularly colorful example:

“The most difficult thing about preparing a pumpkin is to

split it when it’s raw—the slippery rind and the hard pulp

make it easy to slip with the knife and cut yourself. The best

and safest way is to use a sword. Stand one step from the

pumpkin, swing the sword high above your head and cut

straight through the whole pumpkin. Wear some kind of gear

if possible.”

At 24% the Persuader was the next most frequent type. Characterized by the obvious desire to change readers diets, Persuaders often presented themselves as “saved”. Salvation may be from a grand change in diet (vegetarianism, organic, raw, locally grown etc…) or from a moral epiphany that lead to new view of food. Persuaders almost exclusively wrote about personal experiences related to food, criticizing official food policies and dietary recommendations when they conflicted with their personal views. For some Persuaders environmental and ethical issues were so important they presented consumption of F&V or organically produced F&V as a moral responsibility to humanity. Authoritarian food bloggers comprised 14% of the sample population. Authorities presented themselves as F&V or subject matter experts. Typically using mediated experiences and “facts” to directly influence followers into action. For these bloggers political expressions through food policies are more important then recipes. Food was discussed in relationship to social institutions, individuals and society. Finally, Mediators represented two percent of the authors. Typified by passive outsider position and mediated experiences, Mediators provided information as simple observations not to influence opinions.

Who is the typical food blogger? A woman over 30 more interested in self expression then money, politics or social change.

Snowny Broccoli and Cauliflower Cake:

 Snowy-Broccoli-and-Cauliflower-Bake_recipe

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups water
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 pound Florida broccoli florets
  • 1 pound Florida cauliflower florets
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh Florida rosemary, or 1 teaspoon dried
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh Florida thyme, or 1 teaspoon dried
  • Low-fat milk
  • 5 tablespoons butter
  • 4 tablespoons unbleached flour
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • Small dash of ground nutmeg
  • 2 tablespoons fine dry bread crumbs
  • 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/8 teaspoon paprika

Directions:

  1.  In a large saucepan, bring water and salt to a boil. Add broccoli and cauliflower; cook just until slightly tender yet crisp. Drain broccoli and cauliflower, removing as much water as possible. Set liquid to side.
  2. Add milk to the vegetable liquid to measure a total of 2 1/2 cups. Pour vegetables into a shallow 2-quart baking dish. Melt 3 tablespoons of butter in the saucepan over medium heat. Blend in the flour, stirring until smooth and bubbly. Gradually stir in milk mixture.
  3. Cook, stirring constantly, until thickened and smooth. Season with the salt, pepper, herbs and nutmeg. Pour sauce over broccoli and cauliflower. Dot with remaining 2 tablespoons of butter. Combine bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese and paprika; sprinkle over vegetables. Bake at 450° for about 20 minutes, until casserole is bubbly.

– See more at: http://www.freshfromflorida.com/Recipes/Sides/Snowy-Broccoli-and-Cauliflower-Bake#sthash.BrzmWiQb.dpuf 

 

What Goes in a Food Blog?

 

A catchy name, interesting photographs and enticing recipes are just the beginning. Laura Noren interviewed 250 food bloggers in “The Content of Food Blogs: the Food Blog Study” (Noren,2012), her results demonstrate food blogs are often most concerned with community building. Seventy-five percent surveyed mention nutritional content 20% of the time or less. Health concerns, weight loss and nutrition are often the realm of the “health blogger”. Only 37% of food blogs had recipes at least 80% of posts with recipes. This is especially surprising since Goggle searches are often recipe driven, thus recipes generally equate to more internet traffic and potential income from advertisers. The majority of bloggers surveyed reported that visitor generated comments after trying out a recipe to be the most gratifying part of blogging.
Community building, social connections, and chance for feedback from like minded individuals all wrapped up in digital layout of personal stories and photographs. That is what food blogs are made of.

Be sure to read the reply and enjoy this Florida inspired milkshake.

Citrus Dream Milkshake:

Citrus-Dream-Milkshake_recipe)

Ingredients:
1/2 ounce natural sugar
4 ounces grapefruit juice
4 ounces orange juice
2 drops natural vanilla extract
4 ounces low-fat milk

Directions:
1. Pour the orange juice, grapefruit juice, milk, sugar and vanilla extract into a blender with 2 ounces (approximately 4 cups) of ice.
2. Blend until smooth. Pour into a glass, add a straw and serve. Garnish with sliced fruit.

See more at: http://www.freshfromflorida.com/Recipes/Beverages/Citrus-Dream-Milkshake#sthash.SN6BsSG9.dpuf

Bon Appetit!

Food blogs globally number more the 700,000 (Simunaniemi,2011)(Norén, Laura. 2012) Food blogs are often more trusted by the general public then official information sites (Simunaniemi, 2011). They photos, real emotional connection and language make them more personable then government sites and therefore more appealing. Individuals presenting themselves as food or nutrition experts can have a profound effect whether intentionally or not. Politics, social movements and personal experiences can all be influenced. Food blogs often reaffirm unhealthy lifestyles and recipes . With individuals suggesting everything from near starvation (Lynch, 2010, 2012) to lavish entries with a full day’s fat and calories content in one serving (Schneider, 2013). Corporations and organizations masquerading as individuals, or enticing individuals with money and other repayments, are influencing the blog community. Restaurants, food manufactures and even human milk substitute producers endorse individual food bloggers to influence public opinion or circumvent global trade policies(Abrams, 2012). Food blogs can provide many benefits to both producer and audience. Bloggers gain higher social integration, reliable alliance and friendship satisfaction (Baker, 2008). The social support from like minded individuals and the opportunity for self expression especially appeal to the potential food bloggers. An audience that responds, whether to reaffirm an unpopular lifestyle (Lynch, 2010) or to be motivated into change (Simunaniemi,2011), is important to many. The possible monetary or other material gains are real but most bloggers make less then one thousand dollars a year (Higgins, 2014). One surprising possible benefit, weight loss, is caused by satiation through over stimulation. Psychologists have demonstrated constant evaluation of a food decreases your enjoyment of similar foods (Larsen, 2013).

 

So let us all stare at cake:

Florida Blueberry Cheesecake

Posted April 3, 2014 in Desserts

Blueberry Topped Cheesecake with Blueberry Sauce

Ingredients:

  • 1 whole cheesecake (homemade or store bought)
  • 4 pints Florida blueberries, rinsed
  • ½ lemon, juiced
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup natural Florida sugar
  • Fresh mint sprigs for garnish

Directions:

  1. In a small sauce pot, combine 2 pints blueberries, sugar, lemon juice and water.
  2. Place sauce pot over medium high heat.
  3. Stir contents of pot as it comes to a boil, reduce heat to simmer.
  4. Cook blueberry mixture for 20 minutes or until it coats the back of a spoon.
  5. Strain blueberry sauce through a sieve if desired.
  6. Let blueberry sauce cool to room temperature, and store in the refrigerator until needed.
  7. Top the cheesecake with some of the cooled blueberry sauce, leaving extra for garnish.
  8. Place fresh leftover blueberries on top of the cheesecake and garnish with fresh mint.
  9. Serve the blueberry topped cheesecake with extra blueberry sauce.

– See more at: http://www.freshfromflorida.com/Recipes/Desserts/Florida-Blueberry-Cheesecake#sthash.CFrhVF2x.dpuf