It Is Me, Claude, Your Award Show Host for Today

Bonjour! Eet eez me, Claude Mouse.

Eet eez award season très certainement! Grammys, Screen Actors Guild, zee People’s Choice, and of course zee Oscars–Academy Awards–coming up. J’adore awards ever seence I was honored weeth zee LIfetime Achievement Kitchen Inspiration Award last February. Squeek! Squeek!

Zeez eez me weeth my award!

Zeez eez me weeth my award!

And, mes amis, eet eez award season here in zee blogosphere as well eet seems. So many of our blogging friends are honored weeth so many wonderful awards! Mycookinglifebypatty aussi! Pattee shee eez also bestowed weeth such awards thees year. Eeen fact, she eez feeling un peu timide–umm–“shy” eez zee word–about all zeez attention.

But I tell her, Pattee, “Vous méritez, zeez awards!” Alors, I deecide to help her weeth thees post. I eenterview her.

Me: Pattee, what eez zee award you just receive?

Patty:  It was the “Very Inspiring Blogger Award,” Claude.

Me:  And who geeve theez award to you?

Patty:  I received this honor from Kenton Lewis, published author and writer of The Jittery Goat which is an entertaining blog that I recently discovered and have been following. Thank you, Kenton! This is what the award looks like:

Very inspiring blogger award

Claude:  Eet eez tres chic! Now, Pattee, every blogging award comes weeth zee, how you say, rules of zee game, no? What are zee rules for zeez award?

Patty:  Well Claude, there are four things. 1. Display the award logo on your blog; 2. Link back to the person who nominated you; 3. Nominate 15 bloggers for this award and link to them; and 4. State 7 things about yourself.

Claude:  Okay Pattee. You have done zee first two theengs. Let’s move on. Who are you going to nomeenate for zee Very Eeenspiring Blogger Award?

Patty: I picked the blogs that inspire me especially on the subject of cooking, Claude.

  1. Fig and Quince. This blog features Persian recipes and cooking which is something I didn’t know much about.
  2. Homemade Delish. Roberta from Philly writes this and she’s become a celebrity chef in her area. Go Roberta!
  3. Foodimentary. John-Bryant Hopkins coined this term himself. Probably lots of us know him. I’m inspired by his seemingly endless knowledge of food trivia and history.
  4. Plant Based Diet Adventures. She does a great job changing omnivore recipes into vegan.
  5. Afternoon Popcorn Snack. The name alone is inspiring. I think of Amy around 3 p.m. every afternoon–wishing I had popcorn. And a snack. Maybe one of her cookies.
  6. Sybaritica. C. John Thompson is a lawyer way up in Northern Canada who is very sybaritic when it comes to food and ambience. (I had to look it up too. It means devoted to or marked by pleasure and luxury.)
  7. Florastable. Authentic Italian meets Traditional American. Anyone who thinks giving us a great scallops recipe is a good Valentine’s Day gift is A-Okay in my book!
  8. Cook Up a Story. It’s the name of a blog and the name of a book both featuring Vinny Grette. No, not kidding you! It’s delightful.
  9. Mama Miyuki Easy Pantsy. This mama is all about Indonesian cooking and showing us how easy it is to make very tasty and exotic foods from her part of the world.
  10. Chef Mimi Blog. Pumpkin Pancakes? Wild Rice Pancakes? Yes! That is definitely inspiring!
  11. 1227 Foster. Danny is a very creative and inspired chef plus he’s a designer. I read just about every post he writes.
  12. My Sister’s Pantry Healthy, vegan, easy and great advice and cooking tips. Also excellent and timely use of chocolate!
  13. The House By the Sea. Gorgeously aesthetic blog by Soffia who is an Icelandic photographer, cook and artist. The pictures alone are worth the visit!
  14. David Lebovitz Living the Sweet Life in Paris. Yes he is a professional. But why not give him the shout out he deserves? I have learned a lot from reading David’s blog. He goes into great detail and it’s always interesting!
  15. She Cooks Macro. Been lurking here and now following! Most recipes shown with a gallery of very professional-looking photos

Claude: Merci beaucoup pour toutes ces merveilleuses adresses! I can’t wait to take a look at theeze.  Now, Meez Pattee, can you tell us seven theengs about yourself?

Patty:  Hmmm.  I’ll try Claude.

  1. I prefer cooking with gas.
  2. I do not like microwave ovens at all and try to avoid them.
  3. I would like to live in Italy.
  4. I’m an east-coast girl at heart.
  5. I like to stay busy. Half a day off is about all I can take unless there is something really fascinating to do.
  6. I’m a great cook but not such a great housekeeper.
  7. I love anything pickled.

Claude: Bon. Félicitations à vous, Pattee, et à tous vos candidats!

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How Do You Talk to No One

How do you talk to no one

When you’re trying to talk to someone?

Are you talking to yourself, as if writing a journal,

All the while intending for someone to pick it up and read?

Or do you imagine there is a mob of people

Patiently waiting, listening, for your every word?

Are you writing to someone in particular?

A friend, or dare you think, a fan?

Or maybe you envision sitting down for coffee and

Exchanging an intimate chat with someone you trust.

Only they do all the listening and you have to do

All the talking.

How courageous you are to speak into the silence,

To pour your heart out, to teach your lessons.

You reveal yourself in front of everyone and no one

As you discover what it is you had to say.

Mentor and pupil, writer and reader, you carry both ends

Of a conversation you trust you are having.

Hello out there!

Hello out there!

Like Quicksand

Well now I’ve done it!

Last week I was perusing my WordPress Reader where I follow my favorite blogs and I decided on a whim to suggest a topic for the Daily Prompt. This is a WordPress feature in which an idea for a post is given and bloggers can use it as a jumping off point for a post. I suggested a topic about rules. Is it true “Rules are made to be broken?” And I prompted, “When have you broken a rule and did you get burned or did it turn out for the best?”

WordPress took me up on the idea today! Only the editor changed it to “Laws” not just “Rules.”

I would like to say here that I fully believe it is wisest and best to follow the laws of the land. Period.

If Daily Prompt uses your suggestion, you are expected to write a post on the subject. Okay then; I won’t break that rule.

English: Warning sign for quicksand in Frederi...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So how does my prompt apply to the subject of food and cooking? Health and diet? The field of dietary advice shifts and changes like quicksand. There are thousands of “experts” who all claim to know the best way to eat, the best way to cook, the latest miracle foods, the hottest nutrients, the must-have dietary supplements.

Some say we should be vegan (no animal foods or animal by-products whatsoever) and some claim the Paleo diet (which includes quite a bit of animal food) is the way to go. Some people promote brown rice and other whole grains as a basis for a healthy diet while others say we should avoid carbohydrates and gluten.

Really, why does feeding our bodies seem to require so many rules in the first place? Shouldn’t it be easy and simple and . . . natural?

Yes, it should be and it can be if we are starting from a central point of balance. My first and only rule is: Eat real, whole food that has not been chemicalized, genetically engineered, formulated in a laboratory, or extracted from its natural source and greatly altered into something else.

Some of us are starting at a point of great imbalance and it will take a lot of care and perhaps following of rules in order to stabilize. Some have found their balance and know that if they venture away from their “rules” there is no harm done as long as they find their way back again.

And then there’s the subject of sugar, that I so adamantly advised against in several major blog posts throughout 2012. And I meant every single word I wrote! And I follow my own advice.

Most of the time.

So why, in 2013 am I featuring dark chocolate mousse once a month and why was my January mousse made with sugar? And how is that working out for me?

It is too early to say, except that January’s Dark Chocolate Mousse was absolutely divine, though short-lived. We each had our serving of this wonderful dessert and we are looking forward to February’s mousse.

Is breaking this rule the equivalent of “removing the tag from your pillow?” Or does this make me into a food hypocrite undeserving of your attention?

I guess you’re the judge of that depending on your own viewpoint and level of fanaticism when it comes to rules about eating. Believe me there are those who would consider my Quest for Dark Chocolate Mousse to be sheer heresy. But I do not.

One thing I have gleaned from writing this post is that I do not wish to be a “food/dietary” expert so much as I like to show people how I cook using foods that fit into my one and only rule of using organic, mostly unrefined, traditional whole foods. And that the purpose of writing this blog is to express my very personal passion for cooking as an outlet for creative expression.

Nothing more and nothing less.

~~~

So far I have read over thirty entries by other bloggers based on this prompt and found some very personal and moving pieces. I have much admiration for that.

A Very Fine Year to Become Queen

English: The Queen of Hearts, from a 1901 edit...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I celebrated my first anniversary as a blogger on November 24th.  And now that 2012 is coming to a close, I’m about to reach the 5,000 hit mark.  Not bad for a first year!

I wrote this post to celebrate as part of the WordPress Weekly Writing Challenge.

To Write or Not to Write.  That was the question.

It had been about 35 years since I’d written anything that got published. I still considered myself to be “a writer” and if I did write something, I still put my all into it–letters, emails, shopping lists, reports for work.  I still loved any type of writing.

In the meantime over those 35 years I became an accomplished cook and taught cooking for 25 of those years. Cooking became my art and my craft.  It replaced writing as my creative outlet. This is convenient since I also eat food daily and have people to cook for but the writing bug was still within me, patiently waiting for the day when I would start my novel or my series of short stories or whatever it was that I would promise myself I was going to eventually write.

Love to cook.  Love to cook for others to enjoy.  Love to write.  Love to communicate to others. Scared to try a big project like writing a novel.  (Wow.  I am actually admitting I’ve been scared to start that novel. That is a first.)

And not interested in opening a restaurant, catering business, or cooking school. Or write a cookbook for that matter.  That would seem to be the logical solution to loving cooking and loving writing.  But that idea just didn’t meet my needs.

I Became Queen of My Realm

So I decided to start a blog about cooking.  Short writing projects about my cooking life that can be completed in a sitting.  I’m the dreamer, author, editor, photographer, designer, publisher and promoter.  I’m the Queen of My Blog, Baby!

I tested the waters with all kinds of food and cooking-related topics.  I shared about my growing up and family life, I got on my soapbox about the evils of sugar and GMOs, I introduced some favorite characters (Claude Mouse, Lars and Edith), I posted some of my standby favorite recipes and some new ones I created just for you to read in this blog, and I dabbled in the  food photography arena.  (So far, not extremely successful with that endeavor.)

I do throw in some original recipes.  Sometimes I do the recipe thing because I think, “That’s what people want.”  But it was never my intention to have that kind of recipe-cooking tips-how-to blog.  Not strictly.

More enticing to me is the expression of life through cooking and the way cooking has seemed to weave its way into every part of my life.  I get some of my best ideas while cooking and as a matter of fact, when I’m writing a post for this blog, I often get my best ideas for cooking.  Blogging has provided on-the-spot cooking inspiration and vice versa!  See how it is for me in my cooking life?

As my fellow Kings and Queens of Blogging know very well, receiving encouragement and comments in response is the pay.  Thank you for responding to me over the past year! Along the way I met many wonderful people and fantastic bloggers and found out that reading blogs is not only a lot of fun, but it is a great way to find the cutting edge of current thinking about all kinds of subjects.

I want to thank each and every one of you for your interest in reading what I have to say, for trying some of my recipes and cooking tips and for responding to me so generously.  It is such an inspiration and encouragement for any writer to be acknowledged and know that someone heard (or in this case read) what was communicated! So thank you, thank you, thank you my readers and fellow bloggers! Thank you, husband Jack and my sons, for your enthusiastic encouragement and support for me to keep on cooking and writing!

And thank you WordPress, for providing this medium where I can become one with my writing and my cooking by sharing My Cooking Life.

Bouquet of roses

Bouquet of roses just for you! (Photo credit: Robo Android)

It’s a Wonderful Blog

Christmastime

Christmastime in Golden, Colorado (Photo credit:  Patty Allread)

Time to bring back an old Christmas favorite!  You know the story, don’t you?

THE DEDICATED & HARDWORKING SMALL-TIME BLOGGER

Hard-working blogger has big lifelong dreams of becoming a famous writer and traveling the world promoting her bestselling books, etc.  But for now she is just a good-natured, regular blogger who pounds on her keyboard at home and puts her contributions out into the ether for her blogging community to find.  She also reads what her friends blog about and faithfully offers comments of encouragement and tries to help those friends get more blogging hits.

But sometimes she gets lonely.  Sometimes she thinks the blogging world can do just fine without her.  And sometimes she doesn’t sit down at her computer and write anything at all.  And sometimes . . . well, recently . . . she thought, “I’m not sure if I should even renew my domain name.  No one reads my stuff anyway.”

And she stopped blogging.

MEET EDITH

This is the part where the guardian angel comes in.  In this case, it’s Edith Elizabeth Norton Pheffleneuson and she’s a very dedicated muse who is trying hard to earn her angel wings.  You can just call her “Edith.”

Edith has been hanging around ever since our hapless blogger started writing.  Way, way back when there weren’t any computers and writing required actual typewriting and there were no “delete” keys.  Man oh man.  Back then if a writer made a mistake or wanted to change something, she had to use correction tape or white out or start over.  And over.  And over. That made musing a very tough business!

If it weren’t for Edith, our writer might have given up totally.  But Edith pulled her through every time.  At first our writer didn’t have a clue that Edith existed.  Then one day, friend Martha tried to show her that Edith really does exist!  But our writer didn’t believe in Edith.  Not really.

Poor Edith.  It would be impossible for Edith to earn her wings if the writer in her charge did not believe.  Edith felt like an old worn eraser stuck away in someone’s desk drawer and forgotten about. In fact that’s exactly where she was stuck for many years.

THE POWER OF MUSES

The months rolled on with no new posts and now it was Christmastime.  There were no new followers of the blog.  No new comments.  No new ideas written about.  Our protagonist’s blogging future was bleak indeed!

However the Christmas Season was calling and the least our writer could do was write some Christmas cards.  That would be okay.  Rifling through the desk drawers to find the cards, the red and green gel pens and some stamps, our writer spotted Edith lying beneath a ragged half-empty package of AA batteries.  Beautiful, clever, inspiring Edith!

Edith leapt out of the drawer and dove into a nearby wastebasket!  It was a desperate but brave move.  Edith floundered in the rolling, rough sea of paper and cardboard coffee cups calling out, “Help! Help!” hoping our writer would save her.

Our writer reached into the icy sea of trash and pulled Edith out, not realizing that Edith was really an angel.  Edith explained to our girl that she needed help to earn her wings and she would show our blogger what life would have been like without mycookinglifebypatty. No stories about cherished cooking memories.  People dying from eating so much sugar.  Coffee Man a completely unknown superhero. Claude Mouse homeless, forgotten and unappreciated. No new recipes.  No newly inspired cooks.  No new blogging friends.  No new pen pal.

With a sudden infusion of fresh inspiration and a new lease on blogging (literally–domain name paid for another year) our writer rushed to her keyboard and wrote a new post.  And then another one, and another one, and another one!  It was a flurry of blogging and cooking the likes of which our dear writer had not experienced in a long, long time.  And it was joyous!

And it was a wonderful blog.  Immediately upon publishing the first new post, family, friends, fellow bloggers and pen pal gathered around the Christmas tree singing carols and enjoying the warmth and love and hope of the season.  And remember–this very second, with the click of the mouse and this brand new post published . . . . .

“Every time a blogger publishes a new post, a blog angel gets her wings!”

Edith Elizabeth Norton Pheffleneuson earns her wings.

Edith Elizabeth Norton Pheffleneuson earns her wings while serving miso soup.

It’s Gonna Be a Bright, Bright Sunshinin’ Day

I think blogging takes a lot of guts!

On the one hand you are the writer, editor, sometimes the photographer, the graphic designer, the marketing director and, of course, the publisher of your own work.  So exciting!  On the other hand, you start out with a blank space that says, “Add New Post” and you are the one that is going to express a viewpoint, tell a joke, reveal your innermost thoughts or even—(what nerve!)—suggest what other people should do, say, eat, cook, etc.

At some point you have to press “Publish” and from there you have no idea who you are actually communicating to.  Is someone out there?  Are they listening?  Are they interested?  And why do you need them to be interested anyway?

Well there’s a little thing that make makes a communication complete called “Acknowledgement.”  It’s all well and good to write what you want to say and put it out there.  But when someone graciously takes the time to comment, “like,” or otherwise respond–B I N G O!  A communication happened!

Isn’t it great when that happens?!

Today Big Sis and Little Sis over at My Sister’s Pantry sent me a wonderful acknowledgment by nominating me for The Sunshine Award.  I recently “met” these two ladies and love what they’re doing.  They are two sisters who live several hundred miles away from each other and they have found co-writing their blog as an activity they can do together.  I love that!  And I thoroughly enjoy their wonderful recipes and cooking ideas.

Thank you Big Sis and Little Sis for the acknowledgement!  And now I’m excited to pass the “Sunshine” along on this beautiful and sunny May Day.

The Sunshine Award is awarded to “bloggers who positively and creatively inspire others in the blogosphere.”  Awardees are asked to:

1. Thank the person who nominated them for the award and post a blog about it.

2. Answer a few get-to-know-you-better questions about themselves.

3. Nominate ten other bloggers for the award and link to their blogs and let them know about their award.

In the spirit of letting you know more about me, here are my answers to the questions:

Favorite Color: Red
Favorite Animal(s): Otters, foxes, centaurs, whales, ants, unicorns, turtles, picas
Favorite Number: 27 (You guessed it!  I was born on the 27th.)
Favorite Drink: Pellegrino sparkling water with lime
Facebook or Twitter: Facebook (Well actually, I still like to write regular snail-mail letters on  fun stationery.)
Your Passion: Scientology                                                                                              Giving or getting presents: Who doesn’t love both of these?  Yes – I love both of these!  Favorite Day: My wedding anniversary and any day I can spend with my wonderful husband.

It was not so easy picking ten from all the bloggers I love and read!  Without further adieu, I hereby nominate The Sunshine Award to:

I hope you’ll check all these blogs out.  Sharing an award like this is a great way to discover new bloggers and expand your circle of friends (the best part).

You Know You’re Hardcore if . . .

You know you’re hardcore if . . .

You write a new post for your blog first thing in the morning and you haven’t even had your coffee yet.

You spend your time blogging about something that you no longer have time to do because you’re too busy blogging.

Your blog-writing style starts showing up in say, reports you write at work.

You sit and chuckle over and over again at some funny phrase you wrote in your blog that only you understand to be funny and no one else will probably ever even break a slight grin about . . . and that’s okay with you.

You can masterfully turn any conversation into an opportunity to tell the other person all about your blog and give them the address, then you marvel at how easy this is to do compared to anything that would actually earn you money.

You’re always dreaming up new posts for your blog–no, really dreaming them in your sleep.

Your best advice to anyone you talk to is, “Start a blog!”

********************

What’s your definition of hardcore?

Over 500 Served

Never thought I’d see the day when I had something in common with a fast food joint!

Being new to the blogging world, I’m fascinated by the way communication gets around on the Internet and how people manage to find each other despite the impossible enormity of choices to be made while surfing it.  Lucky for me, in addition to some family and friends who generously agree to read what I have to offer, there are people I don’t even know reading this blog.

Thank You!!!  You make my day because I believe communication is right up there with air, water, food and shelter when it comes to survival as a human being on this planet. We humans looooove to communicate!  I’m pleased to see there is someone to communicate with and I will take the responsibility of continuing to write–for me and for you–so we can have this venue to get to know each other. (And speaking of food, I do plan to get down to business with that.  After all, this is about life and cooking.)

And I can now say that I’ve served over 500!  Just like McYou-Know-Who when they were just starting out.

Much Love, Patty

Everything Has Not Already Been Said

I discovered a new plus-side to my competitive spirit.

I’m a competitive person.  I don’t express this in the area of sports particularly, but I sure do love a game!  And I play to win. (Is there any other way?)  I’m a very friendly competitor and I enjoy playing with people who also appreciate good game-playing.

Funny, as a person who loves cooking I’ve never directed my impulse toward competing in anything like a bake-off, a cooking contest, a recipe contest, a hot dog/watermelon/pie eating contest.  Nothing like that.

I had a game called “Stump the Cashier.”  This is where I would go to a food store and buy produce and see if the cashier knows the name of the vegetable I’m buying.  This used to be a better game before everything came with bar-coded labels glued right to the food item.  Once in a while I can still stump someone if there’s no label or if they’re interested enough to ask what something is.

The problem was, it was a game only I knew about and the unfortunate cashiers were never in on the rules.  That’s not really a game! I would try to educate them about what the vegetable is and how I prepare it if they wanted to know.  But they never knew that while putting my items on the counter for checkout I was thinking, “Can I stump the cashier with this daikon radish?”

So petty.

Then there’s the whole blogging game which could be viewed as a competition about stats and how many hits your blog gets and if you got “Freshly Pressed.”  Don’t get me wrong – I would love to be “discovered” sipping an ice cream soda on my corner of WordPress City and get Freshly Pressed. And I admit, I check my stats daily–just to see.  This definitely stems from my competitive side.  Even if it’s only me competing with myself.

I read almost all the Freshly Pressed blogs and usually it is quite obvious why they achieved that status.  They’re usually excellent work and they well deserve the acknowledgement.  I would like to be one of those.

So you bloggers all know that there are techniques for getting more hits such as visiting other blogs and posting comments and publicizing your blog on social networks, yada yada yada.  Competitive me has been doing that and I am getting more hits, a few more comments, a few more followers. Yay me!

But I discovered while doing this that there are many, many wonderful blogs to read and so many talented bloggers who are great writers, great photographers and more.  The more blogs I read, the more I have realized that reading blogs is a great way to keep your “finger on the pulse” of the world and the diverse viewpoints out there.

I am an extremely busy person and though I love to read, my personal hardcopy reading time is very limited to only a few minutes a day or less.  I am still working my way through David McCullough’s The Greater Journey that I bought when it came out last May.  But reading blogs is quick and short and I follow quite a few of them.  This is now one of my favorite forms of entertainment!

Some of the best reading available is on blog sites!  Some of the best humor, insight, adventure stories, “drama,” –whatever you’re looking for.  You are usually getting these stories direct from the person experiencing them, too. And, when you exchange comments, it’s interactive.  For me, as far as home entertainment goes, this beats television and a lot of other things by a mile.  I’m even starting to make blog friendships which I love doing.

Blogs do not take months to publish.  They are up-to-the-minute expressions of what’s going on.  So I say, if you want to get in some great reading and be entertained, read blogs.  If you want to be at the top of your game with what people are talking about, thinking about, concerned about, etc., read blogs.  If you want some fuel for your own creative endeavors, read blogs.  If you want to reassure yourself that yes, there are brand new ideas and no, everything has not already been said, read blogs. If you simply want a cache of fascinating topics to bring up at your next party, read blogs.

Some of you might be thinking, “What century has this woman been living in?”  Maybe you have been genned in to blogs and blogging for years.  But for me it is new and I’m enjoying the hell out of it.  No doubt this is the WordPress strategy and it works for me.

And yes I am writing, commenting, “liking,” social networking and stat checking.  But I’m also admiring.

Much Love, Patty