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.

Playing Favorites

I think of blogs as the Internet version of reality TV only better.

You have all sorts of possible scenarios as the basis for the blogs and you have hundreds of thousands of cast members, contestants or participants all sharing their particular “slice of life.”  Some are informative, some are poetic, some are humorous, some are visually stunning, some are boat-rocker.  And some are the commercials.

We get to choose which ones we’re willing to spend time looking at.  Which ones entertain us?  Just like reality TV, some are 100% disgustingly moronic and you would never be caught dead reading them, yet others love them!  And some are so well-loved they become national favorites.

(Luckily, unlike reality TVwe can blog away to our heart’s content whether anyone else likes it or not!)

No matter what the reality of the blog is, there is always a common denominator that each one must include:  words and/or pictures that pull you in, get you to “watch,” and usually let you vote, “like” and even comment (can’t do that on TV reality shows!)

You can discover these hidden gems by surfing the Internet or surfing the WordPress topics bar.  But the best way to find great blogs is by “Word of Keyboard.” This is when a blogger writes about or recommends the wonderful blogs that they enjoy.  And often there is an award involved.

Thank you so much, Amy, for sending the One Lovely Blog Award my way!  I think your Afternoon Popcorn Snack is exceptional.  Just the other day I marveled at your Watermelon and Fresh Basil Margarita recipe.  I don’t drink margaritas but I’ve got to try this because it sounds so so good!  And thank you for the wonderful recommendations for other great blogs to check out—that is a prize in itself.

The terms of the One Lovely Blog award are the usual:

*thank the person who nominated you and link back to them in your post
*share 7 things about yourself
*nominate 15 or so bloggers you admire
*contact your chosen bloggers to let them know

Okay, here are my seven things:

1.  I know the true identity of Coffee Man.  (Check back on Wednesday when I reveal that.) 2.  I fantasize about being a female vocalist in a band yet I rarely sing in front of anyone.     3.  I think Daniel Craig is giving Sean Connery a run for his money for being the best 007.

Daniel Craig on a yacht in Venice during a bre...

Daniel Craig on a yacht in Venice during a break in filming Casino Royale. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

4.  I listen to an AM Oldies station in the car because I know the words to those songs and  yes, I do sing them.  Out loud.                                                                                                 5.  I am a founding member of a sorority my college friends and I made up in our freshman year.  (Phi Gamma Tau only it was spelled Fi Gamma Tau and the motto was “Anything for a Fi”) There were five members.                                                                                       6.  I love garlic and I advise that anyone around me can protect themselves by simply eating lots of garlic also.                                                                                                         7. I make up games and get other people to play them with me.

BONUS #8.  Half the time I am completely baffled about how to control the formatting on this thing. (Well, that’s no secret, is it?)

And the One Lovely Blog Award (interpret “lovely” any way you like)  goes to:

An Unrefined VeganIllustrated BitesA Real Food Lover,  Inspiring Healthy Living, Seed to SaladTimor-Leste ImagesCalliope’s TabletThe Daily Bubble Tea,  VeggiewitchJade Aestas,  Homemade DelishCaptain Decibel,  Go Guilty PleasuresAlaskan Dreams, Icky Yucky MuckyBy the Sea

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).

Where Do We Go From Here?

Have you found that one blogging topic leads to another, and another, and another?  It is sure working that way for me right now!  Plus I am getting great comments that are giving me clues on what direction to go.

So this is a blog for my blogging buddies and friends who read my “output” here because I’d like some ‘input.”  I think I’ve just about exhausted what I wanted to say about sugar (maybe I’m sugared out for now.) and I found that the topic has naturally evolved into one about refined flour products vs whole grains which I’ve also written about.

While I was on a label-reading excursion at my natural food store, I noticed some other ingredients on the labels that I realized I don’t really know much about.  That might be a good topic.  Do you think so?  I could write about other ingredients that sound okay but then again, who knows?  Like annatto, palmitate or glutamic acid which my blogging friend mentioned in comments.

Emmeline Pankhurst addresses a crowd in New Yo...

Emmeline Pankhurst addresses a crowd in New York City in 1913 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The sugar topic has also spurred me on to write about a topic I’m extremely passionate about having to do with the massive plague of prescribed psychotropic drugging that is going on and the fact that there are alternative treatments–including dietary changes like getting off sugar–that are rarely discussed and definitely suppressed by those with vested interests in drugging people instead . . . [Okay, Patty.  Step away from the soapbox.]

Well . . . I’m going to prepare for this one and not just deliver an on-the-spot rant because this is actually an extremely important topic that affects each and every one of us whether we personally are “diagnosed” with a mental disorder or not . . . [Oops!  There she goes again. . . someone distract her, please!]

And, just to show you how my mind works (or doesn’t work might be the way to say it) I am also getting ready to show you some more salads you may not have seen before.

I have no idea if one is supposed to write a blog like this.  I guess it’s a sort of test run or “trailer” of potential blogs and now that I’ve written it I’m just going to press “publish” after I ask you all to please let me know what interests you the most!

  • Ingredients that don’t sound like food?
  • Alternative/Dietary approaches to mental distress?
  • Salads?
  • Something else you’d like to read about?

I Love Meeting New Friends

A flower from a bouquet at the Eastern Market ...

A flower from a bouquet at the Eastern Market in DC (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

My love affair with blogging continues .  The other day I hit a highest ever number of viewers for my post.  I got 139 views which is nearly a 12% increase over my previous highest ever.  (Did I actually just calculate the percent of increase?  Boy!  I’d better get outside and do something not involving a computer screen.  I don’t wanna turn into a geek!)

But that wasn’t all that happened that day.  I also got my highest number of “likes” and my highest by far number of comments and I got more followers, too.  Don’t worry–I didn’t calculate any more percentages.  Yet.

And that map they give you on the stats page?  Love, love, love it! I have traveled but I’m not what you would call a “world traveler.”  I am fascinated when I see there are people from Bosnia, Japan, Serbia–really?  Serbia?–who are clicking their mouses to read my words.  That map the other day had a long list of nations colored in.  I think it’s fair to say I’ve gone International!

That is fantastic!  I love getting comments!  I love “meeting” and “talking” to new friends and I found a bunch more bloggers that I want to follow too.  In fact, I visited many of you that same day.  Thank you so very much for taking the time to stroll over to my blog and stay a while.  Thank you for taking the time to say something and help make the post much more interesting than if it was just me talking.

I love that blogging brings us together no matter where we live and what else is going on in our lives!  Blogging cuts through a lot of complications and barriers and lets us simply communicate and be heard, even around the world.

This is very encouraging!

The Hunger Games – Not Exactly a “Foodie Movie”

I love movies that include a food and cooking theme!  Just ask my husband.  He’ll tell you about my food-and-cooking movie recommendations:  Ratattouie, Pieces of April, No Reservations, Chocolat, Like Water for Chocolate, etc.  There are lots more than these.

And having not gone to any movies in an actual movie theater for some months, I thought the movie The Hunger Games would be great to see.  And it was!  But not because it fits right in with the other food-and-cooking movies.  Not at all.

We did go see The Hunger Games a couple weeks ago and really loved it and I wanted to write about it.  It’s just not a “fit” for this blog though.  After all, even though I often write all over the map in terms of subjects, in my twisted universe the posts somehow fit in.  But what I loved about The Hunger Games is something I thought deserved its own venue.

So I invite you to check out a new blog I created for just this sort of not-really-related-to-food-and cooking-but-I still-have-an-opinion-about-it-and-after-all-why-shouldn’t-I-express-that topic.  The blog is called “That’s Just Me . . . What Do You Think?” and it can be found at http://www.reviewsviewsandopinions.blogspot.com.  The link is conveniently located to your right in the “good writers” category.  (I know that is shameless self-promotion.)  I also published a review of this movie in Street Articles called, “The Hunger Games:  Ten Reasons I Liked This Movie.”  You can link to that from the That’s Just Me . . . blog.

Ten Embarrassing Things I Could Blog About But Didn’t


10.  All my blogs are not as fresh as they may seem.  Some of them are written ahead of time on my day off and put into the freezer for later use.  They are “fresh-frozen” as they say.

9.  My sister’s annual April Fool’s Day joke: “Hey, Patty!  You have a spider on your head!”  Some April Fool’s jokes are easy to tell, some you can’t be so sure about . . .

8.  Burning water.  Wait, I did mention that at least once in a blog.  Sigh.

7.  Temporarily forgetting one of my son’s middle name.  But I remember now . . .

6.  Will write for food/money/fame/attention/glory/peanuts/smileys/or no reason at all.

5. The first annual pair of birthday socks I’m knitting for another son and the two plus years it’s taking me to finish them.

4.  There’s nothing wrong with blogging about healthy foods and cooking and having that be the inspiration to eat healthier foods and cook more . . . right?

3.  How unfortunate it is to have Easter and April Fool’s Day on the same day but luckily I now realize Easter is next week.

2.  Joining Twitter but feeling like a Twit because I can’t think of anything to say that someone needs to know right away like that.

1.  Intending to take down the Christmas decorations on April Fool’s Day.  (“I just wasn’t done enjoying Christmas!”)