Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Sweet Auburn Curb Market--Atlanta Destination for Foodies

Last week I and several hundred other food bloggers in Atlanta for BlogHer Food, 2011, took a break from the non-stop networking and titillating sessions on search engine optimization, blog branding, and Internet ethics, and descended on the city’s historic Sweet Auburn Curb Market.

“It’s really a worthwhile place to visit,” said my bus seatmate and journalist friend, Susan Puckett, as we pulled up in front of the bustling municipal farmers’ market. And Susan should know—she was on the food section staff of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution newspaper for many years.

As we scrambled off the bus, I and a dozen others immediately queued up at the barbeque truck out front. How could we not try Atlanta’s version of one of the South’s most famous dishes?

With apologies to all Georgians, I have to say that while my pork ‘que sandwich was okay, it wasn’t worth writing home to my hubby about. Born and raised in Wilmington, North Carolina, he introduced me to the best barbeque his hometown had to offer when we were newlyweds. That succulent, vinegar- and -red pepper dressed pit-roasted pork sent me to hog heaven, and we bought and ate it whenever we visited his family. Frankly, I’ve never found that the less distinctively-seasoned barbeques (euphemism for bland) of other regions could measure up to the signature zippy North Carolina-style since. But I keep trying ‘em just to check!

Though the publicly-owned Sweet Auburn Curb Market is in the city’s most famous black neighborhood (Martin Luther King’s boyhood home is an important landmark here), both the fare and purveyors today are multicultural. Yes, you’ll find the prototypical fresh collards, watermelons, chitins and soul food, but you’ll also see Ciao Boca, Broadway Asian Buffet, Bell Street Burritos, and numerous other vendors and eateries of various ethnic persuasions.

That’s David Leite, of Leite’s Culinaria (and my co-panelist on a culinary writing workshop the day before) visiting one of the Sweet Auburn stalls.

Once inside, Susan and I cooled off with light, fizzy strawberry-lime spritzers that were perfect for the typically humid Atlanta late spring day. Since she was local and I can get fresh veggies of all sorts where I live in Maryland, we passed by the beautiful greengrocer stalls. But some of the attendees stocked up on items to take home. David Lebovitz bought two huge bags of kale and stuffed them in his suitcase to take back to France. I doubt Paris customs inspectors would have liked that!

I was wondering about the history and odd name of the market, so did a little investigating. In 1918, after a fire cleared the land, it was established in a huge tent in the thriving black district along what residents fondly dubbed “sweet” Auburn Street. Giving inner city Atlantans assess to farmers and their garden fresh products, it was an immediate hit. A permanent brick and concrete building replaced the tent in1924, but due to segregation only white customers were permitted inside. Blacks shopped from separate stalls set up along the curb—community leaders decided to reference this in the market's modern name. (The photo below is courtesy of the Market's website.)

If you’re a foodie visiting Atlanta, do take in the market. I plan on a more leisurely look-see next time I’m in town. I’ll probably go for some ham hocks instead of the pork barbeque.

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Friday, May 27, 2011

Homemade, All-Natural Chocolate or Fruit Ice Pops

It's popsicle weather again. Bright, hot, and a holiday weekend to boot. So I'm back experimenting with homemade popsicle recipes, especially ones that feature all-natural flavors and colors so I can feel comfortable serving these treats to my grandkids. Except for the chocolate-banana pops, my recipes rely solely on pure fruit juice or fruit juice concentrates and are completely free of artificial food colors. (For more sophisticated pop flavors, such as pomegranate and orange, go here.)

As you can see from the pics, these pops can be readied using simple commercial plastic popsicle molds bought in a discount department store; ordinary 3-ounce plastic cups with wooden sticks from a craft store; or a Zoku quick popsicle maker. At around $50 it's a luxury, but lots of fun. (The unit works like the ice cream makers with freeze-ahead tubs, and, once well-chilled, it turns out three pops in 8 minutes, and another 3 in about 10 minutes more. Note that it doesn't come with recipes.)

For “two-tone” pops, just fill the molds or plastic cups partly full; freeze until fairly firm; then add the contrasting color; and freeze again until completely hard. The multi-colored pops are a snap in the Zoku maker, since the layers freeze quickly.

Don’t substitute granulated sugar for the honey in these recipes; it doesn’t dissolve readily, so can result in gritty popsicles.

Chocolate-Banana Pops

Chocolate and banana are a favorite kid flavor, plus the banana lends a creamy-smoothness to the texture. The recipe is a good way to use up over-ripe bananas.
1/3 cup boiling water
1 ounce semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, chopped
2 1/2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder (either American-style or Dutch process)
1/3 cup clover honey or other mild honey, or more to taste
1 very large (or 2 small) over-ripe bananas, peeled and cut into chunks 1/2 cup cold water
In a food processor combine the boiling water, chocolate, cocoa and honey. Let stand for 3 or 4 minutes so the chocolate can soften. Process until the mixture is well blended and smooth, stopping and scraping down the bowl sides as needed. Add the banana chunks and process until completely smooth, scraping down the bowl as needed. Combine the mixture in a large measuring cup with the cold water.
If making ice pops using 3-ounce plastic cups or plastic popsicle molds, pour the mixture into them, dividing it equally. Leave about 1/3-inch of headroom at the top, as the frozen pops will expand. Add the plastic sticks to the molds as directed. If using paper cups cover each with a small square of foil; make a slit in the center top; and insert wooden popsicle sticks into the cups. Freeze the molds or cups until the popsicles are thouroghly frozen; depending on the freezer this may take 3 to 4 hours and up to 8 hours??? Remove them from the cups by dipping their outsides in warm water for 10 to 15 seconds, and/or flexing the cups or molds until the popsicles loosen from the sides. If necessary, loosen the pops from the sides using a thin knife to break the vacuum.
If using a Zoko pop maker: Cover and refrigerate the mixture until well-chilled, at least several hours. Have the Zoko maker thoroughly frozen (24 hours). Insert the Zoku plastic sticks into its molds as directed. Pour the mixture into the Zoku molds up to the fill line. When the pops are thoroughly frozen, remove them from the molds using the orange tool and following the directions provided. Do not try to pry the pops from the molds using a knife, as the interior of the molds may be damaged. Add new plastic sticks and make a second round of pops, if desired.
Eat the pops immediately or freeze for later use.
Easy Fruit Juice Pops (Makes 6 3-ounce pops)

For single color pops, proceed following the directions below. For optional two-tone pops like the raspberry one shown in the top pic: Mix up the juice mixture as directed. Pour a half to a third of it into a separate cup, then stir in the yogurt until completely blended and smooth. Partially fill the popsicle forms with one color mixture and let it freeze. Then, add the second mixture and continue freezing until thoroughly frozen.

Tip: If readying the pineapple pops, be sure to add the vanilla. It really brings out the pineapple flavor.

1 cup cold water
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract, optional
2/3 cup undiluted, still partially frozen white grape-raspberry juice concentrate, or pineapple juice concentrate
1 to 2 tablespoons clover honey, to taste, optional
About 3-4 tablespoons regular or lowfat sweetened vanilla yogurt (optional, for two-tone pops)

In a 2-cup measure very thoroughly stir together the water, vanilla (if using) and undiluted fruit juice concentrate until blended. Taste and add honey, if desired; stir well as it takes a while to dissolve.

If making ice pops using 3-ounce plastic cups or commercial plastic popsicle molds, pour the mixture into them until they are a little more than 3/4s full. If using molds, add the plastic sticks as directed. If using paper cups cover each with a small square of foil; make a slit in the center top; and insert wooden popsicle sticks into the cups. Freeze the molds or cups until the popsicles are completely frozen; depending on the freezer this may take 3 to 4 hours or longer. Remove the popsicles from the molds or cups by dipping their exteriors in warm water for 10 to 20 seconds (don’t overdo it!), and/or flexing the cups or molds until the popsicles loosen from the sides. If necessary, loosen the pops from the sides using a table knife to break the vacuum.

If using a Zoku pop maker: Cover and refrigerate the fruit juice mixture until well-chilled, at least several hours. Have the Zoko maker thoroughly frozen (24 hours). Insert the Zoku plastic sticks into its molds as directed. Pour the mixture into the Zoku molds up to the fill line. When the pops are thoroughly frozen, remove them from the molds using the orange tool as directed. Do not try to pry the pops from the molds using a knife, as the interior of the molds may be damaged. Add new plastic sticks and make a second round of pops, if desired.

Eat the pops immediately or place in baggies or small containers and freeze for later use.

For other naturally colorful pops more geared to grownup palates check out the pomegranate-orange pops and grapefruit pops here.
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Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The Big Eighth Step to Tastier Culinary Prose

Today, I have the same feeling as when I discover I’ve given a recipe with a dropped ingredient to a tester. Except it's magnified 50 times because I omitted a major writing tip in a handout given to dozens of people!

Last Friday, at the Atlanta BlogHer Food conference, David Leite and I presented a workshop called Seven Steps to Tastier Culinary Prose.” Actually, I’d mulled long and hard over those steps to be sure they covered everything folks most needed to know. At the session, the audience was extremely receptive, and seemed happy with what we said.

It wasn’t until Sunday night, back at home in my bed and drifting off, that I realized there was an eighth step and I'd missed the boat. Not a dinghy either, but a big honking tanker! We had, in fact, touched on the subject in step 5 where we advised writers to get comfortable expressing their views and revealing some of who they are.

Trouble was, we never suggested how to do this. Yes, some writers just naturally loosen up and let fly at the keyboard, but many others choke, hedge, and hide behind their too cautiously crafted words. It’s a habit that costs dearly, because it snuffs out one of the food writer’s most valuable assets—personal voice. (This is just the writerly term for an individual’s persona in print.)

Today’s readers, especially blog readers, want to visualize and connect with the writer, to have him or her open up, share and come to life. If they want just the facts they’ll read the newspaper—and we all know the state of newspaper circulation these days!
So, here’s step 8 in case you’re still timid in print and striving for a stronger, clearer voice. (If you haven't read the seven before it, you might want to read them first.)
8. Remember that nobody can see what you’re writing until you post it, so at least in your first draft give yourself permission to say exactly what you feel like saying, exactly the way you feel like saying it.
In your first draft let loose and be outlandish, perky, cantankerous, preachy, profane, quirky, heartfelt or whatever feels right to you, because nobody can judge, censor, or be appalled. Try writing like you speak or think, whether it’s stacatto or flowing or as twisting and tangled as a tightly wound ball of yarn. Try playing with the words, too—alliteration, rhymes, rhythms, similes, metaphors, hyperbole, and personification all come more easily and naturally if you let sounds, phrases, and meanings tumble and bounce and roll off your mind.
Once you’ve taken down the unfiltered, unrefined, straight-from-the brain prose, let it sit a few days, then go back and self-edit. Spend time tempering the over-the-top language and ideas, whacking away excess verbiage, and tidying sentences until their meanings are clear. You'll still be you, just more concise and articulate and with a little makeup on.
Here’s a writer who’s made his living and name by being outrageously opinionated and snarky. And he understands that it’s key to his appeal. In an interview he noted that most of life is ho-hum, and nobody really wants to read about that. Here’s an except from his story called “Tour De Gall." It’s the funniest, nastiest restaurant review I’ve ever read. Notice how carefully (and disgustingly) he describes the food.
“We order foie gras and snails to start. Foie gras is a L’Ami Louis specialty. After 30 minutes what come are a pair of intimidatingly gross flabs of chilly pâté, with a slight coating of pustular yellow fat. They are dense and stringy, with a web of veins. I doubt they were made on the premises. The liver crumbles under the knife like plumber’s putty and tastes faintly of gut-scented butter or pressed liposuction. The fat clings to the roof of my mouth with the oleaginous insistence of dentist’s wax. ...

I have decided not to go for the famous roast chicken, mainly because I’ve suffered it before and I’d just been watching a Japanese couple wrestle with one like a manga poltergeist from some Tokyo horror movie, its scaly blue legs stabbing the air. So on to the broiled kidneys. Nothing I have eaten or heard of being eaten here prepared me for the arrival of the veal kidneys en brochette. Somehow the heat had welded them together into a gray, suppurating renal brick. It could be the result of an accident involving rat babies in a nuclear reactor. They don’t taste as nice as they sound. ...

But still, it’s undeniable that L’Ami Louis really is special and apart. It has earned an epic accolade. It is, all things considered, entre nous, the worst restaurant in the world.”

A. A. Gill, “Tour De Gall,” Vanity Fair

Are there any other steps I need to mention? Probably, so feel free to jump in and comment on them here. And check back now and then--I'll be adding suggestions as they pop into my head.

In the meantime, here's a writing excercise that can help you find or strenghten your writing voice

Practice Exercise--Sit down and write as freely and spontaneously as possible for 5 minutes. Immediately put the sample away for at least a week (or until you've forgotten what you wrote). Then read it, asking yourself the following questions.

Is your writing: literary, funny, poetic, friendly, factual, quirky, long-winded, flowery--what? Does it sound like you? If not, analyze why not. Are you too cautious, over-polite, politically correct, formal, unfocused, or wishy-washy? Notice what you like and what rings true, and what you don’t like and want to correct or avoid. Use these insights to make changes and improvements whenever you edit your writing in the future. 

Another how-to article I've posted that peeps have enjoyed and found helpful is called, "Food Writing Lessons I've Learned the Hard Way."
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Tuesday, May 17, 2011

How Does My Garden Grow-Spring Woodland Flowers

The best cure I know for sitting in front of the computer too many hours is to go out and walk around a garden. Inhale the fresh air, smell the greenness, stretch, and  I'm guessing almost immediately you'll feel a sense of calm. I know I always do.

Except for the bitterest winter months, something interesting is always happening in my garden. Right now some perennials are just coming up, some are about to bloom, and many of the spring ephemerals, like the Virginia blue bells and wood hyacinths, are fading away.

Because I have a lot of shade, many of the comings and goings are quietly compelling rather than razzle-dazzle. Shade plants tend to charm with their foliage and smaller, less conspicuous flowers, though my two prized trilliums, one yellow, one red, routinely turn heads. (I aspire to have a whole patch of them some day!)
Just in the last month four kinds of violets—first the deep purple and light purple-cream ones, then yellow, and finally white—sprang up and brightened shady spots with their blooms, then dropped their petals and receded back into the green. (For more pics of purple violets, plus how to candy violets and decorate with them, go here.)
Now the airy clusters of pale purple woodland phlox are dancing in the light among the lacy ferns and hostas. Out in the sunny part, clumps of blue irises are opening, and the big, blousy red peonies are about to burst forth.

These events are predictable, but the garden is always full of surprises. My cherished three-year old lavender appeared to be dead after the hard winter, but I cut it back, and now it’s showing life and leafing again. (It's still too spindly for a picture though.) This may seem a small thing, but it makes me very happy!
For the first time ever, my parsley plants have resown themselves, scattering so many tiny seedlings around the bed that if I’m patient, by the end of summer I’ll be able to make a parsley-loaded tabouli nearly every day! This was a lovely unexpected gift. The dill also reseeded, though I’m not quite as enthralled because this happens fairly often.

Shortly, I’ll be harvesting my rhubarb (pics and recipes here), snipping nasturtium and chive blossoms to make herb vinegar, and admiring hydrangea blooms of the most breathtaking shade of blue.

Come along with me as all the events unfold this year; I’ll be sharing garden reports, recipes, and photos in “How Does My Garden Grow,” posts with you every month or so.

Check out the lovely violets which I use for pastry decorating. Or see more of the whole garden as shown below here.
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Friday, May 13, 2011

Chicken Curry in a Hurry for Those Crazy-Busy Days

It’s been another one of those crazy-busy weeks where I look up from the computer or kitchen counter each evening and realize I haven’t any idea what to fix for supper! Now there’s good and bad kinds of crazy-busy, and this has been good crazy, so I’m not complaining. After literally years of my toiling away creating and testing recipes, I'm excited to tell you that we are poised to start production on my next cookbook.

I just struggled though punching up my book’s introduction (I could tell it was too long-winded), and my editor liked it—yes! As you can imagine, this is an incredibly exciting time. (And, believe me, it never gets less exciting even if it’s not the very first book!)

The production process varies with publishers and books, but my next baby will have photographs. So, right now we are looking at portfolios, and my editor is actually negotiating with someone we’re considering for the job. Hopefully, I’ll be able to share more details on this soon and eventually even post some snapshots of the photo shoot in progress. (My newsletter subscribers already know what my book is about; I’ll publicly be posting about that on my site soon. If you’re interested getting exclusive news and recipes, sign up here; it’s free.)

You may be surprised to hear that often the author doesn’t participate in the photo shoots, except perhaps for helping to choose what dishes will be featured. Some photographers worry that the author might interfere or distract them. (Occasionally, this does happen!)

But sometimes, the author is right there in the studio kitchen busily cranking out the recipes the food stylist and photographer will shoot. Even though it means working feverishly over several long days, I prefer this approach because the recipes, especially baked goods, come out looking more like I envisioned them. Still, I carefully coordinate with the stylist and photographer, so if they want, say, extra-chunky brownies, or a creamy, flowing look to the frosting, I’ll leave the nuts in big pieces and add a little more liquid until the icing is on the soft side. After all, they’re the experts on how to make food photograph well.

I often wonder if the sense of wild anticipation that keeps building until a book comes out is similar to the feeling actors have before their big movie is released. Do they, like me, always have exceedingly high hopes? Do they imagine their work creating a stir, garnering rave reviews and even—when their daydreaming gets really silly out of hand—snagging a nomination for a coveted award?

But wait! I’m getting way ahead of myself. We won’t even see the first hot-off-the-presses copies for another 14 months! In the meantime, I’ve got innumerable tasks ahead of me, like proofreading, rewriting, correcting, not to mention blogging and getting supper on the table lots of nights!

Here’s what I’m fixing this evening. Good, easy, and popular in our house. If you’re crazy-busy, you might want to try it. And, if you’re crazy busy, I truly hope it’s the good kind of craziness.

Chicken Curry in a Hurry

I turn to this recipe often when I need to get a healthful hot meal on the table fast. It takes less than 30 minutes.

I serve the dish over rice along with several munchable, colorful garnishes that can be sprinkled over top. Depending on what I have on hand, I set out bowls of raisins, dried sweetened cranberries, peanuts, cashews, almonds, chopped green onions, or pineapple chunks. A tossed salad or a fruit usually completes the meal.

Tip: Basmati rice, a long-grained Indian rice with an appealing mellow flavor and aroma, is excellent with this curry. However, regular long-grained white rice or even "5-minute" rice will work, too.

1 cup regular or low-sodium chicken broth, divided 
2 tablespoons mild to medium hot curry powder, divided
1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves 
1/4 teaspoon salt
1-1/4 to 1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, cut into 1-inch cubes
2 tablespoons corn oil or olive oil, divided
1 cup each chopped onion and celery
1 tablespoon all-purpose white flour
1 8-ounce can tomato sauce
3 to 4 cups cooked basmati or other long-grain white rice
Assorted dried and fresh fruit and nuts for garnishes, as desired

In a medium-sized bowl make a seasoning paste by stirring together 2 tablespoons broth, 1 tablespoon curry powder, the thyme, and salt. Stir in chicken until coated; let stand for 5 to10 minutes. Meanwhile ready other ingredients.

In a 12-inch nonstick skillet or saute pan, heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium-high heat until hot but not smoking. Add onion and celery and cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is softened, about 5 minutes. Stir flour into chicken mixture until evenly incorporated. Add remaining 1 tablespoon oil, the chicken pieces and any remaining seasoning mixture to skillet. Adjust heat so chicken sears and cooks rapidly but does not burn. Cook, turning frequently, until browned on all sides, about 5 to 8 minutes.

Stir the remaining chicken broth, tomato sauce and 1 tablespoon more curry powder into skillet. Lower heat; simmer gently. Cook, stirring occasionally, 8 to 10 minutes longer, until flavors blend and mixture cooks down a bit. Taste and add more salt if desired. Spoon curry over hot rice and serve. Pass assorted curry garnishes at the table. Makes 4 servings.

Interested in a quick chicken dish that doesn't call for curry? Try this salsa and black bean chicken skillet.
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Tuesday, May 10, 2011

More S'mores Please!

We made s’mores after our Mother’s Day supper this year. I think you can tell who liked ‘em best, though truthfully, the grownups munched theirs enthusiastically, too!

Can you tell from the pic below that we used the new jumbo marshmallows that are now on the market? They are huge, and at first I thought excessive, but since I like extra-gooey s’mores, the higher ratio of marshmallow actually appealed to me greatly.

We often ready s’mores after grilling on my son’s patio. It makes good use of the coals as they’re dying down, plus we enjoy the camaraderie of everybody gathering around to toast their marshmallows and chat.

The Girl Scouts, who popularized the eating of s’mores in the early 20th century, have always used the activity to promote a sense or togetherness and bonding around a campfire. The first written s’mores recipe appeared in a 1927 publication, "Tramping and Trailing with the Girl Scouts." Called "Some More," it provided the following very tempting instructions: “Toast two marshmallows over the coals to a crisp gooey state and then put them inside a graham cracker and chocolate bar sandwich. The heat of the marshmallow between the halves of chocolate bar will melt the chocolate a bit.”The writer noted that the treats always tasted like "some more,’ though one is really enough.” Interestingly, the shortening of the name to s’mores didn’t begin to catch on until the 1960s.

Nobody knows if a Girl Scout came up with s’mores, but if so, she may have been inspired by the marshmallow-chocolate Mallomar cookies or Moon Pies that were already around. In 1913, the National Biscuit Company (now Nabisco), introduced its Mallomar, which featured marshmallow, jelly, and cake covered with chocolate icing.

In 1917, the Chattanooga Bakery began selling its Moon Pies, giant graham cracker rounds topped with marshmallow and chocolate. It seems likely that somebody simply had a brainstorm to turn the same combo into a fresher, tastier homemade treat. What a great idea!

While there is nothing wrong with ordinary store-bought marshmallows in s'mores, for an extraordinary treat, try them made with the raspberry marshmallows here. Oh my!
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Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Three Steps to More Compelling Culinary Prose--Tasty Tidbits from Our BlogHer Food Workshop

I’m very excited that in a couple weeks, my colleague and friend David Leite and I will be presenting an “improve your culinary writing” workshop at BlogHer Food, in Atlanta. We’ll be sharing both general tips and leading some specific writing exercises (like using active verbs and various literary devices), so attendees can actually practice sharpening their writing skills and strengthening their own personal writing voice. In preparation, I’ve come up with several basic guidelines I’ve found especially useful myself over the years. In case you can't attend our session, I hope they’ll help you write tastier prose, too.
Plunge right into the middle of your story.
It’s common for writers to slowly, gently get their feet wet with the story they’re telling, but it’s a habit to curtail. The reason: Prose is usually much more compelling when you dive instead of timidly wade in. Journalism writing coach Don Fry aptly calls the typical tedious introductory stalling, “throat-clearing.” Newspaper editors routinely look for it, and often just lop off the first few sentences before the story really gets going.
Many fiction writers and editors are also keenly aware of the importance of beginning with a bang instead of a whimper. In the writers’ group (of mostly novelists) I belong to, colleagues whose first chapter lags are often advised to, “start with a dead horse in the living room.” Obviously, such a scene would virtually compel the reader to keep reading.
Notice that David Leite, who’s rightly collected lots of kudos for his prose, leaps directly into his very funny, lively story, Savior on a Stick. ” We readers don’t have to slog through the details of his eviction, we just find him out on a stoop with his suitcases but without his precious freezer full of corn dogs. Plus, he tosses in a colorful, vivid simile, the lawyer as a "bowling ball with legs" to liven the prose even more. How could we possibly stop reading!?
June 1988. I stood on the front porch of my friend Patty’s Arlington, Texas, home with suitcases in hand, not unlike Felix Unger in the opening credits of “The Odd Fellow.” Like him, I was being thrown out–not out of a tiny Upper East Side classic six–but rather a sprawling six-bedroom casa, complete with pool, three-car garage, automatic sprinkler system, and, what I would miss most, a freezer full of corn dogs. As Patty’s lawyer–a bowling ball with legs who had skin like tobacco-colored crepe paper–put it, I was an “unnecessary risk.”
Patty and her husband, Dan, were getting divorced. While he was shacking up with his dental assistant, I was living non-conjugally with his wife and three kids after I had, for the nth time, denounced New York City. The greater Dallas area was my new home, I told myself, and I embraced it with all the excitement and innocence of Kennedy in 1963.
Choose topics you’re passionate about.
A good deal of both life and writing are ho-hum, and just tackling topics that matter to you will usually make your prose livelier. Many staff writers must write assigned stories and remain unbiased, so if you have the luxury of choosing subjects that please or peeve you, you have a big advantage. Writing about a dish you’d either love or hate to eat; a restaurant you’d either want to visit or avoid like the plague; or an ingredient you adore or can’t abide is excellent insurance against wishy-washy (yawn!) prose.
I’ve found that some of my most popular blog posts, like this one called "Everything I Don’t Like," have resulted from taking this approach. Like David, I employ some literary devices to brighten up the passage, such as the alliteration in the the phrases "tenderize the tough tissue," "porker appendages, and "ringers for really rank pickled tennis shoes:"
[Pigs’ feet] should be declared unfit for human consumption! I’ll start simply by mentioning that though human and dog feet can reek, they’re roses compared to hog’s feet on the funkiness scale. To mask the noxious odor and tenderize the tough tissue of these porker appendages, people usually boil them in a strong vinegar brine, but this is as helpful as dousing the living creatures with perfume. Moreover, the boiling yields a gelatinous texture and ghastly, pungent odor that lurks in the house and continues to punch you in the nose for days. …. I would probably starve if I had nothing to eat but these dead ringers for really rank pickled tennis shoes.

Be sure to actually describe the food you’re writing about.
Oddly enough, bloggers and food writers often forget to do this, and it’s a mistake. Even if your blog post or article has pics, they won’t provide many of the details necessary to whet readers’ appetites. Analyze and convey how the food not only tastes, but smells, feels on the tongue (think tapioca pudding), and even how it sounds when munched (think celery and gingersnaps!). Try to be very specific, and avoid generic words like delicious or yummy, which indicate only that you enjoyed what you ate!
Here’s how award-winning blogger, Hank Shaw, of "Hunter, Angler, Gardener Cook," describes caviar—not the easiest subject to wrap one’s words around—in a post several years ago. Notice Hank's delightful simile suggesting that fish eggs look like alien jewels:
Caviar has always had a hold on me. It is a mysterious ingredient, almost otherworldy; the individual eggs look like jewels from an alien planet. Caviar tastes briny and vaguely floral, and the textural surprise of the pop in your mouth has led more than one writer to liken it to pop rocks for adults.

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