Friday, June 11, 2010


SPICE UP YOUR LIFE with a few food bloggers!

Slam it to the left
If you're having a good time
Shake it to the right
If you know that you feel fine
Chicas to the front
Uh Uh go round
Slam it to the left
If you're having a good time
Shake it to the right
If you know that you feel fine
Chicas to the front
Hi Ci Ya Hold Tight

Colours of the world
Spice up you life
Every boy and every girl
Spice up your life
People of the world
Spice up your life
- The Spice Girls, of course!

Food is sensual; press your hands into silky, soft bread dough, breathe in the sharp bite of yeast. Or slide a spoonful of shimmering, pearl-tinted panna cotta into your mouth and let it melt on your tongue, caressed by vanilla sweetness. Chocolate makes many of us swoon and the faint prickle of pepper or the heat of a good curry excites. Smells, texture, flavors, colors, food is an all around sensory experience infused with emotions and memories that, to many, is an inspiration, a driving force, a passion. And one must truly be passionate to the point of obsessive to become a food blogger. We wake every morning wondering what to cook and bake during the day, the words for the perfect blog post flit through our heads as we flip through well-thumbed cookbooks and draw up that shopping list. Cameras are flung over shoulders as we head out to the newest must-try restaurant and days, evenings and well into every night are spent dashing between kitchen and computer. Our talk is peppered with food words, our bookshelves heave and groan under the weight of so many cookbooks, a walk down any city street is nearly impossible as our noses are pressed against so many pastry shop windows, strolls lengthened as we dash in and out of butcher shops, bakeries, Aladdin dens of spices and cooking utensils. We travel light, suitcases half empty, as we head off to our destination or a trip back home, yet we return with bags straining under the weight of jars and bottles and boxes bought at grocery stores, pans and whisks and yet more cookbooks. Most of us have hidden chocolate drawers, our secret, coveted stash, and we love nothing better than to stare at and handle our precious ingredients, breathe in their heady odor, concoct, brew, create and share, basking in the sighs and groans of pleasure our food elicits. We are used to the strange, sideways glances, the looks of disbelief and confusion as we prattle on about food, and we shrug our shoulders and sigh for this is more than just a passion, an obsession, it is our life.

Now, imagine 50 such together, gathered around tables, plates in hand, cameras poised, feeling a lightness, a freedom to express our passion, share the excitement, act just as we please. There is a strange connection between the food passionate, food bloggers, an understanding that everything, or most things, revolve around food. That was Food Blogger Connect: laughter, information, networking, planning, gossip and more laughter. Friendships formed, friendships reinforced and intensified. And it’s all about the food.

But a conference like Food Blogger Connect is indeed more than just about the time spent together laughing, talking, networking. It is a learning experience and did we all learn! With pen and notebook in hand, I listened to the darling and exuberant* Jaden of Steamy Kitchen talk about monetizing one’s blog, earning money from not just advertising but from writing, speaking, actually turning our passion into a full-fledged career. Hilda, my wonderful, generous, funny friend of the stunning Saffron & Blueberry dissected a camera for us and explained how to adjust for speed, light, focus in such a clear, intelligent way that even I understood, taking information that will help me work my photography better. Add to that a brilliant, informative talk by fabulous, talented Meeta of What’s For Lunch Honey? and Mowie of Mowielicious on perfect food styling and food photography and I may not even have to read the manual! Meeta, such a true, wonderful friend, also spent much time late at night helping me, advising, and with much patience explaining what I shouldn’t be doing and what I should do that I am now actually excited about working and improving my food photography rather than feeling beaten! Wonderful Jeanne of Cook Sister! spoke about Copyright and Plagiarism, so important to any blogger and fascinating to boot, and then about Effective Recipe Writing, which was brilliant and truly food for thought.

I then shared the stage with brilliant fellow writers and passionate bloggers Jeanne of Cook Sister! and Kerrin of My Kugelhopf speaking about Writing Style & Finding Your Voice for the food blogger. Three different voices, three different writing styles, we shared our secrets, our tips and advice on writing, whether personal story, restaurant review or simply a lead in to a favorite recipe. Emotions, memories, atmosphere, descriptions, each blog post is an experience to be lived by the reader and one must create the perfect atmosphere, serve the best food on a platter of well-chosen words and satisfy the reader with a joyous, emotional, mouthwatering experience. We hope that our presentation, our words, touched our listeners and inspired them to rethink their blog and find their own writing style, the style that expresses who they are.

Jeanne, Jamie, Kerrin

On Sunday Kerrin was joined by the lovely, delightful Julia of a Slice of Cherry Pie and together they presented How To Get Published & Get Feature Work: from Blog to Book (or Magazine). As a blogger just starting on my path towards professional food writing, this talk was particularly informative for me (I may have asked the most questions) and both of these talented women opened up and generously shared all of their knowledge and advice. Outside of the presentation, both Kerrin and Julia very kindly shared even more information with me, encouraging me to take my writing “career” to another level, to take the leap and be confident in my talent and I thank them both enormously!

I met so many wonderful people, all kind, fun, generous people with whom I do hope to stay in touch, but I also had the great luck of meeting and remeeting some wonderful friends I feel particularly close to: Sarah, Aoife, Adrienne, Julia, Katherine, Giulia, Sarka, darling Bruce, Heather, Catty and Eunice and hope that I will be seeing each of them very soon.

Thanks to a wonderful FBC Organizing Team (myself, Meeta, Hilda, Mowie and Sarka) lead by vivacious Beth of Dirty Kitchen Secrets.

* thank you Meeta for handing me the perfect word for Jaden!

Sunday night, Meeta whipped us up a fabulous chicken curry dinner, which I immediately made for JP and Clem when I got home. I ad libbed, using what I had on hand, added a bit more tang with a squeeze or two of lemon juice and served it over basmati rice. It was stunningly delicious! This is such an ideal dish because you add the ingredients more or less to taste. Fantastic curry, fantastic recipe and I’m betting that it is even better reheated the next day! So here is my take on Meeta’s Chicken Curry and sending out a hug and a clink of the wine glass to my very Spicy Spice Girls and the wonderful weekend we shared. Which will be covered in my next blog post.

A huge spicy thank you to Meeta, Mowie & Kerrin for the pictures of Food Blogger Connect!

CHICKEN CURRY as Spicy as you like

Chicken pieces for 4 to 6 (I used 4 leg/thigh pieces, separated)
2 Tbs vegetable oil
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 jars or cans (about 14 oz/400 g) tomato pulp, chopped tomatoes
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tsps garam masala or to taste*
1 tsp turmeric or to taste
¼ to ½ tsp Cayenne pepper or chili powder/flakes or to taste
Several tablespoons Greek yogurt, regular yogurt, sour cream or quark (fromage frais) to taste
Juice of about half a lemon

* I had run out of coriander and cumin

In a large skillet or Dutch oven, heat the vegetable oil and then lightly brown the chicken pieces on all sides. Remove the browned chicken to a plate.

Add the chopped onions to the hot oil in the pan and sauté, stirring often, until tender and golden brown. Add the chopped garlic and, stirring, continue to cook for another minute or two until the garlic is tender. Stir in the tomato pulp, add the spices and the salt and pepper, stir until blended and then return the chicken to the sauce. Push the chicken down into the tomato sauce to cover. If you need to, top it up with a small amount of water.

Allow to simmer on low for about 45 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through and starting to pull away or fall off of the bone. Now remove the chicken to a plate and stir a 2 or 3 heaping tablespoons of the yogurt into the sauce, depending on whether you want the sauce more tomato-y or more creamy. Taste and adjust the seasonings, adding more salt and pepper, Cayenne or garam masala as desired to heighten the flavor. Squeeze in enough lemon juice to taste. One or two squeezes should do it!

Return the chicken to the pot, turn off the heat and cover. Allow to sit so the flavors meld a bit while you make the basmatic rice. Before serving, gently reheat the Chicken Curry. If you like, you can add a handful of chopped fresh coriander/cilantro.

Serve the Chicken Curry over the rice. You can serve it with a side of vegetables and cool yogurt Raita if desired.


Kerrin @ said...

oh how wonderfully you have captured food blogger connect - in all its glory ! and all its laughter and tastes and friendships and lessons learned. fabulous post jamie, just love it. anyone who reads this will be signing up for fbc11 in no time !! as for me, i'll just be going a little lighter on the spice ;)

Jeanne @ CookSister! said...

Awwwww, what wonderful memories that has brought back! The curry, the chocolate, the overshares, the macaron comparison, the DVD... :o) Wonderful to have spent the weekend with you, Spice Sister and look forward to our Autumn reunion!

gastroanthropologist said...

I've experienced all those things you describe in food is sensual...the panna cotta, the chocolate, the empty suitcase, and hopping from food shop to pastry shop while traveling...

Pictures looks great. I've been trying to apply some of what I learned last week too!

sunita said...

What great memories Jamie, you girls had such a great time. Wish I was there too, missed you all. And what a delectable chicken curry.

Mardi @eatlivetravelwrite said...

What a lovely post Jamie. Thanks for sharing and letting us live FBC vicariously through you.

girlichef said...

How wonderful!! How is it that you can make me cry with a spicy chicken curry post? Never fails ;) What an amazing thing!

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

Thanks for sharing! I wish I were there with you all... You look fntastic, as always!

That is a beautiful curry. A dish I really love!



Chez Us said...

Jamie, great post. Sounds as if you had a wonderful time at the conference and what a great group of foodies you got to hang out with. Maybe next year, I can make the journey ....

shaz said...

Loving all these FBC posts, so wishing I could be there one day. The curry looks utterly delicious and well-shot (curry is such a hard thing to photograph!). Good luck on your writing journey Jamie.

Jamie said...

@Kerrin: next year, pack lighter so you can bring more loot home! My curry was not spicy at all and so delicious!

@Jeanne: Oooh you just brought up my NEXT post! And boo hoo and I want to come back to Cooksister HQ!!

@Adrienne: again, so thrilled to have met you! And yes, I'll be watching your blog!!

@Sunita: Boo Hoo we missed you much! And thanks for the compliment on the curry! High compliment indeed!

@Mardi: anytime, love! One year you'll come!

@girlichef: So happy to see you and oh I am thrilled my post could make you cry! Chicken Curry all around!

@Rosa: Oh thank you and I still must meet you!

@Denise: Oh, girl, come on, we'll be waiting for you!!

@Shaz: Thank you so much! That means so much to me :-)

Cathy said...

How wonderful to meet so many bloggers and learn so much at the same time. Wonderful post, Jamie, I wish I had been there to join in the fun. I love the looks of this curry dish and will try it for sure.

Alessio said...

What can I say... just sobbing. So sad I couldn't be there this year with all of you fabulous friends at FBC. The lovely pics tell it all, your eyes just don't need any words.
Where I can join you is on the curried chicken ;) Pretty shots of your Mijoteuse by the way :)

Jamie said...

@Alessio: Oh, baby, we so missed you and talked about how sad it was that you couldn't be there.

MeetaK said...

so honored that you made this for your men. what did jp say? jamie, you captured the weekend with your lovely words and i am missing you more. i wish we could cook curry together with the rest of the spice girls and share macarons and dvds more often! glad to hear that my information helps - i get carried away at times.

Jamie said...

@Meeta: You have helped me more than any other blogger in so many ways and you know that. And all of your information helps. And I am so missing you and my Spice Girls and wish for the day we can pop over to each other's house whenever we want to cook together, dance together, gossip and all the rest.

JP loved loved the curry! Wished I had used white meat but loved the sauce!

Jenn said...

What a fun event.

I'm making it one of my things to do this year to make curry of some kind. :)

Sarah, Maison Cupcake said...

Oh honey it was so lovely to see you in person and not on my computer screen! It all flew past so quickly but at least we have all these wonderful pictures to dream over and posts to read. I am so proud to feel close to such a passionate creative bunch of people.

I hope you feel fired up and inspired to take that evocative writing of yours to a whole new audience.

See you soon, big hug x

Barbara Bakes said...

What a great group of women. I love the microphone shot. I'm a bit jealous I couldn't be there. The chicken looks fabulous.

Juls @ Juls' Kitchen said...

I could copy all you have writter, paste it on a new document and print a million copies of it to cover up all my bedroom!
This is exactly what I feel, I loved each and every single moment you described, from sensual panna cotta to half empty baggage (RyanAir crew still laughs at my attempt to close my handbag when I was coming back from London!).
I'm very happy to have met you, really proud of this new friendship!
And now, the chicken curry: I must take note of the recipe, its sensual and spicy as I like!
Have a great weekend Jamie!

Valentina said...

I loved reading your post. So beautifully written. the funny thing is that i could kind of hear your voice as I read - a result of the weekend. It was a trully lovely three days. you have said something here that i have talked about : the generosity of the people in the event. People were not afraid to share. it was so wonderful. We live in a world where there is sometimes a lot of take, take, take..and nothing in return. The give without any second motives is refreshing..and truly inspiring. we just talked very briefly and it has made an impression on me. now, i cannot wait till next post: spice girls...what did you guys get up to?? Would love to read about it.

Heather Davis said...

Such a lovely post Jamie! I was so thrilled to have met you and hear you talk about your passion for writing. It really shows in all your work. You must be confident about it woman. It is unique but always authentic. When they say keep it real they are talking about you. Your's was one of the first food blogs I came across and it was your post about food blogging. Your daily routine. It really struck a chord. Thanks for offering your support and friendship so readily. I look forward to the day when we can spend more time together. Hx

Daily Spud said...

Ah, Jamie, you describe our collective food obsessions so well! And what leads us to blog about food is, by extension, what leads us all to the FBC table - to share food and so much more. Someone once told me that a family can be defined as a group of people who eat together - I do believe that makes us all one big, happy FBC family :)

5 Star Foodie said...

The food blogger connect sounds like so much fun! thanks for sharing your experience! The chicken curry sounds terrific, nice & spicy!

Sophie said...

Hello jamie!!

It looked that you all had tons of fun meeting your fellow foodie friends! The pictures look great & so does this tasty spiced up chicken dinner!


Happy Cook said...

Beautiful curry and a beautiful pos too. Loved the post.

Kalyn said...

Great post; I love seeing all the bloggers. Hoping to make it to this next summer!

Srivalli said...

How lovely to see all the bloggers in one place!..and great to know you enjoyed a chicken curry..:)

Deeba PAB said...

Oh what a WONDERFUL post Jamie. Hung on to every word you wrote, missed it all nostalgically, saw myself lurking in the shadows... and absolutely loved the magic you wove into this 'presentation'! WOW!! Wow also to the finger licking curry and the stunning pictures...

lisaiscooking said...

Sounds like a wonderful time meeting and re-meeting fellow bloggers! Funny you should mention traveling with a half empty bag. I think there could be a travel show devoted to travel for the purpose of shopping for and bringing home interesting ingredients.

Delicious-looking curry. The flavor sound lovely with chicken.

elra said...

You look amazing Jaime, so does all of these blogger which I recognize some of them. Wonderful time with wonderful people. That sounds perfect!

Mary said...

Jamie, your post was almost - almost - as good as being there. I'm so envious I'm green. It sounds like a fabulously fun learning experience spent in the company of some really interesting women. Your chicken's not bad either :-). I hope you are having a great day. Blessings...Mary

Barbara @ VinoLuciStyle said...

Such fun seeing all of you together...and pangs of jealousy. I love Twitter but sometimes it's bittersweet that the people I get to know and love are so out of the realm of meeting for coffee on a Saturday morning!

I am making this today. Now. I have it all and am starving for something simple and good and I just bought some basmati rice at Costco which means I have to use it to make room for anything else in the pantry!

I love dishes with curry but even more so now that there is a fantastic spice shop in town that has an entire section devoted to curry spice blends; makes all the difference in the world for me.

Thanks for sharing...the event AND the recipe!

tasteofbeirut said...

I read your post with a lot of interest since I could not be there; maybe next year. Sounds like you got a lot out of it!
Your chicken curry is splendid. I will make it as soon as possible.

Chef Dennis said...

I love your poetic are you!! food is very sensual I do agree with that...and I do love making people happy with my food!
Nice to have found you!

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella said...

What a fantastic opening paragraph. You captured us to a t! :D I so wish I could have been there and met you and all of the other wonderful bloggers!

sarah said...

Hi Jamie, I was so sad to have missed FBC this year. :-( But thanks for posting about it, because I want to stay connected. :-)

About iPhoto, here are ideas Sarah and I have been talking about; tell me if this is useful or if it's all routine to you already.

When I import to iPhoto, one of the options I see is "autosplit events", which I always use because it divides the photos by the day on which they were taken. Then in iPhoto, I break the events down further so there is an event for each meal (or dish) and they are labelled first with a descriptor word. For example, "Food - turkey and tomato stew" or "Friends - Jo's hen party" so that all the food ones are together. (I also use "Restaurant" to distinguish food I didn't make myself.) Then I try to use the keywords to tag the photos as soon as I import them. (At least on the food photos. I don't do too many keywords on my personal photos.) I use the ingredients as key words ("raspberry", "cream cheese") and the final product ("cheesecake"). I also use cutlery keywords. This doesn't take too much time because usually all the photos in an event have similar keywords.

I have been doing all this tagging so that I can make "Smart Albums" by using the keywords as a sorting tool. For example, albums with "asparagus", "peas", and "fork" gets me exactly what I am looking for.

Leave-Room-for-Dessert said...

Perfection Jamie! That first paragraph captures what it is to be a foodie to ABSOLUTE PERFECTION. Arrived w suitcase @ 35lbs, came home with 50lbs plus 25lb carry-on!

Beautiful job capturing the entire weekend, great pics as well. xoxo

theUngourmet said...

This looks such a wonderful experience! You always look so cute! ;)

I can just about taste that delicious chicken curry right now!

Hilda said...

Hey honey, it took me a while to comment even though you *know* I read this right when you posted it, and as always you captured everything so eloquently. I'm really really glad my talk helped, that's the best thing I could have asked for and makes the previous night's midnight cursing at Kang for my having to make more slides all worth it. ;)x

custom kitchen tables said...

It looks like you had a nice meeting and bonding with each other. I like chicken curry by the way. I just tried it and the family loves it.

buffalodick said...

Best looking girl at the table, and for sure the best cook!

Alex said...


I can't wait to try the recipe.

Design Wine and Dine said...

I have all the ingredients to make this in my fridge as we speak. We love spicy and just picked up a huge bag of basmati. Thanks for the inspiration!

Nicisme said...

Great write up and yet another post to make me jealous! So glad you all had a wonderful time, especially with the rest of the Spice Girls!

Mei Teng said...

Hi, I hopped over from Tastespotting. Love the curry chicken pic. Over here (in Malaysia), curry chicken is one of the staple dishes we enjoy.

asiangrrl said...

Jamie, it's so awesome that you have a food blogging community that can support you and help you as you continue on with your food-writing career. And, of course, major props to you for helping organize said community! Keep on rocking with your bad self!

P.S. The chicken looks delectable.

DGrub said...

Nice photos and perfect story telling! What do you think of chicken curry made of boneless chicken thighs instead as shown at
? We would love to hear your comments.


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