Monday, October 8, 2012

How food blogging changed my life

Every other week, my Mom Moments column appears in the Northwest Indiana Times. There wasn't room for the whole text his week, so I'm sharing it here. Cheers to all the other foodie moms out there. :)

How food blogging changed my life
Like most people, I enjoy a good meal, but in the last year, I’ve began to develop a better appreciation for the food that sustains us. I’ve learned more about where it comes from and the passion of those who produce it and prepare it.
In the spring of 2011, my sister, Becky, had a cooking party at her house in the west suburbs. She had taken gourmet cooking classes in the past and she is a world traveler who has been everywhere from France to Fuji, Austria to Australia, Poland to Prague. In her travels, she is always excited about trying new foods. I haven’t been lucky enough to travel as much as she has, but her passion for food is contagious. So, at this cooking party she had, there were some last minute cancellations and it ended up being just four of us. One other couple was there – a former sous chef and his wife. It worked out very well as more people would have been really been a hindrance. Four fit perfectly in the kitchen as we each went about a different task of making the meal, which included a savory salad of greens and goat cheese with a homemade vinaigrette, a meat empanada, chicken buerre blanc and a dessert of fresh fruit crepes with homemade whipped cream. Julia Child would have been proud. We created a visually appealing and delicious French meal and had a blast in the process.
As we enjoyed our meal, I suggested to my sister that we start a food blog, to share recipes and reviews some of the wonderful restaurants we’ve visited. On July 1, Chicago Foodie Sisters (CHICAGOFOODIESISTERS.BLOGSPOT.) was born.
It got off to a slow start, but it was instantly something I was in love with and was way more than just another writing gig to get done. I started looking at the whole world differently. I planned out meals differently and started to experiment more in the kitchen. I started to follow other food bloggers, who offered great tips and ideas, and were a whole new group of online friends and a valuable resource to go to when I was stumped in the kitchen or wanted to learn more about what some eateries were serving. And soon I was posting something every single day.

Over the past year the blog has evolved. I now seldom eat a restaurant meal without taking a picture first (which sometimes annoys the family and friends I dine with.) I’m spending more time in the kitchen at home and loving it. Cooking isn’t a chore, it’s a joy. I visited farmer’s markets with such gusto this past summer. I’m being contacted by companies that are introducing me to new food products. I’m attending more media events where I’m visiting new restaurants, meeting chefs and enjoying seeing their personalities and how they translate into what they prepare and trying so many new foods. So, my life has been changed big-time by writing this blog in ways other than the extra couple of pounds that have made their way onto my waistline. It’s also given me an identity other than “mom.” Being a mom is for sure priority number one, but my kids are getting bigger and while my life still revolves so much around them, this has become something I can enjoy that gives me an opportunity to dine out and interact with other adults and not have to cut up food for anyone else or wipe chins or engage in conversation about PTA or soccer practice or homework. It’s a part of my life that is all me.

Off the top of my head, here are a few of the things I’ve learned over the past year. Before starting the blog I had never eaten quail or jicama or golden beets or fois gras or duck or goat cheese or cremini mushrooms or ancho chile or truffle oil or balsamic vinegar. I had never cooked on a wood plank before. I didn’t know the difference between pinot noir and pinot grigio. I never would have ordered a salad with watermelon or pistachios in it, but there are so many combinations that are magical. And the best part is that there is always so much more to learn and try and experience and I am cherishing the ride.

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