OFFICIAL LIVE BLOG: Foodblogging in a Time of Recession

Session Description: FoodBloggers may just be uniquely qualified to help the rest of us make the most of the comforting ritual and economizing potential of cooking. In this economy, how can FoodBloggers stay relevant…and actually provide a public service…whether they’re blogging about Crockpotting or Gourmet Cooking? Join award-winning foodblogger Elise Bauer and the woman who brought Bento-box lunches back again, Deborah Hamilton, as well as Hetal Jannu, who video blogs how to make simple, easy-to-follow Indian recipes, wine blogger Michelle Lentz, who documents and promotes local wine events, and Stephanie O'Dea, who created crockpot-friendly (and budget-friendly) recipes for her family over the course of a year, for an in-depth discussion on the benefit of home cooking (and how they make it so interesting)!

Intros:

Hetal from Show Me the Curry -We are a video blog that shows how to cook Indian recipes. It is food that you would eat in a restaurant but you can make at home for less.

Michelle Lentz - I'm the only wine blogger up here - and that includes beer and spirits too. I've recently started a recession wines series. I feature a different great wine under $20 every week.

Deb Hamilton: Lunch in a Box: My site has a forum to share coupons and a Bento box locator.

Stephanie O'Dea - A Year of Slow Cooking. I started using a slow cooker as a fiancee and that is how I learned to cook.

Elise Bauer/Simply Recipes: I started cooking with my parents, my site started as me learning how to cook with them. They grew up in the depression so that is how we cook.

 

 Questions: "Hi I', Jessie Langston from To Kiss the Cook.com. One of the favorite things I've seen from recession cooking blogs are the clean out the pantry posts. I would love to hear from some of the bigger blogs about ingredients that can be repurposed.

Stephanie: I always have canned beans on hand. Some purists don't like beans but I always pick them up on sale. Beans are a great snack for the kids and great to have on hand. I'm not the best on spices, Hetal is the better one to talk to.

Hetal: A lot of Indian cuisine is baesd on a base from tomatoes, ginger and can take hours to make. We make a big batch and freeze it to save time.

Elise: We save our chicken bones after we eat any type of chicken dish. We never buy boneless/skinless unless it is a recipe for the site. We save the bones, put them in a freezer bag in the freezer and when we have enough bones we make stock. Even if we don't have stock prepared, if we have bones, we can make stock easily. Stock is something you can just ignore for a few hours and it will make itself. 

Stephanie: And if you're buying a rotisserie chicken, you can definitely save the carcasse.

Elise: This is not the Thomas Keller way of making stock, but I like that layer of fat in there as it keeps the stock well in the refrigerator. It will protect the stock from bacteria in the refrigerator.  I want to do an article about how fat is so good for you.

Michelle: Don't waste your wine. My mom will drink half a bottle of wine and pitch it. If you think that you won't drink the wine, it's been open for 2 or 3 days, just pour it in an ice cube tray and freeze it. Then you can marinate your meat with it or use it in your crockpot.

Deb: Keep a food inventory system. If you can see your food in the pantry, or know what's in there, you will better plan your meals and won't let food go to waste. There are all kinds of meal planners out there. With a food inventory system, yuo can be as high or low tech as you want, just to know what's in your kitchen. Then you won't overbuy.

Elise: There are also whole spices like cardamon and nutmeg. They will last much longer than grated spices.

Stephanie: Once a Month Mom and Five Dollar Mom are here too.

Five Dollar Mom: I host a weekly challenge every week: the $5 challenge to have people post how they made dinner for $5. I cook like that every night. I also share shopping the circulars tips and other grocery shopping strategies. 

Once a Month Mom: Hi, I'm Tricia, once a month mom. Once a month, I cook with a friend for 8 hours to prepare 10 breakfasts, 10 lunches, and 15 dinners then I post it on my site with ingredients and instructions about what each person does. I use other's recipes, so please share them with me, even if you don't know how to freeze them because I can figure that out for you.

It Ain't Me Babe - I do vegetarian recipes and have been tying in my gardening. It's a great way to save money instead of buying prepared veggie foods at the supermarket.

Esti/Shtetls and strollers - I blog about Kosher foods and if you need to know anything about what symbols mean, please come to my blog. Every week we make a meal for Shabbat and then eat leftovers until Wednesday.

Kitchen Gadget Girl: Lately I have been going back to basics, canning. Also, I've been cooking with the season more and that is influencing my neighbors.

Wine Me and Dine Me in Cincinnati: I do a wide range of restaurant reviews. I then get a wide range of people. When I find a good restaurant deal, I post about it.

Question: I have a mommy blog. I also cook. Should I add food to your blog?

Stephanie: If you focus your blog to just food, you will pop up more with the search engines.

Michelle: I advise people to find their focus. But you should also always be human.

 Question: Joseph Figlio - I am not a food blogger, but my tip for saving money is to buy a big bag of rice, some wine vinegar and some sugar and you can repurpose many meals by making a big pot of sushi rice. It lasts a month or two.

Deb: You can freeze rice. There has been a lot of controversy about that but you can definitely do it. Just do it quickly after cooking it.

Question: How do you manage to do your food styling and actually eat.

Stephanie: Last year, my pictures stank. Someone told me get a $20 amazon photo studio. It totally changed my pictures.

Elise: A fixed 50MM lens is great for food photographer. You can't zoom in or out, but it's great for food. You might as well get the $85 lens because if you break it, it doesn't cost that much to replace.

Michelle: You don't need a DSLR. I have a point and shoot and I take pictures of the wine. I have a bigger point and shoot. It is a hybrid. It has a food setting built into it.

Elise: Just make sure you don't have the flash on. There is nothing uglier than that flash on food.

Comment: I take my food outside. I switched to the natural light. Used the macro setting. And I get so many compliments on my food.

Debbie from Mamanista.com: How do you combine food blogging in the recession with the desire to eat organic. How has the recession impacted green cooking.

Elise: I garden. That's organic. I compost. I buy whole chickens too. A lot of people are really committed with eating organic, but they're confronted with budgets.

Michelle: with wine, you can also drink green. I live in Cincinnati and there are wineries nearby. A lot of your local farmers are organic or bio-organic vintners. Also, and this may be radical, but buy wine in a box. Buy wine in a tetrapack. It's not bad wine and it will last you three months. Do not judge the wine based on the package.

Deb: Also on my blog, I have freezing tips. Freeze in small portions. If you make a freezeburg, you won't use the leftovers as often.

Elise: Find ethnic grocery stores. Everything is so much cheaper. Seafood at Asian market is so much fresher and so much cheaper too. That is post worthy.

Question: I love Whole Foods. I recently did a post about how to save money there. I stick to the perimeter. I buy fruit in season and I buy meat that is on sale. Now I buy the ingredients, fresh, local, in season and then go to FoodBlogsearch to pick my recipe.

Elise: Does everyone know about food blog search? I created with Google a custom search engine that has 3,000 food blog search. I handpicked the sites. I don't want to go to AllRecipes.com.

Question: I'm interested in making my own baby food.

Steph: Use your crockpot. You can make organic yogurt with whole food in your crockpot. My site will walk you through it.

Deb: And make small portions. If you make a lot of it and freeze it in the cubes, it will develop freezerburn fast and then you will have to throw it out. Instead of using the foodsaver, just put a straw inside the ziplock bag and you will have the poor man's food saver.

Question - Jennifer from Savor the Thyme - I like to eat organic but my husband freaks out from the cost. But anything with thick skins we don't eat organic. There are lists of what you should eat organic and what is not necessary. That's a great way to save money.

Cathy from Cathy It's Real Food - I set a budget of $126 for last November, including Thanksgiving dinner and I came in under budget at $115. (my MIL brought the turkey). I cut my budget massively by planning on what I will be eating for the week down to an apple on Tuesday. I also cut down my portions by not being so pressured to finish everything. I also cut down the amount of meat I order.

Comment: Look up JustFood.org to do a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture). There's a lot of ways to support local growers. I get local produce delivered to my house every week.

Comment: My name is Jennifer. I write In Jennie's Kitchen. I was so upset a month ago when the NY Dining section dining editor wrote about how he could not afford sustainable cooking and I think that is so important. You can eat local, you can eat organic, you just need to think about it. Eat ground organic meat instead of a steak. Buy huge lots of strawberries and freeze them. Food does not have to travel that many miles for you to enjoy it. Also in NYC, it is becoming more popular to do food exchanges like with extra CSA produce or when people have fruit trees.

Question: Can you explain the photo studio thing?

Steph: It is a box with a light, and a white piece of curved paper.

Elise: Another great thing is Picnik.com which is great for editing and is free. You can get a free 3 months extra features membership downstairs in the expo hall.

Deb: Irfanview is also great to edit pictures.

 

 

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