Sunday, April 04, 2010

Orangette

One of the first food blogs I ever read was Orangette, and I think Molly Wizenberg's blog is an inspiration for many food bloggers, myself included - she's been at it since 2004.   In fact, I think "Orangette" could actually be termed a phase of food blogging - the Orangette phase is when a person first becomes aware of food blogging.  Then, a would-be food blogger thinks they can do it themselves and starts writing one - many food blogs die on the vine right here.  I can't tell you how many folks tell me they have started a food blog and I dutifully add it to my reader list to watch a few posts happen and then....nothing.   I am not sure why so many bloggers don't make it past the beginning.  Sometimes, I think it might be too narrow of a focus...it is difficult to fashion an entire food blog around a short lived Weston A. Price devotion brought to a tragic end by a Twinkie binge, or a raw food diet a menopausal writer has suddenly adopted because it's a legitimate, healthy sounding way to return to the eating disorder she had when she was a teen to lose weight.  So, my advice to any fledgling food blog writer is to keep your focus broadly on food.    Because it might be entertaining to read about the Twinkie binge in a blog post.  And that's the next phase of blogging...building a readership.  Getting folks to read your blog is another phase of food blogging - I recommend telling your friends about your blog, commenting on other blogs and linking to your blog, joining blogging networks like the Michigan Lady Food Bloggers or  Tigress Can Jam or Daring Bakers/Cooks. 

Eventually, I moved on from Orangette's blog...I can't really remember why I got tired of it, but I did.  Another blog I used to read all the time was Smitten Kitchen.  However, the other day I picked up Molly Wizenberg's book about her blog called A Homemade Life, and I think I might have a clue why I stopped. The book starts out wonderfully, and I love what she writes about growing up and learning about food from her father.   However, the second half of the book is all about her new husband and how wonderful he is, and the climax of the book is her wedding day!   This is the same mistake a young Martha Stewart made in her early cooking books, too.  She always wrote these gushing things about her wonderful husband Andy, and "Mr. Wonderful" ended up leaving her for her young assistant in midlife.   So no matter how charmed a life you live, writing like that day after day ends up sounding like a braggy year round Christmas letter.   Same thing with Smitten Kitchen - I quit reading that one when all she would write about is the fabulous free vacation she received in Club Med for writing a food blog.   The recipes in the beginning of the book, before she met Brandon, are better sounding to me than the ones in the end of the book.   Despite what she considers his amazing palate, I think the recipes once he shows up on the scene aren't thing's I want to make.  Perhaps it's because he is a vegetarian, or is really particular about vinegars.   I am not sure.   However, Molly's book reminded me of the great recipes on Orangette.   I understand that together, Brandon and Molly have opened up a pizza restaurant in Seattle called Delancey and perhaps the real life experience of owning a business together will tone down the posts about how terrific Brandon is.  It's a different life once you have to work for a living, and running a restaurant is a totally different experience than cooking at home.   I am going to have to start reading it again...Molly is a wonderful food writer.

There are lots of wonderful sounding recipes in this book, but I am not sure I want to own it.  Luckily, most of the the recipes I want to try are all on the Orangette blog:

Blueberry-Raspberry Pound Cake - a great idea for this summer, when I can't figure out what to do with them all
Banana Bread with chocolate and Crystallized Ginger - love chocolate and banana together
Chocolate Cupcakes with Bittersweet Glaze - it's this recipe, but she subs yogurt in for the buttermilk and glazes them with 8 oz. bittersweet chocolate, melted.  I think that sounds like an excellent way to top a cupcake.
Stewed Prunes - and here I thought I was the only person in the world that loved prunes!
Buckwheat Pancakes - not found on the blog, but I found it on Culinate.
Vanilla Bean Buttermilk Cake with Glazed Oranges - not the exact same recipe is on her blog, but close
Coconut Macaroons with Chocolate Ganache
Bouchons Au Thon - made from canned tuna - perfect for a day when there's nothing to eat around.
French Style Yogurt Cake with Lemon - the recipe that enticed her future husband
Roasted Eggplant Ratatouille - I can't find this recipe out there anywhere, but the trick is to roast the eggplant sliced for 30 minutes on 400 F, flipping halfway through.  It would be good to make when I'm up to my ass in tomatoes come summer
Ed Fretwell Soup - made when her dad was sick, sounds like a great winter recipe
Doron's Meatballs with Pine Nuts, Cilantro and Golden Rasins - I am always looking for more recipes that use ground meat.
Scottish Scones with Lemon and Ginger - the not too sweet kind of scone, just the kind I like!
Slow Roasted Tomatoes with Coriander - see above item reference about up to my ass in tomatoes...what to do with...etc.
Pickled Grapes - couldn't find it on Oragnette, but I found it here. If I like them, I'll figure out how to can them safely
Winning Hearts and Minds Cake - in the book she uses only regular butter, and suggests that the cake improves with freezing.

4 comments:

TeacherPatti said...

It always surprises me when women gush about their husbands like that. I love my husband very much, but I would survive if he were to leave me. I have a job and income, a set of friends and hobbies and I am able to take care of myself. Of course I don't ever want us to divorce!! But I never put all of my self into him--or anyone else--like that. Honestly, that kind of gushing makes me uncomfortable...I would wonder how the husband in question feels. Jeff would be completely squicked out if I gushed on and on about him...he doesn't want some little girl as his wife--he wants a grown ass woman who sees him as a love partner and not the be all end all of this world.

mllenoelle said...

You know what's weird? I never read ANY food blogs prior to starting mine. In fact I never read blogs at all. I only had the vaguest notion of them, which is probably why it took me so long to start one. Too bad, since I think much of the success of certain popular food blogs (Amateur Gourmet; Cooking with Amy) has to do with them being first on the scene. I read many food blogs now, but I'm a little bit glad I didn't read any before starting because I think it would've intimidated me- i.e. "I'll never be that good a photographer/ writer/ cook so why even bother..."

I made those slow-roasted tomatoes but I did them overnight in a very low oven. I froze some and just polished them off yesterday. I originally used them in a tart which turned out really good, I think I wrote about it last September.

Too bad the online book club didn't last- that would've been a good one. I got annoyed a bit too by the end at how "charmed" everything was. I think she's just one of those Pollyanna everything's-coming-up-roses types whereas I prefer people who have a little edge to them.

Tricia said...

Food blogs were some of the first blogs I read - but I never stumbled onto Orangette. Actually, I read blogs that linked to or mentioned her, but it never got on my A List. I do remember abandoning blogs - there was one that I really liked at first, in part because of her writing style, but then her writing style got all forced and fabulous! gushing! wonderful! and I got annoyed so dropped it. Of course she's one of the bloggers that ended up with a book deal (and a chef husband), so I guess my judge of writing style is not the same as a publisher's.

canning tomatoes said...

WOW! A lot of recipes. thank you for the links!