I hope you are in a party mood today. I am! And I have cake. It’s a special week for me as this space here - my blog - just turned 6. If we were to talk blog years that would be something like … 60. Back in February 2006 I had the ingenious idea of starting a blog.
Not really knowing what I was getting myself into or what awaited me, I made a few clicks and within minutes I entered the world, at that time still small, community of food blogging. My first post went up with just a rough idea of what I wanted to do. There was no thought to the photography or the styling and by no means was I expecting much: my main focus was to play around with recipes and my food experiments in the kitchen. But then I got my first comment and as I took an adventurous step out I discovered others who shared a similar passion.
Back in 2006 one had a pretty good overview of who was in the food community. I will probably sound like my own grandma, who, bless her soul, was always telling us how things were better in the good old days. Well in the good old days of blogging there was something very personal about the community. Most of us knew each other, we were keen on helping each other and one did not feel like one was in a whirlwind rat race.
WFLH has been a revelation for me. It has taught me immensely - practical things, like HTML and back office care taking, but I also learned a lot about myself. I learned where my limits are and I learned how to tackle those limits making me stronger and more patient.
What is inconceivable to me however, is how this blog has offered me a stepping stone to something I never thought was ever drawn in my path. Six years and I found a new love and passion. I invested a lot of time sharpening and honing the skills to learn whatever I could about food photography and eventually food styling. The combination worked and one thing lead to another - first dipping my toes and soon I was knee deep. The hobby has now turned into something slightly more professional that I am pursuing to my best abilities.
This blog has been good to me. But it’s been a lot of hard work too and the amount of time spent has been immense. However, the process taught me a few valuable lessons along the way, which I am pretty sure many will relate to.
- You have a day job, which you totally need to pay those bills and buy those high heels, handbags and the new lens. When you get home all you really want to do is order Sushi, watch Desperate Housewives and surf the sofa with a glass of wine.
Instead what do you do?
You begin to stress about creating content for the blog. So, you end up cooking up an extravagant meal, stressing about the light factor to take any decent pictures of the food and stay up late writing up a post. The weekend is spent trying to create more content for the blog and you begin to photograph everything you cook while your family waits impatiently to be fed. Sound familiar?
After six years I would like to think I have become a little more relaxed about the blog. I think I have. I blog less and concentrate on quality rather than quantity. The focus of my blog evolved over the six years and I pay finer detail to the images I am taking and indulge more in the writing. I do not stress too much about traffic, instead I value those of you who loyally come back here, post upon post, spending time to read what I am writing and taking the time to share your thoughts with me.
- What’s the secret to successful blogging? I get asked that question, or a variation of the question, so often! I guess people expect me to share some mega Guru-like SEO trick or give them some practical lessons on how to successfully market the blog.
The truth is - there is no trick. At least there wasn’t for me. I blogged and still blog because I love to. I enjoy so many aspects of blogging and have invested the time because it was a passion. WFLH was also giving me so much in return - new friends, discovering new facets and collecting a pool of knowledge in a variety of subjects.
There were however lessons I learned along the way that I now use. The most important lesson: make sure the content of the blog is of a high standard. Engage your readers and keep them coming backing for more. Share your personality with integrity on your blog and blog about things you feel comfortable with and not about something you think will bring traffic to your blog.
- One of the most cherished things about blogging is the wonderful people I have met and meet along the way. Some deeper friendships have been formed, others bring a ray of sunshine into my world each day and others are quietly watching and somehow I know they are there rooting for me - genuinely.
Six years ago before the social networking world of Twitter, Facebook and co. took over we communicated via email or the blog. Today one tries to cram everything into 140 characters because it's easier, faster. Oh I am very guilty of this too. However, social networking via Twitter and Facebook has introduced me to some pretty cool people that I have come to adore. Of course it also provides a whole new platform to market the blog too. But like everything else - the most important lesson here is to use this platform with integrity and sincerity.
Be yourself! Do not open up your entire life on Twitter, but do show your charm, charisma and personality. Soon you will find people that share your own interests and thoughts, leading to maybe exciting and special friendships. It’s not only about pushing the blog on these platforms.
Six years and I am still loving doing what I do here. I guess that is my secret to successful blogging.
So, for those of you who like coming around here and enjoy what I do, I am sharing cake with you! It’s a first of sorts for me. I have never actually made a Martha Stewart recipe before, at least not intentionally. However the recipe for the Almond and Orange Yogurt cake did get my attention as it uses semolina flour in the batter. Adding semolina flour to cake batter gives the cake a lovely distinct texture.
Semolina flour comes from Durum wheat which has been ground into flour. The resulting product is high in gluten and is used for making pasta and breads. The range of its uses however, is not limited to bread and pasta. It is used also in pastries, porridges, soups, cakes and desserts. Semolina is very popular in Indian cuisine and you will find it is often used to make sweets and desserts.
Semolina flour comes in various grades, which can be categorized into coarse, fine and superfine grades. To make this cake I suggest using the superfine grade semolina flour.
I made some changes to the recipe by using vanilla bean in the syrup as well as in the cake so that the flavor pairing with the orange was more pronounced. I also used orange juice instead of water to make the syrup. Finally, hazelnuts gave a more rustic flavor instead of the sweeter almonds used in the original recipe. I also used more orange zest than specified in the original recipe and instead of serving it with yogurt I just made more syrup and offered to drizzle extra over the cake while serving.
The modified cake turned out just the way I hoped it would. I wanted it to be more rustic but the flavors to be bolder and more distinct. I omitted serving it with the yogurt because it was a layer of flavor that I preferred not to have with this cake - I wanted the cake to be all about the semolina, orange and vanilla.
Thank you to everyone who has supported me and this blog over the years. It means a lot to know that I am part of a wonderful community and look forward to spending many more years with you. Cin cin!
Over on the Plate to Page website we are sharing a fantastic assignment from two of our Tuscany participants.
Denise Kortlever and Hayley Harland, two energetic and lovely participants from our Tuscany 2011 Workshop created a interesting piece as part of their main assignment during the workshop. The assignment was to write and photograph for an article titled "Eating in Tuscany" in the style of a magazine about women's health. Hope you enjoy it.
If you are closer to Dubai however then maybe you would like to join me over at Nasimi Beach, Atlantis, The Palm for a 2-day Workshop, focusing exclusively on food photography and styling.
The details are as follows:
When: Tuesday 3rd and Wednesday 4th April
Where: Nasimi Beach, Atlantis, The Palm, Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Your Instructor: Meeta K. Wolff
Your Host: Sally Prosser
Here is a peek at the outdoor location!
More cake from WFLH:
|Coconut Lemon Cake||Chocolate Valentino||Orange Mascarpone Quark Torte|
All photographs and written content on What's For Lunch, Honey? © 2006-2012 Meeta Khurana Wolff unless otherwise indicated. | All rights reserved | Please Ask First