Showing posts with label blogging. Show all posts
Showing posts with label blogging. Show all posts

03 March 2014

New! A Word or Two About Blogging

Since I occasionally talk about brands on this blog, I thought it was a good idea to address the issue of food blog ethics.

This blog is totally sponsor-free. But I think it's important to showcase brands that I use and like, especially when they are based in Wisconsin or Michigan, my home states.

14 October 2013

A New Name

I had high hopes seven years ago when I began blogging. I thought I'd experiment with French classics and explore my French and French Canadian culinary roots, talk a bit about my beloved Grandma Annie, and help the college freshman and sophomores I was teaching learn about blogging.

The name I chose was "French Kitchen in America," for that was what I was attempting to create. Our mortgage was paid off, and my husband and I were enjoying traveling to France, exploring Paris and the southwest of France, where we knew someone with a marvelous country home we could rent. I had visions of exploring new food while in France, and recreating the recipes in my own kitchen.

If I'd known what I was doing I'd have started my culinary adventures closer to home. A smaller start with less grandiose plans would have been the wisest course of action and easier for me to maintain when life got complicated.

In fact, my blog became a reflection of my life, which has changed dramatically since June 2006. I quit teaching and writing for a living, took a new job from which I retired last year. It's been nearly a year since my last food post.

I have been eating, of course, and eating rather well, but food has taken a bit of a back seat to my other projects, which include looking after my mother, who is 90 years old and has Alzheimer's Disease. She is in an assisted living facility, and I try to visit 2-3 times a week. I'm her laundry lady and the woman who does her makeup. I love to see her smile and make her laugh. I share these goals with my younger sister.

My sister and I have been attempting to clear her home so we can get it on the market. During the course of that we have learned much about our family and each other. Most of us go through this process, and I recommend it as part of life's more difficult but certainly rewarding activities.

Also during the course of this process, we unexpectedly lost one of my two brothers. If you have lost a sibling, you will understand the layers of this particular type of grief.

You may also understand my particular need for comfort food at this time. Coupled with the onset of cold weather here on the Wisconsin-Michigan border, it is especially fierce. I will need to get back to the gym soon.

I will need to get back to the kitchen soon, too. I miss it. Right now it's just a room I pass through from time to time. Yes, we still eat meals but more often than not, it is my husband who does the cooking. Or it's a grilled cheese sandwich.

Lots of recipes and cookbooks turned up in my mother's pantry, and in an old kitchen table with a drawer that we just sold to a local antique dealer. I hope to make some of them and share the results with you in the next year. We've also encountered some of Grandma Annie's favorites, most of which I no longer consume, but which I will happily share with you.

The blog's new name reflects the neighborhood where my grandmother and mother grew up, the west end of my hometown. More commonly known as "The West End," the neighborhood has its roots in the decades after the Civil War, when French Canadian families left their rocky, Quebec ribbon farms for the promise of prosperity in the textile mills of New England and the lumber towns of the Upper Great Lakes region.

I was lucky to know the West End in the 50s and 60s, when grandparents still spoke French at home and neighbors - often related by bloodlines or Quebec village origins - shared the bounty of backyard gardens.

I dedicate this post to my mother and my late brother (above, with me, in a backyard in Frenchtown), and as always, Grandma Annie.

15 October 2012

A New Venture: Brown-Rice Krispie Bars

I should have chosen a different name for this blog. My intention when I started it in mid 2006 was simply to learn more about classic French cooking.

I also wanted to learn more about blogging so I could help my college freshmen and sophomores add news blogging to their basic journalism skills.

As it turned out, none of them really wanted to blog. They preferred text messaging, which of course has grown by leaps and bounds in the past six years. They liked short and punchy.

Blogs, I eventually figured out, have more appeal to Boomers and Xers. I don't mean to generalize, but that's my observation. That's not to mean that twentysomethings don't blog: They do. In droves. And I love reading their posts and pondering their perspective. My students just didn't jump on the blogging bandwagon.

When I started this blog, I had a fairly flexible schedule, and I could dabble with recipes that were, if not complex, not exactly simple. But that changed when I took a new job. Now, five years later - as you know - I've left that job to "rewire."

What I really want to say here is this: I need another food blog venue. Because I like what I call simple comfort food a lot, especially as cold weather approaches. I want a blog that focuses on experiments with inexpensive meals. It's not always fancy at my house and it's not always French.

I need a place where I can write about my burning desire to elevate things like tuna salad and Tater Tot casserole.

At the same time, I want French Kitchen in America to slowly return to its culinary roots, focusing on rustic French soups and stews and classic provincial dishes. And of course, desserts. I will focus on eating locally as much as possible. Every once in a while I might try something fancy.

A few years ago, I started a blog that I used only occasionally for, uh, let's call it venting. I named it after a post I did here, following a visit to one of my favorite niegborhoods in Paris.

That blog, A Humble Little Cafe, will now become a repository of down-home and sometimes only partly homemade recipes. I make no apologies.

It will also be a spot for experiments. I have time for that now.

My first experiment was Brown Rice Krispie Bars. Not too bad.

11 June 2006

Welcome to my French Kitchen in America

Bienvenue! My name is Mary, but many people call me Mimi.

My kitchen is smaller than those found in rural France but larger than that found in a typical Paris apartment. One window overlooks an ancient horse barn and a grove of cedar trees. The other looks down a small hill.

My cabinets are warm brown and worn from years of use. Appliances are stainless steel and black. Countertops are black, too, and a bit scuffed. Nothing terribly fancy or upscale here.

But, the food is good, mostly. We'll talk more about that later.