I’ll come right out and say that this is the most difficult post I’ve ever tried to write. There’s an ice-breaker for you… In writing this post, my first official entry for Foodbuzz’s Project Food Blog, I’ve been mulling over what to write for over 3 weeks. And though it is the evening before the final day for submissions of the first challenge, one could say that I was procrastinating.
But it’s more than that.
It’s about finding the right words. I’ve started and restarted writing this very post 3 times. It just never seemed right. Until today. But before I get to today, let me take you back in time to how I got my start as a food blogger.
Shortly after I got married almost 4 years ago, I found a home amongst newlywed foodies on a message board housed within a now well-known website called The Nest. We talked about food and life all the time. It was a blissful community. Influenced by the likes of Smitten Kitchen and Culinary Concoctions by Peabody (who was and still is a contributor to the message board), we each started our own food blogs and in April 2007, Smells Like Home was born (under the original name, The Cooking Fiend). Start-up was a slow process but having the support of my newlywed foodie community was the sole driving factor for learning and growing as a food blogger.
Smells Like Home soon starting taking on a different feel for me. It became more of a way to connect with others through food experiences and less about cataloging my own cooking and baking successes and failures. As time went on and food blogging became more popular, it became apparent that another community was forming before my eyes: food bloggers.
As food blogging grew, groups like Daring Bakers emerged; new communities themselves within the food blogging community. These groups intrigued me. I joined Tuesdays with Dorie in its earliest days and soon found that I loved being part of a group blogging towards a common goal. In May 2008, I decided to branch out and form my own group, a community of food bloggers called the Barefoot Bloggers, with the goal of cooking and baking through Ina Garten’s (FoodNetwork’s Barefoot Contessa) cookbooks. Running a group like this hasn’t been easy but I have met some outstanding and inspirational bloggers through this group, like Rebecca of Ezra Pound Cake, who stepped up with an offer to help me keep the group running smoothly. Who does that? She barely knew me.
But that’s what food bloggers do. It’s what strong communities do. I have been an active member of this amazing food blogging community and have been a community-builder and these roles are what define me as a food blogger. My first real-life experience with food bloggers was at the intimate Big Summer Potluck workshop in August. BSP was originally designed as a food blogging event for East Coasters but grew to 40 incredibly talented food bloggers, cookbook authors, and food stylists from all over the country…and it was the first time I truly felt the impact of the food blogging community.
The second time I was struck by this feeling was just today when I attended Cupcake Camp New Haven after hustling around my tiny kitchen the past 2 days baking up 6 dozen cupcakes to bring as an amateur baker. 2000 cupcakes and a delicious afternoon with a community of cupcake bakers; many pro, some home bakers, and probably a few bloggers like me though so many people attended that it was difficult to visit every baker. Though this event wasn’t food blog-driven, it got me to seriously think how a group of people, both online and in real life, can come together with a common goal and instantaneously connect on a level that most new acquaintances aren’t able to connect on. And while there was a contest for prettiest and best cupcakes, this event, very much like Big Summer Potluck, wasn’t about the competition. It was about the community. It was about meeting new people, networking, connecting, supporting. This concept is paramount in the food blogging world.
So as I write this post, I also bring you the chance to check out another recipe from Project Pastry Queen, a new community of food bloggers and non-food bloggers sharing the love of The Pastry Queen cookbook. This 7th Heaven Chocolate Truffle Cake kicked my butt. It was, however, one of the the best cakes I’ve ever made. All 462 cubic inches of it. This was a massive cake that challenged my ability and confidence as a baker like no other cake has. And the result was 12 layers of decadent chocolate cake and truffle filling that knocked the socks off of everyone who tried it. If it weren’t for being a part of the the PPQ community and having the support that goes along with a blogging group such as this one, I never would have attempted to push the limit of my skills. Be sure to check out the PPQ blog for links to results on the other members’ blogs and head over to Sarah’s 20something cupcakes blog for the recipe.
In the 3+ years that I’ve been food blogging, I’ve grown as a cook, a baker, a blogger, a person, and a community member. And it’s the community that makes me the food blogger that I am today. To that end, I have what it takes to be the next food blog star. I blog to share recipes. To share stories about successes, failures, and experiences. But what sets my blog apart from other food blogs is that Smells Like Home isn’t about the glory or the thrill of competition. It’s about the ability to connect with others and help build this ever-growing and inspirational community.
*Voting for this challenge opens on Monday September 20th at 12pm ET.*