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The First ever Food Bloggers of Canada Conference. My take.

The First ever Food Bloggers of Canada Conference. My take.

This weekend I attended the first ever Food Bloggers of Canada Conference at the Hockley Valley Resort in Orangeville, Ontario.

The Food Bloggers of Canada Conference

When it was announced I knew immediately that I was going to be there.

I am not sure what I was more excited about? Meeting Ethan, Mardi and Melissa, the amazing trio behind the FBC? Seeing the faces of those I Tweet with on a daily basis? Meeting the bloggers I didn’t know before my trip to Ontario? The amazing line up of  speakers, we’re talking David Leite, Dianne Jacob, Dana McCauley, Mairlyn Smith, Alexa Clark, Adell Shneer, and many many more. Panels with some of the biggest bloggers in Canada, brands, a panel on publishing, a Chef, tons of tech information, even a book keeper! Or the food and wine that awaited us? Turns out, every second of it was pure epicness. re: Urban Dictionary example #2 ” Another word for epic to describe a monumental event. To the extreme”

The lessons I learnt were many. It was a weekend that far exceed my expectations and I am guessing it will take 4 posts if not more to sum up everything I took away from it.

It’s not that I have been doing it wrong. I feel like I have not been focusing on 100% of the content of my posts. I lean towards making pictures first, the words have become a second thought. The story at times, not being told at all.

David Leite speaking at the Food Bloggers of Canada Conference 2013

David said something that I was so glad to hear.

There is nothing wrong with posts of at least 1000 words.
I think that has been part of what has been holding me back. You often read that it is recommended you keep your posts short and sweet. That long posts are boring and deter people from returning.
Of course, I disagree, a well told story with emotion will garner a readership. I have been cutting it short, editing how much I say, but you just can not tell a story in 300 words or less.
 Not that I was needing permission but hearing that has really changed my focus.
Some of the things he said that really resonated with me were the about the written word.
Notes from the FBC conference w/David Leite.
  You need to love language.
The voice determines the choice of words.
Have someone critique your work.
Punctuation creates rhythm.
Write about what you are passionate about.
Saying that, David Tweeted me Wednesday morning, I was very touched by his opening of the Q & A session on Saturday when he mentioned his gramdmother. It was one of the moments over the weekend that brought me to tears. I could so relate to his emotion in those moments. How powerful the love we both have for our grandmothers and how food can bring those thoughts back to us immediately, just from a smell, or a technique we learnt in their kitchen.
He had mentioned  that my latest post was touching. Which I was glad to hear. But in reflection it did not evoke enough emotion for him leave a response on the blog. So I know where I need to do the work.

I want to find a voice where everyone can relate and respond.
He was a fantastic speaker and I am so glad he was asked to be at the conference. The lessons I took away from his words are very much appreciated. And exactly what I needed to hear.
Now to do the work, and find my voice.
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Cookies made with Canola Oil. Iced Almond Gems.

Cookies made with Canola Oil. Iced Almond Gems.

What does canola mean to me?

Garden on Nutmeg Disrupted just north of Grande Prairie Alberta

Canola field just north of Grande Prairie Alberta

Combines in a canola field just north of Grande Prairie Alberta

One of the big things it means for me is bumble bees. And with that it means bumper crops from my little backyard paradise! There is nothing better then driving through the country in the summer with fields of golden yellow dotting the landscape for miles around. I imagine it would be quite a fantastic view from the air.

I live across the road from a Canola farmer, the shot with the rainbow is off my back deck.

It also means my go to Christmas cookie is eligble for a shot at winning a trip to the Food Bloggers Conference in April of 2013 thanks to the Manitoba Canola Growers and the Food Bloggers of Canada though the My Cookies are the Best Contest!

I have talked about these sweet little tender gems before. They are a fantastic, quick to make cookie using ingredients that eveyone already has in their pantry. No butter needed, these awesome cookies are made with canola oil!  And you can decorate them for any season or occasion which makes them the perfect cookie!

The dough in this recipe is very user friendly so this is a great cookie to make with the kids!

Iced Almond Gems

2 1/2 cups of flour

2 teaspoons of baking powder

1/2 teaspoon of salt

3 eggs

1/2 cup of sugar

1/2 cup of canola oil

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 teaspoon of almond extract

Grease 2 cookie sheets or line with parchment paper  and set aside. In a bowl stir the flour, baking powder and salt together.  Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl beat the eggs, sugar, oil, vanilla and almond extract with an electric mixer until combined. Beat in the flour mixture until combined.

Using about a teaspoon of dough, roll into a ball,  and place on the cookie sheet spacing about  1 inch apart.

Bake at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes or until lightly golden. Move to a wire rack to cool.

While cookies are cooling, prepare the icing.

Cookies made with canola oil

Icing Recipe

1 cup of icing sugar

1/4 teaspoon of almond extract

2 – 4 teaspoons of water

Combine until smooth. Adjust with a few drop of water if you do find it to thick. Or add more sugar if you find it too thin. A thicker icing will stick better to the cookies.

Dip each cookie into the icing. Sprinkle with non pareils or a colored sugar!

Iced Almond Gems. Cookies made with canola oil.

Allow to dry for about 20 minutes before handling.

They are definitely one of my favorite cookies and one that everyone really enjoys!

I hope you will also.

A cookie tray featuring Iced Almond Gems, made with canola oil.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Midnight Mass Festival of Trees Grande Prairie 2011

Midnight Mass Festival of Trees Grande Prairie 2011

The smell of gingerbead is in the air!

Midnight Mass GBH Festival of Trees Grande Prairie

As with the end of fall the gingerbread season begins.

Midnight Mass GBH Festival Of Trees Grande Prairie

Since 2006 I have been a regular contributor to the Festival of Trees in Grande Prairie and have been looking forward to this years festival. There is nothing better to get one in the Christmas mood then spending a few hours in a magical winter wonderland!

Grande Prairie Festival of Trees 2011

And this year does not disappoint! Being the first big Christmas event of the season, Evergreen Park is decked out in fantastic Christmas splendor! I wish I would have taken my tripod as they have the most amazing new display that needs to be captured.

There are now 2 blooming cherry blossoms trees in the gala.

This is a shot from under the branches. Only one word can describe these trees.

Stunning

If I can find the lights I am seriously considering constructing one for my front yard. Covered in a light snow, it would be the sweetest Christmas light display on the street.

As the name implies, there are many gorgeous trees at the festival but if I could take one home this year, it would be the tree below.  It is part of a very nicely done display from The Grinch. The team that put the display together did an outstanding job!

Festival Of Trees Grande Prairie

I love how the top hangs down, like the ornaments are far to heavy for the tree.  Just realzing now I should have spoken with the decorators to see where they found this little gem. And now the more I think about it the crazier it will drive me. I must find a tree like that.

Anyway, where was I?

 

This years build was quick and efficent, by far the easier of  the houses I have done.

As this years “house” was a church I wanted to keep it clean and simple.

Midnight Mass GBH Festival of Trees Grande Prairie

I made a few design changes along the way, it was going to be a rock covered structure but it just did not have the look I was aiming for.  I sided a few sections with the rock and after a few hours of looking at it I knew it had to go.

Gingerbread house 2011

As always I went with a few of my signatures, the candles in a least one window.  Numerous wreaths. And of course there is always room for at least one Rolo tree. Sometimes disguised as poinsettias. Cute and the perfect size for any gingerbead house setting.

Not a lot needs to be said so I have just chosen an assortment of shots from the piece.

However I will be doing a Gingerbread 101 in the beginning of December on the FBC website! If you have any questions about any of my GBH builds, techniques or anything gingerbread please do drop me an email  in the next week so I am sure to cover topics people would be interested in knowing how to do.

With great pride Midnight Mass took 1st place as Judge’s Choice again this year! Which means it will be sold this evening at the live auction! Last year Sugar Plum’s sold for an outstaing $600, would it not be fantastic if we broke that record tonight!

We also took home third place as decorators choice!

If you do pop into the Festival this weekend, please do vote for the People’s Choice award!

Thanks for stopping by! I hope you enjoy Midnight Mass.

Midnight Mass GBH Festival of Tress Grande Prairie

Midnight Mass GBH Festival Of Trees Grande Prairie

Midnight Mass GBH Festival of Trees Grande Prairie

Midnight Mass GBH Festival of Trees Grande Prairie

Midnight Mass GBH Festival Of Trees Grande Prairie

Midnight Mass GBH

Midnight Mass GBH festival of Trees Grande Prairie

1st place Judge's Choice Midnight Mass GBH Festival Of Trees 2011

Midnight Mass Festival of Trees Grande Prairie

Midnight Mass GBH Festival of Trees Grande Prairie

Midnight Mass Festival of Trees Grande Prairie 2011
 
This is the recipe I use for all my gingerbread construction.
Author:
Recipe type: Construction Grade Gingerbread
Cuisine: seasonal
Ingredients
  • 1 cup shortening
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup molasses
  • 2 eggs
  • 5 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon ground ginger
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon ground cloves
Instructions
  1. In a large bowl, cream shortening and sugar until light and fluffy.
  2. Beat in molasses and eggs.
  3. Combine dry ingredients; gradually add to creamed mixture.
  4. Divide dough into thirds and wrap in plastic wrap.
  5. *To make this non construction grade – add 2 teaspoons baking powder, 1 teaspoon baking soda, and 1 teaspoon salt.
  6. A good tip for making gingerbread walls is to use cookie sheets that have no edges.
  7. It makes for much easier removal when you can slide them right off.
  8. I lightly spray my cookie sheets with a non stick spray and roll the dough directly onto the sheets. Roll the dough to a cm thick.
  9. Place the pattern on the dough.
  10. Using a ruler and a sharp knife cut out the walls.
  11. Place the cookie sheets into the refrigerator to chill for 25 minutes.
  12. This helps prevent the walls from spreading.
  13. Bake at 350° for 10-14 minutes or until lightly browned.
  14. When done remove immediately to a cooling rack.
  15. Once your walls are done you can get ready to do the siding.

 

 

 

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