Friday, September 19, 2008

...finding my feet}

Um... missing something aren't we?

That's right, don't you dare forget my cheese!

Does anyone else out there struggle with their footing as a blogger? What I mean is, who am I as a blogger? What is my brand? When you click on to this blog, what is it that you will find? and for that matter -what is it that you are after?

It never ceases to amaze me that the posts I almost don't do, the ones I think twice about, always have seemed to garner the most attention. The ones I think no one will care about, for some reason always seem to be the biggest hits. Case in point, the Peanut Butter Popcorn. It is just embarrassingly easy, and at the time I posted it I felt sure I must have been the last person on Earth to think of this idea {I was relieved to see so many of you, like me, had never thought of it before}.

I also get so many requests for easier meals, cheaper, quicker meals. So I often find myself in a tug-of-war between the type of audience that has been with me from the start: People trying to put a healthy nice meal on the table pronto. On the other side are Foodies, the ever craving, food hungering bunch who look to push the limits of food and test the boundaries of where you can take it. It seems they always crave more, something new, something they've never seen or heard of. -And I feel capable to give it to them. But I love home chefs so much too. I sometimes feel like I don't know who I am anymore, because I am capable of more, but should I just keep it simple?

Ben keeps telling me to just be true to myself. I don't know what that means right now though. I guess initially I was hoping to be the best of both worlds, quick and easy, but still gourmet. I was hoping to show people that fancy meals {though if you use the word 'fancy' -it automatically takes away the fancy -am I right or am I right or am I right? right} can be quick and simple. It's all about dressing it up just right with a few quick touches.

It is a struggle for me, and I'm sure many of you other food bloggers out there. And for those of you who aren't food bloggers, perhaps you can still relate with just the simple pondering on finding your feet in another area of your life... or just in life in general.


As promised, here is the Roasted Sauce I did for the Cannelloni. It turned out famously. I roasted Tomatoes, Red Peppers, and Tamarillos. If you've never tried a Tamarillo, here is what they look like

They are a fruit I believe that originated from South America, but now are commonly grown in New Zealand and even locally. They used to be known as 'tree tomatoes' -I know there has always been laughs and debate on whether a tomato is a fruit or vegetable {it's a fruit.. right?}, but Tamarillos taste like a tomato would if it were a TRUE fruit, as in, if it were a fruit you would eat like you do the other pieces of fruit. If you must know, it tastes, to me, like the love child between a tomato and a passion fruit. So I thought the sweet -yet savory-ness of it would lend well to my sauce.

Don't think for one second you can't make this sauce without them! In fact, you could make this sauce without the red peppers too. It is all about using what you have and what you like, roasting it up, and then peeling and simmering it with some herbs. It's simple. And Gourmet. See -it's possible.

Roasted Tomato Red Sauce {with Red Peppers and Tamarillos}

About 10 roasted tomatoes

10ish basil leaves or 1 tsp dried basil

1/2 onion, sliced

3-4 cloves garlic, minced

1 red pepper / capsicum {I used 3 of those little tiny ones}

3 Tamarillos {optional}

1/4 c. mushrooms {also optional, I sauteed 1/2 a sliced portabella and added them in for the last serving of sauce just to see, it was good!}

Olive Oil


Red Wine, about 1/2 cup, I forgot I was going to add it in but won't make the same mistake next time

Prep the produce by washing and removing stems / seeds. Cut slits in the bottoms of the tomatoes and tamarillos. Drizzle with olive oil and salt. -Now I added these in just like this, but I think next time I'll do like Pam and do them like she did, and I might even add carrots

Roast in a 400 / 200 degree preheated oven for about an hour, until they look like this

Allow to cool to the touch, Meanwhile, saute the sliced onion and the minced garlic until translucent. Add in the red wine.

Once the tomatoes and peppers and tamarillos have cooled, peel off the skins and add to the onions and garlic. Add salt, if needed, and the herbs. Simmer for as little or long as you like / have -adding in water when needed.

Serve over any kind of pasta, or bake atop chicken with plenty of cheese on top.

I think this should freeze well, and I even roasted plenty more tomatoes to freeze to use as I would use canned tomatoes.

Okay, I also have an award to give out

Kevin at Closet Cooking, his blog is filled with FABULOUS food that I always want to eat and his photography is gorgeous. I always leave hungry!

Prudy of Prudence Pennywise -I so look forward to reading her blog and I love her style {and her food}. She cracks me up and I {secretly} wish I was her bff.

Jenn, the Leftover Queen because she is the hardest working Foodie I know! Her food is amazing, some of the best out there, and she is so nice and kind to everyone and even though she must know EVERY foodblogger out there, she still takes the time to make you feel special and important and I really appreciate that from her.

And Rebecca from Foodie With Family because she makes me wet myself a little she is so funny. I love her wit and her food never disappoints.


Girl Japan said...

Where did your feet go? You have me in stitches.... but... oh goodness can you cook..

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

Did they go far, your feet ;-P? That sauce sounds exciting! I really have to find tomatillos somewhere...



Erin said...

definitely stay true to yourself. you set this blog up for yourself, and the readers are a bonus! cook what you like to make...

Lisa said...

Never had tamarillos before but now I am curious about them. I know what you mean....not sure if I found my niche yet either!

alexandra's kitchen said...

I totally know what you mean. The entries I post that I think are so unique/special/gourmet sometimes are too over the top for people and impractical in their busy lives. Anyway, i think you find a nice balance! this sauce sounds awesome.

alexandra's kitchen said...

I totally know what you mean. The entries I post that I think are so unique/special/gourmet sometimes are too over the top for people and impractical in their busy lives. Anyway, i think you find a nice balance! this sauce sounds awesome.

Pam said...

Stay true to yourself! I love your blog and look forward to your great recipes. The layout is beautiful, your writing is funny and the pictures are fantastic!

This sauce looks wonderul. I love that you added roasted peppers. Like Lisa, I've never had tamarillos before... looking forward to trying them. (Thanks for the shout out too).

Adam said...

To my tractor beam buddy:

This sounds cornier than Orville Redenbacher, but just keep doing what you're doing. Your feet are making tasty food, while wearing creative and super funny sneakers. When I show up here, the party is always in full swing :)

Oh, and what do you think of feet? Me, not so much. That's why I'm a back man... haha

Gaengy said...

I think You are doing a great job. I love the variety...this sauce sounds really good. It reminds me of one I tried off the food network with Tylers ultimates...just the roasting part. I made a sauce with roasted tomatillos. Do they have the tamarillos here in the states. I have not seen them, but then I have not looked for the either!

Maria said...

I have never tried tamarillos, but they look like they fit in nicely with your sauce! It looks super duper tasty!!

We are new to the blogging world so we for sure don't have our feet yet!! We will keep trying! We adore your blog. Keep up what you are doing!

mybricole said...

Don't over think it. Just make sure that you are always doing something you enjoy. The rest falls into place after that. Well, maybe it doesn't all fall into place, but you won't care because you will be too busy enjoying what you're doing to notice.

Deborah said...

I've actually been thinking a lot about this whole subject, and I've actually been planning a post for next week. I've decided there is definitely a difference between bloggers and "real" home cooks. And I, too, am trying to find the place where I belong, because I think I'm right in between!

Regardless, this sauce is gorgeous, and definitely sounds like something I would love!

Esi said...

I'm still new to the whole blogging thing and trying to find my feet as well so I know how you feel. I say cook what you want and stay true to yourself. You can't please everyone all of the time! The sauce sounds sooo YUM!

Dana Treat said...

I totally hear you with regards to figuring this whole blogging thing out. What I continually ask myself is, "Who is this for?" For now, it is for me so I write what I want. If (and hopefully when) I get more of an audience I may re-evaluate and cater more toward readers. My sense is, because I have two little ones as well, I am always going to need to do what works for me and I think my writing will evolve because of that. Thanks for the comment on my zucchini post!

Aggie said...

I think your feet are in the right place! I can relate to what you are saying and I think that is what I love about your blog! You make everything look delicious!

Have a great weekend Natalie! And congrats on your award!

Joe Horn said...

I had the same problem. Do I blog to someday make it into a business and draw an income from it? Do I blog to share the fun I have while cooking? Do I blog to keep track of the food I'm making and the tails of building a new restaurant?

It's tough. I came to the conclusion not long ago that I wasn't going to worry about it and I would just post whatever was on my mind that day. One day I talk about the restaurant, another my weight loss another about how to make a good something or other.

Is there a flow, well probably not, other than you get a peek into my crazy life.

I used to think about planning out meals and havomg multiple parts, etc. It wasn't fun, it was more like a business and I have a restaurant for that!

I would define your goals then you can figure out what you want to do with the blog.

Mekhismom said...

I am not a food blogger but like you I am still struggling over my voice, what to post, what not to post. The advice I was given - post as if no one is reading.

Bharti said...

Love the sauce.
As for the feet..
I blog for "me"..I blog about what I feel or make, not what people might like to read about.
Similarly, I like to read about what goes on in others kitchens and heads. That's fun.
I read people's blogs if they come across as 'honest' and 'fun' or if something about them strikes a chord- that's why I read your post. Have a lovely weekend!

Foodycat said...

I would never, ever have thought to use tamarillos like that! The only time I have ever used them it was in a sweet tart with pastry cream and kiwis! (it was the 80s...)

But I totally know what you mean. Most of my posts are just stuff I ate and sometimes stuff I put a bit of effort into and I can't judge what is going to strike a chord.

Jeena said...

Fabulous I love the cheese shavings too. :-)

Grace said...

ooh la la! of course, no pasta dish is complete without a bit of cheese grated on top. :)
this is a great, thoughtful post and i enjoyed reading it. :)

bec said...

Your feet are fine... my reply: do it all! They are all different sides to you (different interests, I assume), so don't let your audience stiffle your creativity. Do an easy, cheap meal one day. Then change it up and do a funky, fresh, overly-imaginative one a few days later. Know what I'm sayin'?

Just an idea... All of the above is good with me!

hayleynichols88 said...

Aw that photo of you is so pretty!

I totally know what you mean, I got tons of comments on my porridge, almost as much as my cupcakes, and who would've guessed?!

I find that the world of blogging is so overwhelming. I feel inadequate in many ways because I'm not much of a cook, I'm a 'follower of recipes who occasionally manages to make something edible'! I read all these other blogs and I feel like I'm so out of my depth among these people that can cook numerous recipes off the top of their heads.

But food blogging is so great because everybody is doing their own thing and anything goes! I think even the gourmets want something that can be made in 15 minutes sometimes.

There really isn't a 'right' and 'wrong', you just can't please everybody so there's no point breaking your back trying to do it. Blogging should be fun : )

Scott at Real Epicurean said...

I'm looking down - never lost my feet, thank goodness.

Being a blogger is a strange thing, isn't it?

Scott at Real Epicurean said...

I'm looking down - never lost my feet, thank goodness.

Being a blogger is a strange thing, isn't it?

Kristen said...

I always ask people, when they start their blog (and ask me for advice... why are you blogging and who are you blogging for? Most people answer that they are initially blogging for themselves... to capture life, recipes, moments in a blog is a lot like a journal. If you are blogging for yourself, you need to be true to yourself and the audience will follow. It will happen organically, which is the best way to have it happen.

Your blog is wonderful and seems to be hugely successful! Keep doing more of what you are doing and make sure you are having fun doing it!

Rebecca (Foodie With Family) said...

Aw Nat, you're making me blush. And now I know what to send you for Chrismas; Depends.

As for your feet I think they're firmly planted exactly where they need to be. You're doing great girl.

Laura @ Hungry and Frozen said...

I love the idea of roasting tamarillos for a tomato sauce - genius! They're sooo delicious...

I spend ages agonising over posts...sometimes you just gotta put it out there. Whatever you feel like writing is what's right! :)

Jenny said...

Look at your new fun fresh picture on top of your blog!! It's great.

Yum is all I can say about your recipe, looks and sounds great!

You have a great blog style here and I find your food easy yet sophisticated. You do a great job!

bec said...

PS. Your picture (recently added?) looks fabulous! LOVE the hair... it really is just a great shot all around! Gah-geous. Good work. :)

Rogue said...

They look so delicious! When I saw the cuts in the tomatoes, onkly now i realize the purpose of it... coz i just ate cherry tomatoes and i love eating them whole and most of the time, the juices explode when i i was thinking that if it is cut like the ones in the image, the joice would stay on put. WOnderful image and post.

Prudy said...

What are you talking about, you are my BFF? I swear I have had more communication with you than anyone this last week, husband and best friend included. That's it, I'm movin in. Thanks for the award.

Linda F said...

That canneloni sauce looks fab, I adore tamarillos and this is another recipe to add to the arsenal!

kittie said...

Sorry, I'm behind in my reading...

I know what you mean about deciding how to present yourself - I have similar issues with deciding what 'voice' I want to use in my blog. Do I want to be polite, sarky, silly, informative?? Eeek..! If I think about (i.e.) my parents when I write, it invariably ends up with a slightly different tone than if I think about my mates!

I love what you're doing right now. And I think you have to be true to yourself, otherwise you'll eventually lose interest in what you're doing.

hot garlic said...

Thanks everyone for the support and advice!

Thanks Girl Japan!

Thanks Rosa! Hope you find them {tamarillos, LOL!}

Thanks Erin, you are so great to always comment! I try to go reply but you don't have comments set up on your blog. So I hope you come back and read my little messages here {when I find the time to leave them} Thanks again!

Thanks Lisa! Good Luck!

Thanks Alexandra, I'm sure you totally understand!

Thanks Pam, I so appreciate your words, and you're welcome!

Thanks Adam!

Thanks Mom, I'm sure they have them. I love Tyler...

Thanks Maria, so sweet!

You're right, thanks Mybricole!

Yes Deborah, I loved your post on it too! Thanks!

Thanks Esi!

Yes, you're right Dana Treat, thanks!

Thanks Aggie!

Yes Joe, I knew you'd be picking up what I was putting down!

Great one Mekismom, thanks!

Great advice too Bharti!

Thanks Foodycat! It is tricky and always surprises me too!

Thanks Grace and Jeena!

So true, you're right, thanks Bec!

So true too Haleynichols88. Thanks for all of your advice and input!

Okay, getting tired! I read and reread and apprcieate all of the comments so much. Does anyone even check to see if I come back and respond? This sucks a lot of time if it is all for nothing! I so appreciate Erin and a few others of you who don't have ways I can respond other than here, so a big thanks especially to you guys!

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