|Tuna, Veggie & Cottage Cheese Concoction wrap garnished with chives & served with (store bought) chick pea salad
I didn’t always enjoy cooking. In fact, cooking used to be a source of stress and anxiety, but it’s become a coping mechanism. My husband loves to cook and I began as a reluctant assistant in the kitchen. He made it fun and taught me things like how to time and pace yourself so all the food is ready around the same time, which eased the stressful parts. I first wrote a food post back in 2009, scrambled eggs and leeks, from a recipe book I still use and love, Energy Food: Energy-Giving Food Solutions to Keep You Fully Charged Throughout the Day, by Beverly le Blanc.
Two other huge reasons I began to cook more were gardening and the Internet. My husband is also an avid gardener, and in the summer of 2012 we grew a garden overrun with yellow nutsedge (long story), but the garden produced the most yield we’d ever seen. We’d pick whatever was available in the garden that day, whether it be eggplant, tomato, zucchini or squash, and we’d Google ingredients, pick a recipe and make it, usually with modifications. We cooked a few food bombs but for the most part, ate healthy, delicious, pesticide and GMO-free food. I’m pretty sure that’s the healthiest eating I’ve ever done in a single summer. I lost 10 pounds and felt more energetic. My digestive system ran like a well-oiled machine.
Along with the health benefits, I started to appreciate and enjoy the art of cooking. I love to chop vegetables (I’m a lot better at using a knife that I used to be, I had/have an irrational fear of knives, another source of anxiety), I love to saute and I love to follow and modify recipes. I used to get anxious if I didn’t measure out ingredients exactly, now I estimate and throw stuff in and add a little of this or that just for fun. In 2012 I made the transformation from horrible, awkward cook to a point where I now feel comfortable referring to myself as a foodie.
Not only did I cook from our garden in 2012, I read two food memoirs that inspired me to want to write about food and cooking. The Irish-Hungarian Guide to the Domestic Arts, by Erin O’Brien, is a laugh-out-loud funny read that weaves recipes and life into a literary tapestry that will make you ponder long after you’ve stopped giggling. I read this book in February 2012.
In September 2012, my friend Jonathan loaned me Julie Powell‘s Julie & Julia: My Year of Cooking Dangerously, a national bestseller and a movie starring Meryl Streep and Amy Adams (every author’s dream, a bestselling book made into a movie). It’s the story of how Julie Powell, almost 30 years old and unhappy in her clerical government job, cooked all 524 recipes from Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking in a year, and blogged about the experience in order to reclaim her life. Not only did she reclaim her life, she ended up with a book deal. Jonathan has given me his blessing to keep the book, and I’m so grateful because it’s such an inspiration to me.
In December 2012 I found out I was pregnant with our first child, and after three months of morning sickness my appetite kicked into high gear and I began cooking almost daily, without a vegetable and herb garden (going to the grocery store works just as well). I cooked through the whole spring and now that it’s summer, hit up the Howe Meadow Farmer’s Market on a rather regular basis and have cooked a few dishes with fresh herbs from our new raised bed herb garden. The vegetables are freshly planted, and while I’m no Julia Child, Julie Powell or Erin O’Brien, I figured it’s high time I write some foodie posts on this blog. While they’re in season, I plan to post recipes that feature herbs from our herb garden. If you try any of these receipes please free to modify them however it suits your needs, and I hope you’ll share what you did in the comments section.
The first recipe comes from my mom, who made this for our family on 90 degree summer days in our non-air conditioned house when she didn’t want to use the stove or the oven in the heat and humidity. It’s light, refreshing, hydrating and filling. Today’s featured herbs are flat leaf parsley and dill.
Flat leaf parsley and dill
Tuna, Veggie & Cottage Cheese Concoction
1 cucumber, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
i orange bell pepper, diced
1 yellow bell pepper, diced
1 tomato, diced
1 can chunk white Albacore tuna in water, drained & rinsed (or whatever kind of tuna you like, I use Starkist)
1 24 oz container of cottage cheese (I used Smith’s small curd 4% milk fat)
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon dill
1 teaspoon flat leaf parsley
flat bread or pita bread
Combine cucumber, red pepper, orange pepper, yellow pepper, tomato, tuna and cottage cheese together in a large bowl. Stir until well mixed. Season with pepper, dill and parsley to taste.
The filling all mixed together
Scoop mixture onto flat bread or into pita pockets and serve.
Roll it up and eat it!
Cover bowl and refrigerate leftovers. Can also prepare in advance and chill in fridge before serving.
A guest post by Debra Johnson
This guest post is contributed by Angelita Williams, who writes on the topics of online courses. She welcomes your comments at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photo credit: ©2008 Sarah Scicluna Flickr
The starving artist is a concept most of us know all too well. Everyone wants to be a writer, so the competition to get work or to get published is often stiff. Often, if you do manage to get a writing job, the pay is quite low. After all, everyone’s a writer. If you don’t want to write for less than minimum, someone else will come along who does.
Sarah Rexman is the main researcher and writer for BedBugs.org. Her most recent accomplishment includes graduating from Florida State with a master’s degree in environmental science. Her main focus for the site involves new methods to prevent bed bugs as well as bed bugs eradication.
Earlier this year I had the pleasure of meeting New York Times bestselling author Taylor Stevens, a thriller writer, and one of my favorites. She visited the Brecksville branch of the Cuyahoga County Public Library, did a Q&A and signed copies of her first book in the Vanessa Michael Munroe series, The Informationist, and the second book, The Innocent. The third novel, with the working title The Doll, is due out next year from Crown.
I spoke with Taylor via phone when The Informationist was published, and met her in person for the first time at the library. I’m also pleased to tell you the interview is now available to download via The Writing Show.
|I met Taylor Stevens at the Brecksville Branch of the Cuyahoga County Library|
If you enjoy thrillers, you will love this series. I devoured The Informationist and The Innocent gripped me even more. Stevens has a masterful way of weaving words to move the story forward and also make you feel like you’re in Argentina, right alongside Munroe as she works undercover to infiltrate a religious cult to rescue her friend’s daughter, Hannah.
A special thanks to our mutual friend Kim Urig for introducing us.
|Kim Urig (right) and me|
Guest post by Lauren Bailey
Like many writers, I need to be able to research topics quickly to sound the least bit convincing that I have any idea what I’m saying. This research relies heavily on the Internet, which as you may know, is filled with endless mountains of distraction.
This guest post is contributed by Lauren Bailey, who regularly writes for best online colleges. She welcomes your comments at her email Id: blauren99 @gmail.com.
Welcome to the next installment of The Seven Questions Series. Thanks to Jessica Kristie for being my guest!
“Poetry is my heart, anchors my soul and documents my journey.” – Jessica Kristie
Born and raised in the California Bay Area, Jessica discovered her passion to write at the young age of ten. She regurgitates her heart and mind, sometimes in structure and sometimes in free flow, as a way to heal and understand herself and those around her.
Jessica’s inspiration comes in many forms, often inspired by just a word or quickly fleeting emotion. Through years of writing she has been able to capitalize on her experiences, whether they are painful or joyous. Inside each of these moments lies a grand piece of her history. They are a documentation of much of the pain life has to offer, and the hopeful bit of empowerment required for survival. She hopes to draw you close to her world through shared emotion while inspiring you to forgive, remember, and heal.
You can find Jessica’s first volume of poetry and prose Dreaming in Darkness at Winter Goose Publishing. She has several other projects in the works including a second book of poetry and her first novel. You can follow her at JessicaKristie.com for updated information.
COPYRIGHT © 2011 by Jessica Kristie
Guest post by Mariana Ashley
I’ve known a lot of different writers in my day. Hundreds of them actually, from all different writing backgrounds including short fiction, poetry, screenplay, playwriting, academic research, journalism, entertainment review and of course, blogging. Of all these different writing backgrounds, I’ve noticed one universal truth: Writers don’t like editing.
Allow me to clarify. All the good writers realize the value of editing and force themselves to do it. I have also come to the realization that many of the writers I know who do like editing are actually not that good at it. These writers tend to think of editing as quick and easy. Editing, if actually effective, is never quick and easy.
However, there are some aspects and methods of editing that are more enjoyable (or at least less boring) than others. Let’s quickly go over some of the more conventional editing methods:
• Take a Break. Writers will often go immediately into editing as soon as they’ve finished writing. Take some time to get some distance from your writing, and then your mistakes and errors will become that much more apparent. This will also give you time to rethink the goals of your writing, as these can often morph or become lost in the writing process.
• Close Reading. Every piece of writing should receive at least one close reading before any other eyes see it. While close reading, you may spot grammar errors, misspellings, and sentences or plot points that simply don’t make sense.
• Quick Reading. This can actually be extremely effective and is surprisingly underused. A quick read through a draft will get you to question more of the obvious, structural elements of your work as opposed to gritty details. Did you really need to dedicate those few paragraphs to that character? Is there any part of the narrative that’s completely underdeveloped? A quick read will point things like this out quickly.
• Read Aloud. This is one of the most effective ways for me to not only find mistakes but also find awkward phrasings. Great for proofreading.
• Change Document Formatting. You’d be surprised how changing the document formatting (font, spacing, color) will give you more of a fresh perspective when you edit. It’s an effective psychological way of distancing yourself from your first draft.
• Outline. A great way of determining whether your paper has optimal structure, outlining is extremely valuable both pre-writing and in the editing process. You can outline on your document itself by just segmenting different chunks of your writing and labeling them.
When the Conventional Methods Just Aren’t Doing it for You
As great as the methods listed above are, sometimes they still don’t give your writing the change and modifications it needs. I find this tends to happen mostly because of structural or thematic issues. Essentially, your writing is not hitting the meat of an issue it set out to examine or your writing is ordered in a strange way that undermines the purpose of the work.
This proposed method is an extension of outlining your writing, so be sure to outline your work if you haven’t already. Once your writing is outlined as you see fit, find some notecards, and write each segment of the outline on a separate notecard. Now shuffle them.
While this restructuring is random at first, it will immediately give you ideas as to which order of ideas in your writing is better than others. It’s hard to just look at an outline and decide what the best structure should be. Shuffling is a more hands-on approach that allows you to find the best structure through process of elimination and inductive reasoning.
You may also realize that your outline should be more or less detailed. Making a second or third outline is absolutely wonderful for this editing method. It allows you to base re-structuring on whatever components you see fit (ideas, evidence, plot, character introduction). Best of all, this type of editing, while time consuming, is also very fun and exciting. With this editing method, you can literally see a dead work of writing come to life.
Photo credit: Jakub Krechowicz
Welcome to another installment of The Seven Questions Series! A huge thank you to Steve Sears for being my guest.
The Chipper Writer: I enjoyed your blog post called “The Benefit of a Writers Group.” Can you talk a little about those benefits?
SS: Absolutely. I belong to two writers groups, one which is goal oriented with book and magazine authors, the other with budding novelists and fiction writers. We don’t necessarily share work at these meetings, but get together to discuss our writing lives. Even though I can perhaps more relate to the first group than the latter, all the folks in both of my groups are valuable to me. As a full-time writer, you NEED to be among people, especially other writers, occasionally. So, these groups are my escape, but also a well of inspiration. I may benefit from the professional knowledge of the first group, but the folks in the second group (who, by the way, are much better fiction writers than me) also give me advice I seek when I may be at a dead end. In the end, it ties in to my belief that you can be inspired by anyone at anytime anywhere, and nowhere – with the exception of my wife and daughter – do I feel that more than when I get together with my writers groups.
The Chipper Writer: You work on your taxes on the second and fourth Saturday of each month to stay ahead. What are some reasons to do your taxes this way?
SS: One of the things I least like to do is figure out my taxes and pay them, but rather than put off until tomorrow what I can do today, I break it down. I do it on a Saturday because Saturday is primarily a laid back day (blogging, update resume and website, PC maintenance, etc.), and keeping ahead of it makes it less “painless” to do when it comes quarterly tax time. The key here is to make things easier. There’s enough work to do with the writing.
The Chipper Writer: What books and other resources would you recommend to aspiring freelancers?
SS: There are many excellent ones, but here are a few I always reach for when need be. Kelly James-Enger’s $ix-Figure Freelancing is excellent, as is her Ready, Aim, Specialize! Kelly’s blog, Dollars and Deadlines, is also valuable. Also, I recommend Linda Formichelli and Diana Burrell’s The Renegade Writer book and companion blog. What a wonderful wealth of information. If you’re seeking a copywriting career, Peter Bowerman’s The Well-Fed Writer, as well as his blog and newsletter, are super. Finally, read The Writer magazine. There’s something for someone in every issue.