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Philly

Eat Write Retreat 2013

This past weekend I attended my first Eat Write Retreat event in Philadelphia.  Was it awesome? You betcha! I met a lot of really great food bloggers, sponsors, and even was able to reconnect with an old friend. Plus, I got a lot of wicked cool swag! I’m going to go ahead and reminisce now, k?

EWR13 Swag - Calphalon, OXO, In the Raw

So much swag!

I was really nervous at first. I’ve had this blog for a few years now, but have only really gotten serious with it over the past year. I wasn’t sure if I would really belong. The first question everyone asked was “What’s your blog about?”  …..I hadn’t really thought about it before! It got me thinking though, is there a running theme here? Then I realized that there is! I’m cheap! I reuse the same ingredients in different ways because they’re inexpensive and I get bored if I have too much of the same flavor or texture. I frugally create recipes based on whatever was cheap at the grocery store! Turns out I DO have a theme, and it started all because I’m perpetually poor. My first lesson of the weekend was how to describe my blog, and I learned it within the first 5 minutes!

The first day, after a long 4ish hour drive, I finally arrived at the hotel. The first person I met was my roommate for the weekend, Susan from The Girl in the Little Red Kitchen. She was very helpful with directing me on where to go to pick up my swag!

On my way to pick up all my cool new kitchen gadgetry, I ran into Kelly from Kelly Bakes! This was exciting not only because she’s a great food blogger (whose recipes and pictures always make me hungry), but also because I grew up with her and haven’t seen her in years. Does this count as our 10-year high school reunion?

salty chocolate

I sat at the wicked awesome Chocolate Terrine table!

After picking up my swag it was time for the meet and greet with the sponsors and all of the other attendees. I got to learn all about Calphalon, OXO, Jarlsberg, and more! I also met Heather from Real: the Kitchen and Beyond, Deanna from Teaspoon of Spice, Linda from Giggles, Gobbles and Gulps, and many many more interesting people! Then there was dinner, followed by cocktails made with Safest Choice Eggs, a photo-booth, and more hanging out. It was a fun day.

Cocktails with Safest Choice Eggs

Cocktails with egg whites? Actually kind of delicious!

 

Mushrooms

Cool mushrooms!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Saturday and Sunday were kind of a whirlwind! I met more great people! I hung out with Mary Beth from Red Mittens, talked with Marisa from Food in Jars (and bought her book because the recipes look amazing), I chatted with Jeanine from Small Indulgences Bakery (and bought her book too because the cupcakes in it were too tempting).

Philly

Philly skyline during the Saturday night Gala

We had a great lecture by Monica Bhide about writing sponsored posts and maintaining our voice,  we did a water tasting, learned about growing mushrooms, grilled flat-bread pizzas with potatoes on a gorgeous Calphalon grill, were taught about SEO optimization and web basics, and got time management tips. And more!

OXO Gift Basket

I won the OXO Salad Gift Basket!!

After it all ended, I wandered around the area a bit with one of my new friends as we attempted to get Philly Cheesesteaks. Unfortunately we had bad timing, since it was around dinner time, and the places we saw had lines going out the door and we didn’t have enough time for all that. Oh well! She managed to get a sub-par cheesesteak at the airport, and I had a random Starbucks sandwich on my drive back. My drive was fairly uneventful, except for a well-timed thunderstorm that lasted just long enough for my journey across the George Washington Bridge.

philly2

Philly had some cool/weird buildings

So was the weekend worth all the money, travel, and nervousness? Absolutely. Would I do it all again? In a heartbeat!

chili bowl

Chili Experiments

If you read the title, you’ll realize I felt the need to experiment with chili. Chili isn’t hard to make, and I always ignore the beans-vs-beanless chili battles and just make whatever I want. I wanted to make chili to go with the beer bread (see previous post) for my dad because he was visiting this past Wednesday. I didn’t want to make him wait forever for dinner though, so instead of cooking the chili for hours and hours, I simply made it the night before and put it in the fridge over night. When I got home from work on Wednesday I took it out, added a bottle of beer, and cooked it until it was heated through. Easy!

chili bowl

A scoop of sour cream and some cheese is all you need to finish it off.

I didn’t make this into a thought out, thorough recipe, because that’s just not how I cook. Also, I was trying out products I don’t usually use. You’ll figure it out.

Here are some things I tried out:

bacon

I had such a good experience with Trader Joe’s cut pancetta, I figured I might as well try the bacon too. I DID NOT LIKE IT. It was gross. It was all one big lumpy clump of thick hunks of fat. I ended up cooking it for flavor, then removing most of it because it looked awful. I will not be trying this again.

 

 

mirepoix

 

 

I wanted this to be wicked simple and lazy to make. So for the first time ever I bought prepared Mirepoix at the grocery store. It wasn’t anything exciting, but it sure was easy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

tomatoes

 

 

If you’re going to add diced tomatoes, why not have them be fire roasted and come with chiles? It made sense to me, and so I tried it, and I liked it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

I also used ground beef, obviously. And kidney beans too. For flavor I used paprika, cumin, chili powder, cayenne, garlic powder, Worcestershire Sauce, tomato paste, salt, pepper, and a bottle of beer.

chili

Heating it up with beer, right before serving.

 

 

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25 and still snacking

So it was my birthday on the 16th. I went to Boston to see some friends and go to an event, ended up not going to the event and didn’t get to see some friends, but I had fun with the ones I saw and the activities I did. Vague? Well, it’s ok, the point is that snacking happened. Since I’ve been so busy the past few weeks (projects, midterm, final, final, career fair, etc.) I haven’t really had a chance to make anything special outside of class, except for my rice with mayonnaise and bulldog sauce, but other people just think that’s gross. Those people are wrong. Japanese mayo is the tastiest!! Bulldog sauce it amazing as well.

It’s pretty much a fantastic version of BBQ sauce

In order to kill time on here, I have decided to review products that I sampled or revisited on my birthday. First stop? Lollicup! Now, if you haven’t had bubble tea by now then I pity your life. It’s tasty milk tea, or smoothies, or anything drinkable through a straw, with tapioca pearls to give you something to chew on while you drink. Sound repulsive? Whatever, it’s good. I had the Avocado Snow, and it was divine. I also tried my friends Barley Chocolate Milk, which tasted like chocolate milk with snacking barley bits that were extremely satisfying. My other friend had the Tapioca Milk Green Tea, which I’ve had before, and has a nice and simple flavor.

Barley, Avocado, Green Tea

There’s more…

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