Thursday, May 6, 2010

To Blog: Why? What? and Pumpkin Coconut Sour Cherry Bread

So here I am again a few days later than I thought I would post this because I've been thinking about many things relative to this blog, the most salient being: why blog? Or more precisely, why blog about food in my case.
Pumpkin Coconut Sour Cherry Bread
There are many posts out there about why blog. Some of them make a lot more sense to me than others but they're all valid to their own authors, and in the end I have to find the reason for myself. A while back I had whole new plans for this blog which all revolved around food, and of course as things are wont to do, things changed. Then I decided that I would post photographs and other things and write fewer recipes and that it would become a more general blog, and that got under way, but somehow I was driven back to more recipes and fewer other things than food, basically only food.
The thing is, dear readers, that I really love food, but I'm not sure I love blogging about it anymore.

When I started blogging about food almost three years ago, I'd been blogging for a year on another platform and was a bit frustrated with my blog because it was general and I felt the lack of focus meant that it was more of a journal than anything else, and between you and me, I've never been much of a journaler. At all. Then one day while doing a recipe search, for a cupcake recipe of all things, I discovered food blogs and started perusing them and loving them, because I love food, and after a while I thought to myself that the simplest way to create focus in my blogging would be to blog about food. Thus Saffron & Blueberry was born.
Pumpkin Coconut Sour Cherry Bread

There have been lots of ups and downs in my life since then, lots of periods where I didn't blog much, the crux of the matter being that, when it comes down to it, I love food but I don't think I love blogging about food, not to the extent that I want every post to be about food anymore. A lot of this has to do with the fact that I am trying to get back into work which is completely unrelated to food and which most of the time commands so much focus from me that the blog, while I love it, will end up being something that takes time away from the other parts of my life.

And so to more practical considerations:
- It turns out that while I do love to write, the creative writing that I've done has nearly always been short stories or essays, and I don't enjoy writing recipes. If you've been reading this blog and it hasn't struck you, I practically never claim credit for recipes I blog about. Even when I've adapted them all both in ingredients and wording to make them my own, I don't consider myself a person with her own recipes. And for the most part writing about food does not come easily to me the way it does to someone like Jamie, who simply has a river of words to say about it.
- I do like the fact that I can come back for reference to recipes I've blogged here like having my own cookbook, but the truth is, I'm just as happy to bookmark someone else's recipe that's worked well for me and go back to their blog to look it up. Or copy-paste it into a word document (of which I have many) in case that blog leaves the tendrils of the interwebs. 
- I don't have the slightest desire to write a cookbook, be a recipe developer, become a food writer, become a food stylist, or any of the other more obvious reasons a lot of people blog about food, irrespective of whether or not they'll succeed. As I said above, I don't feel the need to catalog recipes I use here, it's far simpler to catalog them in my own documents without writing about them.
In fact, re: food styling, next post will be a manifesto purely about the not food styling I do for this blog.
- I love the community of foodies and friends that I've found through blogging about food, but now that I've found you all, do I need to keep blogging about food for us to remain friends? I think not.
- Actually, the one thing I really don't mind about food blogging is taking photographs of the food because I love photography and taking pictures of anything you're not familiar with photographing is an opportunity to learn, but then the answer seems more clearly to me to be to simply not write posts to accompany the photography, at least not most of the time. Some food blogs do quite well with this format.
Egg experiment
So what's the answer?
Do I continue and diversify?
Does this blog simply become a photoblog?
Will you all be very unhappy if I no longer post recipes?
Anyone else struggle with this and have an idea?
Anyone have an opinion about this in particular or a reason for me to stay the course?
I've spoken to some friends about this and everyone has had really good input for me, but now I'm wondering, as a blog reader who most likely does not know me, is there something I should think about that I haven't mentioned?

So while you ponder this and find the answer for me, I suggest you make this pumpkin coconut sour cherry bread, which is one of the best (and easiest) snack loaves e-ver. I used canned pumpkin because it's long past the season for pumpkin anymore here and I had a can that someone had brought me from the US to use. This is an adaptation of Lena Corwin's recipe for pumpkin cranberry bread via the good graces of Kristina Gill over on Design Sponge and includes coconut milk, ground coconut and sour cherries; I also used half light brown flour and half all purpose flour, and used raw sugars while reducing the sugar by one third, although I might even go so far as to try to reduce it by half next time.
Spring in the square

Pumpkin Coconut Sour Cherry Bread
adapted from Lena Corwin's recipe for Pumpkin Cranberry Bread on Design Sponge

For one standard loaf pan + two mini loaf pans
425g (1 3/4 cup) canned pumpkin = one small can
100g (7 Tbsp) butter, melted
150g (2/3 cup) coconut milk
60ml (1/4 cup) water (60ml)
4 eggs
225g (1 3/4 cup) all purpose flour
225g (1 3/4 cup) light brown flour
200g (1 cup) raw granulated sugar
200g (1 cup) light muscovado sugar
200g (7 oz) toasted ground (or shredded) coconut
{ 2.5g (1/2 tsp) cinnamon +
   5g (1 tsp) four-spice }
{ 5g (1/2 tsp) cinnamon +
   2.5g (1/2 tsp) nutmeg +
   2.5g (1/2 tsp) ground cloves +
   2.5g (1/2 tsp) fine ground black pepper }
10g (2 tsp) baking soda
10g (2 tsp) baking powder
2.5g (1/2 tsp) salt
120g (1 cup) chopped dried sour cherries

- Heat the oven to 180˚C (350˚F).
- Grease the loaf pans (although I actually forgot to do this and they came out fine due to the fat of the butter and coconut milk). 
- In a large bowl, mix the pumpkin, butter, coconut milk, water and eggs.
- In a smaller bowl mix the dry ingredients (flour, sugar, ground coconut, spices, baking soda, baking powder and salt) and the sour cherries
- Mixing by hand (and preferably with a wooden spoon), combine the dry and wet ingredients. Mix just until the batter is combined.
- Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pans, filling them up about half way.
- Bake for 1 hour or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.

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shayma said...
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Mowie @ Mowielicious said...

Oh Hilda! No more Saffron & Blueberry? I shudder at the thought!

But seriously, I know you've been thinking a lot about this over the last few months, and to be honest, you have to do what *you* love and want to do, it's not up to us - your readers - to decide.

Having said that, and this is mainly because I've got to know you better over the last half a year since I met you, you might just want to do a photoblog, without any writing as it seems it's the writing that's blocking you (even though I love your writing!).

You say you're struggling, and you just need to remember a blog should be *fun*, not a struggle. I could go on about this, and you could get 1000 comments with different ideas, but at the end of it all, you're the one that needs to decide what you want to do. And I have a feeling you already know...

I'm excited to see how this blog evolves, and if it doesn't, I'll definitely keep reading (or not) and am just happy to call you a friend (thanks to your blog!)

=) xxx

Sarah, Maison Cupcake said...

Hi Hilda
I agree with Mowie, do whatever makes you happy whether it be photos only, writing about stuff other than food or a combination of the two. It will still be a reflection of your interests and people who share these with you will always be happy to read them.

Very though provoking post - I do sometimes take a step back and wonder if I'm mad so it's good to read this coming from someone else!

Sari said...

Hilda, this is a wonderful post! I must confess I've been struggling with such questions for quite a while. There's just one difference. I'm not very keen on writing. I haven't had a chance to get to know you well, however, I love food photography and I think I understand what you are talking about.
As Mowie said, blog is supposed to be fun. So you should do what you think makes you happy. Your true friends remain your friends with or without the blog.
And as for me, I love photo blogs! :) I will definitely keep following you even if you won't post recipes and write about them.

Leave-Room-for-Dessert said...

Hilda, you have a wonderful blog, you are a talented writer and you take stunningly beautiful pictures. I, along with many others, thank you for sharing your talents with us.

Ultimately, it is as simple as this:
"do what you love".

Arnold said...

I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don’t know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


Jenn said...

I'm a big fan of your blog, but I think the ultimate question is who are you blogging for - yourself or those who read it? The answer to that question should help you decide what is your best for you.
That quick-bread looks just gorgeous by the way!

The Cooking Ninja said...

I love your blog. I'm not a great baker or cook like you. I'm not even a great writer either but I blog because it gives me great pleasure to share cuisines I discovers with my family, friends and readers who share the same passion as me 'FOOD'. Just look at the stuff you whip up just for papoose, I feel bad as a mom to my poppet when she was a toddler. LOL! My hub always says this to me: blog what you feel - it can be a recipe or a simple photo with or without words or it can be just updates or things you feel about - simply just be you. Your readers and friends will love you just the same.

Asha @ FSK said...

Hey Hilda.. I love your blog and your writing style. For me, and I think as for most reader, a blog, even a food focused one, is not just about the recipes but the post in itself...

Having said that, if something doesn't give you as much pleasure, then, there isn't a point in doing it. After all, blogging is so much the creative outlet!

If you are starting work soon, or already have, I imagine that you are going to have limited time and attention to spare for the blog and it will truly become your hobby.

Will we miss your recipes? Yes. Will we miss your photos and your presence? So much more!

Perhaps you could have sections -

1. General - where you write whatever you want

2. Photogrpahy with just photos when you don't feel like penning anything - afterall a picture is worth a 100 words! :)

3. Food related - you can share just the recipes and pics and not even write about it (or do when you feel like it). only because, people who visit your blog already, will continue to be able to access these recipes (even the borrowed ones) easily.

There is my 2 cents! :)) HUGS!!!

shaz said...

Hi Hilda,
Like the previous commenters, I too love visiting your blog.

Just wanted to say that a few of the blogs I visit regularly don't even provide or write recipes, but I enjoy visiting them anyway. It feels as if I've popped round for a cup of tea, listened to what's going on in their world, had a laugh and enjoyed their offerings without needing to leave with a written record of my visit.

Whatever you choose to do, good luck. Hopefully I can still pop by to visit :)

Kerrin @ said...

one thing is certain: you have wonderful readers and friends. i just read through the comments above and everyone has nailed that one most important thing: do what makes you happy. that's what blogs are ultimately for.

my reaction is to tell you not to make a decision, clear-cut, yes or no, black or white. if you choose to keep the blog, then don't think so much about what to post. put up some photos if you'd like. add a few words if they feel right. or none at all. it should be a completely natural process. and over time, you'll have your answer. let it come naturally, that's all. whatever happens in the end, as readers we'll all be enjoying whatever it is you choose to share with us. and we thank you for that.

WizzyTheStick said...

I too struggle with this which is one of the reasons I haven't yet written an about me page. I am a new blogger and I am currently exploring which direction I want to go as such I think my blog is a little 'all over the place" No real advice other than to give you the reassurance that what ever direction you take, I'm likely to follow

S said...


I absolutely love your blog and your photos and your incredibly thoughtful and carefully crafted writing--please don't stop, even if it's no longer only about food!

That said, I can completely relate to how external, non-food-related life works and conflicts with food blogging (or, rather, how food blogging conflicts with life, I should say). When I started my blog and it started taking off, I got so wrapped up in it that food-blogging was all I could think about 24/7, to the great, GREAT detriment of my day job. But, more recently, I've realized that the blog isn't a job--it's not my career, so I've made a distinct effort to scale things back and really treat it as a hobby rather than letting it consume my life. And it feels so good to finally prioritize like that again! So, if Saffron and Blueberry takes a break from food writing, I totally understand why, and I think you should definitely go with how you feel at this very moment in analog life.

We (your readers) will always be here, I think, regardless of the recipes!

Hilda said...

Thank you all so much for your input. It is really very helpful, believe it or not. Thank you also for the compliments.
I don't think there won't be pictures of food anymore, as Mowie said it's more the writing about the food that has me stuck a lot of the time and actually writing recipes adds a whole dimension of work that feels like a chore for me, so definitely working something out in terms of those things will be paramount.

@AshaFSK: A whole redesign of the website is in order anyway I think so it would be appropriate to finally categorize posts in a way that made sense and your suggestion is similar to something I've been thinking.

Jeanne @ CookSister! said...

Hi Hilda
I, too, love your blog both for the photos and the alwyas thoughtful writing. But as I said at FBC, we sometimes lose sight of the fact that blogging is meant ot be fun. if it isn't fun, stop for a while and think about things. Live life. Go to the park. If you feel the irresistable pull to blog (whether it be photos or words), go back and blog. If not, nothing will happen! As for what to blog, if the writing is a chore, then ditch it - or at least ditch any idea of format. Blog a wingle word some days, blog an essay other days. Blog photos of a recipe but no recipe - or a just link to where you found the recipe. Find the joy in blogging again, or remember that many people around the world lead perfectly fulfilled lives without blogging. Follow your heart!


Rambling Tart said...

I smiled all through this blog and wanted to hug you, Hilda. I've been wrestling with this myself the last few months and have come to the conclusion that I will write and photograph and post what makes me happy. I love your posts be they ramblings or food or walks in the park or memoirs of your family. It's YOU we love, whatever form that comes in. Do what makes you happy, and we'll be happy with that. :-)

Nat said...

Dear Hilda
Whatever you decide, it will be a good decision... ;-)
Just one thing maybe the most important for me : blogging is meant to be fun, if it isn't stop immediately and have a break but blog about what you love, never mind of the others'opinions...
I wish you the best and in spite of the fact I'm French, I appreciate your writing style !

Radu Prisacaru – UK Internet Marketer & Web Developer said...

How long do you spend writing on your blog per month?

Car Accident Claims said...

wow, look at that, the color is perfect, I bet the taste is as good as the color

kelsey, at happyolks said...

I love your blog, know that myself (and many others) read with care and appreciation. And... I've been digging around for cherry recipes now that I have about 3lbs of them sitting on my kitchen counter... This one looks like a keeper! Thank you!

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