Thursday, January 28, 2010

Back to Regularly Scheduled Programming with A Gâteau à l'Orange

It's been a bit of a whirlwind around here these last few days. I feel like I'm doing eight things at once all online. It's a good feeling even though I don't think I have enough of a sleep reserve for it; this manifests itself in the fact that usually the more things I have to do, the more efficient I become, and right now I'm not being as efficient as I could be.
I want to thank everyone who's contributed to the Haiti Relief Effort so far both on this blog and through the Twitter campaign. Every comment helps more than you can imagine so thank you to everyone who left at least one comment here to help us out. So far, nearly $14K have been raised here and almost $5K on Twitter so I'm very pleased. Remember that every comment you leave until January 31st counts toward the total.
Gâteau à l'Orange
And for those of you who have been patient enough to wait for me to get back to the more regular pursuits of this blog, here's a cake for you. This cake has been blogged about elsewhere already as a result of my disseminating the recipe I'd found, but if you've seen this cake on another blog, probably Deeba's, you can see that my version of it is Cinderella at her stepmother's house, and her version is Cinderella at the ball. Either way, it's delicious and if you love citrus a fraction as much as I do, you should definitely try it.

It's winter and with winter comes revelry (and its remains), snow (sometimes), and above all citrus.
Let me be perfectly clear about this: I'm ethnically Iranian folks, and if any of you know any Persian people, you know we love our citrus. As I said to Deeba and she quoted me back on her blog: We're a bit obsessive and weird about our citrus fruit. We hoard it, display it, eat it, drink it, preserve it, dry it, cook it, and I'm sure we'd bake it too if there were a tradition like that of Western baking in Iran, heck we'd probably wear oranges and lemons if we could find a way to. When my father was a three year-old boy in Tehran, he would sneak into the pantry to drink the freshly squeezed and bottled lemon juice. Did you catch the part about his being three years old?
gateau a l'orange & snow
Nowadays, he will eat a whole 2Kg (4lb) bag of oranges at one sitting while reading the newspaper or working at his computer. And while my obsession at the age of seven lay with sipping red wine vinegar I'd have snuck in a cup back to my bedroom rather than lemon juice, I think you get the point that my family and tart and acidic foods, citrus being a prime group of these, are a tight-knit bunch. So the first time I had an orange cake that really tasted like it had orange in it, albeit not that much, but more than an orange pound cake, I became obsessed with finding a truly orange-tasting recipe.

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Friday, January 22, 2010

Haiti Relief Effort Does Twitter

Haiti quake aid: boy receiving treatment at a UN clinic
A young boy receives treatment at a makeshift medical clinic at the UN logistics base in Port-au-Prince. Photograph: Logan Abassi/AFP/Getty Images

FINAL TALLY, February 1st, 2009: 428 mentions were obtained through the Twitter effort resulting in a donation of $4,280 to Haiti Relief. Thank you to everyone who participated with a mention and/or helped to spread the word out about our efforts. Thank you especially to Todd and Donnette for coming up with this idea.
As soon as they are made available to me, I will post the donation receipts. Thank you again.

UPDATE: If you have further questions about this Twitter fundraising effort, please read the FAQ at the end of this post. It should answer any questions you may have.

So, it's Friday the 22nd of January and if you didn't read my last post and have no idea what the Haiti Relief Effort is, please read it either before or after you read this.
My efforts to channel a very generous sponsor's money to Haiti Relief have been noticed and acted upon by two very kind souls, Todd and Donnette, who emailed me a couple of days ago with the idea of spreading the fundraiser to Twitter, which the sponsor agreed to with certain limitations.

So here's what you essentially need to know:
  • A Twitter account named @MentionHaiti has been created to raise more funds for Haiti.
  • If you mention this account once (@MentionHaiti) in your twitter feed, 2 things will happen: 
        1) Your name will be added to a list in @MentionHaiti's account.
        2) For each name that is added to the list, $10 will be raised toward            Haiti Relief.
  • The cap on the amount that can be raised in this way is $50,000, so to participate you must be one of the first 5,000 people to include @MentionHaiti in a tweet.
  • Once the cap of 5,000 people has been reached, the account will continue operating and posting new links on ways to help Haiti and the only request is that the listed people mention these posts from time to time.
The comment program from the last post is still active, let me remind you of the basic points:
  • For each comment you leave on this blog until January 31st, $10 will be donated to Haiti Relief by my sponsor, a Gulf State Embassy here in London. 
  • You may leave one comment per post on as many posts as you like, each one raising $10 toward relief.   A few people have raised nearly $1000 by just leaving a comment on nearly every post in the blog.  The only restriction is that you may not leave multiple comments on the same post.
And in case any of you are wondering if I'll get back to posting regularly soon, I'm writing a post right now, just haven't had time to finish it.

What is the purpose of @MentionHaiti? 

We are trying to create an easy way for people to demonstrate their support for the victims of the earthquake in Haiti and reward this demonstration of support by having our sponsors donate money to disaster relief for Haiti. 

Who is the sponsor donating the money to? 
Doctors Without Borders.

Why did you choose Doctors Without Borders? 

Doctors Without Borders has been working in Haiti since 1991, and has a well established presence with 813 full-time staff permanently on site. At the moment this number is augmented by whatever additional relief staff can make it to Haiti. Doctors Without Borders provides comprehensive trauma care at the Trinité Trauma Centre and Pacot Rehabilitation Center in Port-au-Prince. In 2008, 17,950 patients were treated in the emergency room, and 6,196 underwent surgery. Trinité is the only functioning trauma centre in Port-au-Prince.

Doctors Without Borders strives to operate efficiently and to minimize fundraising and administrative costs. Between 1995 and 2006, more than 85 percent of expenditure to MSF's social mission was allocated to programs and public education activities. Maintaining this standard is a high priority for them. You can see their annual financial statements here:

Who are the sponsors of the @MentionHaiti campaign? 

The sponsor is a Gulf State embassy in London that wishes to remain anonymous.

What countries are considered to be Gulf States? 

The following countries are in the the Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf  Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, the sultanate of Oman, Kuwait, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates.

Why does the Gulf State embassy in London want their sponsorship to remain anonymous? 
It is part of their culture to not be boastful about giving. Publicizing charitable activities is considered improper.

What assurances do I have that the sponsor will actually donate the money if I @MentionHaiti?
Right now you have to trust that money will be donated.  When the donation is made
receipts of the donation will be posted on the blog.

I want to help Haiti.  How can I help?
If you add @MentionHaiti in any Tweet you will be added to one of our Twitter lists and $10 will be donated to Doctors Without Borders. This includes simply replying to @MentionHaiti so you do not have to make it a tweet all of your followers will see, although that would obviously help get the word out.

We also want to inform people about the current conditions in Haiti, the progress being made with disaster relief in Haiti and how social media and the Internet is being used to raise funds and organize relief efforts.  If you find great articles related to these subjects please include (cc @MentionHaiti) with your updates that link to these and we will RT your update.

Is there a limit to how much can be raised via the @MentionHaiti Twitter campaign?

Yes.  Our sponsor, a Gulf State embassy in London, will donate up to $50,000.  Which means that the first 5000 people to @MentionHaiti will be put in one of our @MentionHaiti lists and $10 donated for each list member.

Can I @MentionHaiti in Tweets more than once?
Yes.  Your first Tweet with @MentionHaiti raises $10 for Haiti, all subsequent Tweets after the first one will not raise additional funds for Haiti, but helps us get more people to @MentionHaiti.  We appreciate that.

I want to help raise more than $10 how can I do that?
You can comment on every blog post at and $10 will be donated for every single comment in the blog  (with a limitation of one comment per post) which means by taking less than 2 hours of your time volunteered will raise over $1000.

Is there any limit to the amount of money that can be raised by commenting on the blog?
Per person, the limitation is $1090 because there are 109 posts on the blog.  Overall, there is no limit however.

Millions of people could comment on the blog.  Isn't it risky to not have a limit on what could be contributed?
We would like to have the problem of too many people commenting on the blog.  If it comes to that, the sponsor can declare a cap to the amount that can be raised on the blog. Please comment on as many posts as you can to raise money for Haiti.

Does the blog benefit from the comments in any way?
No, the blog has no ads or corporate sponsors and thus derives no revenue from traffic. Of course, if you find the food articlesinteresting please come back and visit the blog or subscribe to it.

I'd like to be a sponsor is that possible?
Yes.  Please contact us.

What do I have to lose from doing this?
The only effort that is required is to click Reply & Update to any update found at  That is it.
Try it.  Spreading the message and raising money for Haiti is a great thing that you can do to help victims of the earthquake in Haiti.

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Thursday, January 14, 2010

Haitian Relief Effort - Comment to Raise Funds

  • No man is an island

No man is an island, entire of itself
every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main
if a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were,
as well as if a manor of thy friends or of thine own were
any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind
and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls
it tolls for thee.
-- John Donne

FINAL TALLY: February 1st, 2009: You left 1750 comments on this blog in the last 18 days, raising a total of $17,500 for Haiti Relief. Thank you so much to everyone who participated by commenting, linking, tweeting, retweeting and getting the word out.
As soon as they are made available to me, I will post the donation receipts. Thank you again.

UPDATE Days 1-15: 12am GMT 1/29 - 1466 comments = $14,660. Thank you! 3 days left.

UPDATE Days 1-12: 10:30pm GMT 1/25 - 1365 comments = $13,650. Thank you.

UPDATE Days 1-9: 12am GMT 1/23 - 1155 comments = $11,550. Thank you.

UPDATE Days 1-6: 12am GMT 1/20 - 1075 comments = $10,750. Thank you.

UPDATE Days 1-3: 12am GMT 1/17 - So far you have left 691 comments = $6910 raised. Thank you.

UPDATE: I'm getting a lot of questions via email about the legitimacy of this effort, so let me say a few things:
  • After checking with the sponsor to be sure, I can say that the sponsor is a Gulf State embassy here in London. They do not wish to be named as they do not want any further solicitations from unknown parties.
  • They are already donating money to Haiti but on a scale that has nothing to do with this small effort. This, even if I had the kind of traffic that The Pioneer Woman has, represents pocket change to them and it is for a good cause so they are happy to do it.
  • You do not need to thank me, it's not my money, it's theirs. You are welcome to leave a comment with anything else in it other than a thank you to me. 
  • If you have something nasty to say, I'd rather you left it in a comment than emailed me with it as your comment will still raise $10.
This is not the most auspicious way to get back to blogging after a mini-hiatus, but unless you live under a rock (and obviously you don't because you're reading this), you know the eyes of the world are turned toward Haiti at this very moment and the right thing to do is not to just post about something delicious I made or ate, but to use whatever opportunity I might have to help in some way. So here goes my way of helping:
If you are a food blog reader, you already know what Menu for Hope is and perhaps saw my participating bid item, or even bid on it, a few weeks ago. While it is a condition of my agreement with the organization that graciously donated the Kenwood Mixer (on very short notice and which would actually have been happy to donate something bigger if they'd had more notice) that I not name it, this same organization has very generously agreed to make a donation to Haiti Relief through this blog. So, while I unfortunately cannot name this organization other than to say that it is a government mission, I can extend their very generous offer for you folks to help me help the Haiti Relief effort.

For every comment that is left on my blog between now and January 31st, $10 will be donated to the purchase of essential supplies such as blankets, food, water, medical supplies etc... I am fortunate that as the donating party is a government mission, they can organize the prompt purchase and, more importantly, the actual dispatch and arrival of these goods to Haiti.
The number of comments you leave will be added up every 3 days and the corresponding amount will be put toward the purchase of the goods. In case you're wondering, look around, I don't have any kind of advertising on this blog so I don't benefit from any traffic this site gets.

It doesn't matter where you leave the comment, it can be on the first post I ever wrote, I will simply add up the comments I get in my email and tally those up. Just to clarify since I've been asked this a few times already, YOU MAY LEAVE ONE COMMENT PER POST and YOU MAY COMMENT ON AS MANY POSTS AS YOU LIKE ON THIS BLOG, but you may not make several comments on the same post, otherwise they regard that as the same thing as if I commented on my own posts a bunch of times. And to answer someone's question in the comments, as a government mission they are already making their own donation to the effort on a governmental level, this is just a cherry on the proverbial cake because I have a good relationship with them thanks to my husband.

So again, to be clear: You do not have to comment only on the most recent post - the sponsor will take into account new comments left on ANY of my posts before January 31st. In fact, the only restriction is that you may not leave multiple comments on the same post (as these will be disregarded for donation purposes).

If you don't want to participate here, you can always make a donation to a charitable organization such as Doctors Without Borders or a less well-known organization called Partners in Health which has been working in Haiti for over 20 years.
Or you can pick another organization (US readers) from this list put together by of the top legitimate charitable organizations involved in the Haitian Relief Effort.

For similar efforts, please visit these other blogs if you haven't already and leave a comment: it's so easy and will help someone over there, and if you can, please spread the word:

Ree of The Pioneer Woman

Alice of Savory Sweet Life

Michelle of Thursday Night Smackdown

Amy of Amy Leavitt Photography

Pam of The Cooking Ninja

Erin at $5 Dinners

Karen of Does that make sense?

May of Mayk all day every day.

Crystal of Money Saving Mom

Gaby of What's Gaby Cooking? 

A.C Parker of Feeding the Saints

Thank you.

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Friday, January 1, 2010

2010 - To a Happy New Year and Decade

Bonne Année à tous! Happy New Year everyone!
May it be a more peaceful decade than the previous one.
May it be a peaceful New Year
Thank you for visiting, reading, commenting, emailing, or just passing by. I know I drift in and out and I appreciate your taking the time to stop here of all the myriad places you can stop on the web.
We are all recovering from a relatively rough holiday period filled with strife and sickness, so I'd just like to say that I hope your holidays were wonderful and filled with love, laughter and health and that this new year will send great things your way. See you soon.

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