BlogHer Food Austin 2016

Top 10 Lessons from BlogHer Food 2016

BlogHer Food Austin 2016

I was invited to attend the BlogHerFood16 conference this year, as it happened to be in Austin… and I’m so glad I did! There were many, very obvious reasons why the event appealed to me – networking with awesome food bloggers from around the country, delicious meals and samples from sponsors, tons of hot tips on social media strategy and photography, and possibly most importantly… inspiration!

So many keynotes, demonstrations, and sessions I went to were chalk full of insights from some of the food blogging community’s top bloggers, plus celebrity chefs, experienced content creators, authors, and more. Every person who spoke imparted wonderful nuggets of wisdom, so I thought I’d share some of my favorites here! Some of these pointers are things I’ve never thought about before, and others reinforced my confidence in writing and beliefs in creativity and staying true to yourself. Gotta love it!

Just look at this room packed with amazing female writers… and look at these pumpkin spice latte cheesecake cupcakes:


Blogher cupcakes


SO! Here are the top ten pieces of advice I loved the most from my two days at BlogHerFood16:


  1. Almost anyone can become your new audience. You can connect with a reader as a person, even if they’re not particularly obsessed with food. Speak from the heart and tell a story, good content is good content and people will respond to it.
  2. Don’t be afraid to experiment with narrative format!
  3. Share your weirdness! Write about offbeat trends, novelty items, experimenting with new flavors, original experiences that many people haven’t tried.
  4. We’re all unique and we all have our own history. You don’t have to struggle to be “creative” to come up with a crazy idea from nothing. Use yourself and your own experiences and build upon them to make something new.
  5. To find inspiration, start thinking more creatively about STUFF. Follow more stuff that isn’t food, drinks, restaurants. Get outside your own world.
  6. There is plenty of room on the internet for niche expertise and advice. Once you stake your claim as a blogger and put it out there online for everyone to see (“I know everything about chocolate cupcakes!”), it pushes you harder. Take advantage of external and internal pressure to make your writing great.
  7. Everything you say should be true, but you don’t need to say EVERYthing that’s true. aka: don’t write something purely to offend, shock, hurt, or annoy. Even if it’s truly how you feel.
  8. Blogging and content creating is a practice. Some days you might have to “fake it til you make it” and start writing even if you don’t feel like it. You never know what that rough draft can turn into.
  9. And, something we all probably know by now, but important to keep in mind if you want to make money off this ol’ food blogging thing: bloggers who have highest reach and most appeal to outside businesses treat their blog like a full time job. And it’s okay if you just want to keep writing or blogging as a hobby! But if you want to make serious money or get serious recognition, you need to take it as seriously as any other job.
  10. That being said: approach your food blogging authentically, not just with a goal of getting a ton of traffic. Find your true voice and share your story to connect with the audience who says “I like this person and their story speaks to me.” They’re out there!


Interested in more? Check out the “News” section of the BlogHer conference site for recaps and links to specific tips and tools. BlogHerFood17 is going to take place in sunny Orlando, Florida… so if you’re interested in immersing yourself in a weekend of inspiration, tips, advice, awesome networking opportunities, and lots & lots of FOOD… mark your calendars now.

Endless Simmer Beer Trade

Beer Trade: Try Something New

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Whoever said “let’s make America great again” doesn’t know about the American ingenuity of craft beer drinkers. One of the best things about craft beer is that we all love to share. We’ve mentioned the great beer exchange, but let us not forget about beer trades. Typically between two people, a beer trade will consist of a set of parameters and a deadline for each person to meet and ship out a selection of beers. Beer trades allow us beautiful beer people to not only partake in a diverse amount of beers that we may not otherwise purchase, but to also try beers that are well outside of your geographic bounds.

One of my co-workers would bring up which beers his brother sent him from California in exchange for some local beers from the Northeast. He would brag about the most recent batch of Pliny or a small microbrewery in San Diego. Finally, it hit me: my wife has a cousin in Seattle. After a few texts, we set up a trade of our own from PA to Seattle and back. Success.

Of course, I am not the founder of the beer trade. This has surely been going since the dawning of craft beer. When visiting in Tampa, I was given business cards of fellow beer lovers to arrange a trade. They went on about how they are a member of a network that posts the beers in their cellar and then offers are made. I’m sure there are a bunch of networks out there (in addition to just arranging through personal relationships), but what appears to be a more exclusive network is The Beer Exchange.

At the Beer Exchange, you are required to create an account before even perusing through the options. First things first, provide your cellar, or inventory. From there, you can post what you have for trade, what you want and what is not for trade (your means of bragging about beer to people who care). For those fantasy football fans – think of this as your waiver wire. Finally, you can manage who your friends are and provide feedback through star ratings as well as providing actual reviews. This is a social network for beer people. WIN.

Even reddit has a beer trade thread. Obviously since it is on reddit, it’s a big deal. I will be trying my hand at the online beer exchange, however I personally think the easiest way to go is to trade with your personal friends. Find a friend in a far away land and pony up the bill to trade some suds. Let’s make America great again…one beer at a time.

Baileys Almande Mai Tai

Cocktail O’ Clock: A Healthier Mai-Tai

Baileys Almande Mai Tai

Bailey’s has a new addition to its line of liqueurs: Almande, a creamy, non-dairy drink made with almond milk. Not sure if you know this about me, but I love Bailey’s but I avoid drinking dairy milk because it does not get along well with my stomach… so this is fantastic news to me! The packaging is obviously very girly, and I am In. To. It.

This smooth spirit blends the luscious, nutty flavors of real almondmilk and real vanilla to create a versatile drink. Serve over crushed ice or mix with coconut water for a delicious summer cocktail.

YES PLEASE, love you, Bailey’s! While you can definitely sip this sweet drink on its own or over ice, Bailey’s also shared some delicious tropical recipes for this summer… so, I’m passing them along to you! This Mai Tai caught my eye because it combines Almande with two of my favorite summer flavors: coconut and watermelon. I can feel the island breezes blowing now!

You’ll have to forgive this ultra punny name (or just embrace it, like I did)…


Mai-Tai Interest You In Some Almande?

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Delicacies epicurean bracelet charms

Fashion Goes Gourmet with Delicacies Jewelry

What do you give the chef, home cook, or food lover who has it all? When their kitchen is bursting at the seams with every kind of specialty ingredient and kitchen gadget possible, why not try… jewelry?!

A team of food loving entrepreneurs, including designer Nicolle Nelson and Chief Culinary Officer Andrew Zimmern (you know, of Bizarre Foods fame), has come out with a new line of bracelets called “Delicacies.” Billing itself as “The world’s first and only full-line of jewelry for epicureans,” Delicacies offers sterling silver & leather charm bracelets and gold pendants. Each piece features an ingredient – artichoke, chicken, basil, egg, fish, etc.

Delicacies epicurean bracelet charms

Similar to selecting a gemstone with certain ascribed powers, each Delicacies piece has a special meaning. For example, cacao means creativity, passion, and prosperity, while chicken signifies good fortune, protection, and wisdom. (Chickens are protective? Who knew!)

Delicacies sent me a bracelet to try out (tomato = health, love, and passion… I’ll take it!) and it even came in a cute little mason jar holder instead of a jewelry box. The leather bracelet strap is bordered in a lovely robin’s egg blue color that perfectly matches my FitBit (score!). The charm is very delicate and doesn’t stand out, which can be a good or a bad thing depending on how you like your jewelry. Here I am holding a tomato, IN a tomato bracelet. Whoaaaa.

Delicacies tomato bracelet

And hey, Father’s Day is coming up next weekend. Delicacies now offers “Thick Cuts” which are basically man bracelets, could be a thoughtful gift for the dude in your life if he (a) loves to cook and (b) loves to wear accessories.

The real question, I guess, is… are you a big enough fan of cooking and tomatoes (or whatever your choice ingredient is) that you’d like to wear your love on your wrist? These bracelets are $75 a pop ($85 for the thick cuts) and the pendants are all around $200. A pretty penny! Would you consider one of these pieces for yourself or a food-loving friend, or do you prefer to spend your dough on actual food?

Texas Beef Council Western Burger

Say Yee Haw to National Burger Month

Texas Beef Council Western Burger

Did you know that May is National Burger Month?! Well, it is. As a human living in Austin, Texas, I eat my fair share of beef, and my Austin born & raised fiance eats a TON of it. It’s safe to say that burgers are his #1 favorite food in the world. So I feel like I’m somewhat qualified, even if it’s through transference, to tell you about good beef and burgers. And yes, if you haven’t been to Texas and had our beef, it’s good. Really, really good. (May I recommend ALC if you’re ever in the neighborhood?)

The lovely people at the Texas Beef Council sent over their latest recipe for celebrating National Burger Month: the Western Burger. This burger keeps it simple… no crazy sauces or deep-fried mischief here, just solid beef with a slight twist… jalapeños right in the patty! Because Texans also like it spicy. Texas Beef Council says, “This Western Burgeris a perfect, guilt-free way to celebrate the month-long holiday and gives a nutritious spin on one of Texans’ summertime staples fit for any backyard gathering.” Works for me! So if you want this bad boy healthy, you can serve him in a lettuce wrap instead of a bun, but follow your heart/stomach.

Texas Beef Council’s Western Burger

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This Exists: Indian Poutine


We love every kind of poutine here at ES, from poutine potato skins to poutine tater tots, the poutine burger and the poutine cronut (OK, I made that last one up, but if someone wants to make a pou-ronut I am 100% on board).

Here’s a new one: Desi Galli restaurant in NYC is now serving Indian poutine, made with Tikka Masala gravy and grated paneer cheese. Yes, please.

Blenders and Bowls Pitaya Bowl

Photo of the Day: Neon Pink Pitaya Happiness

Blenders and Bowls Pitaya Bowl

Neon colors aren’t often found in natural foods, but get a load of this bowl! I’ve recently become enamored with pitaya (aka dragon fruit), the sweet, tropical cactus fruit with a bright pinky-red flesh. Its creamy pulp is becoming a popular addition to smoothies and bowls these days, and I encountered an especially tasty version at Blenders and Bowls here in Austin.

This is the funfetti bowl (so obviously I had to try it, since anything funfetti is heaven in my book). It has pitaya, pineapple, banana, vanilla protein powder and vanilla almond milk. Then it’s topped with hemp granola, banana, goji berries, bee pollen, local honey, & edible flowers. It was incredibly flavorful and full of texture – cold, creamy, chewy, crunchy. I wouldn’t say it tastes exactly like funfetti cake, but still delicious (and, come on, way more nutritious). Literally one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever eaten. And let’s talk about how people are putting smoothies in bowls now… it doesn’t completely make sense to me, but it does make for more opportunities to create a gorgeous presentation.

Anyway, you guys, this is why I’ve given up on making smoothies at home. Kind of lazy of me, but let’s be real. When I can spend like $8 at a specialty cafe and get this glorious bowl, why would I try to source my own exotic superfoods and edible flowers to make this myself? Some things are better left to the pros, and I think this neon tropical bowl is one of them.

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