A friend recently posed the question, Do people read blogs anymore? It seems to me that the heyday of blogging has, indeed, passed, however short it was. With all the different social media outlets, is there really a place for individual blogs, specifically food blogs? If I’m being completely honest, there are really only a few blogs that I read from start to finish. These are blogs that keep me engaged without the typical cookie-cutter-style food blog feel. They are distinct and unique in both voice and imagery. I visit many food blogs, but often I end up scrolling through the text to get to the recipes. It occurred to me that a couple of years ago, during the blogging boom that now appears to be on its way out, a similar question was floating around, albeit about cookbooks and whether there was a still a place for something so old-fashioned in this world of Google and Pinterest. I must be a little old-fashioned because, unlike blogs, I have a soft spot for cookbooks. I love seeing shelves and shelves of them in the bookstore and I read them cover to cover, like a good novel, returning often to the recipes that my family loves. So, if you ask me, perhaps blogs are dying, but books certainly are not. And if history is nothing but foretelling, it seems that social media is headed in the same direction as blogs. I say this not to step on any toes, but because the current trend seems to be “oversaturated imitation.” Many food bloggers now seem more focused on trying to sell a secret formula for success (along with their own collection of Lightroom presets to make your photos look just like theirs), than they are on sharing the recipes that they so beautifully photograph. With so much imitation, there really isn’t much individuality out there anymore, and we all know that when something ceases to be unique, interest soon fades. Having said all that, I do believe there is still a place for the food blog, if only to provide a permanent home for a recipe, perhaps an interesting back story and a searchable spot in an index. Recipes shared on social media get lost so quickly.
I am so thankful for all of you who do read through my posts. I absolutely love, and feel privileged to share my stories with you here, but it also doesn’t bother me too much if people scroll through my text, the same way they would flip through the pages of a cookbook to get to the recipes. The recipes are, after all, the meat, substance and life source of this blog. So I’ll keep sharing them here, too, as well as on social media, and as this blog would be nothing without those who read it, I would love to know what you think! Do you typically read blogs or is blogging on the way out? Do you devour cookbooks like I do, or do you prefer to try recipes from compilation sites like AllRecipes or Yummly? What do you think the future of food blogging looks like? Let me know in the comments!
Yesterday was President’s Day here in the US – a long, lazy weekend – and it was wonderful to have the whole family home, as we are often scattered throughout the week. It was also the day the meteorologists predicted that we would get our most significant snowfall of the season. I never place too much stock in weather forecasts, they are so often wrong, but this storm was different from most in that it was headed west, directly toward the mountains which, in theory, would cause it to drop mounds and mounds of snow on us as it passed over. I was very much looking forward to the snow. We haven’t had a true, heavy Colorado snowstorm all winter. The weather didn’t exactly follow through as predicted, and we ended up with just a few inches of snow instead of mounds, but enough to stay in and savour the opportunity to cook and bake the day away. I roasted Cornish hens with shallots and the last of the seasons blood oranges. I love serving these little birds! There’s something special about bringing a platter of golden, whole birds to the table, no matter how humble or tiny they may be.
Cornish hens are common breed of small chicken here, they are so small that each is only one or two servings, but if you can’t get them where you are, pheasant, quail or poussin are good alternatives. I start them in a very high oven to crisp-up the skin, then lower the heat and let them finish cooking, basting with butter and herby chicken broth. I roasted some sweet potatoes alongside the hens. They are so incredibly simple, there’s no recipe needed. Just wash them and rub them with oil. Prick them all over with a fork, sprinkle with salt and roast them in the oven with the hens until they are tender. To serve, slice in half lengthwise and top with a pat of butter and a sprinkling of brown sugar and a pinch more sea salt. When it comes to sweet potatoes, the simplest preparation is always the best. Afterward, I made a pot big pot of stock with the backbones from the hens and while the oven was still hot, I baked a batch of sea-salted chocolate chip cookies – a recipe that, at high altitude, results in a dense and chewy cookie (I haven’t tested it at lower elevations yet, sorry!) In the between time, while the oven was working and I was not, I curled up on the couch with a cup of tea and finished a book I started on Saturday. Not a cookbook, but just as delicious. The perfect end to a long weekend, punctuated by delicious food, simple pleasures and a really good novel.
Roasted Cornish Hens with Blood Oranges and Shallots
I serve each person half a hen by carving through the breast, following the line of the breastbone until I reach the joints at the wing and thigh. Separate these from the backbone and the entire half of the hen comes off in one piece. This leaves the breastbone and backbone behind, making for a pretty presentation.
3 small Cornish hens
1 blood orange, cut into eighths
2 large shallots, quartered
5 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
3 sprigs of thyme
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp dry rosemary
1/2 tsp orange zest
2 TBSP butter, melted
1/2 cup chicken stock
Preheat the oven to 450 F (230 C). Rub a little EVOO on the bottom of a roasting pan.
Rinse the hens and pat dry. Place in the roasting pan. In the cavity of each hen place 1 sliver of orange, 1 piece of shallot and 1 clove of garlic. Tie the legs together and tuck the wing tips under the hen’s body. Mix together 1 tsp salt, a pinch of pepper, the rosemary and the orange zest. Loosen the skin on the breasts and rub the mixture underneath it. Brush the hens with melted butter and sprinkle with the remaining salt and pepper. Scatter the remaining oranges, shallots, garlic and thyme sprigs in the roasting pan.
Place in the oven and roast for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, pour the chicken stock over the hens, reduce the oven temp to 375 F (190 C) and continue baking for 30-40 minutes longer, basting occasionally, until the hens reach an internal temperature of approx. 175 – 180 F (82 C). (Adjust baking time if using a different type of poultry.) Let rest 10 minutes before carving.
Sea Salt Chocolate Chip Cookies
These are my go-to cookies made with any type of chip, chocolate or otherwise. It’s an easy, one bowl recipe that works well at high-altitude.
1/2 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/4 tsp salt
2 large eggs
8 oz. chocolate baking chips
2 1/4 cups flour
coarse sea salt, to taste
In a large bowl cream the butter and sugars until fluffy. Add the baking powder, baking soda, vanilla, salt, and eggs. Beat until well combined. Fold in the chips, then stir in the flour. Chill the dough in the refrigerator for 45 minutes to one hour.
Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 360 F (180 C) and line a cookie sheet with parchment. Scoop the dough out by rounded tablespoon and place on the cookie sheet. Sprinkle the tops with a few grains of coarse sea salt, then press slightly to flatten. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, until the edges are golden.