Fabulous Taste of Disney…my day at Epcot for the Food Bloggers Forum

March 20, 2012

Odessy Venue for Food Bloggers Forum

This past Saturday I was invited by Pam Brandon of both Disney and Edible Orlando to attend the Food Blog Forum on March 17.    The Saturday event was held at the Odessey Venue at the Epcot Theme Park.  I drove out to the property and treated myself to valet parking at the Polynesian Resort, then I hopped on the monorail to Epcot.  Disney had graciously provided deluxe accommodations at the Polynesian for all of the registered Food Blogger attendees!  I had attended two other Blogger’s events last year which were put on by the International Food Blogger Forum – Foodista, both of these conferences were excellent in terms of the organization, content of the seminars, the food, the venues and, of course, meeting the speakers and being exposed to folks that are really standouts in the field.  I have also made some lovely friends,  and to me, this is always the cream of the experience.   This conference was on my home turf, so I was really excited to be completely at ease physcially and socially and to meet Aran of CannelleVanille fame (who was just nominated for a James Beard Award!), David Leite of Leite’s Culinaria fame, and Todd and Diane, food photographers and stylists of White on Rice fame along with several local folks in my community whom I have never met due to being stuck behind my jam pot! I was able to meet  Heather McPherson, Dawn Viola and John Rife, all local foodies and community contributors here in Orlando.

Aran using a reflector to get that perfect shot

 

David speaking passionately about food writing

The truth is that I love being around brilliance.  I get recharged and refreshed and inspired and taken out of my daily routines each time I go to a conference.  Seeing success is energizing and I always take knowledge away whether I realize it in the moment or not…an impression has been made.

David’s presentation was fabulous.   He spoke about how to be a better writer, how to write better posts…he said you have to be interesting, you have to find what you are “enough” of..whether that is funny, witty, sad, etc., you must be consistent and you must decide how much of your life you will reveal and create your persona from there.  To quote, “think fiction, write non-fiction”.    Always include the plot, setting, characters, conflict, symbol, point of view and a theme.  Tell a story with a beginning, middle and an end and be sure to make your verbs active.  He gave an example of using the word “plonk”, when throwing your potatoes in the pot–that they plonk into the water.   He told us the more specific and granular you are in your writing, the more powerful your writing will become.  David recommends purchasing Grammar for Dummies and getting yourself a copy editor (yes…whenever I can afford that!), but the book is within my reach :)

Diane and Todd brought the room to tears with their fabulous video along with their incredible warmth of spirit.   They gave photo examples of the different light directions and exposures to give unique moods to your photographs.  For me, it was also an inspiration for me to see their success without the usual formal photography education.  This allows Diane to not live within the usual rules of “professional” photographers.  She rarely uses a tripod and trys to shoot all of her photos without using any type of software editing/cropping–I love this approach.   Aran did a food stying segment with Diane, and I appreciated seeing both their expertise and simplicity in the design.  It was intimate and perfect.

Edible Orlando did an excellent roundtable with Kendra Lott (publisher) , Katie Farmand (editor–and Pam Brandon’s daughter!) and Heather McPherson (food editor Orlando Sentinel) on working with local publications.  Lots of great advice there on suggestions including becoming an expert in something, writing for someone else, writing at least once a week, joining local organizations and pitching what you love were my main takeaways.  They stressed going in with a specific story, go in seasonal if you can, and pick an idea, story or local food scene .  Finding local food events and meeting local chefs will help to make your stories interesting and relevant.   Also..picking up a copy of the Chicago Manual of Style is on of my action items.

There were many other roundtables that I  would have loved to have sat in on, but time only allotted for these this time around.  At each and every break there was a frenzy of announcements and giveaways from the generous sponsors, Kitchenaid, Oxo, Bob’s Red MillGoo Goo Clusters, Whole Foods, the list goes on!   Gorgeous mixers, hand tools, Le Creuset Dutch Ovens..full size appliances were all won during the breaks….I have never seen anything like it!   There certainly were alot of happy food bloggers dragging their winnings through the park back to the hotel :)

I would be remiss if I didn’t talk about the amazing lunch that Disney put on for the event.  It was INCREDIBLE.  I can never get over the impeccable service, attention to detail and professionalism that Disney displays on a daily basis, let alone what they did for this event.  Pam arranged a package for me at Guest Relations, I was then escorted through the park in the morning, the venue at the Odessy was perfection, we were then escorted to a fabulous luncheon and then escorted back to the venue for the afternoon events.  The theme of the luncheon was A Taste of Disney and was held at the East Hall in the World Showplace.

 

 

They had vegan selections, seafood, chicken, meats….desserts…Chef Gary Jones introduced the luncheon.  The Grand Floridian Hotel’s restaurant Citricos was represented with Chef Phillip Ponticelli, they served seared Tofu with Zucchini and Eggplan Ratatouille, Roasted Mushrooms, Lentils, and Sun-dried tomato Puree.  That dish was bursting with flavor.  The Columbia Harbor House and Chef Al Hopkins served a Seared Salmon with Couscous, Broccoli and Hummus.  Epcot The Land  with Chef Tim Keating served a fresh salad of sweet greens with Vero Beach Arugula and Red Watercress.  The Sunshine Seasons at Epcot with Chef James Kleinschmidt served a roasted red and yellow beet with Goat Cheese (I could have eaten ten of these).

I wish I could have taken a much nicer photo of the Beets and Goat Cheese, but there you have it!  The lighting was very dramatic at the tables :)   The Sanaa at Animal Kingdom with Chef Robert Getchell served a Vegetable Sampler with an assortment of chutneys and dips that were out of this world and quite spicy too!  Their menu was Stewed Lentils with Spicy Cauliflower, onions, tomatoes and mint served over Basmati Rice and Pappadam.  The Wave at Disney’s Contemporary Resort with Chef Frank Brough served a Whole Grain Penne Pasta with Florida White Shrimp, Cedar Key Clams and Calico Scallops with a Roasted Garlic Tomato Sauce (I could have also eaten this one twice!).  The desserts were over the top crazy good, served up by the Grand Floridian and Master Pastry Chef Erich Herbitschekm.  My favorite was the Peruvian Chocolate Cylinder with the St. Germain Glaze along with the Berry Gateau with Port Wine Foam (OMG). Disney’s Comtemporary Resort Bakery and Pastry Chef Jeff Barnes bowled me over with their Olive-oil infused Chocolate Truffle Mousse, Marscapone Cheesecake with Lavender-infused Florida Strawberries and Green Tea Rice Pudding with Uzu-splashed Goji Berry Computer. (Yes I ate of three of those desserts too…)

Pam Brandon was acknowledged at the end of the conference for her support and the sponsorship of Disney.  Here is a photo of Pam receiving her flowers.

Pam receiving her flowers wih Tood and Diane on stage to the right

 

I am so grateful to Pam for inviting me as her guest!  I really enjoyed the day.  The Flower and Garden show was in full bloom. Here are some parting shots at the park.

Orchids among the trees

Photo Shoot with Edible Orlando Magazine..an afternoon to remember

February 5, 2012

Long Table Blog Size

This past Sunday the weather was so perfect here in Winter Park, warm sun, slight breeze, perfect mid-70′s.    I had received an invitation to Pam Brandon’s home several weeks earlier to be a part of a photo shoot for the Spring Issue of Edible Orlando.  We were nominated for the best local artisan food find!!!  The winner’s have not been announced yet,  but we were so honored to be nominated and included in such a wonderful round up of hard working artisans.   I had been wanting to meet Tony of Big Wheel Provisions and there he was in the flesh, grilling up fabulous shrimp, onion greens and a lamb donated by Trish at Deep Creek Ranch.  He is so dedicated and passionate about what he does, and the food that he cooked was spectacular.

Tony Carving the Lamb

 

Pam (editor), Katie Farmand (editor)  and Kendra Lott  (Publisher) of Edible Orlando organized and put together this beautiful table and event!  Breadsticks and Boule were provided by Olde Hearth Bread Company.  Heirloom tomatoes were provided by  Melanie and Roger of Waterkist Farms, you can read a bit about them here: Waterkist Farms.  Melanie and Roger are my next door neighbors at the Winter Park Farmer’s Market, and it was such a pleasure to see them socially and so relaxed!!!   Raw Blue Cheese was provided by David and Dawn of  Winter Park Dairy.   Here is a picture of Dawn with one of her twin girls!

 

Dawn and onf of her beautiful twin Daughters

And, of course, Fresh fruit jams were provided by our company.  Here is a photo below of our Raspberry Pepper Jam and Florida Grape Tomato Jam paired with a slab of Raw Blue Cheese.

 

Raspberry Pepper and Florida Grape Tomato Jams paired with Blue Cheese

 

Again, my heartfelt thanks goes out to both Pam and her husband for opening up their gorgeous home to us and for the entire team for putting together such a beautiful event and afternoon.  I love feeling and being a part of this community.  Pam, her daughter Katie and Heather McPherson are currently working on publishing a Florida Farm to Table Cookbook that I can’t wait to purchase too!

Crusty Cheese and Onion Muffin Disaster

January 8, 2012

Cheese Muffins Blogsize 2
Crusty Cheese Muffins

Crusty Cheese Muffins

 

My first time out baking in the New Year and ahhh….these did not turn out as well as I would have liked!   I joined in again for Muffin Monday, as the last muffins that I made a few months back with Baker Street  were delicious, wish I could say the same for these :) The original recipe was printed in the Women’s Weekly and I am sure it is a great one, all of their recipes are delightful–I have a collection of these books that I was able to get while I was in the UK and they are also sold in Canada.  I have also purchased them online here Australian Women’s Weekly.  The photos are fabulous and their recipes are triple tested and usually come out perfectly.  I even purchased a set of Aussie measuring cups (as their cups measure slightly different to American cups), perhaps I should have used those too!  I MODIFIED the original recipe as that is the fun of participating in the blog hop–hummmm…. I think I should have left well enough alone! The original recipe can be found on Baker Streets Blog link below.  Here is my rendition:

 

 

Muffin Monday is an initiative by Baker Street.  A culinary journey of sharing a wickedly delicious muffin recipe every week. Drop in a quick line to join her on her journey to make the world smile and beat glum Monday mornings week after week.

 

Holiday Gift Guide Ideas from Sunchowder’s Emporia

December 7, 2011

Peach Lavender Jam

With the holidays approaching, and the flurries of gift guides that are appearing, I wanted to put together a little gift guide of my own featuring some of my most popular products! Lots of love and care go into each jar and my preserves and chutneys are made the old-fashioned way, slow-cooked in French Copper Pots. I don’t use commerical pectin, corn syrup, colors or preservatives and I strive to feature local Florida fruit in many of my products. Driscoll’s berries are used in all of my products whenever my berries cannot be sourced locally.

I am so proud to share with you that my Apple Butter was featured this year in the Food Network Holiday Gift Guide!

My most popular crate sold for the holidays features a reusable hand-crafted wooden crate that is built by a fabulous company in Maine called The Neizenscot Guild. They provide employment to people with developmental disablities, traumatic brain injuries, autisim and mental illness and I feel really great about being able to feature their work. This gift comes in three flavor combinations, Exotic, Spicy and Artisan and also comes in two sizes, both my four ounce sampler size and eight ounce traditional jar.

Trio Gift Crate

The spicy jams are fabulous served over cream cheese with crackers and wine or used as glazes for Chicken, Fish, Pork or Beef. The Raspberry Pepper Jam in particular is wonderful when used as a glaze for salmon and I have many customers and fellow bloggers that have used this jam as a filling for cookies! The Artisan Trio features my Strawberry, Spiced Pear Butter and my Raspberry Chocolate–I use Callebaut Intense Dark Chocolate and finish that one with Chambord, it is really wonderful to spread onto puff pastry or use as a sauce for poached pears. My Strawberry Jam is macerated overnight using the french methods I learned from Christine Ferber. The Exotic Trio features local Tangerine Ginger Rum Jam (using Tangerines from a friends grove in Apopka that do not spray their trees), Zucchini Ginger Jam and Pineapple Tangerine Jam. The Zucchini Ginger Jam makes a fabulous quick bread which I will feature on the blog and is amazing when used with sour cream as a vegetable dip. To order a gift crate trio: Sunchowder’s Emporia

Gift Box

The second most popular gift is the simple gift box which is a lunch-boxed size cardboard box that features either two 4 oz jars or 8 oz jars. These make wonderful hostess gifts, teachers gifts, something for your hairdresser, I could go on and on! I can customize this box or it comes standard with Strawberry and Spiced Pear Butter. My Pear Butter features Boiled Cider Syrup and hand-ground nutmeg, cinnamon and clove with a citrus finish. To order one of these gift boxes: Sunchowders Emporia Gift Box

For that special someone, I also have a gift basket option. The baskets change with availablity and my plates change with availability, but the presentation is awesome! I can also customize this to fit your needs.

Gift Basket

 

To order a gorgeous jam lover’s basket: Sunchowders Emporia Gift Basket

My single jars are wonderful stocking stuffers for the foodies in your life! The small jars have handwritten labels along with some of my seasonal flavors. The other jars have my standard labels which I designed for my retail stores. They each come topped with craft papers and either a rose bow or plain bow depending on the color combination.

Strawberry Jam

Don’t you just want to swim around in the jar?

 

Artisan Trio

This is a photo of the atrisan trio in the sampler sizes which comes bubble-wrapped as three individual jars. All of the trios can be ordered this way if you would like to use them as stocking stuffers.

Raspberry Pepper Jam

A gorgeous close up of an eight ounce jar. This photo credit needs to go out to: Brian Minnich Photography He believed in me and saw my vision for the company, fabulous to work with and located in Winter Park, FL.

I would love you to come and shop with me for the holidays or anytime! Stop by, post comments, I would really enjoy hearing your thoughts and getting your feedback on my products. You can join me on Facebook and follow me on Twitter to catch up on the daily and local musings. If you are local, you can find me at the Winter Park Farmer’s Market on Saturdays and downtown Orlando at the Lake Eola Farmer’s Market on Sundays. My products are also featured at the Home Grown Co-Op in Downtown Orlando where I am involved with Slow Food and partnering with local farmers. You can sample all of my products at the farm booth and see what lovely jams, chutneys and pickles I have on display for the taking!

 

Driscolls Berry Moments

November 6, 2011

Driscolls Brie Blogsize 1

 

On November 4, I was fortunate to be able to participate in a Virtual Tasting Event put on by Driscolls Berries.  This was in essence a live twitter party in which we syncronized our twitter accounts by logging into a Driscoll’s Platform using hashtag #driscollsmoments.  We then joined a live video stream to watch Chef Rick Rodgers preparing not only the recipes we received earlier, but also giving fabulous tips for cooking your holiday turkey.  The event was coordinated by Steven Gilberg of @winetwits,  and I really was delighted to see all the techology working together to make it a truly fabulous event!  We received our goody bag almost two weeks earlier which included berry coupons, a Thanksgiving 101 Cookbook by Rick Rogers, a berry strainer, a flash drive with tons of recipes and an apron, all put together in a reusable Driscoll’s tote bag.  With recipes in hand, I invited a few of my close friends that could attend and set about to have my little get-together which seldom happens at my home anymore.  My dining room has been taken over with jars, ready to be labeled for my markets, and gifts, papers, and crates in queue ready to be shipped across the country at a moments notice.   I ask everyone that comes in through the front door to please close their eyes and remember what my home used to look like before I started my business three short years ago!  And, I have to say, that I was really thrilled to partner with Driscolls as I use their berries exclusively in all of my jams.  At 8:00 pm on Friday night, my friends came over, we enjoyed our appetizers and I logged into the Driscolls website for our event.  Bloggers and Social Influencers from across the country (several of which I am honored to know!) were tweeting about their party and we were all joined together to watch the live cooking event.  It was really, really lovely is all I can say.  Chef Rick Rogers is a hoot and I would have him over anytime.  I picked up a few turkey tips which is always wonderful, and now I will put them into action this Thanksgiving.  His book is available on Amazon, ahhh… I will always have a soft spot for those Jersey boys.

I selected three of the recipes I received to prepare for my party, I want to share them with you here now as they are perfect for the upcoming holidays.

I also invite you to enter the Driscolls Sweeter Moments contest for your chance to win a Viking Cookware set worth over $1,300 and second prize chances to win $100 coupons to purchase fabulous Driscolls berries.

 

 

 

 

Acorn Squash with Raspberry Sauce

 

 

 

 

Wild Rice and Raspberry Dressing

 

 

 

 

Muffin Monday – Apple Buttermilk Muffins

Apple Buttermilk Muffins

I have been wanting so much to participate more in the blogging world as I not only like to make my jams, pickles and chutneys, I love being able to use them both to bake with and to cook with in my own kitchen.  I also find that my customers appreciate it when they can taste and take away a recipe at my farm stand.   Twitter is an amazing, I have met so many lovely people online that share so many of my interests.   I recently met Anuradha of Baker Street and she is doing something really fun called Muffin Monday.  I just could not resist joining in this week as I knew I could use some of my very own Apple Pie Filling in this recipe and kick it up a notch!  The original recipe comes from Women’s Weekly.   In Anuradha’s own words, the Muffin Monday is an initiative by Baker Street.  A culinary journey of sharing a wickedly delicious muffin recipe every week. Drop in a quick note to join her on her journey to make the world smile and beat glum mornings week after week.

 

Biscoff Brown Butter Pumpkin Bars

October 28, 2011

PumpkinBiscoff Blog size

 

I adore Biscoff cookies and have been wanting to incorporate them into a recipe that also uses my products.  What could go better with Biscoff than Pumpkin I ask you?   It is my favorite time of the year here in Florida.  The humidty starts to lower and all the fabulous squash comes into season–much like Spring in the Northeast.  And on to the dessert!   Very yummy and quick to put together, it is both sloppy and gooey and wholesome all at the same time.  I hope you will enjoy this as much as my family does.   You can also find me sampling this to my customers at my market stand on Saturday mornings.

Apple Spiced Sour Cream Coffee Cake for R’ock-tober #baketogether

October 21, 2011

Apple Spiced Sour Cream Cake

 

I am so excited to be participating in my very first “Baketogether” with Abby Dodge for the very fun month of October.   We are taking her classic coffee cake recipe and changing it up.   I can’t wait to see all the variations that will be posted up with links in the comments section of her blog.  I have chosen to go with the season and used grated apples and boiled cider syrup to change mine up a bit.   It came out so moist and delectable.  As soon as I knew I had a good photograph, I completely lost control and scoffed it before I could even post this up.  As I sit here with my full belly, I still wish I could have enjoyed a piece with my lovely virtual friends today.  I dare not eat another slice when my family comes home!

 

 

 

Whole Grape Jam

October 14, 2011

Whole Grape Jam on Toast

I have always wanted to try to make grape jam, but the needs of my business have always taken a front row to lots of things I would like to try.   I love grapes, I get asked for grape jam probably once a week at my farm stand, so I scoured the internet to research and find some recipes I could work with.  My two favorites were from two women I really admire, one from @drwinne on her blog Healthy Green Kitchen and another from Kaela over at Local Kitchen.  I wanted to combine elements from both of these recipes and techniques.  I purchased seedless red table grapes and I was hoping the seeds did not provide all of the pectin I was going to need to make this recipe a success.  You will need a Vitamix or a very powerful blender to get the skins fine enough so that they just dance around your tongue when the jam is finished.  So…I can assure you this jam is easy to make, gels beautifully,  and tastes better than any storebought grape jam I have ever tasted!   Enjoy this :)

 

 

 

Trip to New Orleans for IFBC

October 9, 2011

Spiced Pecans

I visited New Orleans at the end of August to attend my first Food Bloggers Conference.   I want to write a separate post about my experience there, but I just had to post up my story first about a little shop called Leah’s Pralines .   There was much swag to be had at the conference, and Leah’s was good enough to provide us with Bacon Praline Brittle which were beautifully packaged and heaped up in mounds on the back tables in the room.   As a small business owner, I always appreciate and admire the companies that sponsor these events, not knowing if their “donation” will propel their business forward or how it can or will positively impact them.  It’s a brave thing for a small business to do and it always makes me shudder a little inside when I think of all of the donations I have made, never knowing if it will really do anything for my business–but I do it because it makes me feel good in the moment, and then I hope for the best.

On my last day in New Orleans, I made the time to go for a lovely walk and search out this store on Louis Street which was thankfully close to my hotel in the French Quarter.   I am so glad that I did!

Leah's Pralines

Rows and Rows of Pralines

The shop has rows and rows of lovely pralines…..and I just happened to come in when Kenny was making up some fresh Orange Spiced Pecans….which were Fabulous!    YUM!

Kenny Making the Spiced Pecans

Kenny Making the Spiced Pecans

The shop is quaint and old and I just loved the vibe.  It was quiet thankfully,  and I got to talk to Kenny and let him know that I made a special trip to his store just to let him know how much I appreciated the SWAG :)   We spoke about the conference and one thing led to the other….and I told him that I owned a Fresh Fruit Jam Company.   Our relationship was born…I promised to send him samples upon my return to Florida.    And the story has a happy ending!  Everyone loved the samples (including his MOM) and they will be carrying two of my spicy jams in the shop as soon as I can get them shipped.   So I am excited to tell you about Leah’s Pralines and really excited that we could connect and create some prosperity out of his willingness to be a sponsor.  I hope that when and if you travel to New Orleans, you will stop in, say hello to Kenny,  and enjoy the fabulous tastes and smells of a confection shop that has been in continuous business since 1944!  They are located across from Antoines at 714 St. Louis Street in the Historic French Quarter.

New Orleans

Beautiful Balcony on my walk in the French Quarter

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