In January 2012, I started Paper and Salt. The past year brought a lot of new things: new jobs, new friends, new recipes, new books, new travels. But discussing authors’ favorite recipes here has been the best ‘new’ thing of that New Year, and (to mix up all my holidays at once) I’m thankful.
The past 12 months also brought many lessons about food blogging – new to me, although likely learned by you long ago:
1. Experiment. The best way to develop our own style is to dabble in others’ for a while. If you’re clinging to a sentence or a favorite ingredient, take a moment to let go. See how it feels.
2. Have patience. Taking pictures of food is even more about patience than it is a keen eye or a newfangled camera. You will move things around, making the most trifling of changes (This napkin here? Or here? Or … ?), ad infinitum, until your food gets cold and all the dishes you own are stacked in the sink, discarded after their short-lived modeling careers. And chances are, you’ll pick the first photo you took. Your patience will be what keeps you from throwing your camera across the room.
3. Be inspired. Despite the hours that go into cooking, writing, editing and photographing, the community of food bloggers still make time in the day to be extremely generous, and I’m indebted to many of them. I’ve updated the links section of this blog, if you’re ever in need of some delicious inspiration.
4. Persevere. Posts about baked goods will always, always garner more excitement and stomach rumblings than posts about salad. But never stop writing about salad, if that salad has some poetry in it.
5. Be brave. Writing, just the pure process of it, can be incredibly hard. But harder still is putting that writing out into the world, when you know it’s not perfect. You let it out of of your safe little nest of thought, unchaperoned and a bit underdeveloped, and hope it survives. But sometimes it does one better – sometimes it takes flight.
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So here’s one more new thing to kick off 2013: a giveaway. Or, since we’re really starting this year off with a bang, three of them. Each prize includes two books close to my heart – one of the cooking variety, one just regular type – brought together by a tenuous theme:
The New Yorker: Few things make me feel as wistful for Old New York as much as reading The Age of Innocence. Named for the famed Manhattan food shop, The Silver Palate Cookbook isn’t turn-of-the-century old, but it’s become just as much of a classic for food lovers – the book that brought raspberry vinaigrette to kitchens everywhere.
The Midday Snacker: Frank O’Hara wrote Lunch Poems on his breaks from work, roaming around Manhattan’s streets, and they’re best digested the same way: over a quick sandwich in a diner at noon, or on a midday picnic in the park. Finish your lunch with a bite-size treat from One Girl Cookies, with recipes from their award-winning shop in Brooklyn. The pumpkin whoopie pies might wind up being your entire lunch, if you’re not careful.
The Adventurer: As someone with a constant need to analyze, I was reminded by reading The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle that some things are not meant to be understood, but absorbed. When I first saw Eleven Madison Park: The Cookbook, I had the same reaction as reading Murakami for the first time: How did they do that?
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Apologies to those abroad, but to save myself the postage, only U.S. residents are eligible to win. But you can win multiple prizes, because why not?
The giveaway will end on Friday, January 25. Enjoy!