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How to Write a Great Food Blog

Tuesday, May 3rd, 2011 by Stacy

In May the Content Bureau blog turns to a subject that we can all enthuse about ad infinitem: food. To kick off the May food raptures, Stacy interviews Amanda Haas, the lovely and talented founder of the acclaimed website and food blog, One Family One Meal.

Stacy: Bless you, Amanda, for helping me with this post. The last thing I cooked was, ummm, hmmm, can’t remember….
Amanda: It’s my pleasure to talk with you about food blogging, my great passion!

S: First, please tell me what compelled you to start writing about food.
A: The running joke in my family is that I can tell you what I ate on any given day, and I mean from the time I was about age five! My parents weren’t surprised when I finally wound up in culinary school. When I had my own children, I wanted food to be a very important part of their lives as well.  I wanted to share with other parents my experiences in getting my kids to eat well.

S: As a blogger, what do you find most rewarding and fun?
A: I love hearing from other parents. It’s such a relief to know that we’re all trying to do the same thing—find ways to feed our kids well when we’re short on time. Also, I love hearing when someone cooked one of my recipes and their kids loved it, or that they were able to get their children to eat a new food because of one of my suggestions. It’s the best part of the job.

S: You have thousands of adoring subscribers on OFOM, ranging from novices like me to professional chefs. How can you possibly “write to your audience,” given that your audience is so broad?
A: I write for a busy parent like me—someone who is trying to juggle children, a home, work, and a marriage. Whether we stay home with our children or work full time, parents have a lot on their plates (sorry, couldn’t resist…).

S: Love the pun. So, how do you encourage commenting?
A: Right now readers can only comment on my recipes, and not my weekly blog posting. But when I guest blog on Circle of Moms, that community loves to comment! Those readers aren’t afraid to tell you if they love or hate what you’re doing. The dialogue is really fun.

S: What are your secret tricks for getting a lively dialogue going?
A: I don’t ever try to write outside of my base of knowledge, but I do share my personal opinions as a mother and a cook. That seems to do the trick.

S: You’ve created over fifty cooking videos for Williams-Sonoma. How do you communicate the same passion for the recipe—and clear instructions for following it—in writing? This must be a real challenge.
A: I’ve had a lot of recipe writing experience—I’ve worked on over a dozen cookbooks—so it has become much easier. There is a formula to recipe writing, but all authors have their own voice when they write recipes. Mine comes from trying to teach new parents how to cook amidst all of the obstacles they face—such as little people running around the kitchen. I try to write instructions that make the recipe easy to follow, yet keep it short enough so people aren’t afraid to try it. It takes a lot of practice. I love including little tips in my recipes that really help new cooks gain confidence.

S: Can you share a favorite post?
A: There have been a lot, but “the one about gluten” was memorable because so many people are trying to figure out how to eat well gluten-free. Also, parents love the posts when I’m really honest about how it’s not always easy for me to pull off my own concept every night. We all have off nights, or days, or weeks in the kitchen.

S: Honesty goes a long way. On that note, I feel compelled to reveal that I am addicted to bittersweet chocolate (preferably combined with almonds and/or dried cherries, cacao nibs, espresso grains…), and beg you to reveal your favorite, most chocolatey recipe, suitable for an amateur who doesn’t own a bain-marie or candy thermometer.
A: Why don’t you just drive on down to my place and let’s eat some chocolate together right now?! I too love bittersweet chocolate with anything–those dark chocolate-covered espresso beans—mmm…  I usually keep a dark chocolate bar in the house to nibble on all day long.

S: OMG! Me too!
A: The research is on our side about the benefits of dark chocolate. It’s a great vice! But I digress. In terms of recipes, I love flourless chocolate cakes. Or there’s a s’mores bar recipe from an old Williams-Sonoma cookbook that I just love. The easiest chocolate recipe I know is for Chocolate Pots de Crème. Make them and your friends will think you’re a pro. They don’t need to know that pots de crème come together in a blender in about five minutes!

S: Ha! Chocolate pots de crème are my signature dessert (really, my only dessert) for that very reason—the five minute thing. Now that you’ve blown my cover, I’ll ask a borderline “Oprah” question: how do you avoid getting hungry while reading and writing recipes all day?
A: This is tricky! Whenever I read about food that sounds delicious, I want to eat. So I really try to keep a full stomach. People who know me, though, are very used to seeing me eat all the time. I’ve never been able to turn away food…

Is this not the secret of life, friends? To make a living from one’s great passion? Bittersweet chocolate thanks and kudos to Amanda Haas, founder of One Family One Meal, an online meal planning service that provides users with a menu plan, shopping list of organic ingredients, and recipes each week to feed a family of four for about $200.

runs the Content Bureau, @contentbureau.

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