The Kitchen Prep: Food Blog Forum Orlando Recap {Part 3}

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Food Blog Forum Orlando Recap {Part 3}

{For Parts 1 and 2 of my Food Blog Forum experience, click here or here.}

In my last post, I left off at breakfast, where we were greeted with glowing fruit salads & swag galore! We were all so amped to hear the speakers -- Jaden & Scott Hair of Steamy Kitchen and Diane Cu & Todd Porter of White on Rice Couple -- during the morning sessions. The excitement in the air was palpable.

Not the best pic, but it's what I got! ;)
The first session was called Redefining Success, and within the first 10 minutes, I knew they were speaking to my heart. As Scott & Jaden {and their 2 adorable boys} talked about on stage, we tend to chase the idea of success as defined by others rather than stopping to think about what emotion we are trying to attain by getting our hands on "that thing".

Getting down to the root of what you consider success is integral because most of us are really seeking the feeling that we think we'll have once we get "there". And, really, how can you get "there" if you don't know what "there" is? {I think I've maxed out my ""'s for one paragraph.}

Todd & Diane also shared some thought provoking messages in their session, Taking Your Visual Ideas to Flight. It was hard not to be completely swept away by their incredible talent: Creating stories with pictures. {If you have not checked out their stuff, do yourself a favor and DO.}

I'm not gonna lie... I may have gotten teary-eyed {um, multiple times} during their presentation. Not many people can convert simple photos into raw emotion as beautifully as they do. {Their adorable dog chasing bubbles in the garden. The pictures of those children playing together after a tragedy. Puddles, y'all.}

Photography tips & suggested tools were sprinkled throughout their presentation {not a ton of "how to" but a lot of "why to"} for practical application, but what I most took away from their session is a renewed sense of commitment to practicing my photography and storytelling.

And then... there was LUNCH!

Can I just tell you how giddy I was to make my way around the stations that were set up just for us? The theme was Disney Kid's Cuisine and they showcased some of the new, healthier options offered by the park for the wee ones as well as sumptuous comfort classics.

Not that it was any less elegantly presented just because it was "kid food".

I'll let the pictures do the talking.

We got back to work after a more than satisfying lunch break, and went straight into Technology Talk, moderated by Eric Deutsch of Excel PR Group and presented by Elise Bauer of Simply Recipes & Babette Pepaj of BakeSpace. It's easy to get lost in the food realm when you have a passion for, well,   food as we bloggers do. But it's important to remember that technology plays a huge role in sharing what we create. Between Pinterest, Google Hangout, YouTube, and a variety of other up and coming platforms, there is constant growth and change in how to reach audiences, and it's important to stay up to date and relevant.

I absolutely loved the session, Grassroots Community Building presented by Julie Deily of The Little Kitchen, Lindsey Landis of Love & Olive Oil, David Leite of Leite's Culinaria and Jeff Houck of the The Stew. We were offered tips and best practices to growing our community and keeping said members around.

Believe it or not, it can get kinda tricky being on this side of the screen. There's a fine line between entertaining and showboating, having a clear persona and becoming a "character". As bloggers, we're putting ourselves "out there"; to be loved, to be criticized, to be judged.

But the thing is, we're just regular people. Our feelings get hurt. We cry when people leave hateful comments. {"Your recipe sucked!", etc., etc.} Most of us worry what you might think. We stress about making sure we're giving you good, useful content. And sometimes, we have to check and make sure that we're staying authentic to who we really are... myself included.

See, when you read this blog you see the side of me that's intended for an audience; the side that likes to be goofy and put on a bit of a show. The part of me that has a funny story or a recipe to share with you, and unabashedly tells the world my business. {To be honest, I often forget anyone sees what I write. For so long, I'm pretty sure it was just my mom.}

Disclosure: Sometimes, I'm terribly frightened that you'll all stop reading. Or that this blog will stop growing and wither away. I get scared that if I don't work with cool brands, you won't respect my opinion. And that if I do, you'll think I'm selling out.

I wonder what opportunities will come to me from blogging -- Who I will meet, where I will travel, how much I'll get paid -- just like many of you wonder about the same things with respect to your profession.

In the end, it all comes down to one thing: My passion for doing what I do here. For encouraging you to cook and taste and experiment in the kitchen. For showing you some of the things I've made that I'm proud of. For getting to speak my mind, and many times, my heart right here in this tiny little corner of the interwebs.

When it comes down to it, it's about "feeding your soul, and not your ego" {thank you, Scott Hair, for that phrase}.

All the rest of the stuff? The perks, the freebies, the paid posts... they're pretty cool, too. But it isn't what this place is about for me. And I hope you'll help me remember that if it ever seems that I wander too far from center.

As a wonderful wrap up to the day of fabulous presentations, we were fortunate enough to have Tim Warzecha, a Disney Imagineer, speak to us about the creative process of bringing the Kidani Village and Sanaa restaurant to life.

To say I was impressed would be an understatement. I always knew that Disney had a knack for detail, but after listening to Mr. Warzecha describe the painstaking labor of love that it took to bring this creation to fruition, I was inspired {and floored}. Every little piece, down to every last pebble on the grounds, has a story and a purpose. It was a pleasure to get a rare behind the scenes glimpse at the amazing feat of producing a piece of Disney property.

The day was long, yes, but we still had an evening of dessert and Disney magic ahead of us at the closing reception, which I'll be giving you the low-down on in the next {and final!} recap post.

I thought long and hard about what I recipe I wanted to share in conjunction with this post... but we had SO many dishes that I couldn't decide! So instead, I'm sharing a recipe that we've been loving in my house: Kale Pesto.

We used it over the weekend as the "sauce" for a veggie pizza {Sans cheese. Big deal around here.} and loved it. Like a Disney Imagineer I like to innovate ways to incorporate healthy things into our diets in delicious and unexpected ways, and this pesto hits the nail on the head.

This recipe is one suggested method, but you can definitely add your own twist {Add Parmesan for a salty, cheesy bite. Sprinkle some red pepper flakes for a little kick, etc.} to make it your own.

Now, doesn't this make you want to eat your veggies??

Kale Pesto

4 large kale leaves, washed & dried
1 small bunch {about 10 leaves} fresh basil
2 small cloves of garlic
1/4 cup walnuts, toasted
Salt to taste
Pepper to taste
1/4 - 1/3 cup olive oil {I like mine more chunky & less oily, but you can add as much oil as you need.}

1. Place the first 6 ingredients in a food processor or blender and pulse until just chopped & incorporated. {You may need to use a spoon or spatula to scrape from the sides of the blender and push down between pulsing.}

2. With the blender or processor running, stream in olive oil and continue to blend until you reach desired consistency.

3. Store in the refrigerator in a air-tight container for use on pizzas, in sandwiches, on pasta, on chicken, fish, etc. etc. Get creative!


LyndaS said...

What a great job you did writing this post. I am almost embarrassed to post my recap now. I think I will post a link to yours since it was so beautifully written. :)

Dianna M. said...

@Lynda - Thanks so much! I took a peek at your first post and it was great! Thanks for stopping by & reading. :)

Katie said...

Awe what a great recap! I think as long as you stay true to yourself that is what matters most! :)

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