Tuesday, March 8, 2011
Happy Birthday to ME!!!
Greetings my friends...
So, I have a question for you foodies... Do you have to make your own birthday cake, or do you GET to make your own cake???
This year, I got to.
Look close, it could be a plate of spaghetti and meatballs with sauce. In reality, it's a Red Velvet Chocolate cake with butter cream frosting.
But, Gonna save that post for another day this week. As promised, I am going to fill my regulars in on what I have been up to for the last few months and what I have planned.
As always, it is a long story. I have been retired for the last 8 years. I was fortunate enough to be in a position in my life where I could have stayed happily retired, played on-line poker and cooked for the rest of my life. I have not been actively looking for another business to open (this makes my fourth run at self employment). But, after a lifetime spent looking for opportunities, it's just habit to ponder the possibilities.
So, a funny thing happened a few months ago. I found a nitch that is not being filled in a hobby I have grown to love. In all of my former businesses, I have absolutely loved what I was doing. Good times, bad times, ups and downs of owning a business, I always looked forward to the next day.
That's how I now feel about food, cooking and blogging. Everyday is just as much fun and a challenge as the day I started. I am never going to be the next Food Network star, never going to have a column in Food & Wine, never going to have a cook book for sale, never want to cater or open a restaurant (now that takes a fire in your belly, much harder than it sounds, much bigger risk than you can imagine). But I know that by being a blogger, I eat better, not just taste, but health as well. Before I started blogging, I was a mess. Bad health numbers, but worst was my quality of life. Asthma was robbing me of mobility. The writing was on the wall.
But it is more than just a personal issue.
America is facing a health crisis. Allergies in all forms are becoming more and more common. Obesity is drastically on the rise. Our economy is facing crisis after crisis that economists never predicted just a decade ago. Politicians can not stop themselves from tossing money at every problem hoping that something will make us a growing nation again. The writing is on the wall.
Any new business needs to look at trends. Come in with a good idea when that good idea is needed by more people next year than this year will be a success. Chasing last years' trend, no matter how good of an idea will always leave you second tier.
So, here's what I see...
In talking with many NON-cooks, I am finding that there is a desire, but little knowledge. those of you that learned cooking at your mother's knees are being replaced by a generation that did not spend the time in the kitchen with Mom. Some of us thought we were doing our daughters a favor. With the growth of equal rights, pay and opportunities for women, we encouraged academic over domestic skills. And that's a good thing. But, balancing success outside the home with inside the home has never been more difficult.
There is a Chinese curse, "May you live in interesting times". Well, our times are getting more and more interesting every day. Gas prices will reach $4 a gallon this year. Maybe more. Assuming everything stays the same, that means we are going to have less disposable income than we expected at the start of the year. Combine that with inevitable price increases to follow on everything that is delivered, and most families in America face the very real probability that we will have less spending power for the foreseeable future.
And finally, play a game. Ask your non-cooking friends and neighbors how many cook books they own. Most have an old Joy of cooking or Betty Crocker, but most stop there. Most people do not subscribe to Food and Wine, Food Network or even Better homes and Gardens. Books and magazine sales are dropping to nearly below break even points for publishers (remember Gourmet Magazine, it did not stop publishing because of it's success). While we may look forward to every new cookbook, and already have a couple of shelves of cookbooks, "normal" people do not. I hit a funny statistic a few months ago. I now get more traffic to my site from search engines than from regular blog readers. I have been around long enough that someone looking to cook a brisket is very likely to find my blog in a search. As with most things, the internet has now replaced books (and Mothers) as a primary recipe source.
Having been a blogger, and a reader of over 100 different blogs each week, I know that most of us are spreading a new gospel. Food can be affordable, healthy, a source of family unity and a source of pride. And dare I say fun. Food and my blog is all those things to me and more. Read those last three paragraphs again. Food blogs are becoming the place "normal" people are looking to for affordable, healthy, family oriented and exceptional recipes.
We are the future.
We just have to make it easier for the searchers for the answers to find us (the bloggers of the answers).
In web terms, it's called a portal. A place for links to be found. It's not inventing the wheel, there are already at least 5 foodie portals out there that I participate in. But after being a part of their community for over a year, and for looking them over closely for the last three months, I am going to take a shot at doing it better.
OK, I am getting long winded. Tell you what, let me direct you to THE MOCK UP (actual site is being tested, and will not be live for another week). I would appreciate any feedback you might have. Roll around the pages, look over the submission guidelines. Ponder a one stop "build your own" cookbook (where you can easily add recipes submitted, but also a place to add favorites that have not been submitted... one cookbook to replace all the files we keep).
So, here you go... It's called Cul de Sac Cuisine
Click the blue letters and take a look (then come back and drop me a personal email at YEARONTHEGRILL@Yahoo.com
I would love to know what you think).