As January approaches, it's a time for new beginnings, new journeys and changes in our lives. It's also the time to take stock of the previous year and jettison the old, the mundane, the things that are holding us back or that clog up our lives. And you know what? As food bloggers, we can apply this valuable process to our own blogs.
What? What's that, you say? You think your food blog is perfect and lovely so you can't think of anything to get rid of? Gentle food bloggers, I am here to help and guide you through this process. Many other food bloggers or people that just like to read food blogs (they do exist!) have, in their infinite wisdom, decided to weigh in as well. There are many ways I'd love to guide you into a fresh, clean start for 2013, but let me start simply.
The 2012 Food Blogger Trends That Need To Go Away. Immediately.
1) Multicolored baker's twine: This is a menace that must be stopped before it consumes us all. Besides the fact that it has zombie properties and can never be killed...your pile of cookies? Adorable. All stacked up and tied up with peppermint striped baker's twine? Congratulations. You now have a picture that looks like every other cookie picture repinned on Pinterest.
2) Cake mix addiction: This is not snobbery. I willingly admit I have Velveeta in my fridge. What most of us take issue with is the recipes that tout how easy they are to make because you just use a cake mix. Reading on, you discover you must add 20 other ingredients that will keep your finished product from tasting like cake mix. Would it have killed you to just use flour, sugar, and baking powder?
Very cute cake pops image: Tarale on Flickr, used under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0) license
3) Cake pops: I know, I know. Some of you simply adore them and would serve them at every meal if you could. But there are a lot of you out there who are convinced they're the kind of evil that could only come from the Dark Side. Baby shower cake pops have brought many women to tears and broken them forever. A friend of mine that says, "Oh my gosh!" called me for advice when her cake pops wouldn't work and unleashed profanities that I had never even heard of. Cake pops' cuteness hides the fact that they are actually one of the plagues mentioned in the Bible. And speaking of adorable...
4) Adding props to your pictures: The advice that I and many others give you is motivated by our concern for your mental health and personal safety. Please back away from your personal prop closet. There are food stylists out there that I admire and wish I had their talent. But since you're a food blogger, let me reiterate that most of us really just want to see the food. The perfect colored napkins, the ribbons, the 867 different varieties of cupcake wrappers, the miniature glass milk bottles, the precious paper stripey straws, the perfect piece of pottery that you had handmade to best showcase your "Lentil Soup Delight" recipes, the bail-top jars, the single piece but strategically arranged brown kraft paper, that perfect rustic wood that you made look like a tablelet us give you some advice: If you see the styling you want to do all over Pinterest, try something else. Food can look stunning on a white plate. Plus, all of your props have to be stored in your "prop closet," and we worry that since it is so heavy, it might tip over on you, leaving you injured and trapped for hours. Also, that 248-mile antiquing quest for the perfect platter? Breathe deeply, stay calm & let it go.
5) Promoting your blog: Another gentle suggestion from a friend that is not a blogger but loves reading our food blogs: please stop tweeting your blog post over and over again. Sing it with me now"Once, twice, three times is maybe". She would lovingly like you to know that if you constantly shill your blog multiple times a day she will unfollow you on Twitter. She will unlike your Facebook page. She will quit looking at your blog. This whole conversation with her was followed with a "Bless their hearts," so she's serious about this.
6) Learn to let the perfection of Instagram pictures go: I heard several pleas for food bloggers to quit pretending that every Instagram picture of every meal they're eating just happens to be arranged in such an artistic way. This outs you as the hipsters of food blogging. If any of you actually styles your table with vintage LPs or posts pictures of picnic food being lovingly transported on your fixed-gear bike, then expect an intervention from a team of food bloggers who will only be there to help. Unless you're willing to go BIG and tablescape the crap out of your meal in a way that would make Sandra Lee toast you with a giant boozy cocktail, a plain bowl of soup that isn't styled into oblivion would be just fine to post every once in a while. Hell -- I instagrammed a bag of Gardettos. You can do this.
7) Bills got to get paid, but learn the art of moderation: You food bloggers who have made it big? We envy the sponsor opportunities you get, and the giveaways you get to host. But here's a gentle suggestion from a large number of peopleit would be nice if you stepped away from the Price is Right environment every once in a while and just posted a recipe that you like.
8) Step-by-step pictures of your recipes: I know many people are very impressed with some of our photography skills, especially since so many food blogger are self-taught. But none of us (even beginning cooks) need 50 pictures of you dicing an onion. Unless these pictures show you doing this while dressed in drag singing "I Don't Want To Cry" in a way that would make Mariah proud...then step-by-step is obviously necessary.
9) Please quit frightening us with your cocktails: I know all of us understand that cupcakes are "so over" (I still find them delightful) and we've branched out to other baked goods. But for the love of all that is holy, please don't remake cupcakes into cocktails. Whipped cream, marshmallows, frosting, cotton candy, donutsnone of these things should be flavoring vodka, nor should you be drinking any cocktail that has "whimsical" in its name. If you want to see a mixologist have a stroke, order a carrot cake martini.
10) Kale chips: We've all made them. Unless you can find a way to make them taste like cheese straws, nothing else needs to be added to the discussion.
11) The rigid seasonal food blogger schedule: On October 1, you don't have to post a pumpkin recipe, and then go on to post 20 more throughout the month. You do not have to post about strawberries and asparagus on April 1. If you want to post about chocolate chip pumpkin bread in March, free yourself from the tyranny of the schedule and post it.
12) National "insert food here" days: Give yourself a break & run far away from the absolutism of these holidays. Why? Because there's a National Cheese Doodle Day, and I don't think we should be encouraging food lobbyists to behave this way. This also creates a lot of pressure for us smaller bloggers. I just don't have the skills to create a recipe and celebrate National Raisinette Day like I think it should be done. I will make one very emphatic demand here: Stop telling me that there is a National Tequila Day. Because we all know that National Tequila Day is every day that ends with "y".
13) Quinoa: I personally am on the fence about this one because I have a shameful secret to shareI have never cooked or eaten it. But based on the fact that food bloggers like this person tweet about it with so much rapture, I'm going to give the advice that the reverence for quinoa should probably be toned down. Because when a food product has jumped the shark with this? Maybe it's time to move on and try other grains.
14) Things baked in things baked in things: The outcry over this issue was loud and forceful: The madness has to stop. A sprinkle stuffed in a mini chocolate chip stuffed in a M & M stuffed in a Rollo stuffed in a cookie stuffed in a brownie stuffed in a cupcake stuffed in a cake that's baked in a pie? Why do so many of you insist on creating what I like to refer to as the "turducken" of the baking world? Free yourself from these strange concoctions and delight in a simple, delicious brownie.
15) Last but not least, gentle authentic bloggers, please quit posting about authenticity: Every time you do this, God kills a kitten, and I do a shot of whatever booze is closest. Think of it this way: you know how if you have to say you're classy, you're probably not? Same goes with authenticity. Just be authentic, and we will notice and admire you and want to be your friend because you're down to earth and real.
A suggestion for ringing in the 2013 food blogger year: The "trend" that was loathingly mentioned the most was that food bloggers should leave the food blogger Borg mentality behind. The whole point of having a blog is to express yourself. So do that. Even though I do a shot of booze every time someone uses the phrase "find your voice," there's so much truth to that. Don't try to be like another blog, don't criticize other bloggers for blogging their own way, and no one has the right (even if you're a food blogger with tons of hits) to declare that there is a right way or a wrong way to blog or to participate in the food blogger community. You're even free to keep doing any of the things on the above list! Some of us may roll our eyes, but we will still like you. Promise!
Small-time bloggers & big-time bloggers? All of us need to be kind to each other, help one another and stop taking ourselves so seriously. Obviously, I love food blogging, but I'm not curing cancer. Laugh at yourselves, laugh with other bloggers and make your blog your blog, not anyone else's. Otherwise, our blogs will just be written versions of Pinterest boards, and nobody wants that.
I received tons of submissions, and this article would have been five times longer if I had published them all. But look on the bright sidemaybe food bloggers will keep doing the same things that drive you crazy next year and then they'll make the list of :Food Blogger Trends You'd Like to See Go Away" in 2013!
Happy holidays everyone! Enjoy your Christmas tree cake pops!
PS: Some people tried to get me to talk smack about pimento cheese, brown butter, bacon and pies. They're dead to me now.
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