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Wednesday, August 10, 2016

International Food Blogger Conference 2016, Part 1


The last weekend in July we attended out 1st EVER food blogger conference, right here in River City!  It was so much more than we expected - 3 days full of great blogging information and inspiration.  This year's theme was Farm-to-Fork and where else in the whole wide world could we do that in any other place than right here in Sacramento.  We are SO lucky to be surrounded by an amazing agricultural region producing an abundant variety of fruits, vegetables, meats, cheeses, wines and much more.  You name a food and you can bet that the Sacramento and San Joaquin Valleys produce it.  

And, did we mention THE FOOD?  Let's just say that from the moment we walked in until the moment we walked out, we never went hungry!  We sampled some of the best food made in Sacramento from well known restaurants to artisan food crafters.  

This is the first part of our 3 part post on the conference showcasing what we saw, what we ate and why we're heading back next year!  P.S. We're the lucky ones who get to attend in our home town again next year!

Our Keynote speaker for the first session was John Ash, an nationally recognized chef and food writer - "Father of Wine Country Cuisine."  He had wonderful stories of meeting great culinary icons, like Julia Child and MFK Fischer.  He spoke about 'ethical food' and how diversity is what's more healthy where buying local is so important.  And, even if your garden is small he implored, "Grow something!"


Next up was a panel discussion with local Sacramento bloggers about growing your blog business.  It was a great discussion for bloggers interested in branching out into their communities and using their blogs for community outreach.  Really showed how a passion for food can become a passion for helping your community.

Next up was the Taste of Sacramento Culinary Fair, Expo and Gift Suite...Did we mention THE FOOD?  I've been to some conferences in my day, but nothing compared to this event!  Basically, all these great restaurants and brands shared their favorite fare and libation. Here are just a few of the yummy things we 'sampled' to our hearts content!

Local About A Bite confectionery sampled some amazing little treats that were BIG on flavor!

Lindsay Olives celebrated their 100th year with us!  We just couldn't say 'no'!


Okay, so basically there was this table with these bags and all this stuff...So many great things to sample...California almonds, pistachios, figs, walnuts and so much more! 


Day 2 started with some great sessions including Lifestyle Foods, Farm to Glass and Tea & Dim Sum.  We learned that life is short so eat well and exercise.  We learned that the oldest apple tree in California is 140 years old.  We learned to sample (ha!) some AMAZING cider.  And, we learned that tea is fermented (I didn't know that...I don't drink much tea)!  

The day ended with this AMAZING dinner hosted by the City of Sacramento.  It was so hot during the day, but the delta breeze started its way to us about mid-meal.  It was so beautiful and so elegant.  Made us very proud of our Farm-to-Fork Capital on the Sacramento River.  We'll let the pictures tell the story...


Day 3 was a short morning before we all headed back home with a few sessions that peaked our interest: Learning About Corporate and Professional Blogging and #Sipping Social Trends.  The latter giving us some much needed (IMO) inspiration for taking our blog to possibly a new or different level of creativity.  We're hoping that showcasing the libation a bit more will help elevate our baking and our posts. 


We're so excited to get back to blogging...It's been hit and miss for us as it's been a busy few years for the both of us, but we've never left our blog or our followers!  And, look, Jacqueline made some very important connections with our new favorite cider brand: Gower's Heirloom Ciders.  I'm so lucky to have her as my blog partner...

Stay tuned for more cool stuff in Post 2 of #IFBC 2016!

Jacqueline and Ellen

Disclaimer: These are solely our opinions and we were not directly compensated for these posts.  However, we were asked to publish 3 posts about our experience to qualify for a discounted rate on our conference fee.  

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Saturday, July 2, 2016

Nectarine Raspberry Crisp with Limoncello

So, I just realized that I'm going to a food blogger conference in a couple of weeks, and I haven't actually blogged about food in awhile! I'm failing miserably as a Midtown hipster. To rectify the situation, I rousted my fiancé out of bed and spirited him off to the hipster mecca: the Midtown Sacramento farmers market. We bought homemade organic dog cookies, collard greens (fiancé wrinkled his nose at that, until I told him I'd be cooking it in bacon), nectarines, and raspberries. Oh and we did some wine tasting too - we discovered that Heringer Estates in nearby Clarksburg makes an excellent Malbec, so we got a bottle of that, too. Then it was time to sherpa everything home and bake!

We're having a BBQ tomorrow with the fiancé's family, and I decided to bring fiancé's favorite: peach - raspberry crisp (with nectarines, because I don't actually like peaches... Texture thing... Fuzz...usually when I make something that involves peaches, I use nectarines).

So, this is a super easy recipe. There is minimal fuss (and no fuzz) involved.

I sliced up about six nectarines (skin on, because no fuzz or fuss) and placed them in a 9 x 11 casserole dish that had been coated with butter, then dumped in a 12 oz container of (washed) raspberries.

Pretty, huh?

To create a juicy syrup and keep the nectarines from drying out, I mixed half a cup of limoncello with a teaspoon of cornstarch and poured that over the nectarines and raspberries. 

Next, I melted one stick of butter (unsalted, because that's what I always buy, but salted would be fine too). And I went ahead and browned it, because yum. And then I threw in a teaspoon of vanilla, so my kitchen was smelling pretty incredible. Next, I combined one cup of rolled oats, half a cup of sugar, half a cup of flour, and a teaspoon of salt in a mixing bowl, then poured in the melted butter and mixed until it came together in a crumbly consistency. 

That buttery goodness got sprinkled over the nectarines and raspberries. Then I chopped up another two tablespoons of butter and sprinkled that on top too, for good measure. 

This went into a 400-degree oven for about 35 minutes. The time might vary depending on how much fruit you're starting with, elevation, etc. but you know it's done when the fruit mixture is bubbling and the crumble is golden brown and crispy.

Now if this can just make it til the party tomorrow...

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Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Irish Car Bomb Twinkies®

Happy St. Patrick's Day!  Irish Car Bomb "Twinkies" are the perfect end to your corn beef and cabbage celebration!  These are made very similar to the cupcake varieties that you see on the internet with some adaptations:  chocolate stout cake with a creamy chocolate whiskey filling and topped with an Irish cream glaze.  A little bit dressed up and  little bit down home. 

I've had these on my baking bucket list for a long, long time.  I had wanted to make the cupcake version, but when Hostess announced that they would be closing up shop on Twinkies, I had to get the pan to make homemade Twinkies.  The pan is called a "cream boat" pan.  So, technically, these are Irish Car Bomb Cream Boats.  No copyright issues there...And, if you remember, Jacqueline posted her delicious version of Grown Up Twinkies with Rum a while back, too.

Moist chocolate cake that holds its shape well and can handle the filling of chocolate whiskey marshmallow cream. Lots of great chocolate flavor in this beauties.  Once these are filled, they are topped with a Irish cream glaze.  Booze of choice for these are Tullamore D.E.W. (no surprise!), Baileys Irish Cream and Bison Organic Chocolate Stout.  Irish all around and I wouldn't do these any other way.  

This was sort of a trial and error process for me.  I tried to cheat and didn't prepare the pans with shortening and flour.  Well, I sure learned my lesson and now have 14 'rejects.'  Not very pretty but taste great.  Good news is that the second attempt was a success.  So, if you try these, prepare your pans the old-fashioned way or you will have lots and lots of chocolate cake crumbs to make some trifle or cake pops.

Trial and error aside, I will make these again.  Now I know all their secrets and am excited to try different versions of Twinkies for adults!  

Hope your St. Patrick's Day is grand!  

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