Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Blogging and Contesting: Sparkling Lemon Ginger Cooler and a Cooking Contest Central Membership Giveaway

 Unfortunately I have had to draw another name for my giveaway.  This time Random.org chose Holly as my winner for the CCC membership.  I'm sorry that I didn't get a screen capture to post here.  Congratulations Holly.  I hope you are a big winner in the months to come.

I have been blogging for going on five years now.  I started because I simply wanted to share some favorite recipes with others who love to cook and create recipes as much as I do.  Much to my surprise, many of you stopped by, left great comments and still come back all these years later.  You are why I keep going. Thanks for sharing your time with me.

My first couple of posts took me weeks of writing, rewriting and proofreading before I published.  Now years later I still care, but I am much more relaxed, so relaxed in fact, that I recently missed adding flour to a cake recipe.  DAMN!  There's a saying that goes, "If you want to find a mistake, just hit publish." So true.  I'd like to now extend my sincerest apologies to anyone (Susan) who made the flourless version of my Pineapple Macadamia Cake. 

Photography for my blog is a whole new animal altogether.  I first started out just snapping photos at the dinner table and soon found out that would never do.  I needed a DSLR, lessons to figure out how to use said DSLR, and lights and props . . .  lots and lots of props.  Almost five years and a couple of million dollars later, my photos have improved, but I still only get about 1/4 of then on the food porn sites.  Sometimes I understand why, sometimes I don't.

Even though I love it, the blogging world itself is a pretty competitive place.  I have never understood why we just can't be more supportive of each other.  Don't get me wrong, I have been lucky and met many great, supportive and talented bloggers who really want to share their knowledge and perks with others, but I have to say that they are not all so generous.  It can be dog eat dog out there sometimes, but I have learned to lean in and not forget why I started this in the first place.

One place where I have never been disappointed is in the world of contesting.  You wouldn't think that would be the case would you?  I belong to a couple of sites where we members chat mostly about contests, but often times life and family seep in there too and friendships develop.  If you need a question answered about contest rules, or opinions about a recipe you are entering, it will be answered thoughtfully and with great encouragement.  Even when there is a million dollars at stake, everyone is happy to help just hoping that someone from the "family" might be the big winner.  Honestly, I love these people.

This time of year there are more cook-offs and contests than you can shake a stick at.  Cook-offs are my favorite because not only do you win a wonderful trip to some place fun, but you usually get to cook next to someone that you've known for a long time but have never met.   Last year I got to meet several people at The Gilroy Garlic Festival that I have been wanting to meet in person for a very long time.  I didn't win anything, but I've never had so much fun at a cook-off before.  So far I know I'll be reunited with a couple of them at Pillsbury and I have my fingers crossed that the rest of them will make it and if that happens, watch out Vegas.

Trying to pick out a recipe to go with this post has proven to be difficult at best.  I have lots of great contest recipes in my archives, but I kind of like to keep them under wraps just in case the right contest comes along.  The the last one I retired and published here on my blog (Chicken Enchilada Mac and Cheese) was one of my most popular posts ever.  I had entered versions of it in a couple of contests without any attention from the judges, so when the Support for Sandy event took place I donated this great recipe for the cause.  Looks like those contest judges don't know so much after all.

Since it is finally summer here in Colorado, I thought I'd retire a version of a really refreshing drink recipe that I developed a couple of years ago.  It didn't win anything but accolades from my friends and family, but just like that mac and cheese recipe, I think the contest judges really missed out on something special.  Their loss is your gain because this is a sparkling, refreshing glass full of yum.  You are really going to love it.

Sparkling Lemon Ginger Cooler

2 ounce lemon ginger simple syrup (recipe follows)
1 - 1/2 ounces vodka (or a good glug of dry white wine)
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
4 ounces (or enough to top off your glass) sparkling water

Place a good handful of ice in a large glass.   To the ice add the Lemon Ginger Simple Syrup, vodka, lemon juice and sparkling water.  Stir well.  Garnish with a slice of lemon.

Lemon Ginger Simple Syrup

1 cup water
1 cup granulated sugar
1 ounce fresh ginger, grated (a piece just a bit smaller than a golf ball)
Zest of 1 large lemon

Place all of the ingredients in a small saucepan.  Bring to a simmer and cook until the sugar dissolves (just a couple of minutes).  Remove from the heat and let it steep until it comes to room temperature.  Strain twice to remove all the bits. Use immediately or keep unused portions in an air tight container in the refrigerator.

To spread the contesting love, Kristina over at Cooking Contest Central has offered to give one of my blog readers a year's subscription to her site.  Cooking Contest Central is home to the most comprehensive cooking related contest listing on the web.  Not only will you find pertinent information about every cooking contest that you can imagine, but you are also provided with links to each contest site.  You will also gain access to a big warm group of new friends that are just waiting for you to arrive.

If you want to enter this little giveaway valued at $25, please just leave me a comment saying so.  If you want extra entries, you can sign up to receive my posts via e-mail (see field in the upper right hand side of this page), follow my page on Facebook,  Pinterest or Twitter, and there ya go!  Please be sure to leave a separate comment for each method of entry and whatever you do, make sure I have a way to contact you in case you win.  You will have 48 hours to claim your prize, if not a new winner will be drawn.  My lucky winner will be chosen on Monday, June 3rd at about noon mountain time.  Thanks and good luck!


Craig said...

Now that is heaven in a glass and if we ever get any summer (it's a big IF), I'm making it! Lovely.
Your photos are some of the best I've seen on not only food blogs but professional food sites too.
Who cares that you had to sell your first born for the equipment?

Cathy at Wives with Knives said...

I had to chuckle at several of your comments, Karen. When I started blogging I had no idea what I was getting into. It all seemed so innocent back then. I can proofread a recipe a dozen times and not see the most glaring mistake. I always hope some kindhearted blogger with take pity and bring it to my attention. The photography is a whole story in itself. I have thought about entering a contest or two but always back out at the last minute. I'm so excited for you that you made it to the Bake Off finals.

Karen Harris said...

Thank you so much Craig! You are so funny. Yep, that first born was a good trade for a new lens. Someday she'll understand.

Cathy, you are now entered. Maybe if you win you will get caught up in the camaraderie and excitement and give a contest a try. You are a natural.

Barb | Creative Culinary said...

I'm with you completely on the blogging business; where I thought people vested in food would somehow translate to a great sharing community I found just the opposite...maybe I should try contesting??!!

Still, my impetus has always been the same as yours. Sharing the foods I love with others is at the core of why I blog; without that, I could not have stuck with this for 18 years.

Lovely drink although you just KNOW I'm thinking vodka would be nice as an addition right?

Thank YOU for sharing this recipe and for being such a sweet friend. XOXO

Karen Harris said...

You scared me! I thought I missed something AGAIN! I did add some vodka as a nod to your suggestion. Originally this was made with another type of alcohol that will remain nameless. Thanks for your kind comment and all your great suggestions over the years.

keflon said...

Sounds so refreshing Karen. Might try it without the alcohol for a morning pick me up!

Barb | Creative Culinary said...

Didn't mean to scare you...was just affirming a great choice! I just happen to have some fresh ginger too so how could I not make this asap. Or well, this evening at least. :)

Kate from Scratch said...

Agreed! I love the idea of contesting but I've yet to make the time for it. Sounds like fun!

Laureen said...

Hi Karen! I don't need the CCC membership, but I had to post a comment. I love your blog and many of the other food/cooking blogs I've discovered since I started on the blogging journey just a couple of months ago. Blogging shouldn't be competitive. I get it that some people do it for a living, and are trying desperately to make money, but frankly, you can definitely tell the difference between the blogs that are "born from love of food and writing" and the "others." I'd rather read a blog that is a journal of someone's love for food, cooking, contesting and foodie friends! Cheers to you!

motherchic said...

Hi Karen, I just signed up for your e-mail
I am a member of the CCC, but I certainly wouldnt turn down a free year :)
Congrats on being a finalist!!

motherchic said...

I am following you on Pintrest :)

motherchic said...

I just LIKED you on Facebook

Michele Ingrassia said...

Hi Karen...I am new to all this, wanting to endeavor into something different such as cooking contests, due to financial reasons I have not become a member at CCC, but sooo would love to. This would help:0)SOOO will try this lemon ginger cooler, sounds great:0)

Sarah Bates said...

I would love to win! :)

Kitchen Riffs said...

You know, I'm dimly aware contests are out there, but I never realized what a big deal they are! Don't enter me into the drawing because I'm not the contest sort, but it's interesting hearing about it. I chucked when I read your "couple of million dollars later" remark about photography - that's so true! OK, not that much money, but it sure seems like it sometimes. Loads of fun, too. And I agree the decisions of some of the foodie photo sites (FG in particular) are sometimes whimsical. ;-) Anyway, fun post - thanks.

Deb said...

I very much enjoyed your post! I have been blogging for two years and have taken the initiative in trying to establish actual real life friendships with other bloggers in my area. I had no idea how competitive the relationships would be. Like you, I have baked away from that aspect of blogging. I have entered several contests with positive results and would love a Cooking Contest Central Membership!

Deb said...

I am a happy subscriber of your blog!

Holly @ abakershouse.com said...

What a pretty drink, Karen! I am cheering you on for November's contest! I am not sure I'm cut out for cooking contests-- I liked my ideas but found my recipe-writing was lacking. No luck for me on the dessert round. : ( Undecided if I'll give the breakfasts a try or not but the thought of making it to Vegas would be exciting!! Hope to see you soon.

Diane52 said...

I would love to be part of this cooking contest
Diane Baum

♡♥♬ Carolsue ♡♥♬ said...

This would be really cool to win! I love cooking sites and recipes, so this would be great!
Digicats {at} Sbcglobal {dot} Net

♡♥♬ Carolsue ♡♥♬ said...

I like you on Facebook as Carolsue Anderson

Digicats {at} Sbcglobal {dot} Net

♡♥♬ Carolsue ♡♥♬ said...

I follow you on Pinterest as cezovski9
Digicats {at} Sbcglobal {dot} Net

Holly @ abakershouse.com said...

Hi Karen, thought I would add extra entries for your great giveaway. I think I'd like to try out this cooking content idea for a while to see where it goes. Sounds like fun!!
I follow on Facebook.

Holly @ abakershouse.com said...

I follow on Pinterest

Holly @ abakershouse.com said...

I follow on Twitter.

Thanks, Karen!!

Lea Ann (Cooking On The Ranch) said...

I've been blogging for just over 4 years and remember those tense moments of anxiety over making sure everything was perfect before hitting that publish button. And yes, photography has been quite the learning curve. I'll have to sneak back and take a look at some of your really early photos. :)