Officially Canned

packing jars

After several weeks of planning and and prepping and filling the time with resizing the pre-2011 pictures on the blog, my guest posts are finally posted!

Head over to foodinjars.com and check out a personal post/blog update and my Noni’s recipe for Pickled Green Tomatoes (the photo above was taken by Mairsa, to see some of our unused photos, check out her flickr). Feel free to drop a comment.

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Return of the Intern

After a lengthy and slightly exhausting spring break–lots of doctor’s appointments, family dinners, and errand running–I was looking forward to returning back to work. On Wednesday–in addition to spending most of the day to writing a press release for upcoming canning classes as well as proofing recipe ingredients, instructions, and headers–I was happily informed that the two pages I referred to in my previous posts are now up and running on foodinjars.com! The site’s menu has been changed to accommodate the new pages and future pages; the new drop down menu reveals the Food in Jars Cookbook Errata Page and the Canning Questions Page. To add to the excitement, I got to write a guest post talking about the new changes to the site, a little bit about me, and a lead in for my upcoming guest post. Yay!

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Today was even better–we finally got to make my recipe for my personal guest post (there’s a little preview above). In addition to doing some home-pickling, I got to make the recipe fresh for the first time, go over my draft, and learn how to take fancy food pictures–for the record, the one above was taken with my iPhone not a snazzy camera with reflected light and staging.

Either way, it was a great day, and although it may not seem like it, I learned a lot about what goes into a food blog, other than the general maintenance and upkeep that I have been doing. I had to take note of any measurements and pay attention to time and chop style, etc.; things cannot be done solely by taste or eye–if you add something mid-creation, then you better account for it. I also had to make decisions in writing the recipe down. For example, I had to make the call on whether to¬† include specifications in the ingredients or the directions, as in “1 pound of tomatoes, thinly sliced” or “Rinse, dry, and slice tomatoes thinly”. I also had to choose what backstory was important enough to include, what steps to take pictures of, etc. It was a whole ‘nother world, actually prepping for a food blog post compared to simply taking pictures while I cook or of my finished food.

And, I’m happy to say, I liked it.

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Pictures and Pages

This week was a bit of a bummer, but a good learning experience. Unfortunately, Marisa and I had to push back our canning session because the tomato order was delayed. On the plus side, I spent most of today messing with html coding. At some point in 2011, Food in Jars switched to a different template. As a result, all of the images that were put onto the blog before the change took place were too small to fill the width of the new template.

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I’ve been either getting an updated code from flickr, which hosts most of the images for the blog, or manually changing the dimensions in the codes.

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It makes a minor difference, something that users probably wouldn’t notice unless they were looking for it. Overall, it looks better and users eyes will no longer subconsciously stumble over the gaps.

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On Wednesday I wrote an introduction for a blog post that will explain the two pages Marisa asked me to create for the blog: the Errata page and the Canning Questions page, in which I sorted and linked the posts from the “Canning 101” and “Questions/Answers” categories into six groups, so that users can easily find what they needed on the Canning Questions page.

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Other than that, I’m just waiting to get in the kitchen and get my guest post on the web.

Cheers.

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Cookbooks and Rough Drafts

Things at Food in Jars is going well. Because I got so much done last week, this week was a lot more easygoing. I spent Wednesday reading through recipes and looking for errors similar to those that I noted on the Food in Jars Cookbook Errata Page–the yield needing to match the number of jars in the instructions, that no instructions are missing, etc. I also had to take out any repetitive numbers or lines, as well as check for the oxford comma.

After, there wasn’t much for me to work on until we could get hold of some ingredients for future posts, so Marisa introduced me to eatyourbooks.com, a website that allows you to import cookbooks by ISBN, thus making all your recipes accessible online.

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It’s a pretty snazzy site and most of my Wednesday was occupied by inputting those catchy 13 digit numbers. If there’s nothing much for me to do for the day, I can just pick this task up; it’s pretty much equivalent the the coffee runs and envelope-stuffing at other internships. Plus, judging by the sheer amount of books in that apartment, I’m sure it will keep me occupied throughout the semester.

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On a side note, I got to bring a pear/chocolate jam home to test! It was vegan and very tasty on top of some “rustic” trader joe’s bread. I’ve also begun working on my big project–the guest post on Marisa’s blog. I looked through some other guest posts for inspiration and began a draft post about the one canning tradition in my family. I’m so excited for the experience; today I got some notes on what needs more development, what needs to be relocated, this and that, but overall the story is good. Friday we start canning! and experimenting–the recipe we’re using is my Noni’s, my grandmother on my father’s side, and she never used conventional measurements, merely coffee cups and spoons, judging everything by sight.

Alas, it will be a pickley adventure.

Until then…

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A Jarring Two Weeks (wink)

Okay that was bad. Not as bad as me not updating my blog, though. Last week I had a nasty cold and literally slept all day Friday, which worked out rather well because I didn’t have to go to Marisa’s that day since I stayed so late last Wednesday. Alas, I shall inform you now.

I managed to get the recategorizing done all in one sitting, which is why I ended up staying so late. You know that feeling when you’re so into a project, you know if you stop and try to pick it up another day the flow will be gone and it just won’t work? That’s what I vibed so I kept at it. Recategorizing was definitely tedious. It involved renaming major categories, then moving smaller categories that fit into the larger ones post by post and then deleting the smaller category. It was a pain, yes, but there was such a satisfaction in getting it done. Marisa and I decided on 31 categories overall, which cut the original category list perfectly in half. As far as I know, everything worked out well and Marisa has been enjoying the simple life, regarding blog organization at least.

I’ve been doing some research for Marisa as well. Last week I researched some WordPress plugins for the blog, particularly for popular posts and content enhancement. This week I began looking at what I’ve dubbed “pretty blogs”, trying to find designers and/or well designed blogs and taking notes on them for when Food in Jars goes through a makeover later this year. I also made an “errata” page for the Food in Jars cookbook on the blog.

Gaining blogging skills as well as small business skills (I entered a many receipts this past Wednesday into a spreadsheet and would rather not talk about it. The number 315 should suffice to explain my experience) — awh yeah.

I’ve also started discussing my long term project for the semester; we’ve roughly decided on a guest post about my family’s green tomato spread. I get to prefect the recipe–and hopefully get to make it fresh instead of from other already preserved veggies–as well as get some food blog posting experience. Woot!

To wrap this up, here are a few pictures from my fedex experience today and the sauerkraut and slow-roasted tomatoes I’ve attempted recently. Sorry I didn’t spread them evenly throughout the post like a good little blogger, snow is coming and I’m all in a frenzy.

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