I've had the great pleasure of reading a good many blogs lately, with the development of the "Friends of Martha Blog Network." You can't help but be impressed with the vast amount of passion, talent, skill and creativity within the network member ranks.
Starting Monday, April 6th, the Friends of Martha Blog Network will be featuring a blog from the network. I'm thrilled that our panel of experts (okay, maybe not experts, but I'll show them some respect..) selected "Jeff and Martha - My Year of Cooking Fabulously" as the first feature blog.
I recently had the opportunity to e-interview blog owner Jeff Blumenkrantz about his attendance in Martha Stewart's Cooking School and about life as a blogger:
I love your blog and the idea of sharing your attendance at Martha’s Cooking School. What inspired you to share your experience?
Thanks! My inspiration comes from two places: Martha's amazing cookbook and Julie Powell's memoir (JULIE AND JULIA: MY YEAR OF COOKING DANGEROUSLY) about her experience blogging and cooking her way through Julia Child's landmark cookbook, MASTERING THE ART OF FRENCH COOKING. When I read Julie's book, I was just entering my Martha-obsessive stage, and I thought, if I'm going to "go there," why don't I REALLY "go there?" I was not a stranger to blogging, having produced two music-related podcasts (http://www.blumenkrantzsongbook.blogspot.com/ and http://www.fridayatfour.blogspot.com/), so I knew that the mere structure of it would keep me on track and guide me through.
What is your greatest reward in creating and maintaining your blog?
Already, I'm finding I'm more confident in the kitchen, I'm enjoying spending more time with my friends (cooking for them), I love that I'm inspiring others to cook, and I really appreciate the comments that people are leaving on my blog. And I'm only 18 days in as I write this, so I know there are other rewards yet to come!
What made you select the Cooking School book and not another book?
First of all, it had to be Martha, because she is such a beacon of excellence, and I'm a big fan. Secondly, it's a gorgeous book... seductive, even. I couldn't resist it from the first time I cracked it in the bookstore. And while Martha (and countless other chefs) have published scads of beautiful books, this one stuck out as covering a lot of ground, from very basic things (e.g. frying an egg) to very complicated things (e.g. cassoulet), and everything in between. I knew if I tackled this one, by the end of the year, I'd not only have developed a solid foundation as a cook but I would also have been on some wild adventures, had some enormous fiascoes and some surprising triumphs, and learned some really "good things."
How has Martha been an inspiration in your day to day life?
Martha inspires because she all about impeccability. She searches until she's found the best, the most beautiful, most delicious, safest, most elegant, most effective, most (fill in the superlative) ideas and things. How could one not be inspired by her dedication and commitment to excellence?
Blogging can be a full time job for some. How do you balance your life and blogging life?
Still figuring that one out. I always get VERY involved in my latest pet project. :-) Yet, I know that the more I give myself to do, the more I will get done. It all works out. Real answer: I sleep less.
When you're not cooking and blogging, are there hobbies, interests, or regular activities you participate in?
My life outside of cooking is very much centered around the performing arts. As a musical theatre composer, I spend a lot of time writing, concertizing, seeing shows, attending workshops, etc. I also see a lot of movies and concerts. And I have a new relationship (FNBF i.e. Fabulous New Boy Friend, as he's referred to in my blog), so I guess you could say he's a new hobby. :-) In fact, I think having someone to cook for definitely jump-started my late-breaking interest in cooking.
What can visitors to your blog expect?
They can expect that by the end of a year, I will have cooked every recipe and taken every lesson in the book, Martha Stewart's Cooking School, and they can expect a personal, literate account of my experiences doing so. They can also expect humor, honesty, thoroughness, anecdotes, and the occasional photo.
What advice do you have for up and coming bloggers?
It really depends on why they're blogging. Are they looking for readers and feedback? Or do they just want to write, and they don't care if anyone reads it? There seem to be many people who use blogging as a general journal of their lives, and I imagine it must be hard to attract readers if the entries cover so much ground. If they want readers, I'd say blog about something really specific. They will probably find a bigger audience the more specific they are. My other blogs were musical theatre-related, and people in that community would tell others about the blogs, and that magical viral thing happened. Frankly, I don't know much about the cooking community, so I could use some advice myself about how to develop an audience for this blog!
My only other advice is: It's really easy to commit to blogging about something, and then you lose interest or forget to do it and you find yourself not following through. I learned a lot about follow-through in the classes that I've taken at Landmark Education, and if there are people out there who are challenged in this area, I recommend those classes because they provide you with the tools to inspire you to finish projects that light you up. (http://www.landmarkeducation.com/