Poetry: The Old Dirt Road

The Old Dirt Road


GADR

The dust saturates my body,
But does not take over my soul.
Tasting the air, it quenches my thirst
and fills my five senses with relief.

Peaking among the clouds,
the sun beams down upon my skin.
Humbling dirt road, beneath the regal sky,
has twists and turns of a once straight and narrow path,
Now littered with broken bottles,
Filled with tire tracks, footprints, gravel, rotting trees,
and newly cut pathways.
Poses now as an imitation of life.

It has seen its brighter days
with laughter, lemonade, and proposals.
And
Darker days with anger, blood, and eulogies.

Cotton fields and oak trees line the pathway ahead.
I see faces (old and new),
in now what seems a familiar, but bizarre place.

Old houses with creaky floors and faulty roofs, and cracked windows,
Continue to be occupied by its original inhabitants.

Rickety and faded colored, half numbered mailboxes
no longer contain love letters, postcards from afar
Or news of a dead loved one.
They sit there empty, with an occasional
“you owe me” notice or
catalogs of “you can’t afford me.”

White (or brown) picket fences
where lovers use to call and squabble,
are now whole, half mended, broken, or long gone.

Old cars no longer have foggy windows or honking horns,
Are now rusting.

There is the old church.
Old plantation songs of praise and worship
use to fill the building with joy.
The pews are half empty
and the church bells no longer ring.

The soles of my feet touch where my ancestors walked,
where they toiled the grounds,
and where they were laid to rest.

This is my reflection. My resurrection.
Continue to walk the path of righteousness.
For you are dust, and dust you shall return.

(c) Joyce Jefferson
[Photo Source]

12 Useful Websites for Beginning Food Bloggers

12 Useful Websites for Beginning Food Bloggers

So, now you’ve decided to become a food blogger – congratulations! You dug out those old Thanksgiving recipes, sat up a blog, and searched the internet for photography tricks, the whole nine yards. Now, you want to self-promote! That special chicken pot pie family recipe you’ve been keeping within the family for 12 years or that new twist on Salisbury steak that you totally did yourself is demanding to be shared with the rest of the world! It is very important for food bloggers to utilize certain web services (especially social media sites) to their full extent, but where do you start? Here are 12 websites that could get you on the right track!

1. Facebook Pages (facebook.com/about/pages)
As more people are starting to use Facebook pages for business and advertising services, the Facebook addition has become an important part for spreading the word. From small local flower shops and restaurants to company giants like Starbucks and Microsoft are all promoting their brands – and food bloggers can too! Facebook pages allow you to customize your own page (icon and cover), post photos and videos from your blog, post (and host) events, and with third party apps you can schedule posts, promote other parts of your blog (newsletters, contests) via tab options, and Facebook pages can allow you to post the most relevant and important information at the top. You can also view your page stats and visitor data and Facebook also offers advertising for a small fee (one of the cons) if you really want to get your blog “cooking”!

2. Twitter (twitter.com)
In 140 characters or less, you can briefly share your experience at a local food truck or talk about the delicious peach and pineapple glazed pork chop you just made – leaving your readers drooling and wanting more (thus, visiting your blog). Twitter, the second most popular social media website on the web, will give you the freedom to put your brand out there! With twitter, you can reach out to other food bloggers around the world, but also to food related companies for ambassadorship/brand promoter opportunities! Twitter could also help you connect with your readers, gain information and research from other bloggers and companies, share photos and video, host twitter parties, campaigns, and Q&A’s for your website. Seeing feedback from users on your website or recipes could also help determine what to do and what not to do. Another benefit to twitter is boosting your content via search engines. The biggest con to with using twitter would probably be the 140 characters, but many twitter third-party apps (such as TwitLonger) help with this issue.

3. Pinterest (pinterest.com)
Who doesn’t have a Pinterest account these days? Pinterest in the past couple of years has grown from their users being wedding planners and housewives “pinning” wedding cakes and 4th of July recipes to now million dollar companies and small businesses jumping on the bandwagon! As a result, the company now offers accounts for business users that include stats and best of all, it’s FREE! Pinterest allows their users to create boards and to share (or pin) their favorite links from around the web. With an unlimited offer of users creating boards, Pinterest is where food bloggers can “pig out on pinning”! From “My Favorite Kitchen Gadgets” to “The Best Places to Eat in Seattle”, you can pretty much share anything related to food (your recipes or others!), blogging, or whatever interest you have. If you are interested in group sharing or have private boards, Pinterest also offers this option. Pinning is also easy, as Pinterest offers a share button which you can display on your website. One of the biggest cons of Pinterest is probably spammed links.

4. Instagram (instagram.com)
For food photo enthusiasts on the go, Instagram has become one of the hottest photography apps in the world! You will be able to display your food photos on demand whether you are cooking or out at the latest local food festival. If you are not photo savvy and familiar with photo editing, Instagram comes with photo filter for creating vintage looking photos, black and white photos, and even Polaroid-looking pictures. Even better, Instagram now allows video if you want to display your food adventures in action. The con of using Instagram, is not being able to upload photos from your computer’s hard drive and you are only able to post photos from your iPhone or Android device. Cropping is also another issue, whereas you will not be able to post full-display photos without a third party app.

5. YouTube / Google Hangout (youtube.com)
Going beyond writing and posting images on your food blog could be the next step in promoting your website. With YouTube (the number one video website on the web), you can take your recipes and brand to the next level! Using YouTube, you could do cooking tutorials and recipes, vlog (video blog) about cooking, share your favorite kitchen gadgets or offer cooking advice. Via a live chat using Google Hangout services, you could also host live chats and answer cooking questions your visitors have. Using the website could also boost your readership by bringing a personal presence – yourself! This is a great way of getting feedback from your blog visitors. If you are really into making videos, YouTube also offers a YouTube partnership where you could get paid to make videos! The biggest con of this would be sharing your personal space with millions of people.

6. Google Plus / GPlus Communities (plus.google.com)
Since 2011, Google Plus has been used by millions of people around the web. “Google’s social media network” allows users to have their own profiles, pages, and communities where you can share photos, videos, website posts, and add people to your circles and is great for networking. Here, you can also host hangouts (via YouTube). The biggest perk of Google Plus (being associated with Google), your posts ends up within Google’s search engine and this perk also increases your page rank – which means more hits and visitors to your food blog. As with Facebook LIKE button, GPlus uses the +1. This can also increase your readership as more people +1 and share your posts. The con of using G+ is that it is slowly being integrated with other social media and sharing platforms.

7. Flickr (flickr.com)
Display your food photography in style! Provided by Yahoo!, Flickr offers (now 1 TB – terabyte) of image space. With Flickr, you can organize you photos into sets (photo albums) and collections, embed your photos within your blog posts, you can favor other photos, tag your photos for search engines, follow other photographers, send testimonials, view stats, and your photos will be automatically archived. If you want to expand your passion for food photography (or share your recipes) to others, Flickr allows you to create Photo communities (or groups). In addition to groups, Flickr allows you to organize and edit your photos, and also you can send your photos to be printed for a book or coffee mug. The con of using Flickr would be space, if you go over 1 TB, then Flickr requires you to pay a yearly fee for more space.

8. ZipList (ziplist.com)
For grocery shopping, menu planning, and coupon clipping and recipe sharing – ZipList.com is your go-to website! Not only does ZipList offer these services, but for food bloggers, the biggest perk is when you sign up to be a ZipList partner, you can create a recipe box and display a button on each of your recipes from your website for other users to save recipes from your page! This service also integrates with other social media websites; Pinterest being the leading social media site.

9. BlogLovin’ (bloglovin.com)
A great way to promote your food blog would be adding it to a blogging or website directory. That is where bloglovin’ comes into play. Bloglovin’ displays a profile, plus your latest blog posts. When signing up, your blog automatically goes into a directory of over 18 categories and you can filter posts by country. You can follow or find other food-related bloggers and keep track of their posts as well. If you have more than one food-related blog, you can also have more than one blog hosted on your account.

10. Tumblr (tumblr.com)
Another popular microblogging service (getting 20 billion page views a month) you can use would be Tumblr. Tumblr works mostly on visual media, which means many bloggers use it for displaying photos, but Tumblr can also be used for posting quotes, videos, photos, links, audio, animated GIFs, and memes. All random things related to food and cooking can be displayed here. You can subscribe to other users and share their posts too. Set-up of Tumblr is very simple and you can be very customizable when it comes to your blog design. The con of this is many of the professional looking layouts, you have to purchase and an intermediate knowledge of web design may be needed.

11. Evernote Food (evernote.com/food)
Evernote food (apart of Evernote.com), is another great app for foodies and food lovers who are constantly on the go! This is a meal logging application that helps you discover new restaurants and where you can share meals that you had from any place. With this app, you can also share and find recipes. You can create your own “cookbook” and Evernote turns into your own personal restaurant guide. The cons of using Evernote Food is that is app is still in development and it may not be available for certain mobile phones.

12. Spring.me (spring.me)
Got a food-related question? Ask it on Spring.me! Formally known as FormSpring.me, Spring.me is an ask and answer website service. If you get a plethora of questions related to food, this could help sort out any questions your blog visitors have. You can also use this service to ask and interact with other users with the same interest, invite others from other social media sites (facebook and twitter) to ask and interact, you can also share photos, videos, and animated GIFs.

Bonus (Baker’s Dozen): Grammarly (grammarly.com)
As a bonus, this would be a big help to any food blogger if you are serious about your endeavor. Grammarly is an online proofreader that helps you find the mistakes you might have missed. Not all of us have proofreaders on hand and many of us do make grammatical errors. Grammarly also checks for plagiarism. The downside to Grammarly is it’s only free for 7 days, then you have the choice to have a monthly, quarterly, or yearly subscription (a onetime fee). If you are serious about writing and improving your food blog, this could be an option and long-term investment.

Floribbean Cuisine

800px-Seafood_dish

(Wikipedia)

The history of Florida’s newest, but oldest style of cuisine

The South prides itself on being one of the most distinguishable regions in the United States, and there is no exception when it comes to its food. From Memphis, Tennessee BBQ to New Orleans, Louisiana red beans and rice to low-country South Carolina seafood boil; each state brings a unique dish, cuisine, flavor or style to the Southern smorgasbord. In the state of Florida (not particularly looked in the traditional sense as being “Southern”), for the past few decades there has been an emergence in developing our own distinctive cuisine known as Floribbean (or sometimes known as “New Florida” cuisine).

What exactly is Floribbean cuisine?
You may have heard of dishes like key lime pie, paella, seafood boils, conch fritters, mango salsa, various types of rice and bean dishes, arroz con pollo (chicken with rice), mofongo, jerk chicken, and certain seafood gumbos and salads. These are all a part of Floribbean cuisine!

There are three divisions of Floribbean cuisine: Latin-Floribbean or Hispano-Floribbean, Afro-Floribbean, and Indo-Floribbean. Latin/Hispano Floribbean takes all of the elements from Latin America and the Caribbean, while Afro-Floribbean and Indo-Floribbean brings its contributions to the cuisine from its African, European (French, English, Dutch), and Asian roots.

The cuisine (which has been developing since the founding and conquest of our state), brings its own unique contribution with food, style and preparation to the Southern table with different elements of traditional Southern fare, strong influences from Latin America (mainly from Cuba, Puerto Rico, Haiti, the Bahamas, Jamaica, Dominican Republic, Argentina, Brazil, Trinidad and Tobago), and even parts of Asia (in specific China). Not only limited to these areas, but today, Jewish, Australian, and Mediterranean elements are being infused in the New Florida cuisine as well.

KLP(Shutterstock)

Floribbean cuisine highly praises itself on being fresh and local. Florida is diverse in its flora and fauna and has access to various waterways and fresh produce. Fresh seafood is the highlight of the cuisine. A variety of fish, shrimp, crabs, clams, and other meats such as poultry, alligator, and different wildlife are also included. Likewise, vegetables (for example yams, potatoes, okra, eggplant, tomatoes, and various peppers – spicy and non-spicy) and fruits (papayas, mangoes, pineapple, oranges, lemons, limes, avocados, plantains); are a main staple for many native Floridian dishes. Spices, herbs, and other flavorings for example: rum, sesame seeds, oregano, garlic, black pepper, cinnamon, curry, honey, cilantro, cumin, and coconut milk, adobo, sofrito, also play a huge role in complementing the cuisine. In addition to regular cooking methods practiced in the Caribbean, Floribbean is more light-weight with using less oil, frying, and fattening ingredients. What also makes this cuisine unique is the fact that Floribbean cuisine uses hot (spicy) and cold (fresh fruits) ingredients into its dishes.

Presentation is another factor in making Floribbean cuisine stand out from other forms of cooking. The secret? Presenting the food in a manner that is simple, comforting, but colorful and contemporary. Fresh greens and herbs, fruits, and vegetables serve as garnishes.

These are many factors that make the cuisine what it is, but where did Floribbean Cuisine originate?


History of Floribbean Cuisine

Even though Floribbean cuisine is fairly “new”, it’s actually been around for hundreds of years starting with the Native Floridians themselves (particularly in the South Florida region). Many of Florida’s first natives were hunter/gatherers. They feasted on local seafood and wild game. When the Spanish arrived to Florida, they brought over foreign staples such as the pig and other delicacies. The Spanish also brought rice to the new land from China and cultivated it. Both the natives and Spaniards began trading and in return, the natives taught the Spaniards about the indigenous fruits (palm fruit, yucca, plantains, oranges, etc.), and how to fish and hunt.

When African slaves were brought over from Africa to the New World, many of their cooking methods and native foods came with them – pumpkin, yams, sesame seeds, various melons, beans, eggplant, okra, and others. Decades went by and many other groups began to settle in Florida and around the Caribbean. After Florida officially became a state in 1819, many others from around the South began to migrate to the state for jobs in agriculture (citrus farming, raising cattle), fishing, and developmental projects such as road and railroad construction. As Florida’s population grew in the 1900’s (and the state began pulling in wealth), the state saw an influx of developers and became a tourist destination. In 1926 after being hit by the Great Depression, Florida’s economy took a hard hit, especially in the citrus agriculture industry as it was also being plagued by fruit flies. World War II was Florida’s saving grace as the economy started to pick up. All of this brought an increase of migrants from different parts of the US, and immigrants from other parts of the world (especially from Latin America) – and they brought their cuisine and cooking styles with them.

Cubans escaping Castro in the 1950’s were probably the biggest contributors to Floribbean cuisine. Many discovered that native ingredients they had at home could also be grown in Florida. Cubans (with elements from their other Caribbean counterparts) contributed rice and bean dishes, salsas, sauces, different spices, and even oils, smoked meats, and pickled vegetables. They also brought over their style of BBQ infused with Southern-American BBQ which is called barbacoa.

Conch-Ceviche-Recipe-by-The-Hungry-GoddessConch Ceviche (TheHungryGoddess.com)

Floribbean cuisine is slowing making its way into the mainstream America. Today, it’s mostly accredited to being eaten in South Florida, but it has been making its way across the state and into the South and other parts of the United States. With Florida continuing to become an even more diverse state with different immigrants bringing different cooking influences (for example, many people are migrating from Central America and Mexico), these will all bring more contributions to the Floribbean dining experience.

Interested in cooking Floribbean-style cooking in your own home? Check out this simple, easy recipe for conch fritters!

(c) Joyce Jefferson

Recipe: Conch Fritters

Conch fritters are traditionally served as an appetizer throughout the South Florida, Key West, and the Bahamas. It is also street food in many parts of the Caribbean. Different places such as Puerto Rico and Belize. Conch fritters over time have become apart of the Floribbean cuisine due to its approximity to the Caribbean. Enjoy the recipe below! Serve em up as they are great for summers and any tropical-themed events!

conchfrittersImage courtesy of Pinterest via thewilliambrownproject

Ingredients

  • 1 cup chopped fresh and cleaned conch (or if you don’t have conch, shrimp can be substituted)
  • 1 quart vegetable oil (for frying)
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 egg (lightly beaten)
  • ½ cup milk
  • Ground cayenne pepper (optional, to taste)
  • Salt (optional, to taste)
  • Black pepper, to taste
  • ¼ cup white onion (finely chopped)
  • ¼ cup red bell pepper (finely chopped)
  • ¼ cup green bell pepper (finely chopped)
  • 1 garlic clove (finely chopped)


Preparation Instructions

1. Heat the oil in large pot or set your deep fryer to 365° F.
2. In a regular sized bowl, mix the flour, egg and milk.
3. Add in all of the conch meat, seasonings and vegetables, and mix together.
4. Take a tablespoon and scoop up rounds of batter (make sure you got pieces of conch and other ingredience in each scoop) and drop them into the hot oil.
Try not to over crowd the pan. About 6 per batch.
5. Let it fry for about 2 minutes each or until golden brown.
6. Remove and drain on paper towels.
7. If you have left over seasoning, sprinkle with salt.
8. Serve with sauce (recipe below) and lemon and/or lime wedges. Enjoy!

Cautions!
- Do not over fry because the conch can become very chewy!

 

Bonus Caribbean Dipping Sauce (makes about 1 ½ cups)
½ cup commercially prepared salsa (i.e. Tostitos, Pace Picante, or homemade salsa)
1 cup real mayonnaise
1 teaspoon garlic powder
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper or to taste
½ teaspoon dried basil, crushed
½ teaspoon salt, or to taste
¼ teaspoon fresh-ground black pepper, or to taste.
Preparation Instructions
1. In a blender, puree the salsa.
2. Place in a regular bowl.
3. Add the remaining ingredients and mix well.
4. Cover and refrigerate for a few hours hours (approximately 2).
5. Before serving, stir well.

*Recipes adapted from Brown Eyed Baker, Food.com, and sauce from Sun Sentinel.
(c) Joyce Jefferson

How Gumbo Fuled The Civil Rights Movement

Source: NOLA.com

At the famed Dooky Chase Restaurant, where veterans of the civil rights movement still recall making plans to change the world over bowls of gumbo, black and white foodies now line up for Leah Chase’s Creole cooking. Back before the Civil Rights Act of 1964, however, some customers had to enter discreetly and meet secretly. In the 1950s and ’60s, as the movement gained steam, many of its leaders dined at the restaurant, then used a back room for meetings.

It was here that plans were drawn up to help the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. stage sit-ins and to shelter others trying to further the cause of racial equality.

Now, Dooky Chase Restaurant, run by Leah Chase and her husband, Edgar “Dooky” Chase Jr., is among a dwindling number of civil rights landmarks remaining in New Orleans.

“I feel like in this restaurant we changed the course of the world over bowls of gumbo,” said Leah Chase. “That’s how we always did the planning — over gumbo.”

Around New Orleans, many sites where blacks and whites gathered to chart the city’s move into an era of greater equality are succumbing to the rigors of time. The flooding left by Hurricane Katrina worsened the situation.

William Frantz School, where 6-year-old Ruby Bridges’ registration in 1960 effectively broke segregation in education and is celebrated in a Norman Rockwell painting, is being renovated. But McDonogh 19, where three other black first-grade girls entered the same day as Bridges, is abandoned and decaying.

Other homes and sites — including the former Woolworth building where sit-in protests took place over segregation of lunch counters — are unmarked.

Chase, now 89, became a member of the James Beard Foundation’s Who’s Who of Food & Beverage in America in 2010, the prestigious organization that honors the country’s most notable chefs.

She said many of the nation’s advances in equality were planned at her tables more than 50 years ago.

A long-time NAACP member, Chase had one of the few relatively upscale restaurants for blacks in those days. So it only made sense for civil rights leaders to gather there, she said. .

“Black people had working men-type restaurants in those days, places to get sandwiches,” Chase said. “But as far as nice restaurants, like they had on the other side of town, there weren’t many.”

There were even fewer where whites and blacks could sit down together.

“We frequently met in the upstairs room, the stairs were behind the dining area and nobody was aware you were up there,” said Raphael Cassimere Jr., a retired University of New Orleans history professor who attended meetings to plan civil disobedience. “That room was always full of people active in the movement, because it was not easily accessible for leaks.”

The list of civil rights luminaries who climbed the stairs was extensive. Many were confidants of King, though he never dined there. “Martin Luther King never ate here,” Chase said. “But his father did. We called him ‘Big Daddy King.’”

The meetings could be heated, Cassimere said.

“Some of them in the mid-’60s when we were planning the registration to vote movement could get pretty testy,” he remembered. “But then we’d all sit down and eat together and leave (as) friends again.”

It was hard to accept the young firebrands intent on making changes quickly rather than at a steady pace, Chase said.

“The NAACP was challenging laws and making progress,” Chase said. “That was too slow for the young people coming into the movement. But our tendency was to worry about losing what ground we had gained.”

New Orleans generally was spared the Ku Klux Klan violence that erupted around the South, though it was still a violent time, said Tulane University history professor Larry Powell.

“Especially during the efforts for school integration,” Powell said. “But it was always tense. There was always the potential for violence.”

And Powell said whites who were part of mixed-race civil rights groups were taking a risk. “You were always inviting trouble.”

Chase remembers the camaraderie and the sense of purpose much more clearly than the dangers.

“Someone threw a pipe bomb at our door, but it only did a little damage,” she said. “And they would send you ugly notes, but I would just brush them off.”

The famous upstairs dining room had become office space before Hurricane Katrina struck in 2005. It’s now used only for storage, Chase said.

“I’ve seen a great change,” Chase said. “People tell me, well it’s still a long way from perfect, but I say, ‘Of course it is, this isn’t heaven it’s earth, and nothing is perfect here.’ ”

The Bayou Country Village

I fell in love with this store as soon as I saw it in my Louisiana Northshore travel guide about a year or so ago. The Bayou Country Village is a store and a cafe located in Slidell, Louisiana.

The Bayou Country Village has a plethora of gifts, things for the home, music, soaps, lotions, t-shirts and other souvenirs, holiday items, and food and snacks of all sorts!

The Bayou Blue Cafe offers authentic, Louisiana cooking – serving up shrimp & sausage gumbo, corn & crab bisque, and chicken & sausage jambalaya on a daily basis (except on Sundays)! If stopping by this place, you must try their
house specialty – Creole pralines!

Aside from food, BCV offers gift baskets (which you can CUSTOMIZE!) and other products so you can bring the taste and essence of Louisiana at home!

Here are a few of my favorite items:

If you’re ever in the Northshore (Slidell) area, be sure to stop by this place! You won’t regret it! And if you’re not able to, you can order online!

Bayou Country Village
1101 East Howze Beach Rd.
I-10 at Exit 261 – Oak Harbor
Slidell, Louisiana 70461

More info

I did this review on my own. I was not compensated for my view from Bayou Country Village. I just love their products.