Sep 252013

This past weekend I attended the IFBC (International Food Bloggers Conference) in Seattle, and while I’m still digesting (hah!) the things I learned there, I thought I’d post a personal “Best Of” list of my weekend at the conference. Stay tuned later this week for more posts about this inspiring event.

Best Thing I drank at IFBC: Sipping Caramel with Mescal from the good folks at Hot Cakes was unbelievable – so good!

Best Overall Event at IFBC: The Urbanspoon Secret Supper I had at Luc in Madison Valley was the highlight of the weekend – the company was fabulous, the food was exquisite and Chef Thierry Rautureau was an absolutely welcoming and charming host.

Best Quotable Quote of the Conference: “The quality of the wine is twenty percent where you’re at, twenty percent who you’re with, and the rest is the wine” – John Sarich, Chateau Ste. Michelle Winery Culinary Director.

Best New Beverage Discovery: Fever Tree Ginger Beer from Fever-tree Drinks.

Best Snack Food: The paper thin dried fruit from Simple & Crisp was beautiful and delicious; just begging to be set out on a platter with cheese and something sparkling at a party.

Best Piece of Swag That I Thought Were Earrings (But Were Actually Wineglass Charms): Adorably dangly chateau wineglass charms from Chateau Ste. Michelle Winery . In my defense, I didn’t actually try to wear them and they are made with earring hoops.

Best Bit of Pre-Conference Advice: Keep a bunch of business cards tucked in behind your conference name-tag for quick access. The night before IFBC I met Heather from at a reception and she gave me this tip which I implemented first thing Friday – Thanks Heather!

Best Aha/D’uh Realization: Everyone has a blog, and everyone likes talking about their blog, so asking someone to tell you about their blog is a no-fail conversation starter.

 Disclosure:  This post was written in part to take advantage of the IFBC discounted rate for bloggers – but all opinions are my own! For more information about the IFBC blogger program, check out the  Registration page from this year’s conference.

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Watercolor Paintings with Black Glue Outlines

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Sep 042013

Another one of our summer projects, inspired by a project from my daughter’s school art program – watercolors with an outline of black glue. This gives the picture the appearance almost of stained glass, and keeps the colors from bleeding over the lines. I loved doing this project and the kids did too! It takes a bit of prep work, but it’s worth it.

Start by preparing the glue. I used regular Elmer’s school glue for this and it worked fine – probably any white glue would work. Pour all the glue out of the bottle into a disposable bowl and add black paint. I used a liquid craft paint, but I think powdered tempera paint would work much better to keep the glue’s consistency. Once the glue is tinted black (it can look dark grey and will still dry black) carefully add it back to the bottle and put the lid back on.

Next sketch out the image you’ll be painting on watercolor or other stiff art paper with a pencil. Try not to use too many lines – now is not the time for careful shading. You’ll add shading and detail to your picture with the watercolor paint.

Once your picture is drawn in pencil, go over the lines with the black glue, using light pressure to avoid big clumps or blotches of glue. At this point you’ll need to let the glue dry, and depending on how thick and dark the lines are it might need to dry overnight.

Now comes the fun part. When the glue outline is dry, use watercolor paints to finish the image. You can see it looks great with vibrant or muted colors.

Tilapia with Quinoa Mango Cucumber Salad

 Cook It  Comments Off on Tilapia with Quinoa Mango Cucumber Salad
Sep 022013

This was a fun meal to make – my daughter helped me make the salad and the whole time she kept commenting on how beautiful the produce was, how delicious the cucumbers and mangoes were, and how I had to be sure to post this on my blog because it’s such a yummy salad.

It’s always so gratifying when anyone likes what you cook, isn’t it? Especially when it’s your child, who has emerged from the picky preschooler years into a much better eater. Of course my son is right in the midst of not eating anything that doesn’t  have a face (he’s a total carnivore) so he turned his nose up at the salad. Someday he’ll eat it though, I’m sure.

This was a total throw-together salad, so there aren’t hard and fast measurements for it – here’s how I made it. Cook 1/2 cup quinoa according to the package directions while you chop the other ingredients. Cut up a mango (I like to use a slightly underripe one so it’s a bit firmer and not quite so sweet), an avocado and an english cucumber into cubes, and dice half a red onion. Juice two limes into a salad bowl, add some olive oil (a few glugs), a generous pinch of kosher salt and some grinds of black pepper and beat it all with a fork to combine it into a dressing. Add the veggies to the bowl, stir them around and let them marinate while the quinoa cooks. When the quinoa’s done, add it to the veggies in the bowl, mix everything up and then chill it in the fridge until you’re ready to eat.

I served the salad with a sauteed filet of tilapia, seasoned with salt, pepper, garlic and cumin – of course the kiddos eat that like candy so all in all a successful meal.