Thursday, April 12, 2012

The Book before the Blog

I normally don't write these kind of posts. I like to just put up pictures of food that I make and then eat. I like to write about what I like about that food and share tips about ingredients, techniques and other nerdy food science stuff. I like doing all of those things.

Maybe you'll find inspiration in that. I don't know. I find inspiration from every little thing around me and it can happen at any time. I think that's the most fun part about life!

But, today I'm going to write something that's not about chocolate fudge brownies or flaky homemade pop tarts. Although man I wish I had some of that and that right now!

This will also probably be the longest post I've ever made. Promise.

I've recently noticed the flood of articles being written about the reality of being a food writer, bloggers turned authors, and people struggling to be the next big thing or achieve a bazillion facebook fans.

Most of them are sort of downers and dream crushers. They tell you how the salaries have declined in food writing, how difficult it is to get started, it's too late to get popular and the money is spread so thin, etc.

A lot of it is all true and very useful information. I mean...let's be honest with ourselves... everyone and their pet hamster has a blog nowadays. Why not?

I thought it was maybe a good time to clarify something...

I do not consider myself a food writer because I write a blog. 

I am a Food Scientist. I studied very hard and very long for that.


I also happen to be a brand new author. I wrote a sciencey cookbook. It's something I'm crazy excited about and very proud of - I made it to share all of my bottled up brownie secrets, banging recipes and other food knowledge. I needed to let you know that I found out exactly how to get that shiny, wrinkly, crinkly top on your brownies every single time! It's called Scientifically Sweet and I named this blog after the book...because that is indeed what this blog is about too. Science and sweets.

I started this blog barely 2 years ago just because I get really excited when I bake something so good that I need to force it down people's throats. I just want everyone to know about it, taste it, experience it and enjoy it as much as I do! Ask my husband....he's so sick of me.

Everyday it's "Want a cookie? These ones are sooooo good"

"How about a piece of cake? It's got like 7 ounces of chocolate it in it!"

It's so aggressive that he actually sighs when I offer him sweets - as if it's work to eat it.


I'm just downright obsessed with baking and I always have been. This surge and popularity of food blogs has not driven that. The fire was always there. You can read all about it in my introduction - how my Nonna pretty much accused me of being anorexic if I asked for a glass of water instead of juice. Food Food FOOD! It was a big part of my upbringing.

I actually started writing my book before I even knew that food blogs existed. I was away in Europe doing my Masters when the fad began and I was so involved in my studies that I really didn't even notice it. My time on the internet was spent browsing journal articles about polyphenols in red wine and astringency rather than gawking at all of the gorgeous dishes that people create each day and put out there for us to drool at.

When I came back to Canada I began working in the food industry as a Product Developer for a while before I moved to the big city and decided to really buckle down and dedicate myself full-time to my book.

For a few months when I was working in R&D (Research & Development), I actually vended at the local farmer's market as well. My schedule was crazy and I barely ever had time to sit down. I would walk to and from work (45 minutes/way) in 2 feet of snow or under the sunny sky. It didn't matter.

Hold up - I just realized that I sounded like a grannie right there. Except grannies had to walk some 5 or 6 km to work...


After getting home from my regular 8-4 shift I would immediately start baking in preparation for the market. I'd usually finish around 10 pm....almost too tired to shower my seriously sweaty body. After having the oven on for 4 hours in the blistering heat of summer while kneading bread by hand for 10 minutes at a time and wearing a hair net, you could imagine how crazy I looked. The friday night before the market I would usually be awake until around 2 am, individually wrapping caramels and packaging cookies and scones.

I'd awake around 6 am, head to the market and get set up. The next 7 hours were spent on my feet hoping that people would come around and taste my goods. I ended up getting a lot of regular customers who were rather sad to see me leave when I decided to move. 

Anyway...I did as much as I could to get experience and inspiration. But the book. Oh the BOOK! It was something I had wanted since I was about 14 and I still couldn't stop thinking about it.


Now, years later, I finally made it happen and I used my blog to keep me inspired. I sacrificed a lot for it, including a salary. I mean.... it really became my full-time (unpaid) job but that didn't bother me. 

I was happy. I love baking and I loved making the cookbook. I have so much knowledge that I want to share with everyone else who forgets all of their stress when they pick up a wooden spoon and a bowl of batter. 

This blog did not drive the book. My book drove this blog. I love each and every recipe in there and I still use it in my own kitchen. My draft copy is actually covered in chocolate splatter because I use it so much.

I carry on this blog for fun because I enjoy it. I'm not keeping this going because I want to become the next best food blogger or blogger turned cookbook author (I am a food scientist and baker who wrote a book about what she knows best. Just like anyone else who decides to write a book). Most of all...the book came first.

I guess my point is... I don't really know. No, I'm kidding! Ok, I guess I pretty much just really want you to know how honestly passionate I am about my book and that I really could care less about profit. Anyone who has written a book knows you don't do it to get rich. I mean...you really don't do it to get even slightly comfortable. I did it because I couldn't be totally happy until I did. My thoughts and ideas gnawed at the corner of my brain until I spilled it all out on paper in words and photographs. It's called an obsession. A really tasty obsession.


If my tiny mom was the only one to ever read and enjoy my book, I'd be content with that. Ok, no that's a total lie because she's biased. So, I'd be more happy if you read it, baked it out and learned from it. That would make me thrilled.

What's important is that we all do what we love because we want to do it and who really cares about what anyone thinks of it? Advice is great....take it, think about it...but in the end just do what makes you happy and feels amazing. 

Live within your means and find out what makes you so cool. Because you are cool, you are creative and you really can do anything you want...unless you want to fly to Mars. You might need some heavy cash to make that happen. And unless you want to rob a bank....I don't condone that.

Most importantly, do not compare yourself to others. I know it's hard. I still catch myself doing it. It is really difficult not to, especially when you admire that person. Just remember that you are you and that is good enough. You are different and there is value in that.

It doesn't matter if you have 100 followers or 100,000. Don't let it get to you.

Your strength and success shows in your work and daily life - not a number that can be changed by a click of a mouse. 

Love, Peace & Chocolate.

xo Christina.
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27 comments:

  1. Beautiful blog, Christina. I'm inspired by your passion, and you really took every step to get you where you are today! It's people like you who inspire other hobby-cooks/bakers (like me) to think that we can/should/want to start a food blog, and then eventually get to the book-writing dream. You started with that dream, and worked from SCRATCH ;) to make it a reality. WOOT!

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    1. WOOT! Thank you so much Whitney! You are wonderful!

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  2. Great and inspirational blog! Thank you SO much!

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  3. Congrats on the book! If your publisher is looking for reviewers, I'm a well-thought of reviewer on Amazon and a few other places and we do reviews on The Chocolate Cult of anything related to chocolate; I'm betting you have some chocolate recipes. Let your publisher know and I'm happy to talk with them.

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  4. Thank you for this :) I am doing this just as a hobby, but I am inspired by your dedication!

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  5. I just wanted to let you know how much I enjoyed reading this post. Your passion is remarkable and your cookbook sounds fantastic. Congratulations!

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  6. Thank you for your beautiful insights! Blogging can be so time consuming, all encompassing. When we loose site of why we started blogging in the first place...the passion for food, or the perfect picture, the need to share an amazing treat or just to fuel an obsession...when we become bogged down in page views, pinterest pins, facebook shares, ad revenue...it becomes a chore. It's a hard lesson to keep in mind. Thank you for reminding us!

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  7. I've always loved sweets and often helped my mom in the kitchen but in the latest 2 or 3 years it has turned to a kind of a passion and now I'm spending all my free time searching for new recipes and trying them. I'm sure that your blog has a huge part in it. I like your posts (and of course the recipes!) because I always can feel that you really love what you are doing. You are so inspiring! Many thanks and love!

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    1. Thank you Barbara - you found your passion!! Lots of love to you!

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  8. I loved this post soooooooooo much! I've been a reader for a long time but have rarely commented... This is so wonderfully supportive of people who just want to record what inspires them, in case there's someone out there, too, who doesn't know yet that they're looking for that inspiration. I write in the hopes that it'll keep me learning and keep my focus on something I really want - pastry school - instead of other cruddy things. PS - THANK YOU for teaching me about inverted sugars.
    (PSS - gutted that I haven't got my hands on a copy of your book yet, but as soon as my birthday rolls around it's the first thing I'm ordering! My student budget needs a kick.)

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  9. I just started following your blog recently and I love it! I know how much work it is to post one measly recipe so you have my heartfelt admiration for an entire book. Felicitations!

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  10. I really want to have your book as a birthday present for myself :) Thanks to bloggers like you, you've inspired me to want to know the science behind what I bake. I've used your cupcake recipe for the fluffiest cupcakes ever, and it truly worked! It has now triggered me to want to do something related to food science in uni. I've started blogging for about 3 months now, and you're one of the bloggers that I follow religiously. You've just made desserts a whole lot more meaningful for me :) Thanks heaps, and please keep doing what you are doing :)

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    1. Wow. Thank you for those sweet words Tina. Get into Food Science - it's so interesting! And work that blog! PS - I love love those cupcakes.

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  11. Interesting post. I have just recently discovered this blog (I am kinda choosey about what I read)and find your whole point of view refreshing and very much like the way I try to think of my own blog and philosophy on blogging. I started mine because it was a way to get recipes to my friends faster and easier than email. Now, I am even more excited to go through your cookbook!
    Brittany- http://www.brittanyspantry.blogspot.com/

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  12. I have had the book for a few weeks and I LOVE IT. I'm a great cook trying to overcome my aversion to measuring and learn to bake. The variety and quality of your book's recipes is great. No weirdo ingredients or high level difficulty stuff - or maybe the excellent instructions just make the recipes easy to execute. The scientific explanations are easy to follow, interesting and informative. The photography is OUTSTANDING. I've accumulated a number of well reviewed cook books from Fanny Farmer to Flo Braker and yours by far is my favorite! You've made baking great desserts interesting, easy and fun for me. Thanks!!

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    1. Gary, you have no idea how happy this makes me. Your comment pretty much sums up my intentions for making the book! I'm so glad you appreciate it. Happy Baking!

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  13. WOW, this is the first post i read from you - and i really read it. usually i don't like long posts ;-) but yours got me hooked. your definitely passionate. i sometimes lose this, asking myself why i'm blogging. but you had your goal and what a great goal that was. so congrats {make that CONGRATS} on that book and on this blog. will definitely check it our now {the book as well}. take care and thanks!

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  14. I made your lemon cake with almond cream cheese icing to bring into work today for a birthday and it received rave reviews. Your mom definitely isn't the only one reading!!

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    1. I LOVE that cake! Your co-workers must like you a lot!

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  15. You are so wonderful: the cookbook is tops on my b-day list (hint, hint) and have mentioned it to many others expounding on the virtues of another book otn baking. So many home cooks who don't happen to be fascinated with the chemistry of baking still wonder how to keep cookies chewy or that quintessential shiny, thin skin on brownies. Your revelation of why to add a humectant to the choc chip dough was mind-boggling. I've made the recipe, doubled, at least 4 times since your recent post. Freezing the extra dough balls was efficient for my arthritic hands and the dreaded kitchen-cleaning. The cookies are as beautiful as almost every pic I've seen. All are impressed by the look and taste but much less so by the reason they are the best, lol. My only suggestion: is there any way the public could read part of a chapter or release an ebook to keep the realistic price more user-friendly. True, tis less than even two of most other books and is a scientific tome, imho, but even hubs asked if I REALLY needed another book on baking. YES! Wish yo u lived close to northern California as I'd love to go to coffee and chat (yes, French Press with Peet's coffee would be delightful, NO to that big chain whose coffee is not my cup of tea) Keep up the wonderful work though taking time to savor your accomplishments and the luxury of time.

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    1. Very kind of you! The price is where it is because I have self-published the book, which is not cheap (unfortunately). There's no big publishing company to mass produce it at a lower cost - I hope you can find value in that. xo

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  16. Love your blog, but made a rule for my self and for the sake of my darling love, that I will not buy any fysical cookbooks only ebooks. My love loves a minimallistic home.

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  17. Love this post! I started blogging as a hobby and something to do that didn't involve my kids. After 5 years of being a stay at home mom I needed something that was just mine and I could do while staying at home. In the beginning I would be get upset that no one was reading and I would hardly have any traffic and then I changed my attitude...I started this for me and that should be my focus...document my recipes and improve my cooking. Love your blog and so glad I stumbled on it through Foodbuzz..and I didn't know you were Canadian! I love finding great blogs written by fellow Canucks!

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