A Long Strange Trip: Project Food Blog

I would like to be able to say that my devotion to food was born when my grandmother, mother, aunt, (or other family relation) would take me into their kitchen and share their recipes and techniques, which had been passed down through the generations.  I would also love to have owed my passion for gastronomic delights to my childhood, during which my parents encouraged me to experience fresh and exotic foods, but that is not the case either.  I was an extremely boring, unadventurous eater – raised by boring, unadventurous eaters.  I did not even eat a proper salad till I was 18 or try an egg free of ketchup till my late 20’s.  Yet, not for one second do I regret my lack of culinary adventure or diversity because it is because of my past I can appreciate my present, which revolves around food: growing it, cooking it and eating it. I think my unique perspective on food and cooking will help me to become the Project Food Blog champion.
One might ask what was the catalyst for this monumental pendulum swing. The best answer I can give is that I have always been slowly moving toward this point since I moved out into the real world, but relocating to Bulgaria forced me out of my comfort zone and truly catapulted me toward becoming an obsessive food lover, grower and blogger.
Four years ago, when my husband and I made the decision to move abroad, it was overwhelming and exciting simultaneously.  When the novelty of in a living foreign land slowly wore off, I found myself in the throws of culture shock and missing comfort food from the States, specifically from my New York stomping grounds. I had dabbled in baking and cooking before the big move, watched the Food Network religiously and subscribed to Martha Stewart, but I was unprepared for the sheer logistical nightmare of following a simple recipe, in a small town in a foreign country, with limited knowledge of the language and no access to common (American) ingredients.
I was constantly consulting the Internet and my cookbooks for tips and substitutions for ingredients commonly found in the United States.  I can remember my first major breakthrough when I discovered that I could substitute buttermilk by adding either lemon juice or vinegar to milk and produce a similar effect (I’ve since learned how to make real buttermilk). And so, started my quest to grow or make what I couldn’t find in Bulgarian stores otherwise. 

Despite having many foodie friends, they eventually got board listening to me rant on about dough hydration or what a miracle neem oil is in the garden, so I decided to channel my thoughts, ideas, success and failures into a blog.  My knowledge of food and passion for the culinary (and horticultural) arts has grown steady ever since. It has even led me to the life altering decision that I want to become a professional chef/ food writer and attend the Culinary Institute of America (CIA), My ambition came a step closer this year when I was acceped to the CIA, although have had to defer my enrollment due to financial and logistical issues (I still live in Bulgaria).
One of the key elements that defines me as a food blogger is the fact that I don’t have access to exotic ingredients – or even many common ones.  My blog is not about food snobbery but about the frustrations of a culinary adventurer in a strange land, about what is possible with a few simple ingredients and a small vegetable garden, about the joy of discovering.  Through my blogging I have learned how to grow or make my own ingredients and substitutes. I can now make my own coconut milk, spice blends, cheese, breadcrumbs etc… And I now make most everything from scratch, because after 4 years of doing everything myself, I see the difference in the food that I make everything fresh and eating seasonally has completely transformed my ideas about food in general and I don’t think that if a Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s was to open in Kyustendil, I would change my habits of making everything fresh.
 
For me being a good blogger is about quality not quantity. Anyone can post recipes or restaurant reviews every few days, but establishing trust between yourself and your readers is vital. I am not going to spend time or money making a recipe or visiting a restaurant just because someone has written about it on the Internet.  I want people to know me as a person and trust the recommendations or recipes that I am sharing with them because they know what I stand for as a foodie and the quality I expect from myself and others around me.
 can absolutely see myself as the next Food Blog star because one can find a little bit of everything on Eating, Gardening & Living in Bulgaria, great recipes, international culinary experience, cooking tips and advice with a sassy point of view! I am not the best photographer, cook, gardener or writer nor do I pretend to be.  I find that people read my blog because I tackle some different topics and present them clearly and honestly all in the name of good food.

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Author: caseyangelova

Eating, Gardening & Living in Bulgaria www.caseyangelova.com

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