Desserts Required: Late Blog Love

Desserts Required

This photo is of Betsy (l), Liz Berg of That Skinny Chick Can Bake (r), and me (c). We were the First, Second and Third place winners of the Dixie Crystals Signature Brownie Dessert Contest at the Food&Wine Conference in Orlando. Yay! Nikki Miller-Ka, who won last year, is taking our picture. Photo by Ashlee Hamon of Ashlee Hamon Photography.

My lovely friend Betsy asked me to be a part of her blog tour a very long time ago. I said yes, and then I proceeded to do...nothing. Nothing at all for a very long time. It's not that I don't love Betsy--I do. It's not that I wasn't honored for her to choose me. It's just that sometimes I kind of suck.

Let me tell you about my friend Betsy from Desserts Required. She is hilarious. She is talented. She is a lovely, lovely person who just sizzles with energy and passion about food.

I met her sometime last year when we both joined a video production group on Google + run by Lenny and Denise from Chez Us. We met once a week, critiqued each others' videos, and learned a lot. We still do. But we also laughed and laughed every week. And sometimes, okay often, Betsy would come to the meeting with a chocolate martini, and I'd show up with a glass of wine. So we'd toast the week and the group and laugh and learn.

I had the distinct pleasure of meeting Betsy in real life at the Food & Wine Conference in Orlando just a few weeks ago. She is as much fun in person as she is in a hangout, except better because there could be hugging!

Here's how the blog tour was supposed to go:

I was supposed to post the week after Betsy posted, tagging three additional people to have them post the week after I posted. Plus, I was supposed to answer these questions:

  1. What are you working on right now?
  2. What sets your blog apart from others in the same genre?
  3. Why do you write about what you write about?
  4. What is your writing process?

I will get to brief answers to those questions, but first, more about Betsy who was kind enough to honor me with a feature on her blog. And then I let her down. Did I mention that I sometimes suck?

Betsy has been blogging at Desserts Required since October 2011. In that time, she has not only made me hungry vicariously with posts such as Bailey's Chocolate Mousse Cheesecake, Tiramisu Cream Cups, Chocolate Chip Espresso Cookies, and Paradise Pound Cake, but she also organizes amazing foodie road trips to take blogging friends on field trips to fabulous South and Central Florida restaurants. I love how Betsy is building community in that way. Very, very cool.

You should also probably subscribe to Betsy's YouTube channel. Remember how I said that we met in a video production group? I think you will be able to see first-hand the evolution of her videos. Always informative tutorials, she has shortened them up and switched to a great voice-over style. At the end of every video, she says, "You have to make this recipe!" And every time she says that, I answer to myself, "Yes I do. I do need to make this recipe!"

Betsy, thank you so much for honoring me on your blog. I know this comes late, but it is no less heartfelt for that. Love you, friend!

And now, to briefly answer the blog tour questions.

  • What are you working on right now? Aside from the blog itself, I am trying to increase my presence in my local market by teaching baking and pastry classes at a great local kitchen shop, Whisk Carolina. I am trying and only occasionally succeeding in writing a post a week for each of three ongoing series, Ice Cream Tuesday, Throwback Thursday Food and Fundamental Friday. I am writing a Fundamental Friday post on flour that is turning out to be rather encyclopedic and is taking me forever to write, but eventually it will be done and posted.I also am trying to get my passion project, The Peoplehood of the Traveling Swirly Pan back off the ground. This is a project I thought of last year, where folks would sign up to bake in a beautiful Heritage Swirl Bundt Pan by Nordic Ware. They'd bake, write in a journal and share their recipe and then pass the pan and journal on to the next person in line. I envisioned a community spread all across the country and maybe even the world.I'm happy to say that we have a chapter in Australia helmed by Rachel Elich of The Untamed Cook (blog now named Cosmic Radiations) that is doing great things.The US/Canadian project bogged down, in part due to my not imposing enough structure on the project. So, I'm retooling with more rules to keep things moving and to keep folks' interest up. It was my intention to get the pan and journal back out on the road last month, but life does sometimes get in the way. The goal is to have them back out very soon, though.
  • What sets your blog apart from others in the genre? Since I taught for sixteen years, my main focus is instruction. Teaching folks mixing methods and trying to explain why things happen the way they do, how to make things happen the way you want them to and give you guys some insight into why I make the choices I make when developing recipes. My hope is that, by helping to demystify the process, I truly can help everyone be Fearless in the Kitchen!
  • Why do I write what I do? Because I'm a teacher. And I want to teach folks about what I'm passionate about. I believe that there is an audience out there who is craving the "whys" and "hows" behind the "whats" of baking and pastry. I am here for them. I also want to serve as a resource for folks who just want a recipe for a pound cake or a custard. While my focus at first was all technique, method and explanations, I've come to realize that some folks are looking for a pretty picture and clear instructions in a recipe. I try to give them that as well.
  • How does your writing process work? I used to just write in a very stream-of-consciousness sort of way. Now I try to be a bit more focused and clear. Sometimes I have a story to tell along with a recipe, and other times, the post consists of my explanation of choices I made in conceptualizing a dish. The writing part is relatively easy for me, although I do approach it with more intent these days, searching for just the right word, phrase or imagery to convey my point. The recipe writing is pretty straight-forward as well. I try to list my ingredients in the order in which they are used and then by amount (if I add 2 teaspoons of ingredient A at the same time as I add 1 teaspoon of ingredient B, I'll list ingredient A first). The most difficult part of a blog post for me is the photography. I don't spend a ton of time on it, partly because I don't think I'm very good at it. But, I do want my food photos to entice readers to want to make it. To that end, I am in a photography group on Google +, trying to work on improving my photography skills.

And there you have it.

I am supposed to tag three more folks and ask them to continue the project. But after all the guilt I've had over not getting to my post for weeks and weeks, I just want to share a few of my blogging inspirations with you. Perhaps you will find some inspiration from them as well.

Jamie Schler from Life's a Feast and Plated Stories has helped me with my writing. I love reading her evocative words, and her photography is simple and lovely. She is a dear friend, and when either of us is feeling down, we remind each other that we are awesome.

Renee Joslyn from Freakin' Flamingo. I just love Renee. She is no nonsense, and when I was feeling completely down and sad and weepy at being an abject failure with the swirly pan project, she lovingly smacked me upside my head and reminded me of the magic of the Peoplehood. Plus, she makes freaking amazing jam.

Cheryl Bennett from Pook's Pantry is the sister I never had and thankfully still have. She was hit by a truck yesterday as she was riding her bike in the bike lane. Miraculously, she suffered no broken bones or any internal injuries. She will be sore for a few days, but she will be fine. Aside from that miracle, Cheryl reinvented herself at the end of 2012, moved to Florida and now runs a thriving personal chef business. My sissy is my hero.

Betsy, thank you once again for featuring me on your blog tour. I think you are one in a million.

And to my readers, I do hope you will go and get to know Betsy if you don't already know her. And please do visit my inspirations as well. Jamie, Renee and Cheryl are all very special, wonderful people. You will be glad you know them, just as I am.

Thank you for spending some time here with me today. Have a lovely day.



  1. says

    Love this post, Jenni! I’m glad to know you and Betsy through the video group too…although my participation is pathetic. Talk about sucking! And I’m in a different group with Liz so I feel like I know her too! Isn’t it funny when you haven’t even met someone in person but you feel like you know them? I love your enthusiasm for cooking and sharing what you know with others! Well, and you’ve got that witty humor that I just love. I’m looking forward to meeting you in person one of these days too!

    • says

      I have met the best people in that small video group! And while I’m participating regularly in the hangouts, I’m not actually making videos right now. One day they will figure that out and ban me for life, Marly! lol

      One day, we will meet, and it will be a Very Fun Time Indeed!

  2. says

    I think your words are the nicest words anyone has ever written about me. EVER! Thank you, thank you, thank you!

    You are an amazing friend and brilliant pastry chef. I always look forward to our weekly video hangouts because I know you will be there (usually accomplanying me with a drink in hand) to laugh our way through the wonderful world of video production. You got me to make ice cream just so I could participate in your fabulous Ice Cream Tuesdays and I do NOT make ice cream from scratch. ‘Meeting’ you at the Food and Wine Conference was really more like being able to hug my friend I hadn’t seen in awhile. I guess that’s the joy of having kindred spirits.

    I can’t wait for the cool pan to arrive at my door and I promise I will pass it along…eventually! 😉

    Love you, Jenni!!

  3. NINI says

    You both are so much fun that I almost wish I baked or cooked. Not really but just for the laughs it would be worth it.

    • says

      Nini, I’m sure I speak for Betsy too when I say you are welcome in the kitchen! Plus, there will be beverages, so if you don’t want to cook, you can just mix us drinks! =)

  4. says

    Jenni, we’d rather have you come late than not at all!!! What a nice tribute to Betsy…and so good to hear what you’re doing blog-wise. It helps to see the direction others are going for inspiration 🙂

  5. RAB says

    I think I love you even more now, Jenni – I knew some of those tidbits, but not all – and now, as usual, in my ‘follow-Jenni-anywhere’ mode, i’m off to check out Betsy!

  6. Eunice says

    I think that Betsy’s baking and her blog are amazing, but I could be considered partial.
    You gals are having such fun and helping some of the rest of us venture into heretofore unknown territory. Thanks for your information and humorous presentations.

  7. Lora @cakeduchess says

    Such a fun post to read! I still have to meet Renee …and she lives so close to me:)I agree that Betsy is just fabulous! I’m so happy I got to meet you (finally)and share so many laughs and hugs with you. xo

  8. Julie says

    So glad that other people are getting to know and appreciate Betsy and her amazing baking – as well as her incredible generosity and huge heart. She puts all of that love into her recipes; I guarantee you’ll find it if you start making them <3

  9. says

    I am late to this party but both you and Betsy are two of a kind: funny, generous, smart, sassy and fabulous bakers and I am so happy to have met and spent time with both of you in Florida. There are so many things on both of your blogs I want to make: it isn’t that you are great bakers but that you are both so creative! And fun!

    I am also honored to be grouped together with such awesome, talented people as Betsy, Cheryl and Renee, all of who are dear friends. You all inspire me. I am also honored that I could influence your writing at all…. xoxo

  10. says

    Betsy is a spark of fun. And you my friend, don’t suck. You simply know when you’re missing the mark, have the sense to acknowledge it, and turn it around in your time as best you can. You are open, approachable, and share your truths. These are the hallmarks of a good teacher; the very one you set out to be.

  11. says

    somehow in the chaos and drug induced drooling of those first few days, I missed this lovely post. It is wonderful and YOU are wonderful.
    I’m so glad to have a sister that I got to choose (since my brother didn’t take kindly to me trying to turn him into a girl).
    I love and adore you with my whole heart.

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