It strikes me that my usual approach to knowledge, i.e. learn just enough about any given subject to be dangerous, doesn't always serve me well. See, what we have here at onthewoodside.com is a food Web site with photographs. And though I'm learning more and more about food, what I know about Web sites and photographs could fill a thimble. (I say a thimble because it has the requisite holes in it so that the knowledge can drain out if I need brain space for eating goldfish crackers or studying any of the nation's real housewives.)
Google Analytics, which tracks my site traffic, such as it is, has faithfully reported to me over the past going-on-three years every time 0 to 22 of you lovely people stopped by to make sure I hadn't become a victim of kitchen fires or gravity. But then! I had a photo accepted at foodgawker, and my traffic jumped 1,600%.
OH, THE FAME.
So what I decided to do, you see, drunk with the presence of eyeballs, was bombard foodgawker with submissions over the next few days. Submission No. 1 was already in the bag. No. 2? BAM, accepted. No. 3? A+ GOLD STARS.
Nos. 4 and 5 ... rejected. And rejected again.
Recently, TwinFin, who is some big-name architect-type person, had his amazing house featured over at Apartment Therapy. And many of the commenters said very nice, complimentary things, and some of the commenters said very nice, critical things, and a few of the commenters said nasty things that derided what TwinFin and the SiL read and listen to and choose to have as a pet.
Those people are assholes; Peri is the second-best dog ever.
When I asked TwinFin about how he handled all the loud opinions, he said (and it helps if you know TwinFin a bit here, and how insanely and sometimes infuriatingly laid-back he is), "It just felt like design reviews at school to me!"
And the weird thing was? I wanted some of that. I'm a notoriously AWFUL recipient of criticism of any kind; I have a tendency to become puffed-up and bent out of shape to hide my psyche's mortal wound. (I'm a sensitive perfectionist; what a tremendously attractive combination!) Don't get me wrong—I knew I screwed stuff up all the time. I just didn't want anyone to notice or otherwise confirm what I knew about myself, which was that I was driving blindfolded down the highway of life.
BUT, before (I hope) this takes too pathetic a turn, I will say that once you get older, and you've fallen down in front of enough strangers and rolled your car into a few bumpers and had lots and lots of therapy, you sort of get accustomed to your failures and they make you laugh. Or at the very least learn something.
That first photo, the cookies one, was rejected for "underexposed/lighting issues," which? Touché, foodgawker. That foreground is way too dark. Honestly I'm not sure why I didn't notice it before. The second one had "food composition issues," which if I had to guess has something to do with the fact that it would have been improved by the presence of whole shrimp, and maybe something to do with the fact that I lopped off the left-hand side of the plate.
But lookit me! I'm learning. And it didn't make me collapse into a heap and cry salty tears into my Nikon. The flip side? I have no idea why they chose the picture of the first shrimp-and-noodles dish; personally I don't love it. I think I've discovered a kind of criticism I can handle: helpful, instructive, and just a little arbitrary.
I won't be submitting these shots—I just don't like them, and I was underwhelmed by the recipe, to boot. To be fair, I'd just eaten 400 other pounds of Super Bowl snacks before these made their way out of the oven, and they were a smidge too labor-intensive, in my opinion, for the payoff. The original recipe suggested that, if time is of the essence, one can substitute canned chicken, but please—do not ever, ever do that. Canning is for vegetables. And fruits. And fish. Full stop.
They taste a little, LSis says, like balls of buffalo chicken dip. That sounds like an efficient package for something delicious, but a) a little buffalo chicken dip goes a long way, and b) it made the breading process seem inordinately time-consuming. Why not just make buffalo chicken dip? It was all a bit sad in the end, sort of like Fergie's halftime performance. So, you know, I only ate four.
But I'm super-dee-duper proud of that hot sauce swirl.
Buffalo Chicken Cheese Bites
2 chicken breasts from prepared rotisserie chicken, shredded
½ cup Frank's Red Hot sauce
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
1½ cups sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
¼ cup crumbled blue cheese
Salt, to taste
Pepper, to taste
Garlic powder, to taste
3 eggs, lightly beaten
1. Preheat oven to 350F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside.
2. Stir together first 8 ingredients in a medium bowl until well combined.
3. Roll mixture into balls. Dredge each ball in flour, dip in eggs, and roll in breadcrumbs. Place on prepared baking sheet.
4. Bake 25 minutes. Serve with ranch dressing. Makes about 24.
LSis served these with orzo the next day and reported that they were quite good! Now I have notions of buffalo chicken pasta salad rolling around in my brain ...