Friday, March 6, 2015

Credit where credit is due

I almost did it again this year.  I had the facebook post all typed up, humbly asking friends to click through and tell the world* that Cheesy Pennies is The Best.

Then I stopped.

When I started blogging, almost six years ago now, all I wanted was a place to keep track of what I cooked and the little incidents in my life that might otherwise slip by unremarked.  That said, as much as I wish I were immune from the craving for readers** and recognition, I'm not. Part of the deal when you put work out into the world is the hope that someone other than you is there to receive it. To love it, too.  

Mission accomplished, and more. 

Yes, I found a space to save recipes, but I also found a space for my voice.  There are posts here full of farce-worthy silliness, and some with simple ideas and quick notes on a weeknight meal.  I cook and serve food from my own website all the time, and have had an extremely low level of complaints from the beneficiaries. My mother lived and died and lives here still, and I'm so grateful for that. This keyboard has been covered with tears and flour and magazine clippings and cat hair while I type, edit, and shape the stories I want to tell.  The process is liberating and draining and addictive. I get to write and write and write, but only when I have something to say, and then hopefully I say just enough. It's huge when someone lets me know, "I made that," or simply, "I read your blog." 

I am absurdly proud of this work that is not my job. Cheesy Pennies is well loved and oft-used by friends, family and even people I've never met out there on the invisible Internet. It is personal and I love sharing it.  It is mine. It is good.

It is, often, the best of me.

But it is not The Best of Blogs.

That title should belong to one of these amazing sites:

Lady and Pups - Jaw-dropping photos, completely original recipes, and a wise-cracking, genuine and riotous writing style.  A recent post, Pan Grilled Marshmallow Toasts with Sea Salt had this quote: "Some say wonderful things are born out of desperation. Before today I’ve always thought they were talking about spandex."  A New Yorker transplanted to Beijing, her recipes often involve complicated, multi-step preparations, but she somehow makes you feel you can almost pull them off.  A finalist last year in the photography category.

Dash and Bella - The honest, devastatingly beautiful writing on this site makes me lose my breath almost every time.  In a few well chosen words you understand the loss of a grandmother, the swift passage of childhood, the need to scream into a pillow or guzzle wine or curl up a fist and stay quiet.  It's almost unfair that her recipes are ridiculously good, too.  How one couples getting a drug fix from a neighbor kid with a pecan cheese ball recipe, I'll never know, but she does it perfectly.  She has a book in the works and I am going to buy it the instant it comes out.

5 Second Rule - Reader's choice last year for Best Writing, and deservedly so.  There is just one photo per post (usually stunning on a dark background), so the words shine.  On my very very good days, my posts would be like these.  I loved a New Years piece where introduces her desk: "It's a cherry slab with a deep gouge. It weighs a ton. It dates back to my grad school days in Somerville, Massachusetts. Today, and every day, it's littered with papers, with news clippings, with stacks of fluorescent post-its. I neaten it often, but within seconds, it reverts to its natural state. One can only do so much."  The recipes are simple, lovely combinations of good ingredients that anyone can make.

Bev Cooks - One of the few breezy "we're all best girl friends here" type blogs that I truly find funny and entertaining on a regular basis.  This woman has a gift for natural, seemingly effortless comedy, and her food is both approachable and tasty, a winning combination.  Typical recipe intro:

I see your dinner and raise you CUBAN SLIDERS. Let me just start by saying two things. Three things. A few things: 
  • There will never be enough articulation in any universe to describe my immortal devotion to these sliders. 
  • Obviously I didn’t invent this recipe, but I did tweak a couple o’ thangs to Bevi-botch it. 
  • We were supposed to get snow last night and all it did was shoot a rainy snot rocket and call it a day. 
  • My coffee’s stronger than usual.

Glazed and Confused - There's been a run of young stars emerging in the food blogging world, including an English high-schooler with a global following and a brand new cookbook. But this one's actually a wunderkind, in my mind.  A 20 year old self-confessed One Direction maniac, this kid made himself a chicken & waffles birthday cake, and I kinda wanted to eat all of it. 'Nuff said.

I don't personally know the creators of these sites, but I feel like I do. They are opinionated and talented and generous with themselves online, which is what makes their work compelling and excellent.  They have legions of anonymous fans like me because they deserve them. There are other sites, too, that I recommend to you for the very same reasons.  Joy the Baker.  Displaced Housewife.  Movita Beaucoup.  Food for the Thoughtless.  All of the links on the sidebar there are well worth your time to click through and read.  Not to mention last year's blog of the year - it is simply sensational.

So no.  I'm not going to humbly ask you to nominate Cheesy Pennies this year.  I'm going to humbly thank you for reading instead***.

* Well, to tell the online editors at a certain food magazine that I don't even subscribe to that Cheesy Pennies is The Best.
**  They should just not include a "web stats" tab in the blogging software. Then my paltry traffic would be out of sight, out of mind.
*** Plus, I already won a bunch of other stuff, so I can be noble and realistic at the same time.


  1. Sharon, I only just discovered your blog through Lottie + Doof but I love it already. This post speaks of so much truth. I've seen Facebook announcements, tweets, anything from bloggers begging their audience to nominate them for the Saveur awards. I thought about doing it myself (and I even subscribe to Saveur, so there's that). But then I decided against it, for the same reasons you did. If only we could take a step back more often and admit that we're not the best at something. Good, but not the best and that this spot belongs to someone else. Oh and blog traffic stats? They should be banned forever.

    1. Thank you, Nora. Your blog is gorgeous! I clicked through a bunch of times, so your traffic today should be off the charts. :)