First, Handan and I would like to congratulate Ms Dorothea Chaffin for winning our recent Cricut Joy giveaway! Dorothea hails from a small town in southern Missouri, and she was absolutely thrilled to discover she’d won. Dorothea told me that the last time she won anything was in 1979 when she won a turkey! Perhaps if you’re reading this, Dorothea, you could tell us the story of that turkey in the comments? How and where did you win it? How did you prepare it? Did it taste better because it was a prize turkey? I love the small details of life – they are the seeds of a thousand interesting stories. 🙂
Okay, on to business. Well, not really business business. I swore off “business” when Wall Street and I parted ways in 2006 after an ill-conceived 10-year relationship. Yeesh, talk about a wrong career path…
Anyway…on to affairs of the blog. How’s that? Better, I think.
If there’s one certainty as a blogger (unless you’re a fitness or health-food blogger), it’s that January – March are the doldrums. After the holidays, blog traffic tanks, ad-spending plummets, interest wanes, and everyone generally freaks out for a few weeks, much the same way they do at the approach of the first winter storm of the season. If you’ve ever lived in a snowy climate, you know what I’m talking about. Even grizzled veterans who’ve ridden out several dozen winters act like Chicken Little when the first flakes fall.
It’s no different in blogland. Though they know their income is about to be (temporarily) chopped off at the knee, bloggers still whimper and fret and seek solace from their peers in blogger-only chat rooms and Facebook groups.
But it’s not all bad. It’s a bit like summer vacation for teachers.
…Except without the summer.
…And without the vacation.
…And without the relaxation.
Okay, fine, it’s nothing like summer vacation. But it is a good time for us to do a little housekeeping for our blogs and do some planning for the future.
Now, as for planning, Handan has me booked (last I checked in Google calendar) well into the 22nd century. You never know when they might invent a longevity pill, and my babes wants to make sure she has first dibs on my time in case I’m still chugging along in my triple digits.
But that doesn’t mean we can’t do a little more planning along the way. And that’s what I want to talk to you about today.
What do we do now?
Oh, don’t worry, The Navage Patch isn’t going anywhere! And we’re not going to be changing our format from DIY to dollhouses or crafting to crab fishing.
One thing we have decided to do is teach you guys how to use Cricut with our Cricut Cribs.
As you know, Cricut sponsors us from time to time, and it seemed only fitting to teach the basics along with the projects. Our Cricut Cribs will be published every weekend, so they won’t ever take the place of our project posts. It’s a long-term thing, as we’re both busy with other aspects of the blog (plus Handan’s “real” job, which keeps her busy for well more than 40 hours per week). Once we finally finish the Cribs , we’ll probably bundle all the lessons together in a nice e-book format, but don’t worry, you’ll always be able to download the individual pages for free in The VIP Patch.
And we’re planning to get more into recipes – again, not at the expense of DIY and crafts. In fact, Handan and I just got back from an all-day antiquing adventure looking for props for food photography, because it’s the picture that sells the recipe!
What we’d like to know is what recipes are you most interested in? Please select all that apply.
Now here’s the thing about recipes…eventually, it might make sense for us to cleave off that portion of The Navage Patch and give it its own proper blog. To that end, I’ve already re-purchased the domain name I used to own when I moved to Qatar to first be with Handan.
Back then, I had this notion that I’d be a food blogger with the twist that I’d be making old favorites with local Middle Eastern ingredients. The blog was called Chef Out of Water, and it lasted for a few months before Handan and I left Qatar for Afghanistan. This was my logo at the time.
I still have the photos and write-ups for those posts. The writing wasn’t bad. I had a much sharper edge back then. My writing style has softened considerably. But the photos were patently awful. I didn’t have the first clue what I was doing!
Exhibit A: Red Fish on a Red Plate Floating in Outer Space.
Exhibit B: Arabian Fish Taco on Tilted Red Plate Floating in Outer Space.
In truth, those Arabian fish tacos were the bomb! Almost as good as So-Cal fish tacos! Want the recipe? I’ve posted it below. I swear it tastes better than it looks!
Anyway, we’re thinking of bringing Chef Out of Water back and transferring all the recipe posts from TNP to COW. Don’t worry, it’ll have a new logo!
So what do you think of that idea? Would you be interested in reading another bunch of hooey from Yours Blabberingly? Understand that this would mean another dreaded email in your inbox, assuming you wanted it (I can hear you gasping, madam).
Lemme ask you something, and be honest. How many of you have ever considered blogging, however briefly or fancifully?
Okay, those who have considered blogging are likely aware of the “Blogging Blogs” niche. These are the people whose business model revolves around teaching others to blog. Their main revenue generally comes from selling “blogging courses.” Handan and I have seen many of these courses and read many of these bloggers’ advice. So many of them preach the same thing. If you notice a lot of similarity between blogs out there, blogging blogs are to blame.
When my babes and I started The Navage Patch, we didn’t follow anyone’s rules or plan. We did it our way, just like Old Frank.
And we succeeded.
So we’ve been toying with the idea of sharing our knowledge with those interested in learning.
But we’re not going to sell a course.
And we’re not going to sell an e-book.
Instead, we’ll show you how to blog the only way that makes any sense…which is to say, your way. No tricks, no gimmicks and no bullshit.
There’s already far too much of that floating around the waters of blogland.
If Handan and I published a series of (free) posts teaching how to blog (at no cost to you, and it wouldn’t interfere with our “regular programming”), would you be interested in reading it?
And one last question. Would you like to see a monthly post (Handan calls it a “Digs” post) about cool and interesting things we’ve encountered throughout the month and where you can find/buy them?
We can’t wait to see everyone’s votes!
Now, about those fish tacos…
Here is the recipe from Chef Out of Water (v1.0), first published in March 2010 and saved all these years.
If you live on the west coast of America, you’re familiar with fish tacos and most probably love them. If you’re from the east coast of America, you’ve probably never heard of a fish taco, and the idea probably sends bile creeping up your esophagus. If you live in any other country (besides the Latin American ones), well, who knows what you’ve heard of?
As an east coaster who moved to San Francisco, I was one who feared and loathed the fish taco. Seven years would pass before I mustered up the courage to try one, bought and consumed at a roadside ‘Indian’ fish taco stand outside of Gerlach, NV on my way home from Burning Man in 2006. What made it an Indian fish taco? Probably because it was made by Indians. Seriously. Not sure they duded it up in any special way, except maybe they hucked some corn in there for good measure. Anyway, if you’ve ever been to Burning Man, you know how you feel when you leave, and you know how good that first bite of non-playa food tastes. The fish taco I ate on that warm September night while still covered in dust and memories changed my life forever. It didn’t really, but I quite enjoyed it nonetheless. Like many great foods, the fish taco is simple yet infinitely tunable to one’s own taste. At its heart is fish, either deep fried or grilled, topped with some sort of vegetable or fruit salsa, something like cabbage or lettuce for crunch, maybe a sauce to add a little more flavor, then wrapped up in a corn or flour tortilla, which itself may be deep fried.
Now Handan loves fish, I mean really loves fish, so the fish taco is something I’ve wanted to make for her. The only problem in Doha is that a certain crucial ingredient, la tortilla, can only be found as made by a certain General Mills subsidiary, Old El Paso. I’d sooner wrap my fish taco in a burka than an Old El Paso tortilla. Adjustments were necessary.
Greg’s Arabian Fish Tacos
For the fish
- ½ kg red snapper fillet (look for one with uniform height, width and depth), cut into 4 equal strips
- ½ cup flour
- 2 tbsp ground cumin
- Salt and pepper
- Vegetable oil
For the mango salsa
- 1 medium mango, peeled and diced
- ½ Persian cucumber, diced
- ½ small red onion, diced
- Handful cilantro, chopped
- Handful mint, chopped
- 1 red chili pepper, finely chopped
- Juice of ½ lime
For the labneh/yogurt sauce
- ½ cup Arabian style labneh (labneh is strained yogurt – you can substitute 1/2 cup thick plain yogurt if you can’t find it)
- ½ cup plain yogurt
- 1 Tbsp black caraway seeds (these are NOT the same as caraway seeds, so please don’t substitute)
All the rest
- Red and white cabbage, shredded
- Pita bread, warmed (since we’re back in America, I highly recommend flour tortillas, as pita bread just doesn’t cut it for tacos)
- Lime wedges
- Heat enough vegetable oil in a deep frying pan to completely cover fish. If you don’t have one that deep, heat enough to cover half. You can flip the fillets halfway through.
- Mix together labneh, yogurt and black caraway seeds. Put aside.
- Mix together all the mango salsa ingredients and put aside.
- Mix flour, cumin, salt and pepper in a shallow bowl. Make sure fish is dry, then dredge through flour and shake off excess. Place the fillet strips in the oil and deep fry till golden brown, about 8-10 minutes.
- Assemble the tacos by placing a strip of fish in the middle of a
pitatortilla. Spoon mango salsa along one side and labneh sauce along the other. Top with shredded cabbage and a sprinkle of ground cumin.