Blogger Spotlight: The Italian Dish
September 15th, 2010
02:30 PM ET
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Every so often, we're highlighting a local or regional blogger we think you ought to know about. We can’t be everywhere at once, so we look to these passionate eaters, cooks and writers to keep us tapped into every facet of the food world. Consider this a way to get to know a blog’s taste buds, because, well, you should.

Who: Elaine McCardel, of The Italian Dish
Where: Michigan
Twitter: @ItalianDish

I grew up in a family where we always prepared our own food.  My mom was from Italy and my dad was a very good cook and loved to garden.  We grew tons of vegetables, had an asparagus bed, cherry trees and even a grape arbor.  We grew lots of garlic and all the usual vegetables.  We made almost everything from scratch.  We froze our vegetables for winter and canned peaches and tomatoes.  We got a side of beef and a lamb every year and froze it.  We were certainly eating local and organic before it became such a big thing.  When I went to Sicily to visit my relatives, I couldn't believe the incredible meals they were producing out of their tiny kitchens.  They were a real inspiration.

I've always loved cooking and feeding people and having everyone around the table.  So many people don't know how to cook.  Cooking for yourself, from scratch, is not only much cheaper but it's much healthier too.  People were always asking me for my recipes. I started the food blog as a way to show people how simple cooking can be. I get e-mails all the time from readers thanking me for getting them to cook and it inspires me to keep writing.  I have a quote on my blog from Joel Salatin of Polyface Farms.  It says, "If it doesn't rot, it's not real food".  I want to show people how to eat real food.

I painted for ten years and since I did a lot of portrait work, I really got into photography.  It was all about natural light and portraying the subject authentically.  The same goes for food photography.  I love showing the beauty of food.  I also use the photography to show people the step by step preparations that are involved in making a dish.  It's so much easier for people if they can see it, rather than just reading it in a recipe.

Also, in painting, less is more.  You don't want to have so much detail in a painting that your eye has nowhere to rest - the same goes for food.  I don't like food that is heavily sauced or complicated.  If you have great, fresh ingredients, they should be prepared simply.  How much do you have to do to a terrific piece of fresh fish?  Not much.  If you drown that fish in a lot of sauce, do you really taste the fish?

Where I live in Michigan, the growing season is short but I have resources for locally raised food that I really value.  I buy all my eggs from a farm just down the road.  The farm also sells wonderful grass-fed beef - some of the best I've ever tasted. I get free range chickens there, too.  Five minutes away, there is a shrimp farm where I can buy locally raised, fresh shrimp. No matter where you live, seek out places where you can buy fresh ingredients.  A great resource for this is Eat Wild.

Another reason I started the blog was as a way to connect with other people who have a serious interest in cooking.  Since starting the blog in 2008, I have met some really wonderful people, received e-mails from readers all over the world and been inspired by other food bloggers every day.  I'm constantly impressed by the quality of content that is out there.  Blogging has been a great experience for me.  It's been a learning opportunity and a teaching opportunity at the same time.

Do you read a local blog that you'd like to see featured? Send 'em our way for a chance in the spotlight.

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Filed under: Blog Spotlight • Blogs • Think

soundoff (9 Responses)
  1. Escuela de Poker

    buenos mi nombre es Andreia y creo que su blog es muy bueno, bon trabajo hay gustad mucho!:)
    excusa mi horrible espanol!Sólo te falta un botón de traducción el resto tudo ok!

    June 19, 2011 at 7:57 pm |
  2. Nikina

    Try Elaine's "Roasted Cauliflower and Broccoli Soup." It's outstanding and easy to prepare. I used most of the ingredients from our garden and the creamy texture (without using heavy cream) makes this soup so filling and satisfying. My family (even my 14 yr. old daughter) loved this so much that I made it the next day and froze some for another meal. Try'll like it!

    September 20, 2010 at 6:47 pm |
  3. Tristan

    My favorite food blog is . Seriously great recipes, photos, and writing!

    September 16, 2010 at 5:25 pm |
  4. Linda T.

    We buy and grow fresh food in Louisiana. We have great cooks here too. Come on down and you will find not only Italian food, but Cajun, Creole, Spanish, Africian, Middle Eastern, Chinese, Japanese and good
    American. Yall come!

    September 16, 2010 at 4:11 pm |
  5. AmyJ

    Sounds a lot like how I grew up – we grew gardens just about year round (in Mississippi, so growing season is far different from Michigan), canned and froze our own stuff, and made so much from scratch. We had a lot of meals with big spreads of veggies that we had cooked from things right outside our own back door. I remember my mom being appalled when one of her friends made boxed mac & cheese for her family's meal – note that we ate it too, just not ONLY that for the family's entire meal, LOL.

    September 16, 2010 at 12:43 pm |
  6. Scott

    Yes, quite an Italian dish. Not sure I trust her input on buying local shrimp in Michigan, where we are better known for our fruits, but her point about keeping it fresh is well-taken...

    September 16, 2010 at 9:16 am |
  7. Kim

    A great site for Italian and other recipes is !!

    September 16, 2010 at 8:54 am |
  8. Louie W. Mele

    Check out #1 on Google for Italian food.

    September 16, 2010 at 12:16 am |
  9. Aimee @ Simple Bites

    Now that is some great looking pasta! Fantastic interview. Love what she says about seeking out local produce no matter where you live.

    September 15, 2010 at 9:24 pm |
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