Blogger Spotlight: Voodoo and Sauce
March 10th, 2011
02:30 PM ET
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We're highlighting local and regional bloggers 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.

Meet today's featured bloggers and blog:
Who: Heather Arndt Anderson, of Voodoo and Sauce
Where: Portland, Oregon
Twitter: @voodoolily

In 2006, food blogging was still relatively new. I think that stupid refrigerator meme was still circulating, and even I participated in contests and giveaways and all that happy crap that people do to make friends on the Internet. People passed blog awards and badges back and forth like gonorrhea. And my new little hobby, Gild the (Voodoo)lily was born.

"It's a play on words, you know, like 'gilding the lily,' but with voodoo lilies. Voodoo lilies? Oh, they're those stinky aroids, you know, those flowers that smell like carrion? Oh, you don't know? Oh, well."

In the beginning, food blogging was a way to blow off some steam. I didn't really have a unique platform or a "point of view," so to speak. It was really just a place to marry my love of writing, which had been theretofore squandered on technical reports and permit applications at the natural resources consulting firm that employed me (surprisingly, senior technical editors are just not amused by such wildlife observations as "a murder of crows descended upon the pile of illegally dumped refuse"), with my love of food. I was doing a lot of cooking, and was attempting to ramp up its sophistication to impress the guy I'd just moved in with - his older brother is a chef and I think he was secretly pleased that his girlfriend could keep up in the kitchen, or at least that she was interested in it.

So I had the food part down and the writing part pretty much down. The real learning curve: photography. Good god, I was terrible at photography. The most embarrassing part is that I was actually voted "Most Artistic" by my senior class, but I hadn't picked up a camera since the old Vivitar 810 from the late '80s. When the boyfriend (who later became the husband) gave me my first digital point-and-shoot, I really had no idea what I was doing. I didn't even find the white balance button on that thing for a few years. I cringe when I look at the photos in my earliest posts, and some of them are still set to "private" because the photography is so terrible.

But in the beginning, I didn't care. I was having so much fun writing that it didn't matter that my photos were so ugly that no one would ever want to eat the food that they captured. And once I realized that no one was even paying attention, the timidity with which I first approached my writing eventually disappeared, starting with a blog post about getting in over my head with a half-dozen freshly killed ducks. I wrote about making empanadas from foraged chanterelles. I wrote about travelling to Tokyo (without actually being able to read Japanese) and eating in back-alley izakaya. It ran the gamut, and totally lacked focus, but who cares? No one was reading.

But as it happens, people were paying attention. And these people thought I was funny. All eight of them.

Invigorated by the prospect of having an actual audience, I slowly found my stride. I kept cooking food that I thought was unique, and kept trying to write about it in a way that I thought was honest and true to my voice. I didn't dumb myself down, even when my dense use of botanical terminology was certainly losing some readers. Sometimes I blogged about food from my poor white trash past - the kind of stuff that no one should ever really talk about. True, most of the posts were written after I'd had about three glasses of bourbon, but at least I spell-checked before hitting "publish post."

Over time, I realized that blogging was turning out to suck. Specifically, the part that says you have to visit every blog and leave insipid comments like, "looks tasty!" if you want any traffic. It was starting to turn into a major circle-jerk of codependent hair-patting, and blogs that I thought were fairly horrible were getting a lot more traffic and comments than mine.

So I took some time off. I was incidentally pregnant, and lost interest in eating anything other than entire cantaloupes with salt, preferably while leaning over the sink. A few months after giving birth, I took baby steps back into blogging, and launched Voodoo & Sauce. I never could have done it without the tireless coding of my husband, who manually transferred each post, photo by mediocre photo, from the old blog to the new site.

Voodoo & Sauce is pretty much the same as the old blog, but I suppose motherhood has softened my tongue a bit. I still cook a lot of Asian-inspired food that verges on fusion (but is way less annoying, I hope). I am doing a lot more food preservation and pressure cooking now (resulting in my recent label of "radical homemaker"), but it's ended up being just one more tangent for my food writing, and hasn't brought me any closer to being "focused." My photography has improved, marginally. And I have the occasional freelance gig writing on Urban Foraging for Culinate.

Voodoo & Sauce is the continued chronicles of my attempt to make my life (and myself) more interesting through cooking. I guess I still haven't stopped trying to impress that guy that I moved in with.

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

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soundoff (7 Responses)
  1. Chelsea @

    Wow, love this blog! So happy you spotlighted it. I love her fresh interpretation of food. The recipes look mouthwatering!

    April 6, 2011 at 11:02 am |
  2. Naa

    In an act of brazen, shameless self-promotion the likes of which have not been seen since Kim Kardashian five minutes ago, I am nominating my own food blog Shakespearean, brilliant, a work of genius. These are all things that have NOT been said about my blog, but I always laugh at my own jokes so you should still check it out.

    March 24, 2011 at 7:57 pm |

    see more here now

    March 21, 2011 at 11:26 am |
  4. Michael Procopio

    Umm... there are at least nine people paying attention now.

    March 14, 2011 at 6:14 pm |
    • Heather

      I *knew* this would pay off.

      March 25, 2011 at 10:21 pm |
  5. Laura

    I've been following your series from Italy, watching the segments on youtube, and reading the blog posts. So interesting! Of course, now I have to go visit Heather's blog to see what she's all about!



    hip pressure cooking
    making pressure cooking hip, one recipe at a time!

    March 11, 2011 at 1:00 am |
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