My Name is Ann, and I’m a Foodie

Ann’s food journal and a few of her HUNDREDS of cookbooks

I am so happy today to welcome my friend Ann as a guest to my blog! I met Ann when I first started blogging two years ago. She had a wonderful cooking blog, and I simply loved all the recipes she posted. We became fast friends. Last year Ann retired from blogging, but we still kept in touch and shared photos and recipes. Recently when I wrote a post about my new Moleskinejournal, I found out, in comments, that Ann keeps a very special kind of journal. I asked her if she would write a guest post about it. Being the generous friend she is, Ann agreed without hesitation, and I couldn’t be happier!
Please enjoy this post by my friend Ann!
About two years ago, I stumbled on Julia’s blog and since then, I’ve made a cozy home here as a devoted reader…and never left. Whodathunk?! A writer, who writes about WRITING who is so…interesting…so captivating?!  I figure that’s the hallmark of a talented writer, and Julia certainly is that!  She is positively MADE of awesome! 

My name is Ann and I am a foodie…

Recently, I came to the realization that canning and bread making are a lost art. I decided to take up the mantle and continue both. Happily, I discovered, both online and in person, that there are pockets of folks who think the same, and I am enjoying the old-fashioned culinary arts.

Speaking of old-fashioned…I have to confess that I adore electronics. I have an e-reader, an iPad, an iPhone, a Macbook, and a regular Mac computer. I keep my calendar, address book and just about everything else online. I haven’t bought a paper book in five years. I have, however, purchased 392 ebooks in that time (I checked…).

There is one exception—and to me, it’s an old-fashioned biggie! When it comes to cooking, I want a paper book. I want to touch it, I want to put tabs on marked pages. I write notes in the margins about the recipe and notate any changes I made. I cook 95% of the time from a cookbook and try 3-5 new recipes each week, so this is helpful to me. Did I mention that I have several HUNDRED cookbooks? 
So, here I am, a foodie chatting with a writer…

….who was gifted a Moleskine journal!

Julia and I started a conversation–via the comments section—about MY journal. The conversation quickly moved onto texts so we could chat more. Since I am a woman of limited interest, my journal is a FOOD journal!

I have a beautiful leather-bound journal where I keep my week’s menu, my grocery list and any party planning I do. When I have a party (or do the occasional catering for a friend), I keep a detailed plan, including the menu, timeline for cooking and setting up…even the table or buffet plate placements.

It’s also a resource when I want to re-make a recipe. Rather than search through all the books—which is it’s own kind of fun. I flip through my journal to the time I made the recipe, and I have the title, the date I made it, and what book and page number it’s on!

Flipping through my journal gives me a tremendous amount of pleasure and a great sense of accomplishment. I cheered Julia on with starting a journal…any journal!  Whatever you’re interested in, keeping a record of your time is never a waste of it. I am a richer person because of my little brown leather bound book, and I know Julia will enjoy her new Moleskine.

I also wanted to share another favorite. I think everyone has their favorite cookbook…here is mine! I love thisbook so much that if I’m stranded on a deserted island, THIS is the book I’d take with me!  This book has it all!  I love, LOVE it!  When it doubt, I run home to this book!  (This is not a paid endorsement—I’m a small fry who adores this book—no one’s paying me or twisting my arm, I promise!)

Julia asked if I was willing to make a recipe for you, and I did from my favorite cookbook. I made the classic (dare I say old-fashioned?) Quiche Lorraine. The classics are called that for a reason. This recipe is deceptively simple, but packs a real flavor punch. Rather than take up a bunch of room with the recipe, here’s the link!

…And here are a couple more iPhone shots (just a small sampling!) of what I’ve been canning lately!

Thanks a gazillion, bajillion Julia for letting me guest post on one of my favorite blogs, you really do rock, girlfriend! You rock, too, Ann! I love your journal even more now that I’ve seen the photos, and I love quiche and can’t wait to make the Quiche Lorraine! Your canning photos are wonderful, too…
Please let us know in comments: What’s your favorite recipe or cookbook? Do you keep a journal? Ann and I would love to hear all about your cooking, recipes, cookbooks and journals!

Julia & Ann


  1. Ann says:

    Julia, thank you SO much for having me here today! I had a blast! I just canned pickled onions the other day and WOWZA! They’re delish!


  2. I was gifted a moleskin like leather journal in a gorgeous turquoise by a dear friend nearly 5 years ago. I LOVE it! It is beautiful. But I still have not written in it. I don’t want to mar it with bad handwriting or my half baked stream of consciousness thoughts. But I never thought of journaling on a topic. Like books – those I want to read and why. And then compare it to what I thought after I read it. Also I could see how long I have the book before I read it. With an e-reader it is too easy for books to get lost in the pile with nothing to grab my attention and remind me why I wanted to read.

    Wow. You’ve really got me thinking! Thank you Ann and Julia!

    • Ann says:

      Linda – what a GREAT idea for a journal! I wouldn’t worry about handwriting….I love cookbooks with writing in the margins or those that are enthusiastically used (stains, worn pages, etc.) are the best! I’m excited for you to start your new project!

    • I’m with Ann, I think a journal of the books you read sounds like a great idea — and I may do the same thing. I still haven’t started writing in my Moleskine either. Let me know what you decide to do, Linda! I’m so glad you enjoyed Ann’s post and that it got you thinking!

  3. Ann – what is your favorite canning book. Canning is a lost art. Growing up my mother and grandmother canned peaches, pickles, beets. Jams. The list is long. I’ve done jam but usually refrigerator style and occasionally my husband and I can Anti-pasta using a fourth generation, at least, recipe. Do you make your own preservative or use sure-jell for your jams?

    • Ann says:

      Linda – I have two favorites. For basic canning – the Ball Books can’t be beat. My new favorite is Food In Jars and the blogger by the same name who wrote it. Check it out…it’s money well spent! I just finished the strawberry jam with vanilla and lemon. We liked it so much that I made about 3 dozen jars!

  4. Julie Luek says:

    Ann– I have a couple canning books and love the philosophy of it. I just haven’t embraced the actual art yet. There’s something so self-sufficient with canning and baking bread. I think it’s this aspect that appeals to me. I love to cook too and find it a soothing outlet for my creative ilk.

    Thanks for sharing your post– I loved it.

    • Ann says:

      I completely agree, Julie! You have such a….CONNECTION to you food when you make it from scratch! I admit, I was intimidated at the thought of canning, but once you start….you’ll be hooked! I hope you try it – you won’t regret it! (Plus, jams make terrific Christmas presents – I made them all year and, voila! All my shopping was done!)

  5. How wonderful to meet such a lovely friend of yours here. Thanks for the introduction. I’ve started many journals, but most of them end up being writing notebooks instead. Very random and disorganized and with almost illegible handwriting. Usually, I can decipher enough to use my favorite entries for stories or scenes in my novel.

    I wish I could see Ann’s food journal in person. I’d love to invite friends over for dinner more often, but I have zero confidence in the kitchen. Being able to follow her “roadmap” for a perfect dinner party seems like just what I need. I wonder if there are any cookbooks like that out there, complete with menus, grocery lists and timelines. If not, it’s a niche that needs filling!

    • Ann says:

      Shary – YOU are a journaling GODDESS! I’d love to show you my journal! I was the same about having folks over. However, I have this lovely circle of friends that KNOW if they’re coming over….they are being tested for new recipes! Some are amazing and become instant favorites – some are disasters and we end up ordering pizza!

      I don’t know about any cookbooks like that….but if there are, I suspect they are something like party planning books. They sound great!

      Keep at the journaling and I started with a spiral bound notebook and filled it up…then my honey bunny bought me my beautiful leather bound journal!

  6. Ann, I’m so glad Julia had the brilliant inspiration to ask you to be a guest on this topic. Having known and loved you through your food blog (in fact, I discovered your food blog when YOU left an endearing comment for ME once when I guested for Julia :~) I learned many new things about you as a cook and a woman of huge passion for her favorite activities. I devoured every paragraph. Great writing!

    Being an avid journalist myself (cannot live without my almost daily doses of journaling), I was thrilled to read about your very targeted use for your journal – and how much pleasure and value you derive from looking back through it. (Ditto for me.) Also, the familiar feeling I used to get from reading your blog (“I want to go to Annie’s house for dinner NOW”) came back the moment I saw your photo of the home-baked bread. I’ll have two slices covered in butter and the yumminess from your canning spree with the strawberry jam!

    ~ Milli

    • Ann says:

      Oh, Milli….you are the sweetest! Thank you SO much for your amazing comment! I heart you…. I had no idea you journaled so much. Wow! You are so interesting and have been so many places, your journals must be a terrific read!

      (Our fun-filled, giggly, girly meeting in Pittsburgh must have been a good one!)

      You would LOVE the strawberry jam – it has lemon zest and vanilla in it and it’s unique, sweet and filled with fruity deliciousness! Come to Florida, girlfriend….bring Julia with you and we’ll bake, and cook and LAUGH!


    • You had me at “lemon zest and vanilla”!

      Yep, Julia and I will have to sync up our travel plans to arrive at your house in time for at least a week’s worth of suppers :~)))

  7. What a fun guest post, Ann and Julia! I have a few cookbooks, and — funny as it is — my favorite is one I don’t even use that often. It’s a Mennonite Cookbook, so most of the recipes use sticks and sticks of butter or shortening and lard. I cook a little differently than that, but the book is still dear to my heart because it’s been used by six generation of women in my family.

    • An heirloom cookbook sounds amazing, Jolina. What a lovely legacy to go down through the generations — does it have notes in the margins? And I agree, sticks and sticks of butter, shortening and especially not lard not my thing these days, either (unless it’s the holidays!).

    • Ann says:

      Jolina – your cookbook sounds terrific! I have my grandmother’s cookbook being restored right now. It has an entire section on storing foods in the new “ice box”! I can’t wait for it to come back from it’s restoration! I agree – sticks of butter daily aren’t healthy…..but I bet there are some amazing recipes inside!

  8. That shot of pickled okra made me salivate. I love it. I had to laugh. I read your first little bit about canning and bread making and my mind put it together that you were canning bread. I was really impressed. I actually saw such a thing as canned bread as one of the basket ingredients on a Chopped once. I would love to be so organized and throw fabulous dinner parties. Maybe I’ll get there when I grow up?

    • Oh, thank goodness, someone else who doesn’t throw dinner parties… I feel intimidated by the process, but I usually chalk it up to being an introvert. And that my WIPs are always covering the dining room table 🙂 Believe it or not, we have canned bread here in our groceries store! I think it may be a New England thing? (p.s. I agree, that pickled okra looks amazing!)

    • Ann says:

      Ooooh! I love canned brown bread! …but I’m not canning bread! You would LOVE the okra – it’s garlicky, a little hot and crunchy! It’s a staple in our house once I tried it!

      Don’t worry about being organized when you throw a dinner party…practice makes perfect! Some of the best ones I’ve had have been disasters with pizza and wine, or candle light because of power outages. Or not being able to turn the smoke alarm off!

      ….I always WANT them to be organized and perfect, and it’s lovely when it happens…but the disasters make for MUCH better story telling!

  9. Love the idea of keeping your menus in a foodie journal. I try to remember what I made with what and never can.

    • Ann says:

      Hi Karen! It sounds like you’re a PERFECT candidate for a food journal! I love keeping one and it’s easy and requires a minimum of effort! Plus….you always have your shopping list with you! I hope you start one – you’ll love it!

  10. Great post! I love how you can flip back and see your modifications to recipes (something I rarely do, then say, “But I remember I tweaked this a little and it was good.. What DID I do?”)

    I have to admit that I am envious of foodies. I enjoy baking MUCH more and tend to cook with the sole purpose of “sustenance” and not “creativity.” I’ve been told I cook well, but I simply follow recipes and rarely deviate. I wish I were one of those folks who just instinctively knew to add a pinch of this, or some of that, to improve a recipe, and got truly excited in the kitchen. Sigh. I am not.

    • Ann says:

      Hi Melissa! I probably follow the recipe to the letter about 50% of the time. If I want to re-make it, I’ll write notes if it needed salt, extra onions, more cooking time..that sort of thing. If I don’t cook from a recipe, it’s a pinch of this or that….

      To me – the fun is TRYING new recipes and discovering new flavors! That has it’s own creative aspect!

      I’m one of those weird foodies who like to cook and bake in equal measures!

      ….and I have NO doubt you’re a terrific cook! Thanks for your comment!

  11. Erika Marks says:

    Hi Ann and Julia!

    Oh, kindred spirits, we are! I have a journal cookbook that I’ve had since college and I treasure it. It was a cheapie so the binding is failing (it doesn’t help that I stuff it with clippings and tape in thick pages I’ve pulled out of magazines or old books) but I won’t part with it for anything!

    • I wish I’d done what you and Ann have done, Erika — it’s such a fabulous idea (I know, I know, never too late, but I won’t ever have the history in mine that you two do!). If I had it, I wouldn’t part with it for anything, either!

    • Ann says:

      No way! Erika…that’s AWESOME! I think it’s wonderful that you have all the clippings stuck inside it, too! I’m wondering if something like a leather pouch would work for holding everything?

      Julia – you really should start a journal. Food or otherwise….you said it yourself, it’s never too late!

  12. Nina says:

    Gorgeous and delicious post. I’d love to hear more about the post-blogging life too. How does it feel? Any regrets for Ann?

    I’ve been really into Smitten Kitchen lately! Great cookbook and a wonderful site. I think regular readers of her site (and any food blog) owe the author a book purchase after so many years of free recipes!

    • I’m glad you enjoyed Ann’s post, Nina! I also bought the Smitten Kitchen cookbook (actually I bought 2 for gifts), for the same reasons you did. I absolutely love it, too.

    • Ann says:

      Hi Nina! I’ve not purchased the Smitten Kitchen cookbook yet, but it is definitely on my list! I have no regrets giving up the blog. I cried when I made the decision, but it was the absolute right decision for me! I DO, however, miss my bloggy friends! I’ve been canning a ton in the last year and traveling. I’ve been very blessed either way!

  13. What a wonderful post, you two! It’s so nice to see Ann’s words on a blog again and especially in such good company 🙂

    My favorite cookbook is “1 million menus”, a Hungarian recipe collection cookbook. Every single recipe I’ve tried from it was absolutely delicious (as you know how it is, sometimes adjustments are needed).

    As for a journal, I’d have to say my handmade travelogue is my all time favorite. I transcribed into it all the little notes on scraps of paper from my trips so far and have even traveled with it a little bit already over the summer. Can’t wait to take it on a longer trip somewhere, hopefully sometime this year!

    Here’s a link to my travelogue, in case you’re wondering what it looks like 🙂

    • Ann says:

      Hi Estrella! The travelogue sounds terrific – I’ll have to check it out! I will also check out your favorite cookbook – I love when you get one that every recipe tastes delish! I’m glad to see you here….Julia is a great blogger and friend!

  14. How nice to meet you Ann! I have an old fashioned binder with clippings of my favorite recipes and recipes that I want to try, but I was recently thinking I would like to have the information in a searchable form. Then if there is something in abundance at the farmers market I can call up all the recipes with that ingredient. (I’m not nearly as creative as you to think of something delicious off the top of my head!)

    I’ve seen the Smitten Kitchen cookbook and have wanted to get a copy. I’ve also enjoyed the Barefoot Contessa.

    That quiche looks so tasty. What is your favorite recipe?

    • I love the Smitten Kitchen cookbook! (I don’t have one either, but gave a copy to my daughter) A searchable way to keep recipes sounds great to me too. I’ve tried all kinds of systems, but nothing ever works too well. I may try Ann’s system…of course my dinners might at times sound pretty simple and boring (like last night we had baked acorn squash and steamed asparagus…)

    • Ann says:

      Jacqueline – I like the idea of a searchable recipe file. I’m thinking a food blog might be your ticket! A lot of folks start out with food blogs for the EXACT reason you did…and then end up becoming Food Blog Goddesses! It’s also a great way to share a recipe when someone is asking for it! As for my favorite recipe? It changes depending on my mood! Right now, I’m crazy about pasta sauce made with my canned tomatoes….there’s nothing like it!

  15. Comingeast says:

    Enjoyed the post and the pictures. I’ve never done any canning, but I have made bread for years. When my children were growing up, they didn’t even know what store-bought bread tasted like because I made all our bread from scratch. I would make four or five loaves at a time. I don’t have a favorite cookbook, but I do have favorite recipes.

    • Glad you enjoyed the post. That’s wonderful that you made all your own bread! Your kids must still have such amazing memories of that, not to mention how much they must miss it. Do you still make all your own bread?

    • Ann says:

      Oooh…I bet the bread is delicious! I’m with Julia…do you still make your own bread? What kind to you make? I always make whole wheat.

  16. T. Drecker says:

    There’s nothing like the smell of fresh baked bread. And it’s hard to keep the kids away from it while it’s cooling. Enjoyed this post! And glad to have found this blog 🙂