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Take 2-What I really took away from the International Food Blogger Conference

The Gluten Free Bloggers

The Gluten-Free Blogging Crew (most of us, at least)

Gluten-Free Girl and the Chef (and me)

The Gluten-Free Girl and The Chef (and little ole me)

My previous post about the International Food Blogger Conference was a summary of all of the wonderful events that happened during the weekend.  This final piece, however, is what I truly took away from the entire experience.

For me, this weekend was about staying true to my passion. It was about reaching out to the community beyond my blog.  And most of all, it was about friendships.

On Friday evening, we had the incredible honor of a presentation from Morgan Spurlock, Academy Award Nominee for his documentary Super Size Me.  This man is an extraordinary public speaker.  He is. Engaging. Entertaining. Hilarious. Inspiring.

The point that resonated for me from his presentation was the very thing that seemed to resonate true for me throughout the entire conference.  Morgan feels that the world of food-blogging has now reached new heights.  Food bloggers, have a very strong and influential voice. We need to take our words out of our computer screens and place them into actions.  We should make the changes in our communities that we speak so passionately about in our blogs.  We should bring people together who are as passionate as we are.  We should teach about the benefits of such things as Community Supported Agriculture (CSA).   And we need to encourage people to eat together as a family. As Morgan advocates, the more that we can do this by reaching outside of our blogs, the more effective changes we will see.

There are some bloggers who have already done an exceptional job at this.  Shauna Ahern, of Gluten-Free Girl and The Chef, has been a leading voice in this action. And on Sunday morning, when she and Alex Jamieson, author of Living Vegan for Dummies and The Great American Detox Diet (and, incidentally, also Morgan Spurlock’s wife), sat in front of the attendees at IFBC, they helped to resonate this point with all of us.  They emphasized that blogging is not about being the coolest kid on the internet block.  It is not about having the most visits to our sites.  Nor is it about making the most (or any) money from them.  It is about pouring our passion into our words and then putting them into action.  Staying true to ourselves and staying transparent is the most effective way to do this.  Worrying about the Search Engines or writing for Keywords is not.

This was what I took away from this weekend.

Lunch from Gluten-Free Girl

Shauna is an exemplary example of this.  She is passionate about love, food, and family and how the three culminate together.  She and Danny love bringing people together around beautiful meals.  In fact, food plays a major role in their own love-story.  It is the story told in their new cookbook, Gluten-Free Girl and The Chef: A Love Story with 100 Tempting Recipes (to be released in September). And she is doing a wonderful job at leading a movement to bring families together around tables filled with whole fresh ingredients.

She and Danny, and their little sous chef Lucy, did just that for the gluten-free bloggers at this conference.  Aside from going above and beyond to make sure that we were all more than well-fed by Kaili McIntyre, owner of Wheatless In Seattle, and her amazing crew, Shauna and her family prepared an incredible lunch for us on Sunday.

The Menu – each recipe from their soon-to-be-released book:

Gluten Free Salad

Greens with Fresh Figs, Blue Cheese, and a Bacon Vinaigrette

Gluten Free Pasta with Salmon

Fresh pasta with lemons, capers, olives, pine-nuts, aside an aamazing prosciutto-wrapped salmon

Gluten Free French Bread

The most divine fresh crusty gluten-free french bread

Gluten Free Berry Peach Cobbler

An Amazing Berry Peach Cobbler - just looks at those drops of juices!

It was wonderful.  It was prepared with the same passion that they prepare all of their meals.  It made our “bellies happy”, as Danny Ahern is fond of doing and the exact reason he loves being a chef.  And we were so honored that they went through such efforts to do this for us.

So, this is, in essence, also a heartfelt thank you note to Shauna, Danny, and Little Miss Lucy.  Thank you for the love and energy your poured into this meal.  Thank you for going above and beyond to make it happen.  Thank you for making the gluten-free and allergy-free community so much a part of this weekend.

On this note, I am brought to the final point of what I got out of this weekend.  The friendships.  The friendships that had started long before this weekend.  These relationships were culminated in real-life meet-ups and connections throughout the weekend.  It was touching to be amongst so many women that I had, for so long, only connected to through our words, and through our shared experiences.  To now culminate these relationships into real-life was perhaps the best part of the entire weekend for me.

In closing, today I am giving you all a challenge.  Leave a comment below telling me how many nights a week, on average, you eat together as a family.  The challenge part of this is to increase that number by at least one by the end of this week.  And, if you can increase it by more, than you will earn your gold badge star for the week, for sure!

  1. On August 31, 2010 Lauren said

    Such a lovely post! The conference sounded wonderful, and it’s always fantastic to connect in person with online friends :).

    As a family, we eat together just about every night. The only ones we don’t are when my brother has a game and people are running in and out, each making our own meal.

    • On August 31, 2010 Cook It Allergy Free said

      Lauren – it was quite special to finally connect with so many that I have grown to know so well through the confines of the internet.
      I love that you and your family eat together almost every night! I, too, did the same with my family when I was growing up. In fact, there are few nights that I can remember, where we were not all together at the table.

  2. On August 31, 2010 gluten free easily said

    Amazing photos and excellent post, Kim! Morgan’s message resonated with me as well. Like he said, often we’re preaching to the choir, so it’s time to get more inventive to be more inclusive, bringing new folks into the fold, so to speak. And, it’s the connections/friendships that always mean the most by far. I’m so glad to have made our friendship an “official” one now that we’ve met in person. 😉


    • On August 31, 2010 Cook It Allergy Free said

      Ah, Shirley. I had such a hard time doing either of these posts. Mainly because I could not even begin to talk about each one of you that I came to know over the weekend. I wanted to speak about each of you, but, truthfully, did not even know where to start. i figured you would all understand that when I spoke of friendships, I was speaking of all of you….

  3. On August 31, 2010 Lexie said

    Such a wonderful write-up. We eat together 6-7 nights a week … but then we lead a super simple life and my husband works 10 minutes away.

    • On August 31, 2010 Cook It Allergy Free said

      Lex, we too eat together every night. My husband’s office is only a couple of miles away, so he is always home (plus he works for himself so he has some extra flexibility). He also knows that my rule is we do not eat until he is home (unless he has a meeting ), so he knows he better be there on time! He He!!
      And yes, we also lead a super simple life! I, in fact, like it that way! 😉

  4. On August 31, 2010 Tia said

    Well, Kim, depends on what you mean by eat. Since our son is 2 (as of last week), we have to make sure he eats by 6:30pm so he can go to bed on time. Sometimes our meal isn’t really something he would eat, and we can’t get it ready in time depending on work schedules. But, we always sit with him while he eats. If we can’t get our meal done in time, we wait until after he goes to bed.

    But, our goal has always been to eat dinner at the table as a family, like we did when we were kids. We think it is very important. It was one of the things we talked about before we even had kids.

    Very nice post. Still a bit jealous, but I just need to get over it. 🙂 Actually reading all of these great posts and watching the videos has made me almost feel like I was there. 😉

    I also like the pictures. Looks like you took some good notes during the photography session.

    Tia 😛

    • On August 31, 2010 Cook It Allergy Free said

      Tia, my hubby and I used to do the same thing when my oldest was that age. Back then he was going to bed at 7, and I had not quite gotten into the groove of eating dinner that early. So we would all sit together while he ate, then my hubby and I would prepare a special meal after C’s bedtime.
      And do not worry, we will all have plenty of time to get together again. We are all just getting started!
      Thanks for the kind words about my pics. I think i probably have to give credit to my new lens, more than anything! 😉

  5. On September 1, 2010 Nancy @ TSP said

    Wonderful post! I love this new movement of eating healthier foods and making sure we’re eating as a family. It’s near and dear to my heart because I grew up with this lifestyle–my mother always cooked from scratch, we had a vegetable garden and bought seasonal veggies and fruits from local farm stands when we could, we even canned and froze seasonal foods! My sister has goats and chickens so we have fresh goat cheese & eggs whenever we want. My family–growing up and now–eats together every night. Occasionally, since we’re all adults (no little kids), we have other commitments but when we’re home dinner is on the table and we sit together to eat. Can’t imagine anything else.

    Sounds like you all had a wonderful time at IFBC–I was there in spirit and am so sorry I missed breaking (GF) bread with all of you!

    • On September 1, 2010 Cook It Allergy Free said

      Thanks Nancy! We knew you were there in spirit! And it will be sometime soon that we can all break (GF) bread together.
      I love that you grew up eating together and growing your own vegetables! I am jealous that your sister has goats and chickens! I get fresh goat cheese, kefir, and eggs as well, but have to drive a bit each week to get them!!
      THanks for sharing your story!!

  6. On September 1, 2010 Sophie said

    What a great & touching post!!

    It looks that you all had fun & all of the food looks pretty & fabulous too!

    I also love the blog & recipes from Gluten Free girl & the chef!! They ROCK!!

    • On September 1, 2010 Cook It Allergy Free said

      Hi Sophie! Yes the food WAS fabulous. Glad you are such a fan of Shauna.
      THanks for the kind words….

  7. On September 1, 2010 City Share said

    I loved your post. The conference sounds like it was amazing. Thanks for sharing the inspiration with the rest of us. We usually eat breakfast and dinner together, but it’s easier for me because my “family” is just my husband and me for now.

    • On September 1, 2010 Cook It Allergy Free said

      Hi City Share! The conference was a wonderful experience. Now i am feeling even more inspired.
      I love that you and your husband eat breakfast and dinner together! My husband and I made a point to do that too before we had kiddos. So now it is just part of our routine!

  8. On September 1, 2010 Simply Gluten Free said

    When my children were growing up we always sat down to dinner together. I worked full time, as did my husband, and I also did a lot of theatre at night for a lot of those years and still we sat down, at the table, for dinner that I cooked almost every night. I think it is even MORE imprtant to dine together when lives are busy. In some cases it was our only chance to connect as a family and share our day with each other. I was so happy to hear I am not alone in that view and I also loved Morgan’s thought on how learning to cook will really help a family streach their dollar and be healthier!.

    Now that my kids are grown and have lives of their own, we try to do weekly Sunday dinners with the whole family. It is the highlight of my week!

    • On September 1, 2010 Cook It Allergy Free said

      Carol, your inspire me NOT to let family dinners slide when things get too hectic. You managed to do it even when you had an insane schedule! And I agree, sometimes when there is such a crazy rush to get from here to there, the only time that we even get a chance to catch up with each other is around the table.

      And, by the way, we do Sunday family dinners with Kurt’s entire side of the family just about every week as well. We tend to rotate houses, but I love it best when it is at my house. We often have a lot of other “strays” come by when I am hosting! hehe

  9. On September 1, 2010 glutenfreeforgood said

    We rarely ever ate out while I was growing up, unless we were literally outside camping. We did a lot of that. Same thing with my kids. Although we had all kinds of sports and activities going on, we almost always ate together at the kitchen table. Great laughs, great conversations, great times. Nothing is better! And now with my kids grown and spread out all over the world, we really cherish our meals together.

    Love seeing your photos of the conference. We should link all our blog posts together. =)

    Peace, love and family meals.

    • On September 1, 2010 Cook It Allergy Free said

      Melissa, we did a lot of camping growing up, too. Even then, I still remember all hanging out together around the campfire. My sister and I used to start joking around at the dinner table and we would always have eachother in complete fits of laughter. My mom and dad LOVED it. Those are seriously some of my favorite memories from childhood!!

      I, too, agree that we should all link our posts together! Great idea! WE should each put a list of everyone else’s at the bottom of each of ours! 😉

      I soo enjoyed your company this weekend. You have such an amazing energy and i just loved spending time with you! Now I am already looking forward to our next meet-up!!!


  10. On September 1, 2010 Heidi said

    Wonderful post Kim, and thank you for touching on the aspects I missed in my post!

    We eat together every night of the week and that has been one of the priceless bonuses of living our gluten-free lifestyle, it forced us to slow down and not over pack our schedules running the boys here, there and every which way. Events are planned around family mealtime (instead of the other way around).

    We sit down to a nutritious meal, turn the TV off, and just talk (or I fight Luke to eat his vegetables!). 😀

    They grow so fast and I am thankful to have this time with my boys every night, it won’t be long before I’m “uncool” and they want to ditch me for their friends, LOL!

    It was a fantastic weekend indeed, you are all such amazing women and I am honored to call you my friends!


    • On September 1, 2010 Cook It Allergy Free said

      Heidi, I just read and commented on your post! You did an awesome job at touching on everything and talking about each of us. I had a hard time even knowing where to start with all of you. I am just going to include a link to all of your posts…

      We are just like you in our family meals. We schedule activities around our meals, not meals around our activities. And yes, before we know it, these boys will not be wanting to hang with their mommas so we need to eat it up now!!!


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