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Strawberry Oatmeal Cookies & The State Of Food Writing

Fish Where There Are Fish: The State of Food Writing

Amanda Hesser wrote an article last week for FOOD52 that, in summation, stated that food writing is dead. This drew critiques, criticism, praise, and response articles all over the web. When posted by a mutual friend on Facebook, Babette Pepaj (of TechMUNCH and Bakespace) disagreed, "Fish where there are fish," she stated.

This isn’t the first time I’ve been on the fringes of an idustry in the midst of a tornado like change, all the "Old Schoolers" looking down with dismay as the ripples seems to be coming from a throng of new and unexperienced talent waiting to take a stab in a new and digital format. 

When I moved to Los Angeles in the late 90’s as a teenager, my husband, then boyfriend, joined a year later with a band that had just signed a major record deal. He worked his way around the scene, taking jobs at major recording studios, tour managing bands, production, A&R scouting, drum coaching, all while the music industry was still the giant beast of the 1980’s, the A&R guys holding the keys to the kingdom with that illusive Record Contract dangling from their fingers. It wasn’t long before the beast started to crumble and the curtain was pulled from the Great And Mighty Oz.

It all seemed to start with Napster. A brilliant idea, even if illegal and poorly thought out, that brought the Music Industry Beast to its knees. First, largely ignored. Then a few lawsuits, then a few more, then Metallica chimed in. No one, save for a few smart people over at Apple, stopped to hear the cry from the public of, "This Is What We Want." I asked my husbands boss (he was working for a Recording Company headed by a well known music producer) why they didn’t pick up where Napster left off, "Why don’t you sell the songs on your own website? let people download them?" The response was lots of legal jargon, with a dash of, "artist want to sell records, not singles."  iTunes disagreed and well know how that went.

Years later, sitting in a bar called The Short Stop, chatting with a small-band-trying-to-make-good in Silverlake, California I asked about that illusive record deal. "We don’t need one, " said the guitar player, "I can get my songs onto iTunes, I can book my own shows. I don’t need to give anyone 90% of my money." He was right. They went on to be the biggest band ever to come out of Silverlake, although I now only see them on Guitar Hero or the Grammys, they will always be the guys (and girl) I used to buy beers for and chat about literature & music with.

Fish where there are fish. Although the sad reality is that the music industry is a ghost town to us now, the mighty and wealthy clamoring to get jobs, moving out of town to find work or wallowing on unemployment, we have a few friends who are making money. For the most part, those are people who started businesses to help artist help themselves. À la carte services that help the musicians maintian control, while assisting them in doing things they don’t know how to do for themselves. PR people, managers, booking, pressing of collectable vinyl, merch, all overseen by the artist. Of course the days of multi-million dollar musicians are largely behind us, more people are making a decent, but modest living, fishing where there is fish.

How does this translate to food writing? We’ll see. Will the only people that make money those who assist blogger with tech help, running ads, photography tutorials and book deals? Amanda Hesser may be right about HER food writing world being dead, and those mighty giants have started to crumble, but what will rise up in its place? What will the dawning of the new food world look like? The truth is, people will always write about food. How and where the money will be made is a different issue.

I’m not going to pretend to link this to cookies, so here they are:

Strawberry Oatmeal Cookies For Two

(makes only 6, because the last thing I need is 48 cookies just sitting around my house)

1/4 cup butter

1/2 cup brown sugar

1 egg

1/2 tsp vanilla

3/4 cup oats

2/3 cup flour

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp cinnamon

3/4 cup chopped strawberries (feel free to use those un-pretty ones on their last legs)

In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream the butter and the sugar. Add the egg, and beat on high. Scrape the bottom of the bowl and add the vanilla and beat again. Add the oats, flour, baking powder, cinnamon and beat until combined. Stir in the strawberries.

Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper (or spray with cooking spray) and drop large spoonfuls of dough on to the sheet, leaving space between each cookie.

Preheat the oven to 350.

Place the baking sheet in the refrigerator to chill for 20 minutes.

Bake at 350 for 12-15 minutes or until the cookies turn a light golden brown and are cooked through. Slide the parchment paper off the baking sheet onto the counter and allow the cookies to cool. 

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Tina@flourtrader April 18, 2012 um 11:21 am

I think that Amanda is lost in the old school of typed text on paper. Which is winding down. However, there is so much out there in the electronic world that is taking over. In the future I see that our libraries will convert over to E-books instead of regular books. I agree with you that it will exist, just in a different format.
Your cookies do look tasty. Love the rustic look with the chunks of strawberries-yum!


Jackie April 18, 2012 um 11:23 am

Thanks Tina. With my past experience, I can see that it’s hard to re-imagine a world that just seems to be dead. I understand where she is coming from, but I also see it as short-sighted.


Julia April 18, 2012 um 11:42 am

I don’t think food writing is dead. However, I do think it’s changing, drastically. I think it’s an interesting discussion that I bet will be popping up more and more. Which always happens whenever an industry starts to shift gears… as you know.
Also, I was wondering why the URL field was removed, good to know…


Jackie April 18, 2012 um 12:03 pm said they removed it help alleviate the SPAM problem. It hasn’t worked I get 10X as much spam (spammers have figured out how to add the URL field back in) but my blog friends can’t link to their blogs. I HATE it. I asked them to put it back and they said no.


Valerie @ From Valerie’s Kitchen April 18, 2012 um 11:51 am

Nice correlation between the music industry and food writing. In the end, what is good will rise to the top. It will work itself out. Change is inevitable and not necessarily bad. Now, give me a cookie 🙂


cassie @ bakeyourday April 18, 2012 um 2:11 pm

I don’t think food writing, or any writing really, is dead, it’s just evolving like the rest of the world. With so many forms of social media, writing must change to keep up with the times. I was actually confused by the article when I read it yesterday and I love how you compared it to the music scene. I am interested to see others' thoughts. The cookies = rockstars. I want some now!


Jackie April 18, 2012 um 2:34 pm

Thanks Cassie. I see so many similarities in the reactions of people who have been in it so long, its eerily close to what I saw during the Fall Of Music. But that being said, the quality of music is much better now than it ever has been. Hope writing takes the same direction.


Blog is the New Black April 18, 2012 um 2:31 pm

Food for though, absolutely….


claire @ the realistic nutritionist April 18, 2012 um 4:03 pm

I made a crazy similar cookie earlier this year, but I added white chocolate! Great minds 😉


Choc Chip Uru April 18, 2012 um 7:02 pm

These cookies look delicious – I love how they are only for 2 so I won’t eat a while batch 😀

Choc Chip Uru


Treat and Trick April 18, 2012 um 7:33 pm

Great combo and looks fabulous! Buzzed you!


Emily @ She Makes and Bakes April 18, 2012 um 7:48 pm

I love this recipe, especially that it makes 6. I certainly never need 48 cookies in my house, either. Can’t wait to try this!


Kim Bee April 18, 2012 um 8:37 pm

My son is actually just finishing his masters in creative writing. Writing is not dead, people just need to roll with the times and find new avenues to express themselves. Food writing will be around as long as people eat. I do think making big money writing is over. People will have to work harder and compete more for the jobs. But isn’t that true of all jobs right now? In these economic times people should be happy they are working.

Cookies look wicked good. That last picture made me weak in the knees.


chinmayie @ love food eat April 18, 2012 um 9:48 pm

Interesting post. I completely agree with the rest of you, food writing or any other writing can never die. Change is inevitable even when some don’t like it.
Love those strawberry chances peeping out in your cookies.


fatpiginthemarket April 19, 2012 um 11:21 am

I think naysayers about food writing should just surf on over here to your blog and read your writing…which rocks.I’m inspired by the content I’ve found online through blogging, twitter, etc. There are many food blogs I read regularly because I love their voice. I value the access I have now to writing I would probably not know about if I didn’t find it online.


Jackie April 20, 2012 um 8:22 am

Oh my gosh, thank you so much! I think I need a good compliment today 🙂


Baker Street April 19, 2012 um 7:33 pm

I’m loving the rustic look of these cookies. Oats and berries would make this just perfect for breakfast.


RavieNomNoms April 20, 2012 um 6:52 am

These look amazing!! I love the bits of Strawberries 🙂


Kiersten @ Oh My Veggies April 20, 2012 um 10:29 am

Okay, first of all? These cookies look so amazingly delicious. I love substantive oatmeal cookies–the kind that fill you up & sustain you and don’t just give you a sugar high with a wee bit of oatmeal thrown in.

Second, I read that article too and I have mixed feelings about it. Before I started blogging, I was already freelancing in another field (and I still work in that field), so I never sought out food writing as a source of stability or huge paychecks. I do it because I love it. I really think there are more people who fall into that category than people who do it because they think they’re going to make six figures on it or have a stable job writing for a magazine or newspaper.


Colleen Bierstine April 20, 2012 um 11:28 am

I think you make a lot of really good points. The world is always changing, whether we’re talking music or food. But I think you’re right that people will always write about food regardless of where the money is made. We love food too much to start.
The cookies looks beautiful by the way!


Deanna April 20, 2012 um 11:56 am

Definitely something to think about. When I was in culinary school I wanted to go into food journalism, but it was going to be too expensive as it was right when food magazines were getting extra popular (clearly before the demise of Gourmet) so I decided against it. I feel like indie food magazines will be big in the future. That might make me sound like a hipster, but Bon Appetit just doesn’t impress me all that much anymore. The recipes can be good, but I want recipes for bone marrow and offal and specialty desserts that they can’t publish because they aren’t mainstream enough.


Purabi Naha April 22, 2012 um 7:30 am

These cookies are so good…I am tired of eating the same oatmeal milk every day and am always on a lookout for such wonderful oats recipes! Thanks!!


sippitysup April 22, 2012 um 11:29 am

The Short Stop? Really. That cop bar on Sunset? The one with Gun Lockers?? I love that place, but it has been years since I went there. Ha… GREG


Jackie April 22, 2012 um 2:06 pm

Yes! Across the street from Baragains, near Dodger stadium. ABout 5 years ago it turned into Hipster Prom. I have been there in about 4 years, but it used to be a lot of fun. I think Afghan Whigs singer Greg Dulli still owns it, but I’m not sure.


Leta April 26, 2012 um 7:23 am

*WONDERFUL Post.thanks for share..more wait .. …


BigFatBaker April 26, 2012 um 8:35 pm

Great post! I often wonder about these things. And i’m sure it’s hard for the big ones to see themselves start to slowly be chipped away by the masses but such is life. Now on to the cookies! NOM! I love the strawberry oatmeal combo 🙂


Chung-Ah | Damn Delicious April 27, 2012 um 10:41 am

I don’t think food writing is dead either. It just needs to keep up with the changing times. And yes, great correlation to the music industry. I really enjoyed your post.

As for the cookies, I love them! I have so many strawberries just sitting in the fridge so I will most definitely make these soon. You rock!


Maggie May 2, 2012 um 2:26 pm

I made these cookies and they are BOMB! I doubled it because I have 6 people in my house and I was sure 1 wouldn’t be enough for each of us. I turned my family into addicts and my 3 year old says, "ooooohhhhh" when I give her one-with big bulging blue eyes!


Brianna June 11, 2012 um 12:43 pm

You are a very smart individual!


Chet August 27, 2012 um 9:37 am

While there is life and food there is hope.


Last Thing Thursdays December 27, 2012 um 12:56 pm

[…] Wanted to Make. These Strawberry Oatmeal Cookies. […]


Allison February 24, 2013 um 10:49 am

Do you ever proof read what you write for grammatical errors? Perhaps that’s the real reason food writing is dead!


Jackie February 24, 2013 um 11:46 am

That comment says quite a bit about the content of your character.


Felecia Zambrano March 4, 2013 um 12:31 pm

An outstanding perspective!I love how you linked the writing world with the music industry, you are so right. And these cookies don’t look too bad either.


mindy March 4, 2013 um 3:41 pm

Very nice excellently written comments on food writing! You have so much talent. Don’t listen to Allison, she is clearly a bitter, jealous, old hag!


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