New Work: Cincinnati Visitor Guide 2017

So, the assignment was to write about 5 iconic dishes from across Greater Cincinnati. Not fancy food, necessarily. Not things we’re 100% known for, like goetta or chili or Graeter’s ice cream. But dishes that if you’re a newcomer to the city, and you’re hopping around to the city’s distinctive neighborhoods, that you’d most definitely not want to miss.

Like a Zip Burger. This family-friendly little joint in my neighborhood dishes up arguably Cincinnati’s finest burger: a super high-quality beef patty ground to order, cooked on a flat-top and served on a soft bakery bun.

Hard work, right? I know.

Check out my profile of 5 Hot Dishes in Cincinnati’s booming food scene, part of the 2017 Cincinnati USA Visitor Guide.

New work: Cincinnati Enquirer food section.

Thanks to a dedicated new section editor, the Wednesday food section of the Cincinnati Enquirer has been resurrected. Restaurant reviewer and food writer Polly Campbell and editor Amy Wilson are breathing new — and more important, local — life into this key lifestyle section. I’m so excited to be contributing ongoing articles to the section; features so far have covered how to make homemade butter, salad dressing 101, and a roundup of what’s in season locally in spring. Check out some of my recent columns (front pagers, no less)!

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Recent work: Mohawk Maker Quarterly

Writers truly geek out when their work is published — even more so when their work is presented in glorious, beautifully designed fashion. I’m lucky. I get to work with creative people who turn my words into really cool printed pieces.

For more than a year, I’ve been collaborating with the insanely talented people at Hybrid Design in San Francisco on a covetable quarterly publication that celebrates creativity, artistry and the maker culture. Mohawk Paper produces the Mohawk Maker Quarterly for its audience of printers, creators and designers. Here’s a look at Issue No. 7, which carries a theme of Character:

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New work: Cincinnati Visitors Guide.

The Spring/Summer 2016 edition of the Cincinnati USA Official Visitors Guide shines a much-deserved spotlight on the city’s remarkable (and growing!) dining scene. For this feature package, I interviewed 5 leaders in dining, brewing and drinking around town. And the section included short stories on various aspects of local food, from connecting the dots between farm and table to Cincinnati’s brewing heritage, which dates to the 1800s. Check it out!

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New work: Edible Ohio Valley Spring issue.

This issue of Edible Ohio Valley magazine celebrates the ways that food can bring people together, lift folks up and make the world a little bit better.

Plus, isn’t the cover gorgeous?

Spring EOV coverFind this issue at your favorite Ohio Valley food purveyors, including the fabulous Dorothy Lane Market and Findlay Market, plus bookstores like Joseph-Beth.

New work: Big Game magazine for Meijer.

After working on Meijer’s Taste of Holiday magazine, my client from IN Marketing Services asked, “Wanna work on our “Big Game” magazine? Hmmm … let me think about that: YES!

This was a really fun project, one that required that I haul out every football cliche in the playbook. For this 28-page publication, I drafted copy to support recipes provided by Meijer and their partners. I developed an “Ultimate DIY Nacho Bar” with all the trimmings, along with copy tidbits for each category of recipes.

Now I’m hungry!

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New work: Organic Gardening

Imagine being asked to write a feature article — for a national magazine you’ve long admired — about making candy. Right? Impossible to turn that assignment down. Even more so when the subject of the story is Cincinnati chocolatier Shalini Latour, whose Chocolats Latour are as beautiful as they are delicious. What a fun story to tell!

Shalini, photographer Julie Kramer and I collaborated on the story plus four recipes — for chocolate truffles with fresh mint, raspberry swirl marshmallows, buttery mints like the ones you find in mom-and-pop Italian restaurants and Shalini’s own award-winning almond rosemary brittle.

Find the story out now in the December/January issue of Organic Gardening.

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New work: The Findlay Market Cookbook.

I’m pleased as punch to share that “The Findlay Market Cookbook” has been published — copies arrived in our hot little hands yesterday. I’m very proud of the project, and thrilled with the collaboration with photographer Julie Kramer, writer Karen Kahle and publisher Farm Fresh Books.

The book is a celebration of Cincinnati’s historic public food hall, a place where I spend most of my grocery dollars and where Rob and I spend practically every Saturday morning. It spotlights the vendors, producers and growers who bring us fantastic local food. It recognizes the groove that our food scene is in, with recipes from some of our city’s finest local chefs and mixologists.

Plus, it’s a whole lot of fun. Take a look at a few of my favorite pages. And get a sneak peek at a few recipes from the book here.

The Findlay Market Cookbook is available exclusively at Findlay Market through early 2015, with proceeds going to support the nonprofit Corporation for Findlay Market, which manages and sustains the market.

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New work: Untangling the Farm Bill.

Of all the subjects I’ve covered as a journalist, none is more unsexy—or more important—than the 2014 Farm Bill.

Wait: Before your eyes glaze over, hear me out.

The 2014 Farm Bill (which should have actually been the 2012 Farm Bill, but was delayed by all manner of political shenanigans) directly affects what you and I eat every day. It affects how underprivileged folks get access to healthy food, how young people can succeed in farming, how farmers’ markets can grow and reach more customers, how big industrial farms interact with the environment.

While the 2014 Farm Bill was signed into law in March, the real work is ongoing, as committees undertake the task of translating legislation into reality. How will rules be implemented and enforced? What will these rules look like on the ground? And consumers (as well as special interest groups) can have a big say in how the Farm Bill goes into practice.

If you’re interested in local food, if you want continued access to farm-fresh food, then you should know what’s going on with the Farm Bill. My recent article in the newest issue of Edible Ohio Valley aims to detangle the confusion.

New work: The serendipity of ideas.

Ever wonder why you come up with the best ideas when you’re not consciously trying to … like, in the shower or behind the wheel? (Me, I get my best ideas while I’m walking our dog).

It seems random, right?

Turns out, it isn’t random. I explored the serendipitous nature of idea-generation in a recent Creativity column for HOW. In researching the topic, I spoke with Sheri Gaynor, a Colorado-based registered expressive arts therapist, life coach and author of “Creative Awakenings: Envisioning the Life of Your Dreams Through Art.”

She told me that these unexpected ideas aren’t out of the blue at all — that they result from a sort of “simmering” process, as the brain subconsciously chews on a problem even when you’re not intentionally thinking about it.

In the column (click here or on the image below to view a PDF of the article), I spoke with other creative professionals about how they create the right conditions for ideas to emerge. A couple of key insights that may help your brainstorming process:

Feed the pot. If, as Gaynor told me, idea generation is a “simmering” process, then we need to add ingredients to the pot. I call these “inputs” — and they can be anything: research about a project, visual inspiration, cultural trends and other background. “Most ideas develop because problems need to be solved,” says Sunny Bonnell, coprincipal of the Myrtle Beach, SC, branding agency Motto. “For client work, I like to begin with research and discovery—researching the client, their purpose, trends, culture, vision, etc. It provides a strategic foundation, an intellectual output that can help drive the ideas behind the creative decision-making.”

Use tools to capture inputs and ideas. Serendipitous ideas are awesome. Forgetting them sucks. Brainstorms — and the inputs that feed them — can come anytime, anywhere. Keep notebooks in your gym bag, your glove compartment, your nightstand, your bathroom cabinet. Gaynor notes that your smartphone is your best idea-capturing tool. (I use Evernote‘s desktop and mobile apps to record ideas in words and images, as I’m out and about or online surfing the web.)

Build simmering time into your workflow. When you’re estimating or planning a design project, allow time for idea generation. Gaynor told me that creative blocks most often happen when we’re under pressure and that deadlines are the most frequent cause of pressure. Allow for inputs, then give yourself the time and space you need for ideas to bubble up.

What about you? When and where are you most likely to come up with great ideas? Please share your comments.