I’m pausing for a bit of reflection today… and popping the champagne.  (and really, what better to go with champagne than baked brie?) When I woke up and checked my Bourbon and Brown Sugar stats Saturday morning, I learned the blog had surpassed 10,000 views.  I know, some of the best blogs out there get 10,000 views a day, but at the end of my first three months, I’m kinda thrilled by this number.  By Sunday morning, I had nearly 500 more views. Seems this little endeavor might be catching on…

I thought I’d take this rainy Sunday morning to share a few things I’ve discovered on this blogging adventure:

1. Writing is an essential part of who I am.  Over the past several years I had not taken the time to write much more than Emails and the annual Christmas letter.  I didn’t realize how much writing is an essential part of who I am, and how much I missed it.  I recently came across a piece in Oprah Magazine indicating you should reflect on what you loved to do as a second grader, and this would give you insight as to what you should be doing with your life.  I believe I was alternately baking apple crisps, reading whatever I could get my hands on, and writing little books as a second grader.  (Ok, maybe the baking started in third or fourth grade.)

The format of blogging (short pieces, instant feedback!) has prompted me to write several times a week, and it’s quickly become my favorite pastime.  It’s becoming clearer to me that writing is what I’m meant to be doing.

2. I had no idea how difficult food photography would be.  Oh my word.  I thought I’d cook something fabulous, take an Instagram shot with my iPhone, and be thrilled with posting the artsy result.  I was so wrong.

It quickly became apparent that the best blogs have a trio of excellent elements – writing, recipes, and photography (and why bother doing this if I’m not striving to excel at all three?)  Some of the photography in the blogosphere is absolutely stunning – gorgeous food, elegantly composed and perfectly lit.  I have been humbled and inspired by Sukaina’s photography on Sips and Spoonfuls, Kakana on Playful Cooking, and Beatrice on La Tartine Gourmande.

While Friday’s Israeli couscous salad photo was a winner, my brie photo below is evidence I still have a long way to go… (would you believe that was the best of over a dozen photos?  Sadly friends had begun to inhale it before I realized I didn’t have a shot I loved…(sigh!) really, it tastes much better than it looks.)

Photography is the area where I have both learned the most, but yet have the most to learn. If you are a blogger looking to improve your photography, I would like to give a shout-out to the Ebook published on a Pinch of Yum.  It’s an invaluable resource.

3. It’s been amazing to re-connect with friends near and far.  Wordpress has a very nifty “Stats” page, so I can see that over the past three months people from 72 different countries have stopped by the blog (!). How cool is that?  The thing is, I actually have family and friends scattered all over the globe who I’ve had a chance to connect or re-connect while sharing my memories and recipes… What an incredible gift.  And I owe a huge thanks to all my friends who have been so supportive and encouraging, and shared my blogging antics with their friends on Facebook.

4. I had no idea how many amazing food bloggers I would discover.  There are thousands of bloggers out there, but a handful I have discovered have challenged me to up my game.  I love the advice from Bjork of a Pinch of Yum in a piece titled: 10 Mindsets for Growing Your Blog, who likens growing a blog to running a cross country race: “With cross country, if you beat your own previous record you consider the day a success. Your journey of growing your blog will be much more fulfilling if you aim to outperform yourself as opposed to other blogs.”

While I aim to outperform myself with each post, I am awed and inspired by the writing and desserts from Michelle on Hummingbird High,  Jennifer’s recipes and photography on Seasons and Suppers, and Karen’s writing and photography on Lavender and Lovage.  I have also had a fantastic time connecting with other bloggers through the Fiesta Friday link party on The Novice Gardener… where it seems many of us are newbies.

5. I’ve always wanted to write a cookbook… this is like creating my own, very personalized book page by page.  I believe many people who love to cook do it to be able to share their food with friends and family.  My go-to recipes are scattered among dozens of cookbooks and torn out from magazines tucked in a couple of binders.  How wonderful to finally start a collection housed in one place to share with family and friends.

So, we’re celebrating with this delicious, incredibly easy, if rather messy and difficult to photograph appetizer.  It’s a nice excuse to pop open a bottle of champagne.  Cheers to you, dear readers.  Here’s to many more culinary adventures!



Baked Brie with Mixed Nuts and Caramel
  • one round of brie cheese
  • ½ to ⅔ cups salted mixed nuts (depending on the size of the brie round)
  • ½ cup good quality caramel sauce (I love the Trader Joe's Salted Caramel Sauce)
  • warm french bread or crackers
  • apple slices
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Place the brie on an ovenproof platter or pie plate. Cover with the nuts. Bake for 10 minutes or until the brie is slightly softened. Remove from the oven, and transfer to a serving platter
  3. Put the jar of caramel sauce in the microwave, and warm it - about one minute. Pour the about ½ cup of warmed sauce over the brie and nuts.
  4. Serve immediately with warm french bread or crackers and slices of apple.


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9 Responses to "Baked Brie with Mixed Nuts and Caramel"
  1. I love this post. You just spoke for the majority of us…I laughed a little…I cried a little…and I felt every word you wrote 🙂 Open that bottle of champagne… celebrate your blog, your beautiful photography, and your ability to write so eloquently… Lovely post. Delicious recipe!!

    • Hear, hear! I couldn’t have said it any better if I tried. Prudy took the words out of my mouth! Definitely laughed and cried a little along with you. Thank you for that inclusion about Fiesta Friday; I’m so happy to hear you’re having fun. I have to disagree on the baked Brie photo. It’s wonderful! It makes me want to make and have some, so I will. Congratulations on the milestone! XOXO

  2. Nancy says:

    Beautifully said! Congratulations on your milestone… I’m sure the next one is just around the corner! I think the Brie photo is quite lovely and it sounds absolutely delicious!

  3. toozesty says:

    Congrats on your latest milestone! Your analogy to distance running and starting a blog is spot on. If you exceed your best it is a success. The progress is slow and takes patience, but special milestones like breaking 10 miles for the first time or your first 10k views really make it all worth the effort. Thanks for sharing your experience.

  4. Congrats! to you, well done. Great pics!

  5. Hooray and congratulations to you, MB! The joy you find in cooking, writing and blogging shines right through your words. I love my blog, but I have to admit that when I’m facing book or other writing deadlines, my blog is the first thing to suffer. Not enough hours in the day. Also, I am the opposite of you when it comes to looking at stats. I hardly ever check them. A ‘don’t ask don’t tell’ mentality I guess. Ha ha. Let’s grab that lunch one day soon. xo

  6. Stephanie H says:

    Oh, Mary Beth! That is fantastic news and not one bit surprising. In no way am I wishing our remaining time away here in Japan, but I am chomping at the bit to get to recipes I’ve been unable to try while here. In the meantime, I’ll be joining you in that celebratory glass of champagne! おめでとうございます!!!!! (Congratulations!) Stephanie

  7. What wonderful news and are you kidding? 10,000 is great! For the longest time the only one who ever visited me was the person whom I was connected with an umbilical cord! And everything you said is true true true – even today for me – 4 years later. So thanks for this darling post 🙂

    ciao! Devaki @ weavethousandflavors

  8. sabine says:

    The 10000 mark is truly impressive, so you really deserved your champagne! Congratulations!

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