April 14, 2015

A Book Review: The Dragonfly Effect


As a blogger and social media addict I often wonder how we can use the influence of these relatively new forms of communication to create social change. I use social media to connect with old and new friends, share pictures, post tidbits about my life, and to simply stay in touch with the world around me. But what if each person made the effort to to use social media to create social change and make a difference in each other’s lives? The Dragonfly Effect by Jennifer Aaker and Andy Smith sheds light on the power of social media and how it can be used toward the greater good. The authors discuss how social media users and organizations can use social media to drive social change in small, impactful ways as well as on a massive scale using a simple four-pronged method.

Below is a brief video synopsis of The Dragonfly Effect by its authors:



As Andy Smith and Jennifer Aaker discuss in the video and in the book, the effective model to create an integrated effort towards social change is illustrated using the Dragonfly, an insect that can propel itself in multiple directions with tremendous speed when its four wings are working in unison. The co-authors identify a four-step process symbolized by the wings of the dragonfly to achieve your social media 
philanthropic goals: 

The four wings symbolize the four major areas below:

Focus: Identify a tangible goal. What do you want to accomplish?

Grab Attention: Cultivate a message that appeals to an audience and makes them pay attention.

Engage: Go further than publicity and grow a personal connection. Make your audience care enough to motivate them to take action.

Take Action: Provide your audience with the tools and resources they need to take action. Be eager to make changes to your strategy to inspire more of your audience to change from a consumer to a member of your team.


The clout of an engaged social media community can be ground-breaking. The author states “Tweeting 
isn't just sharing what you ate for breakfast this morning; Facebook isn't just for poking friends. You can leverage these social technologies, strategically and integratively, toward a specific goal that deeply matters to you.” In today’s world, communication tools to interact in real time with people across the world are at our fingertips. Social media tools allow us to share stories, organize support, and possibly save lives with the click of a few buttons, and the impact can be enhance by using this systematic approach . We no longer need exponential sums of power or money to start a revolution.

The Dragonfly Effect opened my eyes to the power of social media and how it can be used for the greater good. In the near future, I would like to participate and be engaged in a social media campaign that fosters social change, and I am currently looking for a cause that I can be a part of. 

What about you? Do you think effective social change can be cultivated using the power of social media, and have you ever been a part of a cause that was accomplished using social media?

March 24, 2015

Top 5 Social Media Tips


The pressure to keep up with communication practices can be an intimidating task, especially in the ever-growing world of social media. Over the last few years, it is becoming more and more obvious that social media is a requirement  in order to expand professional networks, attract clients, and generally be more marketable. The professional objective: to stay in the know, expand in to new realms of communication, and never be afraid to go with the flow. As social media becomes a more visual tool for companies to express themselves and connect with the community at large, consider these steps to stay ahead of the curve.

One by One

New social media platforms are being created every day, and experts are never quite sure what will become the next Facebook or Twitter. In order to keep up, choose one or two new social media platforms and immerse yourself in the culture for a week. Become part of the community, learn how to get noticed, and study the types of people and organizations that can use the platform to increase brand awareness. For example, Food Trucks used Twitter to connect with potential customers, and were able to grow rapidly in national popularity with the use of this social media tool.

Create Your Own Content

Bloggers, photographers, and social media users who create original content have a talent for sharing across multiple social media platforms. Becoming a content creator will ensure your original content gets shared. 80% of the content on Pinterest is shared content. Be part of the 20% that creates content to showcase your skills even further. Using original images that link to websites, blogs, and further content will help you remain an expert in the field. And if you can't use original images, please give credit where credit is due by linking the content.

Be a Follower, Not a Sheep

We are told time and time again that the key to creating a large community with social media is to follow anyone that follows you. This is not a best practice. If you are a public relations firm trying to building a social media community, do you really want to follow @JoeSmith from the Netherlands who’s only tweeted once or twice? No. Follow top brands and bloggers you want to build relationships with. If your time is limited, choose ten or fifteen innovative people or companies and follow them. We don't need to cast a wide net to get noticed, but we do need to think of followers as target markets, and find followers who want to be part of the conversation.

Use Free Monitoring Tools

Become familiar with different types of monitoring tools so you can measure and analyze your social media presence. And don’t have to pay for it! There are great tools out there for social media analytics that don’t cost a dime. For example, Buffer has a free package that provides all major engagement stats for Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and Linkedin.

Connect in Real Life

Whenever possible, connect with your social media followers and friends in real life. Attend meetings, workshops and symposiums (like those offered through AWC) that place you in direct contact with thought leaders and communities who have new ideas and inspiration to share.


- Kimmi Bright is a food blogger, photographer and graduate student at Johns Hopkins University studying digital communication. She can be found on twitter (@grubarazzi) or through her blog at www.grubarazzi.com

February 24, 2015

A Book Review: Your Brand: The Next Media Company



Like an old oak tree, Grubarazzi has grown very slowly and with intention over the years. I sway back and forth in the wind. Sometimes, I want to use this blog as a personal space to share recipes and nurture my hobbies, but the communication practitioner side of me wants to use the blogging platform to grow my brand. Grubarazzi could very well be that kind of blog. It already encapsulates me, my unique brand, and provides content that people share across social media. But I have so many questions. Can I utilize what I am learning in grad school to turn Grubarazzi in to the next food media company, like Food52 or theKitchn? Can my content be more rich and provide my readers with relevant conversation? And, do I want to? These are the questions organizations ask themselves every day, and it’s becoming increasingly important in this oversaturated marketplace.

Your Brand: The Next Media Company, by Michael Brito, reviews how social business strategy can enable better content, smarter marketing and more effective relationships. As a grad student studying digital communication, Your Brand: The Next Media Company is required reading for my Social and Digital Media course. The book explores the idea that “content is king”, and if we want to make a name for ourselves in this inundated market, brands need to transform into successful media companies. Brito provides a practical approach for changing a brand in to a media company by laying out strategic insights, operational frameworks, and taking a heavily applied step-by-step approach.

Check out this cool video about the book:



Although Brito’s book is geared towards larger established organizations, his ideas are relevant across many platforms. For example, Brito clarifies that by focusing on the right content, brands need to build relevant content to make audiences pay attention. A brand can accomplish this by making unique content that is easily consumable on multiple platforms. Brito believes content rules, and being proactive with social media efforts as well as following trends can provide a never ending audience flow. Brito drives these points home by reminding the reader that “consumer’s lives are dynamic and unpredictable, making it impossible for any brand to reach them consistently.” To this point, Brito argues that the new social media landscape makes all consumers more influential. In his opinion, anyone looking to grab an audience’s attention needs to have a clear content marketing strategy.

If I were to take my brand, Grubarazzi, and turn it in to a media company, I would strategically adopt the five characteristics of any successful media company: storytelling, content, relevance, ubiquity, and agility. These five characteristics are explained in further detail Lee Odden in his article “Your Brand: The Next Media Company”. Micheal Brito does a brilliant job at guiding large organizations to grow social media strategy and expand overall presence in our digital world, but he misses an important opportunity to direct smaller organizations to build a media company with less resources. Brito is so focused on deploying social media strategies in a large way with content organization and real-time command centers operated by multiple employees, that he loses his engagement with smaller organizations that want to transition to a highly relevant content narrative.

I did take away a few key learnings from the book that I will utilize for my brand:
  1. The importance of visual storytelling.
  2. Creating content that people want to share can increase engagement.
  3. Everything must change to stay relevant and competitive. 
I’d like to hear from you! Have you read Michel Brito’s book? Do you think “content is king” and every company should be the next media company?

February 10, 2015

Reflections

It’s been very quiet around here. So quiet I can hear a pin drop. Poink. Poink. Although Grubarazzi has been flying under the radar, my life is full of wonderful things and exciting developments. And real life stress.

Let’s recap.

The list of wonderful things and exciting developments:

My kitchen is shiny and new. I spent one year scrupulously redesigning the awkward space/layout that was my 1984 kitchen. For two months I searched high and low for a custom kitchen designer willing and able to work with my design, and three months completely gutting and renovating it. I have so many posts regarding the kitchen remodel process that I will be creating a new section on the blog solely for that. Stay tuned!

A preview:



I am now a graduate student at Johns Hopkins University, and it has been a nerve-wracking yet exciting process. I am working towards my MA in communication with a concentration in digital communication. It’s a perfect fit. I couldn't be happier.



I have a new niece! She’s so beautiful. Her name is Eleanora. Right now, she's a milk monster and her mom (below) dresses her in the cutest clothes. I can't wait to cook and play with her in the kitchen.



So, there you have it folks! I’m sure you can imagine how demanding number 1 and number 2 have been on top of my full time job. Number 3 is just the cutest. I miss creating and sharing with you. I’m back, and I’ll be talking a lot about kitchen design, working with contractors, project management ideas, DIY projects, and how wonderful it is to cook again.

XOXO

Kimmi

October 14, 2014

Watermelon Feta Bites


First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes a baby to spoil! My sister-in-law is due in December and I can’t wait to meet my new niece. Until then, we have been showering the momma-to-be with affection, and threw her a baby shower I hosted alongside my mother-in-law and soon-to-be-sister-in-law. We went with a tea party theme smothered in pink for our sweet baby girl.

This was the most organized baby shower ever. We had spreadsheets, conference calls, and clearly divided responsibilities. We don’t mess around. I provided the house and organized the food along with my SIL, and my MIL handled the desserts and decorations (which were out of control… just look at that ombre cake). 


Our tea party themed baby shower went off without a hitch! One of the most popular bite- sized nibbles were these beautiful Feta Watermelon Bites (pictured above) doused with olive oil, fresh mint, and a dash of sea salt. They are wonderfully easy and perfect for any party, especially one exploding with pink. 



Feta Watermelon Bites were inspired by a watermelon salad in Food & Wine Magazine. Usually tossed and served in a large bowl, I thought it would be attractive made into bite-sized pieces to serve alongside tea sandwiches and other nibbles. They were simply stunning on the table.

Make your life easier and purchase already skinned and halved watermelon to cube into perfect squares. This can usually be found near the fruit salad in the produce section of your grocery store.

Feta Watermelon Bites
Time in Kitchen: 15 minutes
Servings: 20

Ingredients:
  • 1 half large watermelon, cubed into 1 inch squares
  • 1 block feta cheese, sliced and cut in to 1 inch squares
  • 20 fresh mint leaves
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 pinch of sea salt
Directions:
  1. On a large platter, lay out cubed watermelon in a circular pattern. 
  2. Top each piece of watermelon with a slice of feta cheese roughly the same diameter as your watermelon cubes (this isn't rocket science). 
  3. Place one mint leaf on top of each feta and watermelon square. 
  4. Just before serving, drizzle with olive oil and a pinch of salt. 
  5. Enjoy!

September 11, 2014

Perfect Roast Chicken



























Anyone who follows me on Instagram or Facebook might know about my obsession with Thomas Keller and finding the perfect roast chicken recipe. When I discovered Keller’s super easy recipe a few years ago, my heart melted. Three ingredients will, every time, without fail, make the best roast chicken you will ever eat. Don’t mistake my love for simplicity as a renunciation for other, more difficult, methods of chicken roasting. There is something god-like about a chicken slathered in butter, stuffed with aromatics with fresh sage or thyme delicately pressed underneath the skin for added flavor. But if you can create the best roast chicken ever with just three ingredients, would you at least try it? Would you make it at least one night a week and then use the leftover carcass for chicken stock the next day? Yes. You would. And you will.   

I made two of these simple birds last night and coupled them with asparagus, whipped butternut squash, and pan gravy. Paired with a bottle of warm and spicy Côtes du Rhône wine, it was a flawless introduction to fall flavors.

Let me make something very clear. You will be tempted to stuff this chicken with “stuff”, but you will resist the urge. You will be tempted to add “just a little butter” on the skin or “just a few vegetables” to the bottom of the roasting rack. You will resist the urge. What makes this chicken so crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside is the extreme heat from the oven and zero moisture in the air. Vegetables and butter, well, they have moisture, which is your enemy for this particular recipe. Don’t let the moisture monsters tempt you with their vapor-y ways. 

Perfect Roast Chicken (inspired by Thomas Keller)
Prep time: 10 minutes
Time in Kitchen: 70 minutes

Tools required: 
Roasting pan with roasting rack
Kitchen twine

Ingredients: 
Organic young chicken brought to room temperature
2 TB Kosher salt
½ TB freshly ground black pepper

Directions: 

  1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees 
  2. With paper towels, dry the chicken completely, inside and out. For this recipe to work, the chicken has to be completely dry, including the cavity!
  3. Sprinkle salt and pepper in the chicken’s cavity
  4. Truss the chicken with  kitchen twine (click here for a tutorial)
  5. Slather the chicken with copious amounts of salt and pepper
  6. Place the trussed and seasoned chicken breast-side up on the roasting pan
  7. Do not, I repeat, do not put anything else in the oven while the bird cooks. 
  8. Put chicken in oven and roast for 50-60 minutes, until the thermometer registers 165 degrees. Open at your own risk. 
  9. Once the chicken is cooked, remove from roasting pan and allow the chicken to rest for 15 minutes before slicing. This is the perfect time to throw those sides in the oven to roast, and make a nice pan sauce!

Enjoy! 

March 28, 2014

Avocado Brownies with Chococlate Glaze




Some people dream of being President. Other people dream of saving the world. My dream: To have nonstop access to chocolate all day and all night. I’m not proud of this. I should really want more out of life. But I lose a mass of brain cells and lots of stamina when chocolate is around, especially these brownies.
 
Avocado Brownies with Chocolate Glaze look and taste like fudge made with lots of butter. But guess what! There is no butter. Not a trace. And they are gluten free. True story. Make these and you’ll give up that dream of being President one day. Who has time to save the world when you have a dozen brownies to eat?

Avocado Brownies with Chocolate Glaze
Inspired by Dr. Oz
Time in Kitchen: 45 minutes
Servings: 12 (or 6 large brownies)

Ingredients:
  • 4 eggs
  • ½ cup white sugar
  • ½ cup light brown sugar
  • 10 oz. semi-sweet chocolate chips, melted
  • 1/2 cup cacao powder
  • 1/2 cup rice flour (or almond flour)
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 ripe avocados, mashed very smooth (no chunks)
Chocolate Glaze:
  • ½ cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cocoa powder
  • 1 tablespoon almond milk (or more to desired consistency)
Directions:
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Using an electric mixer on high, whip the eggs and sugar until fluffy; about 3 minutes.
  3. Reduce speed to low, and slowly add the melted chocolate, vanilla and mashed avocado until combined.
  4. In a separate bowl, combine cocoa, sugar, brown sugar, rice flour, and salt. On slow speed, add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients until combined. Turn off the mixer.
  5. Pour into a greased 8x8 baking pan and bake until the top begins to crack; about 30 minutes.
  6. Use a toothpick to test the center (they are done when the toothpick comes out clean). Cool on a wire rack.
  7. While the brownies are cooling: In a small bowl, combine powdered sugar, cocoa powder and almond milk until smooth and creamy. Drizzle glaze over room temperature brownies and allow to dry; about 10 minutes. 


February 1, 2014

Oatmeal Banana Pancakes




Weekends are for pancakes stacked high and drizzled with maple syrup, fruit, and nuts. I relish lazy days filled with the sweet ease of rolling out of bed sans alarm clock, reading in my cozy sun room, and doing whatever the hell I want. I’m writing to you about pancakes while I sip on my first cup of coffee with my hair glamorously matted from bed. Life is good, people. Life is good.

These healthy pancakes are stuffed with bananas, homemade oat flour (gluten free oats ground in a food processor until smooth), and a little bit of extra protein from vegan vanilla protein powder. They are gluten free and dairy free, just what my body likes, and not loaded with added sugar. What a lazy day treat! I enjoyed a stack of three topped with warm blueberry maple syrup, a handful of walnuts, and thin slices of banana, because, hey, it’s Saturday, and life is good.  

Go make some pancakes.

Oatmeal Banana Pancakes
Inspired by CookieandKate
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 30 minutes
Servings: 12 pancakes
Nutrition information per pancake: 103 calories, 4 grams fat, 14 carbohydrates, 2 grams fiber, 3.5 grams protein

Ingredients:  
  • 3 bananas, mashed
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil (melted)
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 cup oat flour (1 cup oats ground in food processor)
  • 1/4 cup vanilla protein powder (vegan, gluten free)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
Directions
  1. Whisk together mashed bananas, coconut oil, lemon juice, maple syrup, eggs, and almond milk until smooth.
  2. In a separate bowl combine oat flour, protein powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg.
  3. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients mixing until combined. Do not over mix.
  4. While the mixture sits for a few minutes, heat a cast iron skillet to medium low. Lightly oil the surface with coconut oil.
  5. Using a ¼ cup measuring cup, ladle one to two pancakes at a time. Cook on each side for about 3 minutes; until the edges are cooked through and the pancakes are golden brown.
  6. Keep pancakes warm in a 200 degree oven until you are ready to serve.
Serve with maple syrup, blueberries, sliced bananas, and chopped walnuts.

January 9, 2014

Kale and Sweet Potato Soup

It’s really cold outside, like super polar vortex cold. On my walk to work a couple days ago I swear my face froze off. I haven’t felt it since. It's scary, but not that scary. This is when my Florida roots really start showing. Who has time for single digit temps? Not this girl. No no no.

In this weather all I want to eat is oatmeal for breakfast, soup for lunch, and soup for dinner. It gets real weird. Since I can’t live on chicken pho alone for the next two months, I have been experimenting with different cultures in my soup pot. This week I took major liberties with the traditional Portuguese Kale and Potato Soup which usually features white potatoes and sliced Portuguese linked sausage. Since I (like 90% of the American female population) am watching what I eat this January, I used spicy Italian chicken sausage for the protein and sweet potatoes for the starch. The result was a simple yet robust man-approved soup. 


This hearty recipe will keep you coming back for more, and it only takes about 45 minutes to make from start to finish.I think that is called a win-win situation.

Kale and Sweet Potato Soup
Servings: 8
Nutrition Per serving: Calories 250, Total fat 10g, Fiber 5g, Protein 15g
Time in Kitchen: 45 minutes

Ingredients:
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 carrot, thinly sliced
  • 1 stalk celery, thinly sliced
  • 1 ½ pounds loose spicy or mild Italian sausage (I used chicken sausage for caloric reduction)
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon salt (to taste)
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes (to taste)
  • 2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 6 cups organic low sodium chicken stock
  • 6 cups kale, de-stemmed and hand torn
Directions:
  1. Heat oil in a large heavy pot over medium high heat. Remove sausage from casing and add to the pot, breaking it apart with a wooden spoon as it browns; about 3-4 minutes. 
  2. Add onion, carrot, celery, salt and red pepper flakes and cook until onions are translucent; about 7 to 8 minutes. 
  3. Add sweet potatoes, chicken stock, and more salt to taste. Bring to a simmer then cover, until sweet potatoes are tender; about 15 minutes. 
  4. Add kale and simmer, uncovered, until tender, about 5 minutes.

January 1, 2014

Hoppin' John, and a Happy New Year!




New Year’s resolutions are for the birds. At least that is what the media wants us to believe as they spout out how most of us make hefty resolutions only to fail time and time again. Personally, I love making over-the-top resolutions. I make quite a long list of things I want to change about myself and do for others. I find a category everything falls under, and then I narrow it down to one word. I use that word to give meaning to my entire year. When I’m feeling frustrated, or tired, or simply not amused, I remember my word and everything I have done to make it happen. We can all stay in touch with one word, right?

My word this year: Family

Speaking of family and traditions, New Year’s Day has rules, ya’ll! Real simple rules to follow in order to gather up luck for the year ahead. One of those rules is to make a big ole pot of porky black eyed peas, rice, corn bread and greens to bring on the prosperity. The recipe below is tried and true. I learned it at my parent’s side since they cooked it every year since I can remember.

Happy New Years, to my friends and family! May your year be filled with delicious food and lots of love.

Hoppin’ John
(Recipe adapted from Emeril and many years at my parents side)
Time in Kitchen: 1.5 hours
Prep time: 15 minutes
Servings: 10

Ingredients
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil (or bacon drippings)
  • 1 ham hock (or smoked turkey leg for a healthier alternative)
  • 1 vidalia onion, chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 1 large green pepper, chopped
  • 2 carrots, chopped (not traditional, but I like to sneak in veggies)
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons kosher salt, to taste
  • 1 pound frozen black eyed peas
  • 4 cups low sodium chicken stock
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 2 tablespoons Cajun seasoning
  • 1 can organic low sodium diced tomatoes
  • 6 green onions, diced
  • Tabasco Sauce, for serving
  • 4 cups cooked long grain white rice, for serving
 
Directions:
  1. In a large Dutch oven, heat oil until it ripples. Add the ham hock (or smoked turkey leg) and sear on all sides. Add the onion, celery, green pepper, carrots, and garlic, salt and pepper to taste; cook until translucent; about 5-7 minutes. 
  2. Add the frozen black-eyed peas, stock, bay leaves, thyme, Cajun seasoning, and diced tomatoes. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to simmer and cook for 40-60 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the peas are creamy and tender. 
  3. Remove ham hock (or smoked turkey leg), pull off meat. Discard bone and place meat back in the pot. 
  4. Remove bay leaves. 
  5. Serve Hoppin' John over rice sprinkled with green onions and a dash of hot sauce. Serve with a side of corn bread and greens for a traditional New Year's feast.


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