Pomegranate pavlova shots – and ten years of Cooksister

PomegranatePavlovaShotsTitle © J Horak-Druiff 2014

When I was seven, I still lived next door to my best friend Andréa and we often met up where her garden wall met my driveway to shoot the breeze or plan our next play date.  I still remember the day when she poked her head over our wall and proudly announced that she was ONE DECADE old.  I was terribly envious.  Seven was such a blah age, but a decade!  Now there was an age to conjure with.  It all seemed unimaginably glamorous and I did not know how I would be able to wait three long years till I reached this milestone.

A decade ago, one late May night in 2004, I started this blog.  It was, quite literally, in another era. None of my real-world friends knew what a blog was, I did not own a digital camera, and the internet was mostly still viewed as the wild west where you only met axe murderers and fraudsters.  Even I was a little paranoid at first, not revealing my real name for a number of years and hiding behind the persona of the Cooksister. I had stumbled across a few food blogs by the time I started my own and was so inspired by these people who held down day jobs and yet had the time to write up recipes and take pictures in restaurants and share them with the world.  I wanted to be one of them. It was a tiny and exceptionally friendly community back then, and the divide between US and European bloggers did not seem as pronounced as it does now.  PRs did not care about blogs and were not interested in inviting them to events, sending them samples, or taking them on press trips.  Nobody earned a living or even aspired to earn a living out of blogging. Traditional journalists had no competition  and no group upon whom to vent their frustrations 😉 It was an altogether more innocent time when the only reason to blog seriously was because you loved doing it.

Sadly, many of the people who first inspired me to blog or blogged alongside me in the early days have since stopped (particularly the wonderful Frost Street,  Becks & Posh, Nordljus, and The Passionate Cook); Spiceblog still blogs but far too infrequently; but a few of the first bloggers I first met are still regularly at it – I’m looking at you David Lebovitz, Kalyn’s Kitchen, Blog From OUR KitchenChocolate & Zucchini, Amateur GourmetNami NamiSpittoon and Anne’s Food! Of course, things have changed over the years.  Blogging platforms have come and gone; blogging events have lived and died; social media that was but a twinkle in Mark Zuckerberg’s eye when I started is now an indispensable part of blogging; the quality of food photography on blogs has improved astronomically; and of course the marketing and PR world discovered blogs in a big way and started courting bloggers with all manners of compensation and freebies.  But at its heart, blogging is still very much the same as when I started – it’s still you and a plate of food, a camera, a keyboard and a screen, and from these elements you have to squeeze creative inspiration, often in tiny moments of the day stolen from your other commitments (day job, kids, spouse, pets, social life – all the usual clutter of life).  At various times over the last decade, blogging has been a joy, a burden, an outlet and a source of support, but most of all it has been a teacher.  Here are 6 things that ten years of blogging has taught me:

1.  People you meet on-line are no less “real” friends than those you met at a friend’s dinner party. My accident this year brought that home pretty forcibly as many of those who visited most regularly and were most generous with their time were food bloggers.

2.  There is no “right” and “wrong” way to blog.  Some people want to read a blog with recipes made using canned ingredients and cake-mixes, so why shouldn’t bloggers who choose to, cater to that audience? Some people like blogs that produce one 3,000 word post a month; other readers want a 200 word post every other day. Trying to say that “bloggers who do not use all fresh ingredients are not proper food bloggers” or “people who have not worked in a restaurant are not proper restaurant bloggers” or “no post should be longer than 500 words” or anything along those lines goes against the best part of blogging: your total freedom to blog exactly as you wish.

3.  The fact that you are paid to blog or not paid to blog does not determine the quality of the content you produce. Obviously I am biased (!), but assuming that hobby bloggers are cheap ‘n cheerful while pro bloggers are sleek and sophisticated is simply meaningless. I know bloggers who blog for free who produce magazine-quality images and text; and I know bloggers who are paid to produce content who seem unable to tell which end of the camera to point at the food, or identify the spell-check function on their laptop.  It comes down to individual talent and hard work and not whether or not you are paid.

4.  The ongoing “debate” between print journalists and bloggers as to who is the most ethical is as pointless and time-consuming as teaching a tomato to sing. Journalists get free meals and trips to write about, and so do bloggers. This is how it is. You can’t say it’s OK for journos to get a free trip but not for travel bloggers or that free trips make bloggers less impartial than journalists.  And anyway, when last did you see a travel blogger write a disastrous review about a destination where they were sent for free?? It’s no use getting my blood pressure up about people tarring “all you bloggers” with the same brush because one person calling themselves a blogger has behaved badly.  Just like there are bad drivers or bad cooks, there are bloggers who behave badly (the “do you know who I am?” school of restaurant blogger springs to mind!).  I try not to be one of them.

5.   There is no set of rules or badges that will make people behave ethically.  I have seen more than one initiative to create a badge to display in your blog sidebar to say that you adhere to certain  ethical standards, and I have ignored them all. Displaying a badge no more makes you ethical than wearing a wedding ring makes you faithful. Lead by example, I say.

6.  Never forget what a blogger’s principal role is and never allow the tail to wag the dog.  In my opinion, a blogger’s primary function is creating high-quality content (text and images) for their blog and their readers.  When you are spending more time obsessing over your social media stats than creating new content; or fretting more about your blog’s header design than about your latest post, then it is probably time to remind yourself that your blog’s content is the hamster that keeps the entire wheel turning, and that you neglect it at your peril!


PomegranatePavlovaMeringue © J Horak-Druiff 2014


For those of you who are curious, I have also delved into my archives to find my previous blog birthday posts from the past decade, or if I did not do a birthday post, a recipe from the last week in May so you can see how far we have come…

So how does one celebrate ten years of blogging, particularly when it falls in a year when I have blogged fewer times than at any other point in my blogging career? With something simple, of course, and preferably something bone-friendly after my accident in February.  Pavlova is one of those dishes that I can never tire of because it can be reinvented in so many ways.  Change the fruit; flavour the meringue; or create a deconstructed version – the possibilities are endless. And as luck would have it, it’s also bone friendly, consisting of protein-filled eggs and calcium-rich cream – just add pomegranates with their hit of Vitamin K and you are onto a winner. Rather than make a large pavlova, this time I made pavlova shots, to be served in small glasses and perfect for a pre-dessert, or to be served at a stand-up event. Of course, home-made meringue is always best (use my meringue nest recipe here if you want to make your own) but if you are pushed for time, good quality store-bought meringues will do in this recipe. The result is the perfect balance between sweet and tart, in a dainty bite size – and oh so pretty with the jewel-like arils perched on top.  If the first ten years tasted this good, I can hardly wait for the next ten!


PomegranatePavlovaShots2 © J Horak-Druiff 2014


If you are a fan of pomegranates, you might also like these recipes:

5.0 from 11 reviews
Pomegranate pavlova shots
Prep time
Cook time
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This deconstructed version of the classic pavlova recipe is perfect to serve as a pre-dessert, or as part of a stand-up dinner party.
Recipe type: Dessert
Serves: 4
  • 1 large good quality meringue nest (or a few smaller meringues)
  • 175ml double cream
  • 2 large pomegranates
  • 50g granulated sugar
  1. Remove all the pomegranate arils from the skins and discard all the white pith. Doing this with your hands and the fruit submerged in a bowl of water is the least messy way .  Put half the arils to one side, place the other half in a food processor and blend to a liquid.  Press this pulp through a sieve using the back of a spoon and catch the clear juice that runs through – it should yield about 200ml.
  2. In a small saucepan, add 50g of sugar to the pomegranate juice and heat to a gentle simmer.  Continue simmering until the juice starts to reduce to a syrupy consistency.  Remove from the heat and cool.
  3. Whip the cream together with caster sugar until soft peaks start to form.  Crumble the meringue(s). Divide the crumbled meringue in four and place into the base of four pretty shot glasses (or sherry glasses). Top with a spoonful of syrup and a a dollop of cream. Divide the pomegranate arils between the four glasses and sprinkle them over the cream. Drizzle all remaining syrup over the top of each glass and serve immediately.

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  1. says

    Wow Jeanne things certainly have changed since you started out, and how brilliant to have been at the very beginning of the movement. It’s so easy to get caught up in the politics of bloggers Vs journalists, PR nonsense and bickering, but like you say at the heart of it should be the passion for what it is we do – talk about food!

    Loving the dessert recipe… a real winner for summer dinner parties and so pretty!

  2. says

    That was a nice post Jeanne. Although comparatively new to the whole blogging scene, I absolutely understand what you mean.
    Here’s to many many more years of blogging :)

  3. says

    Ten years is a real accomplishment, and I am so glad you have stuck it out, even during this very tough year. And I am still hoping that someday we will meet in person. I do have a house with lots of room for guests now, so if you ever get a thought to come to Utah, please know you always have a place to stay here.

    Great post too, so much wisdom here.

  4. says

    What a superb post, I hope I’ll still be blogging in 7 years time.
    When I started blogging 3 years ago, I researched food blogging, and your blog constantly appeared in my searches as one to read and follow, I’m so glad I did as both your writing and photography are beautiful and inspiring. I’m Looking forward to your next ten years of blogging.
    (Wonderful pudding too!)

  5. says

    Many congratulations on 10 yrs of blogging, such an achievement being a pioneer too! Some great points you cover and I love your healthy pavlova shots:-) Here’s to your health and the next 10 yrs – cheers:-) xx

  6. says

    I loved reading about your blogging journey, Jeanne. :-) Your lessons learned are so good. I love how you always present such beautiful, high quality, and informative posts. :-)

  7. says

    What a great post and Happy 10th Anniversary, you have certainly been an inspiration to me especially when I started my blog – and you are right sometimes virtual friends become real friends and that really is great!!

  8. says

    Oooh congratulations on your decade! Gosh, time really flies… So happy to know you! There might be London trip for me this fall, I really hope to are you then!

  9. says

    Ten years is quite an accomplishment Jeanne. I don’t think you ever imagined where this blog would take you, the lasting friendships, the people you would meet, laughed and cried with when you first pressed that publish button.

  10. says

    I totally agree with you.

    Happy bloganniversary and to many more. What a milestone. My blog will soon be 9 years old, wow I can’t believe it…

    An exquisite dessert!



  11. says

    A wonderfully sincere and profound post and a big happy anniversary to you for your ten years of blogging.

    I am an avid, if silent fan, of yours and you were one of the first bloggers I started to follow who filled me with inspiration.

    Your “voice” is warm and welcoming and your photos are magical and here’s the next twn years Jeanne!


    PS: I almost forgot to mention those amazing puddings which look fabulous.

  12. says

    Happy blogaversary Jeanne. Thanks for sharing your wise words. I agree with you 100% ;). Here’s to many more wonderful years of blogging xx

  13. says

    Jeanne – congratulations on your international success and 10 years of interesting, thought-provoking and delicious Cooksistering! Do hope that your recovery is reaching the end, and that we will hear more from you during the second half of the year! Best wishes!

  14. says

    How interesting to read about how things have changed over the last 10 years of blogging for you. All of your tips are spot on, especially the need to keep creating good content. You have come up with a winner of a recipe here and it is a post of quality content so representative of you. Happy 10th year of blogging to you!

  15. says

    Happy ten years to you Jeanne. I really enjoyed reading what you have learned in the last ten years. I am learning. I’m so impressed that you have kept the love alive for so long.

    I am also grateful that you have always been so encouraging towards me; the world of blogging has many lovely moments and some draining ones and it is always wonderful to read kind words. x

  16. says

    I can’t agree more with you list. Everything very true.

    I still struggle endlessly here in the Eastern Cape to get PR and marketing people to see the value of bloggers. I get perhaps one invite in 6 months to something because of my blog. Very sad that they just don’t get the value of bloggers

  17. says

    I hope to be where you are one day – celebrating 10 years too. And thanks for sharing your tips with us ‘newbies’ who really get confused with how we should be doing it right. Love the desserts ( i am sucker for pomegranate)

  18. says

    How amazing to have been blogging for 10 years! I remember when I started blogging, bloggers like you were who I looked up to, and when they actually started talking to me on twitter I couldn’t believe it! And you are so right about blogger friends being real friends. The best thing to have come out of blogging, for me, are the people. I met some of my best friends online because of blogging. And they have all enriched my life so much. Three cheers for blogging and bloggers!

  19. says

    Happy blog anniversary, dear Jeanne! My blog turned 9 on Monday, which isn’t as impressive as your ten, but still good, I think :)

    So cool of you to list all those anniversary posts – how cool that I attended the 2005 foodbloggers’ party at Johanna’s place!!!

  20. says

    I am late to this party! Sorry sorry! But I am here and with big glasses of prosecco to toast to you and this space. So glad that this crazy thing called blogging brought us together my sister from another mother! Things change, people come and go – but glad we two are still here together! 10 years is a fab milestone! Cin cin! xo

    • Jeanne says

      I am still somewhat astonished to get to this milestone!! But if it comes with Prosecco, I am aiming to stay on these roads for another ten years 😉 So glad that this crazy hobby brought us together xx

  21. says

    Has it really been 10 years?! (How I miss the innocent and carefree days of EoMEoTE!)

    This is my least favourite part: “social media […] is now an indispensable part of blogging”. For me, FB, Twitter, Google, etc. etc. have usurped my attention and I forget to come and see what my friends have written about.

    This is my favourite part: “the best part of blogging: your total freedom to blog exactly as you wish”

    NO, wait. My favourite part is the pomegranate pavlova. How delicious sounding! Now if only we could get decent pomegranates….

    • Jeanne says

      I know right – ten years?!? Could hardly believe it myself! It is a different world, isn’t it? Nobody realyl cared about stats and you could host an event with any damn crazy name you wanted, even if only three people entered,because they were all your friends and the whole thing was a glorious in-joke, not a way to build traffic… (you’d never guess what I was talking about huh?)

      Social media is a time suck but if you want to compete these days (and mostly, I do) then you need to master at least some social media platforms. But there are way too many to master all! I love that, by and large, I DO still blog exactly how and when I want, even after ten years.

      Try the pavlova shots – you won;t regrete it! 😉

  22. says

    Congratulations on 10 years of blogging and what fabulous tips. I think it’s very easy to get caught up in what everyone else is doing and believing you should do the same, it’s excellent advice to step back and remember why the heck you’re doing it in the first place.
    I should remind myself more often

  23. angela@spinachtiger says

    First of all I came here for the dessert and I got a full meal of meaningful thought. Thank you and congratulations. Blogging for ten years is something to be quite proud of, as blogging is extremely hard (yet joyful) work. Easy to do a post, hard to go the distance, consistently. I resonate with so much of what you have written. I started my blog from sheer love and need to connect to others who loved good food. I found myself growing in areas I had no idea I had room to grow or potential, even hired to write for print. I sometimes feel guilty because I don’t strive hard enough with SEO and Social Media. That part has taken some of the joy away. Your points are so true. The bottom line of blogging is still connecting and gaining trust with the readers. Cheers.