Defining Success (Recipe: Slice and Bake Sugar Cookies)

As many of you know, I recently returned from San Francisco where I attended a food blogging conference. I’m not going to write a whole recap. I’m not going to gush about all the wonderful people I met and got to see again. Connecting with those friends was a wonderful experience, but I’m honestly just not up for that. What I am going to do is get something off my chest that has been bugging me since I returned home.

Blogging has changed a lot since I began doing it 4 years ago. Success has been defined in so many different ways, even though I firmly believe that success, when it comes to something like blogging, is extremely subjective.

The air of the conference and many of the people who seemed to be “experts” made it seem like if you weren’t the next big thing, just forget it…why bother? Should I feel that because my goal is not necessarily to write a cookbook that I’m not successful? I don’t have a desire to be on The Food Network, so am I not successful? What happened to just blogging and being the best at blogging you can be and that equating to success? Why is it that simply blogging…sharing our gift and life with the world through this platform, seems to not be good enough anymore?

I am incredibly proud of my friends who have taken the next step in their careers by achieving their goals of cookbooks and shows and a zillion Facebook fans and blog followers, but I’m equally as proud of my friends who are finding their voice and refining their sites in an effort to fine tune what they are delivering. Isn’t that what it’s all about? Becoming the best you that you can be, not the best you someone else thinks you should be?

And I’m being ornery again and throwing in a completely random recipe. Well, maybe not so random… we could all be our own little cookie cutter versions of what someone else thinks is successful, but I certainly think life is a lot more interesting when there is a whole bunch of variety thrown in, don’t you?

Kittencal’s Slice N’ Bake Sugar Cookies from Food.com

  • 1 cup butter, room temperature ( no substitutes)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 egg yolks
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract ( can use 1 teaspoon)
  • 2 tablespoons vanilla instant pudding mix
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • white sugar (optional)
  1. In a mixing bowl cream the butter with sugar for about 3 minutes.
  2. Add in egg yolk and both extracts; beat until no sugar granules remain.
  3. Beat in vanilla pudding mix until combined.
  4. In a small bowl combine the flour with baking soda and salt; add to the creamed mixture and beat until combined (the mixture will be dry and slightly crumbly).
  5. Remove the dough to a surface and gently knead the dough until it comes together (this will take only a few seconds).
  6. Roll into one large log or two smaller logs.
  7. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate until hard (about 4 or more hours).
  8. Set oven to 350 degrees F.
  9. Slice into slightly over 1/4-inch thickness (you may coat the slices in sugar if desired).
  10. Place onto a greased baking sheet/s.
  11. Bake for about 8 minutes or until light golden brown.
  12. Allow to sit and harden slightly in the pan before removing (the cookies will harden upon sitting in the pan).

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Comments

  1. says

    What a lovely take on the conference! I had very similar feelings after attending IFBC earlier this year. If only every conference could be like the Big Summer Potluck. I’m so thrilled I got to meet you there!

    PS – Those sugar cookies look so tasty :)

  2. says

    Kristen. I love you, girl. I stuck with the “writing track” the whole way through Blog Her and I was so blessed. I feel like I got a lot out of it. Of course, I don’t always fit in with “foodies” anyway because I write about the relational side of food, I show my messy kitchen in pictures, and I never have “the perfect” post. I’ve attended quite a few blogging conferences now, and my favorite part is coming home with richer friendships. That is the best part: The People.

    Love you. Thank you!

  3. says

    Kristen, this is a great post. I didn’t attend the conference but can clearly imagine the tone of some speakers. I agree with you completely.

  4. says

    Lovely and honest post, Kristen. And just look at how many of us you touched and always touch with your beautiful writing. To me, that is one of the purest measures of success their can ever be.

  5. says

    Aww, Kristin, I was just saying to Alice that I missed seeing PEOPLE, but I didn’t miss the conference itself this year (though I would have totally stalked Dorie Greenspan, but not for fame or fortune, just because I love her). I want to have a big meetup (it sounds like Big Summer Potluck was kind of that) where the point is to see people and talk to each other and hangout, without the structure of “sessions” and “sponsors.” I realized after IFBC that I wasn’t in it for the career — it’s just something I do.

  6. says

    Such a good post and I totally agree!! We’re all just doing what we love and isn’t that enough to feel so incredibly proud and successful? I think so :)

    Oh, and the cookies look wonderful… Success! :)

  7. says

    I am so glad that you were brave enough to write this post. I think it is the dirty little secret in the blogging world. At some point or another we all wonder if we are a “success”. I have come to believe that success is defined by my readers. I feel like a success when someone makes a recipe I have posted and takes the time to come back and comment. There is really no greater success in my book. Also – being able to call someone like you a “blogging buddy” is a gift I wouldn’t have unless I blogged. :)

  8. says

    I think one thing you do very successfully is to make your blog a public forum about not food things (like ppd), and I appreciate that.

    For me what has always been hard about this blog thing is that I don’t want to be a food writer or a food network person. But, it does seem with these conferences, as someone who probably will never be able to afford to attend one, it seems like this whole bloggery thing is about popularity–and readers are born of networking. So, my measure of success is to have a number of readers who like what I write, but in general it is about falling into what is popular. And, that gap between these two can be discouraging. Now, I am being ornery. So I will go off and read comments.

  9. says

    I am sorry I did not have the chance to meet you last weekend. You would have been one of many-from veteran bloggers to newbies like me- that I met and held this same conversation. I started writing my blog because I wanted a way to express the connection I overwhelmingly felt between food and the people who eat it. If someone other than my family and friends read it- bonus. I don’t know what I “want” from my blog. I am already getting what I need. And the new friends I am connecting with in the blogosphere are all the bonus.

  10. says

    Amen, sister! I will probably never attend a blogger’s conference and my blog is a real illustration of my slow growth as a photographer, writer, and stylist. I do it for fun. I do it to share my recipes and those of others that I find tasty. I do it to fulfill a creative need … and that’s enough for me. Sure, it’s really important to get some feedback through comments from readers, but I will ultimately keep on keepin’ on because I find foodblogging a satisfying and fun hobby… and I am happy with my level of success. I know more than when I started and everyday I learn a bit more …

  11. says

    Kristen,

    I am standing up & applauding you – bravo for being honest and frank! I completely agree with you. I personally did not sign up for this conference because of the “air” that was there last year. In my everyday “real” world, I am at conferences of all sorts all the time and they are ALWAYS a nurturing environment where the attendees can come and learn from there peers. It is always supportive in what ever direction you want to go. Last year, I left BHF feeling like it was a cheerleading fest (look at how awesome I am). I left completely turned off (it was a struggle to go to IFBC and I only went so I could time with 5 amazing women who I stayed with). I will never forget a conversation I had at BHF with a foodie who had recently started blogging and she was so excited to get her site going, to learn, to meet people; but, by the time the cocktail party rolled around, she was in tears because she felt after the sessions that she should toss in the ball, that people were not as warm and fuzzy as they had portrayed. I felt terrible for her and tried to encourage to keep cooking, writing and shooting and to take it all with a grain of salt. I am happy to say she still does blog just not as much as she use too.

    I feel that if people want their sites to be their profession, they should go for it. If they are doing it as a hobby, they should do that. All in all, it is suppose to be fun and it is suppose to be a social community – everyone could learn to be a little more supportive of each other and just maybe, learn a little something new. The pond is big enough for all the fish.

    Kristen, you rock! Keep up the good work and keep being honest with yourself and all of us!!!

  12. says

    Hi Kristen,

    Never having been to a food blogger conference before this made me sad to read.

    If you ever get the chance, the professional food photography/food styling conferences are a much different experience. The people are kind and full of information to help us. They’ve been doing this stuff long before blogging existed and their egos have had time to calm down I think. All of my favorite mentors come from these types of conferences.

    I’m not sure if this helps you, but I thought I’d throw it out there.

    Laura

  13. says

    Thank you, from a gal with a teeny lil’ ol’ blog, who is still finding her voice in this big blogging world, in the world in general. I have nothing specific to offer at the moment but encouragement, my faith, and my life experience as a gift to bless others and hopefully build a community of friendship. It is very easy to feel small and unimportant in this giant blogosphere if we insist on doing like you said and compare ourselves with others instead of focusing on what we each have to offer in our own unique and different ways. I’m sure there’s no *intent* in causing others to feel insignificant,and is probably done without realizing it. But we as women ought to be more mindful of developing gracious & generous spirits, because we need each other as mentors – so that we can learn & develop life skills and attributes that we can then pour into the lives of others. ;-)

  14. says

    Hi Kristen! Quick question…I am sensitive to some of the ingredients in commercially packaged vanilla pudding (autoimmune diseases). Do you think that I could just leave it out or do you have a suggestion for an alternative? My mom’s best cupcake recipe also has pudding in it, and while I splurge, my body knows what I did.

    I still plan on getting on board with adopt a blogger. I had to have an emergency appendectomy last Friday so I got set back a bit in life. I love what you wrote about just being a blogger! I share my recipes because I hope to help other parents keep their children from having to grow up in a life of chronic pain the way I do. My reward is the stories I hear of how switching to a real food diet has improved their family. I do plan on (self) publishing a cookbook, but I want to offer it to organizations as something they can sell as a fundraiser and to raise money for causes I am passionate about, not to become the next big thing. Keep on rockin’ it like you do!

    Katie’s last blog post: Butternut Squash Sloppy Joe’s

  15. says

    Hi Kristen! Quick question…I am sensitive to some of the ingredients in commercially packaged vanilla pudding (autoimmune diseases). Do you think that I could just leave it out or do you have a suggestion for an alternative? My mom’s best cupcake recipe also has pudding in it, and while I splurge, my body knows what I did.

    I still plan on getting on board with adopt a blogger. I had to have an emergency appendectomy last Friday so I got set back a bit in life. I love what you wrote about just being a blogger! I share my recipes because I hope to help other parents keep their children from having to grow up in a life of chronic pain the way I do. My reward is the stories I hear of how switching to a real food diet has improved their family. I do plan on (self) publishing a cookbook, but I want to offer it to organizations as something they can sell as a fundraiser and to raise money for causes I am passionate about, not to become the next big thing. Keep on rockin’ it like you do!

  16. says

    Great post, Kristen, and very well said! I’m certain food blogging conferences have so many positives, but you and Alice have both highlighted a lot of the pitfalls and negativity that can make an otherwise great blogger feel insecure and “un-cool”. Success is measured in many different ways and you are very right to point out that success as a food blogger is not ONLY about getting a book, TV or publication deal. There is nothing wrong with making money from a blog, but I’ve known since I started blogging that it is NOT the reason to start a blog. I started Flavia’s Flavors because I LOVE to cook, write and take photographs and I wanted to hone those three passions and share them with family and friends, and make some new friends through Twitter and Facebook. It’s been SO much fun and I don’t care (or even know) what my stats are. I’ve met so many lovely people through Twitter and have formed so many great connections and it’s all been through the shared passion of doing something you LOVE and sharing it with others. Being genuine and authentic is the way I define success in my life and I keep that in the forefront of my thoughts each day. Thank you for being one of the genuine and authentic bloggers out there! I hope I can meet you in person one day!

  17. says

    Sing it sister! I think that’s why I loved the Storytelling session so much, and the end key note speakers. Why do we blog? The passion to tell a story, and connect with people I never ever in a million years would otherwise have met. It’s a gift, that is worth far more than any monetary amount. Hey I think i might just blog that ;) Kristen you are a gem, so glad I was able to meet you. LuvYa
    Sheila

  18. says

    Kristen I love your honesty my friend!! I haven’t attended a big or even medium sized blog convention yet and I love that you voiced the varied aspects that one will experience at one. To me blogging is all about the personal connections that we make. As Sandy said “the people”. I also agree with you that it’s not the size of the blog that matters but what you take away from reading… what you find there. I have truly enjoyed meeting some wonderfully, sweet, caring & talented women/men out there and regard those friendships with love and respect. I guess I’m naive and look at blogging like the rest of my life. That what comes along our path is destiny or kismet, not something chased down. Thank you so much for sharing, as always I take away so much from your beautiful sincere writing :)

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