I arrived in Orlando on Thursday afternoon so I could spend some much needed time with old friends before the conference went into full-swing. There were so many hugs and smiles followed by raucous laughter, eating and drinking. Some of my friends I actually know in real life and some of them I met IRL for the first time last week. We “talk” to each other every week online, in groups on facebook, through emails, etc. But we are spread out across the globe, so we rarely have the opportunity to see each others faces and just hang out and talk like friends do. That was the absolute highlight of my weekend. “Meeting” people I have adored for years and finally getting to wrap my arms around them.
Work Hard, Play Hard
This year, I was a brand ambassador for Idaho Potato and I have to tell you, it was a match made in (potato) heaven. I spent the majority of my weekend with the folks from Idaho Potato and I had a blast with them. They were some of the most wonderful people I have ever met in my life. Here’s evidence of how much fun we had –
See those awesome potato gloves in the top right? Part of my swag bag from them… I love them! And Don & Linda!!! The people from Famous Idaho Potatoes know how to have a good time!
Thank A Farmer
One of the sessions I enjoyed most was our sponsors speaking about farming. As you know, I grew up in a rural community and I was fortunate enough to be aware of the source of my food. I was surrounded by local farms and many of my classmates were farm kids, so the sight of dirt-caked boots is not unfamiliar. One common theme from each of the sponsors: Idaho Potato, Certified Angus Beef, Cabot, CK Mondavi and Florida Strawberry Growers Association was their passion and commitment. Dan from Idaho Potato said something that really rang true : “You have to love what you do to be a farmer”. There is so much care and love that goes into what they do everyday and the amount of work that it entails to produce what they raise/grow on their farms is staggering.
Friendships, New & Old, are Good for the Soul
So Much Fun with these Gals! Copious amounts of food (and drinks!) were consumed this past weekend, all with these beauties by my side. This really is the BEST part of the conference for me. It’s not all play… we’re WORKING! It might look like we are just hanging out and having fun all the time (and we kinda are), but we are also talking shop most of the time. How to grow our blogs, what photo editing program works best for us, what we learned in the session we just attended, etc. Oh, and pass the margaritas, please…
On Sunday, there was a cooking competition. We had a handful of mystery ingredients and had about 10 minutes to figure out what to do with them. There was Certified Angus ground beef, Fingerling Idaho Potatoes, Blueberries from Wish Farms, wine from CK Mondavi and cheese from Cabot, a tomato based vinaigrette dressing and a sweet and spicy sauce… Everything had to used and the focus of our dish had to be blueberries. We put our heads together and came up with a menu, I was nominated to cook (I had 15 minutes!) and then make 3 identical plates. It was a little crazy, but we pulled together and made it happen with time to spare!
A huge thank you to Idaho Potatoes for making my first experience as a Brand Ambassador so fantastic! They provided an AMAZING lunch for us and were gracious enough to give me links to the recipes so I could share them with all of you!!!
Thai Curry Idaho Potato Soup https://idahopotato.com/recipes/thai-curry-idaho-potato-soup
Carnitas & Potato Hash: https://idahopotato.com/recipes/dos-caminos-carnitas-and-idaho-potato-hash-1
Penne with Arugula Pesto, Idaho Red Potatoes and Spring Vegetables: https://idahopotato.com/recipes/penne-with-arugula-pesto-idaho-red-potatoes-and-spring-vegetables
Potato Cakes with Mint Chutney: https://idahopotato.com/recipes/potato-cakes-with-mint-chutney
Salmon Calcutta with Idaho Fingerling Potatoes: https://idahopotato.com/recipes/salmon-calcutta-with-idaho-fingerling-potatoes
Chocolate Potato Donuts with Creme Anglaise: https://idahopotato.com/recipes/chocolate-potato-donuts-with-creme-anglaise
Idaho Potato Pound Cake: https://idahopotato.com/recipes/idaho-potato-pound-cake-gluten-free