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What a Crock!

Published August 26, 2012 - 2 Comments

Everyone swears by their slow-cookers.  I’m probably one of the last people to own one, and even though I bought it months ago, yesterday was the first time that I’ve dared to try something in it.  In fairness to Jess, she made fantastic ribs in it a couple of weeks ago, but I was flying solo yesterday, and I learned two things:

  1. Crock-Pot is a brand name, similar to Kleenex and Q-tips.  What I’ve been calling a Crock-Pot for years has probably been a slow-cooker in many instances.
  2. 7 hours is too long for a roast… even on low.

Although it fell apart while I tried to remove the roast from the Crock-Pot, the meat thermometer still showed an internal temperature of 200F, which I was not expecting.  I should have taken it out sooner, but I had already dropped an hour from the original instructions.  I think next time I’ll set it for 6 hours, and test it then.

So how was it?  Still impressive!  It was certainly more tender than my oven roasts, although I would have liked it a little less done in the centre… but next time.  I didn’t throw any veggies in there, because I wasn’t sure how that would work with the gravy I wanted to make.  It’s all still a learning process.

One thing’s for certain, though… Lady Ashburnham pickles still go really well with a roast done in a Crock-pot!  I cooked a batch of Lady A’s Friday… my first batch of the year!  Then I watched my daughter put three large spoonfulls on her plate and spread them over everything.  She’s a bit of a pickle freak… like her Dad!  🙂

Now to find me some good slow-cooker recipes!

Thank You

Published August 22, 2011 - 0 Comments

Imagine how incredibly stoked I was yesterday when I logged into my Amazon Associates reports and saw that I had two referrals for Bossypants credited to my account!  That means not one, but two, readers enjoyed my recommendation of that audio book enough to click the link and purchase it for themselves!  It’s not really the money (which is pennies) but more the fact that someone trusted my opinion enough to part with their hard-earned money that gives me hope that maybe this blogging thing has a future.  So thank you to whoever that was!  🙂

As a double bonus, I checked my clickbank account and saw that I had a referral from my CureBrokenHeart site too!  That one probably surprised me even more, as it’s a $21 referral fee, and that site was really just a test.  I haven’t done much with it, and was more interested in the process than anything else.  I did learn some valuable lessons from that experience, so that’s ok.  To have sold even one product through that site is like icing on the cake!

And because things come in threes, I’ve noticed a nice increase in the daily clickthrough rate on the in-text links, particularly on my LadyAshburnham Pickles site.  The daily rate has jumped from $0.02 to $0.10 which is obviously a far cry from financially sustainable, but a big step in the right direction.

At this critical time it’s more about confidence than financial growth.  This past weekend was a good one.

A huge thank you to all my readers.  I couldn’t do any of this without you.

Sincerly,

Stephen

You Can Build a Subscription Site Around Pickles!

Published August 19, 2011 - 0 Comments

I was listening to another great episode of the Smart Passive Income podcast last night, and Pat was talking with chef Keith Snow from the Harvest Eating blog.  Keith has a subscription site based around healthy eating and local foods.  He was discussing how the subscription model worked for him, and the passion required to be successful in a niche market.  It was a very interesting interview, but I paused it to come upstairs and sit at my computer.  That was last night.  This morning I turned it back on and the very next words from Keith were “You can build a subscription site around pickles” if you are passionate about your niche.  I couldn’t believe that he said that!  He was just looking for an example off the top of his head, and he chose pickles!  It made me smile because of my Lady Ashburnham Pickles site that I am slowly working toward.  (Although, I don’t see how that could ever be a subscription site in my case, but I am pleased with the traffic that it’s getting right now).

Dream big… or not at all…

A New Blog Added!

Published May 30, 2011 - 3 Comments

I was going through the Google Analytics logs of all my sites, and I noticed something interesting.  My pickle site, LadyAshburnhamPickles.com has more traffic going to it than I thought it did!  It’s not going to break any records, but people seem to be going to it.  I’ve even had a few people contact me to ask about bottles (whether I sold them, or where the best place to get them might be).

And it got me thinking… maybe it was time to add a blog section to the site.

Just to confuse things… LadyAshburnhamPickles runs on WordPress, but uses static pages, rather than sequential posts (like this site).  When I came up with the idea for the site, I envisioned it as a static page, with some information on Lady Ashburnham, and the pickle recipe.  I gradually added a couple more static pages, but the intent was to create a strictly niche target micro-site, that would be hands-off.  In other words.. it was a test.

I don’t plan on dedicating a ton of time to the new blog (after all… how much can you possibly write about a single type of pickles?) but I thought that adding a community element to the site, where I can periodically throw a post up might be another good way of testing things.  Who knows what will happen?

Let’s find out!

 

Cooking For Orcs! Unofficial Tauren World of Warcraft Cookbook? Zug Zug!

Published September 22, 2010 - 0 Comments

It’s amazing what you can find online sometimes. I was bored and looking through affiliate programs, and came across the Tauren Chef Cookbook. I don’t play World of Warcraft, but I’m familiar with the genre.  I’ve played plenty of Dungeons and Dragons in my day… many of the Warcraft games… and even worked for Verant Interactive for a little bit on EverQuest.  Oh… and I can cook!  So something like this easily caught my eye and made me laugh.

How could you possibly not enjoy the likes of Delicious Cave Mold Cookies?  Or Goblin Deviled Clams? Actually some of the stuff looks pretty neat!  It’s all real food… it’s all been prepared in a kitchen, and isn’t merely fantasy recipes.  Oh, and it’s not just for people who play WoW, either.  If you’re looking for something a little different, then chances are, this e-book has it.

Cave Mold Cookies

I don’t usually dabble too much in affiliate programs, but I think that I’m going to take a closer look at my Commission Junction and ClickBank accounts.  I’m also waiting to hear back from a top pickling and canning company on my application to list them on my Lady Ashburnham Pickles site!  🙂

And yes… I fully intend to buy this e-book, so watch out the next time you come to visit.  You just might be served Buzzard Bites, or Roast Raptor!

If anyone else dares to buy this e-book, please let me know how you make out with any of the recipes!  Maybe we can exchange stories!

Order your copy of the Unofficial Tauren Chef Cookbook here.

The Ball is Rolling

Published September 14, 2010 - 9 Comments

Two days ago I launched my first spin-off site, based on search engine traffic to this blog. And what did I decide to go with? Pickles! Yes, that’s right… Lady Ashburnham mustard pickles have shown up in the log almost every day since I made that first post. Many days there are multiple searches for different variations of the keywords. How to make them. How to bottle them. So I figured that I would run with it, and see what happened if I created a new site.

That being said, LadyAshburnhamPickles.com is now live!

And for those of you who say “why?”… well the answer is simple. I have to start somewhere.

I don’t expect this new site to be an instant success. What I do expect is to learn from it, and apply those lessons to future projects. When I created the site, I decided to use static pages in a WordPress blog, rather than the typical post format. It doesn’t have a “blog” feel to it at all, but it is WordPress. Meaning that I can use some of the plugins that I’ve become accustomed to from WhatAboutStephen.com. That’s extremely helpful for me.

If you look at the new site, you will see that it’s pretty basic. That wasn’t an accident. I figure that most people who are looking for information on pickles are not interested in reading through a ton of crap, so I wanted it to be as straightforward as possible. But at the same time, I also wanted it to have a little extra something that other sites did not have. I could not find a site anywhere that was dedicated to these pickles. Makes sense, I suppose. But obviously there were many pickling sites with the recipe. That’s not hard to find. But what I wanted from my site was a little information on the bottling, and the woman whose name we use, yet probably know nothing about. And I thought that it might be interesting to throw in a few fun pickle facts that I found on the internet. I read through many other sites, and picked what I thought were the best facts. I also scoured the internet for a picture to place on that page, but I wasn’t able to find anything suitable. I knew exactly what I wanted… but short of paying $14 for a single photo, I wasn’t able to find it.

So the main part of the site is complete, although I still need to add a contact form. There is some backend work to be done. I’ve noticed that when I do a search for “Lady Ashburnham Pickles” that this blog appear on the first page of Google, yet the new site appears at the bottom of the second page.  It will take a little bit of work to get that moved up, but that’s part of the learning process that I mentioned earlier. I also need to work at converting some of the traffic coming here into clicks to the new site. I’ve noticed a surprising lack of click-throughs in the original post to the new site, and have repositioned the new link at the top of the page. I’m hoping that makes a difference.

And rather than go into detail about the ins and outs of that learning process here, I have decided to create a separate blog that will deal strictly with my fledgling internet empire. There, people can read about my trials… the successes and the failures… offer input, suggestions, etc… and maybe someone else can learn from my mistakes.  I’ve seen a few of these sites, and they’re usually very helpful. And even if no one else reads them, they’re extremely useful in documenting the process, so eventually the kinks will get worked out, and a system will emerge. There will be more information on the new blog in the near future.

And lastly, I am looking forward to my phone conversation on Friday with Yasmine Mustafa, the founder and CEO of a little company called 123LinkIt.  You’ve probably heard me babble about this company before. They have created a free WordPress plugin that scans your blog posts for keywords and automatically matches them to other companies who have referral programs. The idea being that if I write a post about buying a new iPhone, this plugin will pick up on some of the keywords and automatically link them to affiliate programs. Maybe it will underline “iPhone” and send a reader who clicks the link to an online storefront advertising iPhones for sale. If the reader then purchases something, a referral fee would  be paid to me (and 123LinkIt) for sending the online store a customer. It’s a very slick system. Of course you can always sign up for affiliate marketing programs yourself, but 123LinkIt simplifies the process for you by acting as a middle man, and offering you easy access to a much greater array of vendors. It really is a unique way of bringing bloggers and advertisers together, and I’ve been fortunate enough to converse with Yasmine a little through email and Twitter. In talking to her, I’ve found a re-emergence of the spark that seemed to have died down in recent months. A realization that the status quo is simply not good enough any more, and that now is the time to put forth the hard work, to ensure that the future is what I want it to be. So Friday will be a chance to talk to someone who is following her dream and willing to make sacrifices now…   I have a ton of respect for people who are willing to do that.

That’s the update. That’s what’s going on. That’s the direction I’m heading. That’s all.

Lady Ashburnham Pickles are a Local Favourite? Had No Idea!

Published August 21, 2010 - 7 Comments
[Due to the overwhelming number of searches for Lady Ashburnham pickles hitting this blog post, I decided to create a new website specifically for them.  Please check out www.LadyAshburnhamPickles.com.  Thank you.  My mother has been making Lady Ashburnham pickles (commonly revered to simply as “Lady A’s”) for as long as I can remember.  They’re a very yummy mustard pickle!  I eat them primary with roast beef, turkey, or ham dinners, although I know people who use them as relish on hamburgers or hot dogs, and even someone who makes tartar sauce with them.

When I moved out of the house Mum would provide me with the occasional bottle to get me through, but eventually I realized that if I was going to consume Lady A’s on a regular basis, I’d better figure out how to make them on my own.

It’s not that they’re overly difficult to make.  The problem is that they’re time consuming… but that comes mostly from a society now used to buying everything off the shelf.  Call it what is is.  Laziness.

When my daughter was old enough, we introduced her to Lady A’s, calling them “Nana’s pickles”.  She loved them!  (My son, not so much)  It didn’t matter that I was now making them myself.  They will probably always be “Nana’s pickles” to her.  She loves to smother her potatoes in them, and used to put up quite a fuss if she didn’t have the pickles… to the point where my ex would actually put some in a little container to bring with her, if she knew that we were going somewhere like Swiss Chalet.  I know, I know…  My daughter still prefers the pickles on her potatoes, but I’ve been able to curb that behaviour a little.  If I have the pickles, great.  If I don’t… suck it up and eat your supper.  I’ll make some more when I have time.

But as long as I’ve been loving these pickles, I had absolutely no idea that they were a local favourite!  I hate to admit that I read this story in the Telegraph Journal, but I thought that it was very interesting!  It tells the story of a telephone operator from Fredericton who marries an English Lord… and develops a recipe for pickles.  I always assumed that they were just pickles that everyone else knew about, but now I’m not so sure.  If you’re not from New Brunswick, or not from the Maritimes, do you even know about Lady Ashburnham pickles?  I’m not so sure!  And if you do, maybe you’re like me, and don’t know the story behind the woman whose name lives on.. especially at this time of year.  Pickling season!  Thanks to Dad, I have enough cucumbers to make a double batch!

You can read the full newspaper article here.