TechMunch LA at Disneyland: Food Bloggers’ Conference Extraordinaire

Disneylandcollage1When I first moved to California in 2007,  I went to Disneyland.  At 22 years old, I was thrilled to finally see the Magic Kingdom that we had watched on television every Sunday night in Vermont.   That television show, The Wonderful World of Disney showed a place that we could never have imagined seeing for ourselves.  California was so far away, and very different from Vermont where I had grown up.  I’ll never forget the first time I visited Disneyland…magical!

A few weeks ago I had the chance to go to Disneyland again  for TechMunch, a conference for food bloggers. Continue reading

Make Your Best Guacamole at the Big Traveling Potluck!


What would you put into fresh avocado to make an awesome guacamole?

A full bowl of fresh avocado holds amazing potential!  No one knows this better than Heidi of FoodieCrush, an online magazine that loves bloggers, their food and their photos.   Especially when she’s getting ready for some friendly competition in a  guacamole contest with fellow food bloggers from all over the USA!

Last weekend I witnessed Continue reading

Mimi Avocado Meets Dr. Potato and the Idaho Potato Commission at PMA

Spuddy Buddy loves California avocados

Who’s that?  It’s Spuddy Buddy,  my new pal!  And he sure does like California avocados!  Who would have thought that an Idaho potato buddy would want to perch up in a tree to see what it would feel like to be an avocado?   After all, potatoes grow in the ground, right?   How did Spuddy happen to come to our avocado ranch anyway?

Two weeks ago I was one of 30 bloggers invited to visit the Produce Marketing Association’s Fresh Summit conference in Anaheim, California, as guests of  the Idaho Potato Commission.  As  I mentioned in my last post,  this show is so big that it can be overwhelming!   Our host, Dr. Potato and his team came up with an ingenious idea to help us find our way around the show.  We were given a “Mission”…with a  map of the huge PMA Expo and a passport to help us find seven different  Idaho potato growers.    Imagine 3o food bloggers, let loose in the largest convention center on the west coast,  with every kind of fruit, vegetable and fresh produce product imaginable to see, photograph and taste.  Yes, it was a good thing to have a map and a plan!

Dr. Potato

Dr. Potato aka Don Ordiorne

Our Mission began at the Refresh Lounge,  hosted by the Idaho Potato Commission, where we met Dr. Potato and his team.  We were treated to potato doughnuts and a mashed potato bar,  plus  a comfortable place to sit down and visit.   Don’t you love the red truck with the giant potato?

My first stop was at Wada Farms,  a family operation with many years of farming tradition.   Wada Farms promises satisfaction by the truckload…they’ve been growing potatoes for 70 years, and to prove it they brought this cool truck!

Wada Farms truck

Wada Farms brought their truck too!

Visiting each of the  Idaho potato exhibits proved that the  potato farmers of Idaho take great pride in their work.   As the wife of an avocado grower, I know how much care goes into producing our crop.  All farmers have this in common…a true love for the land and growing the best crops to produce the very best quality food.      Check out this touching tribute to the Idaho potato farmer!

truck races

Want to race a truck? Idaho Potatoes gave everyone that opportunity!

Young or old, all farmers seem to have a huge fascination with trucks…and who hasn’t wished they could drive a truck or a tractor?   The Idaho Potato Commission set up a remote control truck race and let everyone who wanted to drive take a turn!   Have you ever tried to race remote controlled trucks?  I can tell you that it’s not as easy as it looks….Mimi Avocado failed miserably at the truck race!

Another Idaho potato producer chose to build a Happy Days Diner as their exhibit.  They even had actor Don Most available for photographs!  Remember Ralph Malph?


Potandon’s booth was a  creative diner with Happy Days actor  Don Most


At Southwind Farms we tasted a delicious  potato salad,  made with the gourmet fingerling potatoes that they grow near the Snake River in Idaho.  Read about this wonderful family farm here.

Southwind Farms

Chef Kristen Trevino  and her team were making yummy  Southwind Fingerling Potato and Celery Salad.  Check out more of their recipes here.

Southwind potato salad

Chef Kristin Trevino cooks Southwind’s specialty potatoes for her delicious salad.

I spent quite a long time visiting with Bruce Crapo and his niece Jill Cox of Sun Glo of Idaho, Inc.  This is a family with four generations involved in all aspects of potato production…from farming, to packing and shipping,  sales… quite an accomplishment!  Interested in learning how a family grows a business like this?  Click here for the story. 



Are you curious about what goes into producing potatoes?  I am!  Wouldn’t it be great to visit Idaho and see the farms firsthand?   Luckily,  Sun Glo has a video about their operation.  Take a look!
YouTube Preview Image



Wilcox Fresh and Eagle Eye Produce

So much to see at the Fresh Summit conference!

Wilcox Fresh and Eagle Eye Produce exhibited lots of fresh produce in addition to potatoes!

I have to admit that I will never look at an Idaho potato in the same way again.    When I buy potatoes that say “Idaho” on them,  I’ll think of these wonderful people who were so hospitable and generous in sharing their love of  farming with me.  We talked about the differences between growing potatoes and growing avocados….the challenges we face as farmers…and our concerns for the future of farming and the responsibility of providing the highest quality food  for our customers.

After we completed our mission to visit all of the Idaho Potato booths,  we ended our journey at the enormous Idaho Potato Truck, where we were given a big bag of goodies.  And that’s how Spuddy Buddy ended up at our avocado ranch!

Idaho Potato Truck

Have you seen this truck with the giant potato on its tour of the USA?

The PMA Fresh Summit conference was one of the very last stops for this truck and the Tater Team who traveled for 7 months, spreading the news of Idaho Potatoes to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the Idaho Potato Commission.   It was fun to see the truck up close, and meet The Tater Team too!  Check out some of their videos here.

Many thanks to the Idaho Potato Commission and Dr. Potato,  Don Odiorne for the opportunity to spend the weekend at the Fresh Summit conference  with the Produce Marketing Association.   Want to know more about the weekend?  Here are some other posts by blogging friends who were there too!

The World of Produce:  My Visit to the PMA Fresh Food Summit   on  Family Spice   (Laura Bashar)

Everything But Produce! on California Greek Girl   (Mary Platis)

Citrus 101 on The Recipe Renovator  (Stephanie Weaver)

Fresh  Summit on Jolly Tomato (Jeanne Fratello)


The Avocado Sisters had a chance to meet up with Dr. Potato and the Tater Team  for dinner later that day.  We enjoyed hearing stories from the Tater Team about their travels with the giant Idaho potato!    La Fuji Mama went to Idaho recently  and learned all about potatoes her post here.

Dr. Potato, Mimi Avocado and La Fuji Mama

The Avocado Sisters with Dr. Potato

As much as I’d love to visit Idaho,  I hope that Dr. Potato will come visit our avocado ranch someday too!   Spuddy Buddy will be here waiting for him!   We’d be glad to  trade fresh California avocados for some of the those delicious Idaho potatoes any day!

Spuddy Buddy in avocado tree


BlogHer12 in NYC: What a Difference a Year Makes!



Largest blogging conference with over 5,000 in attendance!

Last year I discovered the BlogHer11 convention by reading about it in the newspaper.  It was being held in San Diego, not far from our avocado ranch,  so I decided to go.  I didn’t have a blog,  didn’t really understand what a blog was or why anyone would want to put so much time and energy into blogging.    I found my roommate on Twitter,  packed up and drove off to have an adventure.   Besides having a wonderful time,  I discovered a whole new world of creative, intelligent women who were open to sharing their ideas and skills.  I made lasting friendships and came away with a sense that I had more freedom and power to expand my life than ever before.  Rather than being intimidated by the talent and experience of 3600 fabulous bloggers,  I felt welcomed and encouraged to join the blogging world.   When we were offered discounted rates to sign up for BlogHer12 in New York City,  I jumped on board!

NY Hilton and BlogHer!2

Fast forward to August 1st, 2012:  After spending two relaxing weeks in my home state Vermont with my mother,   I anticipated meeting college friends for dinner in New York City.   Flights were delayed due to thunderstorms,  so I didn’t arrive at the hotel until late evening.   I discovered the famous Halal Guys meat cart on the corner near the hotel, but the line was really long.  I spied another cart one block away that looked exactly the same.  Sure enough,  the guys at that cart told me they are all from Egypt,  they all work for the same family and the meat is exactly the same as the cart with the long line.  So I bought my lamb and chicken with rice combo and took it back to my room at the hotel.  It was delicious!

chicken and lamb with rice combo from Halal Guys in NYC

Lamb and Chicken with Rice Combo from Halal Guys at 53rd & 7th

I had signed up for Pathfinder Day again this year, opting for the track titled  “My Blog As A Media Company”.    I was pleased to find several familiar faces from last year and surprised to see a much larger percentage of bloggers “of a certain age” (over 45) in the room!     The word is out that blogging is an important PR tool,  so authors and marketing professionals turned out this year to learn what they need to know to start their own blogs.  Later in the week I realized that brand representatives were also there to learn how to add blogs to their product sites or how to interact with bloggers to promote their brands.   Did I mention that the percentage of males was also much higher this year?


Amy Jo Martin was a fascinating speaker

The opening keynote presentation by Amy Jo Martin of Digital Royalty was impressive.   She has written a book that will be released on October 2nd titled Renegades Write the Rules.  I snagged a copy of the pre-release version and highly recommend that anyone interested in social media read what this successful and innovative renegade has to say.   Amy  is offering a blogger special too:  you can order two copies of her book,  one for yourself and one to give away…at no charge!  Just promise to tweet and blog about it.

The day-long Pathfinder session was facilitated by Kathryn Finney of The Budget Fashionista and Jaden Hair of Steamy Kitchen.  Each told about their background in building a successful business through their blog.  They  offered practical, insightful advice for growing (or deciding not to grow) a large money-making blog as well as professional tricks of the trade.   One of the best moments of the day for me was at lunch,  when I had a chance to visit with Jaden one-on-one.   She told me not to be afraid to step up and ask for opportunities, even though my blog is relatively new.  She emphasized offering  high quality content and developing relationships with other bloggers.

At the end of the day, we all gathered into the largest ballroom for a live visit from President Obama.  Wish you had been there?  Watch it live here.


President Obama addressed BlogHer12 via live video

The next two days were a blur of  networking,  speakers’ sessions,  meeting brands at the Expo,  and attending parties.  The sheer size of the crowd this year made logistics more difficult…some sessions were over-crowded or closed,  lines at mealtime were long and  parties started up to 30 minutes later than scheduled.  People who had attended BlogHer11 in San Diego couldn’t help comparing the wonderful food and service we had in San Diego to the difficulties in New York.   Even with the inconveniences  (such as a lack of gluten-free and vegan food options),  no one came away without learning something, meeting new blogging friends or reconnecting with friends from last year.


BlogHer12 Martha Stewart keynote

Martha Stewart’s keynote at BlogHer12

Martha Stewart gave a keynote talk on Friday.  She caused quite a stir with her orange pants and matching orange wedge shoes!  It was disappointing to hear comments in a later session referencing Martha’s age…as if a 72 year old wouldn’t wear cute, stylish clothes.  Can we just get over this age thing, please?   After all,  she was celebrating her BIRTHDAY by speaking at BlogHer12!  Martha told us that one of her mottos is to learn something new every day.  She seems to have an endless list of ideas for new businesses…and she has embraced social media wholeheartedly.

BlogHer12 speaker Katie Couric

Katie Couric speaks at BlogHer12

On Saturday our keynote speaker was Katie Couric.   She talked  about her new afternoon talk show on television beginning September 10th.  Social media will have a big role in her new show, and there will be seats for two bloggers at every show. When she invited everyone to tweet her with ideas for the show,  I couldn’t resist….and she tweeted back to me too!


 So I’m waiting for a call from the Katie Couric Show…would love to show them all about California avocados!

Several other highlights of BlogHer12:

Off-site party specifically for “B(L)OOMERS”,  matching brands with women over 45.  I won the door prize! Learn more about the sponsors of the party here.

party for bloggers over 45

Connecting brands with bloggers over 45

I won the big prize from PaloVia!  Check out a great video of the party here.

PaloVia winner

I won a PaloVia skin renewing laser

Super Session in Google Analytics by friend and blogging mentor, Andrew Wilder of Eating Rules and BlogTutor

Andrew Wilder and Keidra Chaey

Best BlogHer roommate ever,  Anne DiNapoli  and our fabulous shopping trip to FAO  Schwartz and  5th Ave

NYC shopping

 BlogHer13 will be in Chicago!  Want to go?  Check out the information here.    

BlogHer is the largest blogging conference in the world,  and it’s getting bigger!  I have to admit that the smaller blogging events I have attended,  like Camp Blogaway and TechMunch,  are more relaxed and relevant to food blogging in particular.  There is so much going on at BlogHer all the time that it can be overwhelming,  but it’s the ideal place to expand one’s horizons in a big way.

All the information that was presented at BlogHer12 is available to you at the Virtual Con.   It’s great to know that the sessions I missed due to schedule conflicts or over-crowded rooms are available here!

Have you attended blogging conferences?  Which ones are your favorites?



A Palette of Fresh Herbs and Spices in the Fridge…and Easy Stovetop Mango Chicken with Quinoa

herbs growing

I have always been interested in herbs.    I remember when my high school English class in Vermont visited  a woman with a huge herb garden next to her old farmhouse.   She showed us  all the beautiful plants, told us how to use them,   and let us pick sprigs so we could appreciate their delicious and unique aromas.  I was fascinated by the different textures, sizes and shapes of the leaves, and the potential of the  knowledge for my  cooking.   My ambition was to have a kitchen herb garden some day.  And I have tried,  I really have.   I have planted herbs.  I have brought home tiny pots of fresh herbs as well as larger collections.  The trouble is,  I don’t water them.  I get distracted, or go out of town and they die.  No lovely  kitchen herb garden for me.

When a recipe calls for ingredients  like fresh basil or cilantro, I think about how nice it would be to have that little  garden just outside my kitchen.  Sometimes I just skip over recipes  because  it’s too much trouble to drive the 10 miles to the grocery store from our home for one or two ingredients.   I’m not good at planning ahead either.   When it’s time to cook,  I look for what’s in the pantry, in the freezer or on the kitchen counter.  (We usually have plenty of avocados!)

Gourmet Garden fresh herbs

Gourmet Garden Herbs and Spices come fresh from your fridge!

This week my dream of having a kitchen herb garden came true!  At last I have fresh garlic, cilantro, basil, lemon grass, cilantro, Italian herbs, oregano, parsley, dill…and even fresh ginger and chili pepper!   I received the most beautiful selection of  fresh herbs and spices from Gourmet Garden after meeting them at Camp Blogaway.  It’s like having a palette of colors  to brighten up our meals!  The fresh herbs for Gourmet Garden products are organically grown, harvested, washed, chopped, blended and packed fresh into tubes that can be kept for three months in the refrigerator or six months in the freezer.

Gourmet Garden Ginger


Now I can have all of the fresh herbs I want, exactly when I need them!  Thank you so much to Gourmet Garden for sending me this generous gift to try.  They arrived in a cute little cooler, nestled in with ice packs to keep them fresh.   I’m so glad that I’ll be able to replace them all … they’re sold in the refrigerated section at the grocery store! (Yes, they’re also Gluten Free!)  I even signed up for their Herb eCooking School on the Gourmet Garden website to receive recipes and tips on how to use them to enhance everyday meals.

mango in a bowl

I love the sweet smell of mango!

I happen to have a few mangoes left from the box that was sent to us by the National Mango Board after Camp Blogaway  last week.    Our family has discovered a whole new perspective on life now that we’ve tasted those fresh mangoes.     It’s hard to want to cook with them, as the fruit is so deliciously sweet and juicy that we gobble each one up as soon as it’s ripe.    Today I decided to  make Mango Chicken on top of the stove.  I have to admit that I ate about a third of the mango instead of adding it all to the marinade.   Sigh.

Gourmet Garden, onion, mango


Easy Stovetop Mango Chicken
Recipe Type: Main Dish
Author: Mimi Holtz
Prep time: 10 mins
Cook time: 50 mins
Total time: 1 hour
  • To make the Marinade/Simmer Sauce:
  • 1 fresh mango, sliced or chopped
  • 1/2 small brown onion, chopped
  • 1 tsp. Gourmet Garden fresh ginger
  • 1/2 tsp. Gourmet Garden fresh cilantro
  • 1/2 tsp. Groumet Garden fresh garlic
  • 2 Tbsp. low sodium soy sauce
  • about 1/2 cup of water (use it to get the last of the mango-y goodness from the Vitamix or blender)
  • Frozen or fresh, skinless and boneless chicken breasts or thighs
  1. Puree the above ingredients and pour it over frozen or fresh chicken.
  2. Cook on medium heat, covered, until the chicken is tender.
  3. Serve over rice or quinoa.

Cooking time may be reduced if using fresh or thawed chicken.


Since my husband is a farmer, he comes in for lunch every day.   He was happy to find Mango Chicken on quinoa with avocados and broccolini  all ready to eat.   Now that we’re eating healthier,  it’s a pleasure and a treat  to include mangoes in our meals  and to have fresh herbs and spices  at our fingertips for our everyday needs.

mango chicken on quinoa with avocado and broccolini

Mango Chicken Thighs on Quinoa with Avocado and Broccolini



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