This did not come easy, but then, life is not easy. While the downward compression of pay for writers continues, our costs go up. I'm offered fifteen cents a word for a job that last year might have been $1 a word. My hosting service and my newsletter service both cost real money and those costs increase. In fact, the newsletter which has won the All Star award, costs me more as more people subscribe! When I started this writing thing, I resisted adding a "donate" button to the site. "I'm not a charity, I'm a business!" I protested. I'm a freelance writer, published in great places like The Washington Post. I've gotten numerous small awards and much-appreciated nods from editors and writers I admire. Even better, my readers have written me lovely emails indicating how my writing has educated them as well as entertained them. These emails and comments, and the professional recognition, mean a lot.
A better experience for you, costs me
I do a few things differently from other writers and bloggers. You will never see a product advertised here that I don't believe in. I know other writers that make different choices and honestly, I understand why. But do the pennies they earn from those ads, mean more to them than my experience on their site? Maybe they haven't thought of it that way.
I also don't enjoy reading good writing about nourishing our families, while having belly fat or mortgage re-fi ads in my face. I don't like reading about supporting local family family farms and seeing Big Ag ads like Kraft Singles or Hamburger Helper, interspersed in the post.
These choices I make to improve my readers' experience and are a reflection of my desire to publish this blog consistent with my values. But it comes at a cost. As I continue to seek new sponsors, and to be grateful for those I've got, I'm experimenting with a donate button here on the sidebar.
A new Golden Age of Patronage?
I hope you might donate through that button and support my work. I want to make improvements that I cannot now afford. I know my comment module sucks. I am sorry, but it costs real money to hire a developer to do that work. I'd like to migrate back to Wordpress so I can make changes like this, myself but that site migration costs, too. And it costs a lot.
I hope that the way people have embraced crowd-sourced funding like Kickstarter campaigns and Awesome grants, means that people will not be offended. Maybe we are in a new Golden Age of Patronage? Similar to various Renaissance patrons who supported artists and composers, we now see the growth in opportunities to support artists in various ways. Think of this as a virtual upturned hat and me as a busker playing a really good cover of your favorite song. If 50 people find a post here as valuable as their morning latte, and donate that $3.00 I could pay for the next couple email newsletters. If 500 did, I could fix that damn comment module.
I believe people value good writing, compelling story telling, well-researched information.
I am proud that my readership has reached a level where potential advertisers have contacted me to inquire about ad space here. I am confident that turning down those ads -- ads for products and services that have nothing to do with my core values or my "brand", nothing to do with the things I care about and the things you like to read about -- I believe saying no to them is the right decision. But maybe I'm wrong.
Please tell me I am not by kicking in a few bucks to my upturned PayPal hat. I care deeply about your experience here. I appreciate all the support I've gotten via sponsors and readers, via Tweets and Facebook shares. Keep it up as long as you think I'm holding up my end of the bargain and producing good content. Forward the newsletter to your friends, forward this post to them, especially. Encourage them to read me, too.
And do let me know what you think I'm getting right, what I could do better, and how you feel about the dreaded (maybe only by me?) "Donate" button.
Giving thanks to you, I now share a recipe for your Thanksgiving table:
GOLDEN PUMPKIN SPICE DINNER ROLLS
The golden color fairly screams Autumn harvest. I think it's perfect to break bread and open this discussion of the new Golden Age of Patronage.
The flavor is pretty subtle, and the texture is definitely dinner roll, not sweet, nor muffiny, nor too flaky, like a Southern biscuit. I've modified this from an old recipe, I think it was in Gourmet. The recipe is pretty simple, not too time consuming, and best of all you can make them now and freeze them. One less thing to do just before the big meal. Take them out the morning of or night before. Warm them in the leftover heat of the oven as your turkey rests or if you have a warming drawer, pop them in there.
This recipe was modified to make it dairy free. You can substitute real dairy if you like. For those with egg allergy, you could brush with milk, soy milk, or just thinned honey.
- one package active dry yeast
- 1/3 C sugar
- 3/4 C So Delicious Coconut Milk or Earth Balance Soy Milk
- 5 C All Purpose Flour
- 2 C Organic Pastry Flour
- 1 generous teaspoon of freshly grated nutmeg (throw out that old tin in your cupboard that has long since lost its oomph. Get whole nutmeg, grate as needed. You will thank me.)
- 1 teaspoon Chai spice (I love Arvinda's if you're in the Greater Toronto area. Or try my friend Raghavan Iyer's new Chai Masala. Alternately, you could add some Chinese Five Spice powder.)
- 1 1/2 tsp Kosher salt or sea salt
- 3/4 C Earth Balance Soy butter or baking bars
- 1 large egg lightly beaten
- 1 can of organic pumpkin puree (not the pie filling; alternatively you may make your own puree, but various pumpkins and squashes have different sugar levels and moisture levels, I find the good canned variety of puree easier)
- egg wash: one egg yolk or one whole egg beaten with a TBSP of warm water and 1-2 tsp of honey
- Butter a 13x9x2 metal baking pan.
- Warm milk to about 110, in a small bowl place one tsp of the sugar, the yeast and the milk. Whisk it with a fork to unclump the yeast. In a few minutes it should look frothy. This is "proof" the yeast is indeed, "active." Hence the term "proofing the yeast." (Don't ask me why it's not "proving the yeast.")
- In a large bowl measure the flours, spices, salt, remaining sugar.
- Use a pastry blender or two knives to cut in the shortening or butter or butter substitute.
- Add the whole egg, pumpkin puree, yeasty milk and stir until it's all well-mixed.
- Here is where that tea-ball duster idea comes in handy. Sprinkle a fine layer of flour on that cool counter, then turn dough, wet and dry bits together onto the counter.
- Knead about ten minutes until the whole thing comes together in a springy, golden ball. Only dust a little flour if it's really too sticky but if you're not worried about the whole thing, trust me the dough will come together without much more flour. A bench scraper works well here. Scrape the counter to gather all the dough bits together and knead it all into a ball.
- Clean out your big bowl, butter it, then turn the springy golden dough ball into the bowl, turning to coat it.
- Place the bowl in a warm spot or in the oven on proofing temp if you have that (85-100 degrees)
- After about an hour, the dough should have risen to about double in size.
- Turn onto that lightly dusted counter, and roll out into a fat log, divide in half.
- Roll log out to about 1 1/2 to 2" in diameter. Use your bench scraper or a butter knife to divide in half, then into balls about the size of a lemon.
- Do the same with the other log.
- Place the balls into the prepared pan, you should have about four rows of seven.
- Second rise, cover lightly and return to warm spot for another rise ~ 45 minutes. They'll puff up a bit and fill in any gaps.
- Preheat oven to 350.
- Brush the rolls lightly with the egg-honey wash. Don't let them get soggy.
- Bake about 30-35 minutes. The house will be fragrant enough that your snoozing spouse will lift his head and say "something smells good."