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Local women share their food passions

Like their blog brethren around the country, Jennifer Olsen and Sara Habein have made their private passions for food available for public consumption.

Olsen, a 26-year-old teacher from Post Falls, is the creative voice behind Taste Everything Once, (www.quinoa.blogspot.com), a daily guide to her gastronomic adventures.

Habein created When Dairy Is Not Your Friend (www.lactoseintolerance.blogspot.com), the 21-year-old Spokane woman’s chronicle of living – and, most importantly, eating – while dealing with lactose intolerance.

“I just tried to think of what was a way I could make it funny,” Habein says. “You kind of have to laugh about it. It’s just absurd.”

So, that’s where the blog’s mascot, Garbanzo the Lactose Monkey, comes in.

Habein even finds some humor in describing the intestinal torment that comes when she eats something she shouldn’t.

“It’s like someone put a rock in your stomach, wrapped in a gasoline-soaked rag,” she says.

Habein started the blog in February. Recent posts detail her cravings for tomato sauce (which leads to pizza, which leads to tummy trouble), her search for frozen desserts, and her adventures in making lactose-free cake (“a tad crumbly and could probably benefit from frosting,” she writes).

She updates the site whenever the mood strikes, and says that, for now at least, she’s content with just having an audience of family and friends.

Olsen’s food blog is much more wide-ranging. She started her site in March, after her husband tired of her repeated requests to put her food pictures up on his blog.

Cooking became Olsen’s hobby when she married eight years ago.

Last year, she created a database to record all of the new dishes she had tried. The blog is an outgrowth of that project.

“I’m really a detailed person,” she says.

So, Olsen has written about her favorite summer salads, her quick pantry dinners, and her love of limeade. She doesn’t confine her writing to her own kitchen; she takes readers out on the town with her.

“Spokane is just really a great place for eating and restaurants,” Olsen says. “Especially the downtown core, there’s so many exciting things. I just think people aren’t aware … It’s just because you don’t know where you are.”

Olsen says her site (whose address derives from the name of her favorite grain) garners about 100 unique visitors each day.

“It’s more just for me to write and have 20 minutes at the end of the day to sit down,” she says. “I use it as just a relaxing time.”

Olsen has also discovered a large network of food bloggers around the country and the world. She participates in the “end-of-the-month eggs-on-toast extravaganza,” the invention of a South African blogger. Participants create dishes using eggs and starch and then blog about their inventions.

Olsen also takes part in an online event called “paper chef,” in which four random ingredients are chosen each month. This month the ingredients were buttermilk, eggs, honey and dates. So, Olsen whipped up a batch of buttermilk waffles with honey-date butter.

She includes the recipe on her site.

“Sweet and spicy, I could have eaten the butter alone,” she writes.

Within hours of her post, about a half dozen readers commented on her recipe and accompanying picture.

“Oooooo,” said one person from Eugene, Ore. “Mm this looks good!” posted someone in Australia.

With food blogs, it’s like having the world’s largest dinner party – without the mountain of dishes to wash.

“There is quite the community online for people who blog about food,” Olsen says.

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