BLOGGING 101: Tools I Use For My Blog

Welcome back to the next and last part of the blogging series. I am sure you have gotten the hang of starting a blog by now. If you haven’t read the previous parts here and here.

Blogging is a lot of work! A. LOT! If I had known I would have to be a creative director, accountant, photographer, editor, writer, recipe generator, developer and taster and marketer, I would have probably never started the blog in the first place! That said, blogging is beyond fantastic. If you are doing it for the right reasons. I cannot recall the many times I have had pinch-me moments!

To culminate this blogging series, I am sharing with you the essential tools that have helped me ease the mammoth of a job that blogging is. My hope is that these will help ease your work as well so that you can create time for what matters most.

WordPress and I have come a long way. It is hands down the best blogging platform I have used. If I ever decide to change, I will clearly have a hard time because I have gotten too comfortable. Did you know that WP lets you create a custom email for your website? How cool is that?! WordPress has a ton of templates that you can use to design your blog and many more features.

Good ole Google. Who can live without it. Google actually has an array of tools. For example, once you have an email, you can create a YouTube account, have your own storage drive and photo storage, draft documents and do so much more.

Mailchimp lets you create newsletters every time with easy to use tools and already made templates. There are so many helpful features with guided tours on how each feature works. In March I started sending out monthly newsletters and I am overwhelmed by your amazing responses. If you are thinking of starting newsletter, Mailchimp is a tool to consider.

I cannot stress enough how Pick Monkey and Befunky are great photo editors. And they are free. There are a ton of editing features that are free and if you want to get even more features, you can upgrade. If photo editing is not your strong point, I recommend, especially for a cohesive Instagram feed, A Color Story. ACS has pre-made actions that you can just add to your photos to make them great.

Canva is bae. Yes. At one point that was my password. That is how essentail Canva is for me. Do you want to design ebooks, posters, info-graphics, ads, social media campaigns, etc. Canva is your go to site and its free. It has a ton of features that with the right knowledge can change you graphic design game for the better!

You know how frustrating it is to keep changing the links on your Instagram profile because you only have one slot for placing a link? Ever since I discovered Linktree (from another blogger), I don’t have to worry about changing the link anymore. Link tree lets you add the the important links you want to a single link which you can then put on your Instagram profile. Awesome right?

If you are serious about your food blogging journey and want to invest in it, Food Blogger Pro is the school for you. Not only do you learn the basics of food blogging but you also how to improve your photography and how to make it a full fledged business.

Gett is a great site for storing files (photos, PDFs, Word.dox, etc) that you intend to share with your readers. It will let you know how many people have downloaded your work and they can leave comments thanking you for sharing.

Slacksocial is a very helpful tool that lets you schedule your social media posts. As much as we need to be connected to each other in social media all the time, it sometimes isn’t good for our creativity. If you like taking a break off social media once in a while without being any less consistent, Slacksocial is for you.

Pixieset is a neat site that lets you create your portfolio and you can upgrade your account so that you can have access to cool features like a custom domain and logo. I recently just fixed my portfolio which you can view here and it is a great feeling knowing yo have a place you can put all your work.

Who hasn’t been on Pinterest? I have been on Pinterest for as long as I can remember. I started out with pinning endlessly crafts to try then pinning for my future home, then moved onto pinning all the glorious natural hair! And of course AKIU has a board as well. Pinterest is brim-full of inspiration from allover the world. If you haven’t joined, what are you waiting for?

In this era of the internet, constant self education is important more than ever. Education is now at the tip of our fingertips. If you would like to improve your knowledge on certain topics that will help you make more informed decisions for your career and blog, A Beautiful Mess is a great place to start. Courses like DSLR Basics and Blog Life will take your blogging to the next level. Brit + Co. also has great online courses like Photoshop for Bloggers, How To Use Photo Editing Apps Like A Pro, and How to design your own font. I also find Grammarly a great helper when it comes to editing and polishing articles because sometimes there can be those annoying hidden misspelled words.

I hope this list will help with your blogging journey. If you have any other tools that you find helpful, don’t hesitate to share.

NOTE: This post includes affiliate links. I am only sharing products and services that I believe in and know will add value to your blogging experience or business. If you decide to purchase a product or service, I may earn a commission for my recommendations. Thank you for your support!

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Banana Leaf Steamed Spice Buns

Steaming food has been a tradition I have  been exposed to all my life.  Steaming posho, dodo, and if we are feeling fancy, some matooke, has been a way of life. But my fascination with it grew in the past couple years when I was introduced to the world of steamed desserts and bread. You guys I have never looked back ever since. Then there is banana leaf steaming which, in my opinion, is a flavor in of itself and takes the food to a whole new level! You see there is something magical about the aroma of food enshrouded in banana leaves. Almost intoxicating. You want to add a complex flavor to posho, steam it in banana leaves. Want to have irresistible cassava that you can eat in one seating all by yourself (guilty!), steam that in banana leaves. You want to have sweet spiced bread for breakfast, steam it in banana leaves. You will be surprised and amazed at how the flavors are heightened.

The summer months are upon us and so are all sorts of berries. Last week I asked you on IG stories if you know the name of these berries and you all chipped in and googled the name till we agreed that they are black raspberries. I am amazed at your research skills and incredible teamwork! You are the best.

This bread is inspired by my love for the spice bun (a Jamaican sweet bread that is  an explosion of flavors and sweet spices) that I have been wanting to recreate for quite some time now. After eating it 101 times, I convinced myself that there are hints of cinnamon, ginger, cloves and other spices I cannot figure out quite yet. After I was able to pick more than two handfuls of these berries, I decided to try my hand at this addictive bread. What you see is my banana leaf steam version (with a twist of course) of the classic spice bun.  Now in this steamed bread I used these black raspberries, you can however use any type of berry that is readily available to you. I also added in nuts for texture. you can add anything that you think will add to the flavors and textures.

steam spice bun- A Kitchen in UgandaLQ-7

What you will need:

2 C. All purpose flour, sifted

2 C. Whole wheat flour, sifted

1 1/4 C. Milk

1/4 C. Oil

1/4 C. Peanuts/Groundnuts, crashed

1/4 C. Raisins

1/4 C. Black raspberries, lightly mashed

4 Tbsp. Sugar

2 Tbsp. Sugar

1 1/2 Tbsp. Yeast

1 Tbsp. Allspice (pimienta dulce), ground

1 Tbsp. Cinnamon, ground

1/2 Tsp. Nutmeg, ground

1/2 Tsp. Salt

1/2 Tsp. Vanilla extract

Method

  1. Dissolve 2 tablespoons of sugar in warm milk. Add the yeast and let it rest for about 10 minutes or until it has risen and foamed.
  2. Mix the rest of the ingredients except the oil and vanilla extract in a large bowl.
  3. Once the yeast has risen, add the oil and vanilla and mix well.
  4. Pour the yeast mix in the dry ingredients. Mix well till a dough forms.
  5. Let the dough rise for 1 hour.
  6. After an hour punch down the dough and knead it for about 5 minutes till it is smooth.
  7. Divide the dough into four equal parts. and shape them into buns.
  8. Place each bun on a clean piece of banana leaf and let them rise for an additional 30 minutes.
  9. While the bread is rising, place a pan with water for steaming on fire. I am using a rice cooker steamer. If you don’t have one, you can improvise.
  10. Once the bread dough has risen, gently place each bun on the steamer and steam it for 15-20 minutes. It will double in size.
  11. Remove from fire and serve while still hot and soft.

Have you tried your hand at steaming bread?

Mango Coconut Crepes

You would think that by now, the excitement over mangoes would have died down, but no. It hasn’t. At least not yet. So to continue our mango series, today I  am sharing with you these delectable mango crepes. It all happened after I binge-watched Tasty videos! Have you too fallen down the rabbit hole that is tasty videos? There was one video where they made  purple dragon fruit crepes and assembled a gorgeously bright crepe cake. Since I have some mangoes, I decided to substitute them for what would have been dragon fruit. The rest, as they say, is history. These crepes are made with fresh mango puree, soft and buttery and are served with a scoop of mango ice-cream and a spoonful of coconut cream. Summer dessert couldn’t get any better.

What you will need:

1 C. Flour, sifted

1 C. Mango puree

1 C. Milk

1 Tbsp. Sugar

2 Eggs

2 Tbsp. Margarine, melted

1/2 Tsp. Nutmeg

1/2 Tsp. Vanilla

Oil for frying

 

Observations:

I used coconut milk in the crepes. You can use any milk that is readily available to you. Make sure the mangoes you are pureeing are fully ripe.

Method

  1. Combine all ingredients in a blender and blend till smooth. Pour blended crepe batter in a bowl and set aside.
  2. Place nonstick pan on medium-low heat. Brush pan with oil and let the oil heat.
  3. Use a 1/3 cup to scoop up the batter and pour it in the pan.
  4. Let the crepe fry till the edges turn golden brown.
  5. Flip the crepe using a spatula and let the other side cook as well. It will take about 1 minute.
  6. Remove from fire.
  7. Repeat process till all batter is used up.
  8. Refrigerate the crepes till completely cool. Makes 8-9 crepes.
  9. To assemble, fold crepes and place on plate. dust with powdered sugar. Add a scoop of mango ice-cream. Sprinkle with coconut cream. Finish off with raisins.

Serve immediately.

 

PS: This recipe is adapted from Martha Stewart’s Simple Crepes recipe.