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MEET JULE MAY - RECIPE BLOG MOM EXTRAORDINAIRE

Blossman Gas is happy to introduce top recipe blog expert Julie May, creator of Menu Musings of a Modern American Mom, a Blossman customer for many years and a resident of Hattiesburg, Mississippi. Julie appreciates cooking with propane as much as we do. Since Blossman conjures up the memories of home comfort, cooking, and sharing favorite recipes, Julie May exemplifies all what we love as well. Blossman team member Janet Oppenheimer recently sat down with Julie for this interview. A special home comfort recipe is included so read on!

Q.  Why is cooking with propane so beneficial and why do so many good cooks, like yourself, choose a propane cooktop?

A.  My recipes have to be spot on, which means that I need precision heating and control.  Propane gives me this advantage!  The propane cooktop offers cooks the benefits of having immediate heat, which obviously translates into faster cooking times, as well as giving much greater control over temperatures.  Come to think of it, I honestly don't know any professional chefs or serious home cooks that prefer cooking on electric cooktops.  Not only am I an avid home cook, but I rely on my propane cooktop for my food blog, Menu Musings of a Modern American Mom; and that's why I've chosen Blossman as my propane provider.

Q.  Julie, how did Menu Musings of a Modern American Mom blog site come about?

A.   My best friend, who is also a busy, professional mom, kept asking me to send her recipes for quick (family friendly) meals that she could fix for her family when she got home from work in the evenings.  Have you even noticed how we Southern women use the term "fix" dinner, and everyone else says "cook" or "prepare" dinner?  So I would email her recipes.  But then she would complain that she didn't understand some of the terminology.  "I don't know what you mean by 'deglaze' the pan."  So I started taking pictures and emailing photos WITH the recipes.  Well you can imagine that THAT little endeavor became quite laborious.  So I said, "Look, I'm just going to open up one of those free blogs on the internet.  I'll put recipes on there as I make stuff - old stuff, new stuff, everyday foods, whatever.  And when you want recipes, you can look on there at your convenience."  (I mean seriously, I have a career, too... and double the number of kids she does!)  But then something odd was happening.  People - other people - were actually reading the blog.  People who didn't know me.  Not my family.  Not my friends.  People from around the world!  So then I had to actually start paying attention to the way I did the posts, and the photos.  It forced me to do a better job.  The readers made me want to be better.  People loved that I was making real food, regular food - the kind that they actually eat at their homes... and showing them how to do it.

Q.  What do you see to be your most fulfilling experience with the blog?

A.  Consistently, the most fulfilling experience is when readers write to me and say, "I made your XYZ recipe for my family, and I didn't think my picky child/husband/mom/fiancée would ever stop eating!"  I really can't think of a higher compliment than that.  I also love it when I hear from inexperienced cooks who are just starting out in the kitchen.  The step-by-step photos that I provide with all of my recipes gives them the courage to tackle recipes that they wouldn't have otherwise taken on.  Then they are so proud to present the dishes to their families and they write to me gushing over their achievements.  They say that they feel like they are cooking right along side of me in the kitchen... and it makes me feel so proud - like a mom to all of them!!!

Q.  Fall conjures up the images of weather turning cooler, leaves changing, comfort foods and tailgating. What are some of your favorite memories of this time of year and could you share a favorite recipe with our customers?

A.  You are in luck, because fall is my absolute FAVORITE time of the year. Living way down here in South Mississippi, I'm positively giddy by the time the cool weather comes to cool us off, and I get to thinking about hay rides, decorating pumpkins, making caramel apples, bonfires, and going to football games. Halloween is one of my favorite fun holidays, and as a kid growing up in Louisiana when everyone knew "everyone," people used to make these gigantic popcorn balls to give out.  Of course you can't do that anymore, but I loved those.  Now, my best memories are of my kids trick-or-treating through the years... the progression of them growing up with all those cute costumes, and the neighbors who never fail to decorate their homes.... even the ones who don't have children... because the "spirit of the South" is one of big generosity and an openness of the heart.

One of my most popular recipes is Tomato Basil Chicken.  It's just perfect for cooking on the propane cooktop, and since it's super fast (coming in at that magical 30 minute mark), it's a great meal for the hustle and bustle of getting your family back into the groove of a new school year.  It's very popular with everyone from little kids all the way up to date night and supper clubs!  The other thing that is great about this recipe is that it's prepared from all fresh ingredients - I think you're going to love it!  The recipe even comes with a print link, so you can print the ingredients and take it with you to the grocery store.

Q.  You live in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. Talk a bit about living in Hattiesburg, your involvement and history in Hattiesburg and how do you know Blossman Gas?

A.   I've lived in Hattiesburg for 17 years now, so I think I can call it home.  Hattiesburg has a strong sense of community, where people look out for one another.  People come together in a crisis.  People are there as a family.  A year or so ago (Feb 2013), we had an EF4 tornado .... the whole city stopped what it was doing to come together to put the pieces back together, no matter what church they were from, what school, etc.  I've also been involved in medical mission trips with local church groups, with folks from various religious denominations from this area - and that's pretty unusual if you think about it.  Hattiesburg seems to be a city with a common purpose.  The common good of the people - how much better can it get than that? I earned my doctorate at the University of Southern Mississippi 10 years ago, and I am currently an anatomy professor at William Carey University, which is a private Christian University here in Hattiesburg.   I am actually a customer of Blossman Gas, so my knowledge of the service and products is firsthand.  And everyone with a car radio hears the Blossman commercials being played... with the customer asking the Blossman representative for a recipe at the end.  So one day when I was in the store, I told Ms Patricia [Broom, of Blossman’s Hattiesburg branch], "You know, I have a food blog.  I have tons of recipes.  And I'm one of your very own customers.  Blossman should put MY recipes on the website."  And she said "Yes, they should!"  So that's how this whole thing got started.

Q.  We see you have a new cookbook that has released and is available for sale. Is this your first published book?

A.  Well actually my second oldest child and I wrote, illustrated, and self- published a little children's fictional story in 2009 right after my daughter was born.  It's called The Culinary Capers of Canon and Lily.  It's about two best friends and their culinary adventure. Canon is a moose who craves a variety of foods that aren't readily available in the forest. His wise friend Lily (a frog) suggests that he build his own garden so he can prepare anything he desires. The story follows Canon and Lily through a journey to find plants for the garden, establish a garden in the forest with the help of their friends, and win over the hearts and stomachs of the other forest creatures.  So even a story about a moose is about food!  But this cookbook is my first book that is published by a "real" publisher!  I really can NOT wait to get my hands on those books. They will be around 300+ pages and in full color!  Readers will still have their familiar "how to" photos (although abbreviated obviously for the sake of space), as well as my quirky stories and fun food facts that they've come to expect.  One thing that will be really unique, that I've never seen before in a cookbook, is that each recipe will have its own QR code.  That means that purchasers can use their smartphones to link each recipe directly back to the original blog post, where they can access full step-by-step photos, videos, and more.  I really think that's a neat feature.

Q.  How can Blossman Gas customers learn more about your blog and cookbook, Menu Musings of a Modern American Mom?

A.  I would love for customers to visit the blog here:  Menu Musings of a Modern American Mom.  If ever out an about, it's easy to remember MenuMusings.com, where they can access my Recipe Index, Kid Friendly meals, Meals in a Hurry, etc. 

To learn more about the cookbook, I have a webpage set up for that.  http://menumusingsbook.com/.  The webpage shows a book preview, photos, photo gallery, even several full length cooking videos!  It's definitely worth checking out!