Happy 4th Bloggiversary and A Fruit Company Giveaway!

Our First Collaboration

Our First Collaboration. Donna & Anne en route to promote “101 Things To Do With Tofu” at the International Tofu Festival in Los Angeles, circa 2007

Hard to believe that it was just over 4 years ago, in October 2008, that we attended a BlogHer convention in Boston, with my 6 month old baby in tow. We had absolutely zero clue what we were doing, other than the fact that we had enjoyed collaborating on our first little cookbook and wanted to start a food blog.  A few months later, we launched Fab Frugal Food, which through the course of a few more conferences, eventually evolved into Apron Strings. To say we’ve learned a lot in the process is a massive understatement. When we first started, we didn’t even include pictures with every post. Can you even imagine?

Rewinding even further: in the first year after Donna and I first reconnected, checking the mailbox was always a big event. So much was exchanged  in those early months, nearly every week seemed to bring a new surprise my way. One day I’d get a thick envelope filled with copies of old photographs, and would spend hours marveling at the novelty of seeing my resemblance in others. Another delivery brought a few favorite childhood toys that she had never gotten to pass down to me. Then, one of the most memorable parcels arrived: a huge, fairly hefty box of cherries.

True confession time – I had never really liked cherries much before. I associated them with the freakishly bright maraschino cherries, a flavor (and color) I found unappealing, and I think I had only tasted the real thing once or twice, probably a sad out-of-season representative of its kind. But I was thrilled to try a food that Donna herself had sent me – and from a place that was literally minutes away from her home. Somehow this made me feel even more connected to her.

I sat in my Middletown, Connecticut apartment and made an evening of pitting the cherries, something I had never done before – and savoring samples of them as I went. Cherries were a whole new experience, the taste and texture seemed freshly magical and meaningful. I decided to take it a step further, and set out to make my first from-scratch cherry pie. I must say, though it wasn’t much to look at (my baking skills are limited even now, and were all the more limited 13+ years ago), the flavor was spectacular.

Other orchard offerings were to follow, pears and apples in particular, and I made ample use of each and every one of them. If only I had known that blogging would become the wave of the future, I’d have snapped some pictures of the tarts tatin, almond frangipanes, and other creations that resulted, but alas, Instagram was not yet available.

What a long, strange, wonderful trip it’s been. We think this calls for a giveaway.

Though we love giving away big gun items like Blendtecs and Kitchen Aids (and surely will again in the future), this time we thought we’d switch it up a little, with something a little more personal. For each of the four years we’ve been blogging, we’re giving away a huge box of glorious Hood River orchard fruit and other savory treats, courtesy of The Fruit Company, the same place from which Donna sent me those cherries, pears and apples.

Behold the Northwest Gourmet Basket Grand Prize:

FC northwest-gourmet

Northwest Gourmet basket for that “Northwest State of Mind”

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Mother’s Day Giveaway

Adoptive mother Faith, adoptee Anne, and birthmom Donna. (This is before the time digital cameras become commonplace; forgive the scratchy authenticity.)


Mother’s Day, as you might imagine, is a pretty big deal around here.  First, because the very heart of this blog is the family connections we nurture through food; and second, speaking for myself, is because I am doubly blessed to have had TWO mothers who are loving, generous and generally amazing people.  And of course, I became a mother myself  just four years ago.

Can you guess how we’re celebrating? Let us give you a subtle hint:

90th Anniversary KitchenAid Mixer
Oh Yes. This baby could be yours.

That’s right. Once again, we’re doing a fabulous giveaway. Starting now, winner to be announced on Monday May 28! We’re going all out with a number of ways you can enter. Just click through HERE  to be dazzled by the prize you can win (I’m sure you haven’t guessed it yet). You’ll just have to promise us one thing if you win: use it to make a recipe from your family and share it here with us!

For a couple of years now, we have been sharing our mother-daughter stories and family recipes. Now, It’s your turn. We want to hear from you about how you learned to cook from your Mom. About how your Mom inspired you. About how you as a Mom cook for your family. About your favorite Mom food tips. About any other Mom figure in your life who nourished you. You can leave one comment every day with a “Mom” theme –  click through on the link above to see other ways to enter to win!


– Anne & Donna

The Naturally Frugal Challenge: Holiday Kickoff!

Anne and Donna of Fab Frugal Food and Alisa of Alisa Cooks (formerly One Frugal Foodie) and author of the Go Dairy Free book and website all know the challenges of creating flavorful and healthy meals on a budget.

That’s why we’ve teamed up to offer the Naturally Frugal Challenge blog event!

The Naturally Frugal Challenge invites you to create economic, flavorful entrees and submit them. There will be five challenges each year – one for each season and an extra holiday challenge. We will post the challenge the first month of each season. Holiday: November; Winter: January; Spring: April; Summer: June. And Fall: September.

At the end of the month, we will gather all the submissions and post them in a roundup on both our blogs—so your recipe will get double the exposure! The resulting roundup will offer a single stop where health-conscious readers can find a collection of fabulous and frugal seasonal entrees to try.

There will be one Grand Prize Winner for each challenge, as well as two Honorable Mentions. Prizes will be awarded to each winner. The prizes will be announced at the time the challenge is posted.

Help us showcase how tantalizing and delectable healthy frugal foods can be!

Here is the Holiday Frugal Foods Challenge:

Create an entree based on whole, healthy ingredients and at least one Holiday seasonal ingredient, ie., cranberries, eggnog, etc. Your entree must feed four adults with a maximum cost of $10.00.

The grand prize for this Holiday edition of the new Naturally Frugal challenge is . . .

A set of holiday bakeware from Cooking.com!

How fun are those? I can definitely say from experience that a snazzy cake pan is a great was to make a dazzling dessert when you’re running short on time and resources….

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