MT Plates

**Spoiler Alert** this is the draft for my personal blog, MTPlates.  I’d like to share it here first.  Please let me know what you think.  Seriously.   Feedback would be awesome, even if you crush my hopes and dreams 🙂 …here we go…

What you’ll find…

MTPlates.  What’s in a name?  Aside from the obvious “empty”, it’s also a play on my first and middle initials.  As for the “Plates”, they can be filled with gorgeous creations, laden with homemade offerings, delicately plated elegant fare or lovingly filled with comfort food, to be admired in the moment of presentation then happily consumed and left empty, our ultimate compliment to the chef – appetites sated and mood elevated.  Even better when shared with friends.

Of course when we eat, we drink!  So along with my MTPlates, I’ll also ket you know  what was in my MTGlass.  I plan to share some pretty cool spots I’ve come to love, maybe wandered into on a whim (those are the best experiences!) and hopefully pique your interest.  Been there, done that?  I welcome your recommendations too, so leave me a note or send me a link, I’d love to see where you’re going too!

A little taste of things to come…


Photo by MT Linehan

I have been lucky enough to visit New Orleans, LA a couple of times.  Here is my plate after some delicious home cooking at Coop’s Place, a Cajun restaurant on Decatur Street in the French Quarter in New Orleans.  I have been there on a hot steamy August night, the epitome of humid Louisiana and on a warm, much more comfortable November afternoon.  The food was just as I remembered it on the second visit, perhaps even better since I knew what to expect and was thrilled that it was just as good.

Coop’s is a local’s kind of place (our favourite kind), nothing fancy,  but full of character and serving up homemade Cajun fare at homemade prices.  Sit at the bar and be entertained by the staff who offer a never ending commentary about the guests while you sip on one of the hottest Bloody Mary’s ever!!  Hint! Hint!  I also bypassed the waitlist for a table by sitting at the bar.  Coop’s offers an extensive list of cocktails, wines and craft beers.  Sip, chat, eat, laugh, repeat.

My plate of choice was “Coop’s Taste Plate”.  A generous combo of their most popular dishes, including a bowl of seafood gumbo,  and a plate that included fried chicken, red beans and rice, shrimp creole and sausage jambalaya.  Yes…I emptied that plate.  Twice now, by my count.  The crawfish and fried oysters will have to wait for a return trip.  Because I know this will happen.


Photo by MT Linehan

Coop’s gumbo is all about the rich roux base and file (ground sassafrass)  that provides the unique gumbo flavour.  The shrimp creole had a kick from the spicy tomatoes served on rice.  At this point I had to ask for a beer as the Bloody Mary and Shrimp Creole one-two punch was making me sweat.  The jambalaya brought things down a few degrees with it’s smokey sausage.  Beyond it’s wonderful crispy skin, the fried chicken was tender and juicy.  I just kept going around and around my plate,  sampling each dish, like a culinary merry-go-round.  But seriously, that gumbo!!  It’s the stuff of dreams.


Photo by MT Linehan

A definite brunch destination in NOLA is The Ruby Slipper Cafe  Did I mention that time we had brunch with Queen Latifah at The Ruby Slipper?  Of course I didn’t, this is my first blog!  Ok, so maybe she sat at the table next to us and maybe she got called away before her breakfast arrived, but we were THERE, in the same restaurant and even exchanged a few laughs.  She was lovely.  And so were my Eggs Cochon.  A biscuit, split in half, smothered with pork debris, pork debris!! – tender succulent apple braised pulled pork – topped with perfectly poached eggs and hollandaise.   Swoon!!  The Shrimp Boogaloo Benedict that I tried on a return visit was love at first bite.  The oven fried green tomatoes were served over biscuits and topped with shrimp creole sauce.  I could have eaten a plate of the fried green tomatoes.   I still think about them and hey, they are vegetables.  Good for you!  If you can’t decide which benedict to order, they offer “The Trifecta”, three different benedicts , but plan on sharing this!  Or  try “The Peacemaker” and choose 2 from the list.  They serve every other breakfast/brunch option you can imagine including a kid’s menu.   Mimosas, eggs cochon, fried green tomatoes and rubbing shoulders with the Queen herself in The Big Easy?  Pretty cool.

A must stop would be Pat O’Brien’s for a refreshing Hurricane, a potent rum punch, aptly named, given the city’s struggle against Mother Nature.   Hint!! Hint!!  Ask to sit in the courtyard, next to the fountain and enjoy the complimentary popcorn, which of course makes you thirsty.  Clever.  The hurricane is pretty potent, so pace yourself, there are plenty of courtyards to visit.  You can even take it “to go” and wander the French Quarter, hurricane in hand. Check out Preservation Hall right next door, the holy land of traditional jazz.  Marvel at the beautiful buildings, and ornate balconies, all the while thinking about the revelry that has been happening here since 1718.


Photo by MT Linehan

Staying at the Hotel Monteleone is on my NOLA bucket list.  Luckily, you don’t need to be a hotel guest to have a drink at the world famous Carousel Bar, a spectacle to behold and a feather in your cap if you can claim a seat at the bar that will take you around and around.  Sip on a Vieux Carre, a cocktail that was created by the Hotel or a classic Mint Julep, pictured here,  while sitting at the gorgeous bar with a great view.  The hotel has been around since the late 1800’s, so drink it all in!

A visit to NOLA is not complete without a stop at Cafe Du Monde and a seat on the world famous green and white striped covered patio where people watching is at its best.  Don’t let the long lines scare you away, they move pretty quickly and you won’t even notice because there is so much happening around you.  Your reward for your patience is a freshly made plate of hot beignets (think puffy deep fried dough) sprinkled with mounds of icing sugar that you can enjoy with a cup of chicory coffee.  Delicious!!

While you’re in the neighbourhood, walk over to the French Market and pick up all those souvenirs you need, including some of NOLA’s best pralines at Loretta’s.  You’ll find food vendors, bake shops, t-shirts, local artisans and voodoo dolls.  But you must stop for a plate of fresh oysters, expertly shucked by the Singing Mothershucker!  Oh yes, you will be serenaded while waiting for your oysters in the open market and more than likely you’ll provide backing vocals.  Ain’t nothing like the Big Easy!

New Orleans is truly the triple crown of destinations.  Discover it’s rich history on many of the walking tours offered, listen to some fantastic jazz and indulge in it’s decadent cuisine.  It’s ongoing recovery from Hurricane Katrina is a testament to it’s people.  Strong and proud.  I look forward to a return visit, new discoveries and more plates.

Stay tuned for NOLA Part 2.  There will be fancy plates, final resting places, some great jazz and a little bit of voodoo sprinkled on top.  What’s your favourite NOLA plate?  Bring them to the table and share with me.  Let’s make some MTPlates…

Twitter Post:  MTPlates and NOLA, read this short list of must-do places

Facebook Post:  The French Quarter awaits.  View MTPlates must-do list here


Split Media Personalities?

Have you ever taken a scroll through time and looked at your history on different social media platforms?    Remember those first Instagram posts you did with just a picture and a newbie comment?


Photo by Maureen Linehan

Slowly, you started adding ridiculous hashtags “#idontknowwhyipostedthispicbutidid” before you realize what the hashtag is really all about.  Then there’s that first tweet, thinking the world is hearing what you have to say but really it’s only the 3 people following you?   And those early Facebook posts, pictures of your kids, your family and you but whoa!!  Those pics – you looked so young!!   

I joined Facebook first, many years ago.  It allows me to stay in touch with friends, family and people I have met in my travels.  I have always used this platform to encourage, admire and compliment the people I have connections with.  I don’t air my dirty laundry and whine about my bad luck.  People are amused when I share funny anecdotes about nutty things that happen to me and trust me, I have an endless supply.    The unintentional intent is to make someone smile and that hasn’t changed much over time.

Twitter was my next venture.  I more or less joined to follow my favourite sports teams, musicians and local restaurants.  My favourite hockey team is rarely televised and I learned that there were people out there that tweeted play by play action!!  What???  Yes, I am one of those annoying people that tweet “GOOOOALLLL”.   I interacted quite a bit with people when I started on Twitter.    I had real conversations, exchanged useful information as well as witty banter.  When I tweeted or replied, it usually had a fun edge, with a dash of sarcasm and often it would be returned.  But those followers could never cross over into my Facebook realm.  No, Facebook is too personal and private.  I protect my Facebook world.  Strange eh?.   Lately, for me, Twitter has become a pit of angry trolls and negativity.  I even found myself using it to express frustration with businesses; there was bound to be someone out there that would jump on my bandwagon of bashing.  Luckily I recognized this before I reached for the pitchforks.   As I observed that Twitter had become a darker place,  my voice had changed because of that.   I needed to make a conscious effort to return to my former days of witty banter.

I happily stumbled upon Instagram as twitter accounts started linking their tweets to Instagram posts.  I couldn’t stay away.  Even though the average user is much younger,  this is the platform I enjoy the most and will likely utilize the most as I begin my blogging journey.  Beautiful pictures, inspirational videos, educational videos and just a great overall fun vibe.  My voice feels natural on this platform and people seem more connective and supportive of one another.  It sounds cheesy, but it feels like home.  Like a great big sharing community and I dig that.

I marvel (and am slightly disturbed) how each platform has taken on a personality of its own and my own voice echo’d that personality.  Each is a product of it’s content and the world as it happens around us.  What you put into it, you will get out, so I will make an effort to improve my space.   In the meantime, I will enjoy the evolution of my own voice, as it becomes a little more sophisticated, a little more polished and a little more self aware.

Facebook:  Split Media Personalities?  Is this you?? 

Twitter:  Split Media Personalities –


Follow Your Instincts, Ignore the Bots

Things happen in the strangest ways and my newest blog will give you a bit of insight into how my brain works.  Now, now, don’t go!  You may find out that you think just like me and are, therefore, normal.  Ahem.

I was driving from work one night, stopped behind several cars waiting for someone in our

2 hearts

Photo my M Linehan (hearts unknown)

lane to make a left turn.  Rush hour drivers being the impatient pseudo race car drivers that they are, peeled out of our lane and rushed ahead into the right lane, passing the turning car only to come to screeching halt because cars were parked in the right lane.  One by one the cars behind me followed each other into the other lane only to be jammed up again.  I couldn’t help but think, why??  Didn’t they see the cars parked there?  I saw them.  I also saw the break in oncoming traffic and our left turner would be able to proceed soon.  Didn’t they see that opening too?  As I drove past them, smug in knowing that if they took the time to observe and not react hastily, they too would be driving home instead of trying to get out of that right lane.   Yet one by one, each car had followed the other.  Then it struck me…my topic could be about followers!!  Welcome to my rambling thought processes.

We want them, we need them and more importantly, we have to work to keep them!  We know the drill; know your audience, create great content, engage said audience and stick to a plan.  But how do we acquire an audience?  Do we hope there are people out there sitting on the edge of their seats waiting for your next post?  I can’t even get my kids to do the dishes, how will I gain a following on social media?  Who will listen to what I have to say? What is the follower etiquette?  Is it bad form to not follow back?   **Pet peeve alert**  The accounts that follow you that have thousands of followers and once you follow them, they unfollow you.  The first few times, I thought, wow!!  They are following me!!!  (Pats self on the back).  But wait, at some point you realize they have unfollowed you!  What is the point of this?  What is the advantage?  Now I am just annoyed with them and any interest I had in what they had to say has evaporated.  I am learning there are like/follow bots out there that you can use only for this purpose.  That doesn’t seem genuine to me and I like real people.  I will follow accounts that interest me and it doesn’t matter that they don’t follow back, however I prove to myself time and time again that engagement really does work!  A comment, a positive message of support, a question about a product and you gain followers.  It’s like magic..and all we did was talk to people.

I will always choose quality over quantity all the time.  I personally take a good look at those that follow me.  I look to see if they answer questions, if their follower base is skewed and if their content is completely unrelated to mine, I won’t follow back. Who needs to follow a hubcap account or a cigar distributor?  Not me.  Who the heck buys aftermarket hubcaps anymore?  Clearly their 40,000 followers.  Ya, right.  I smell a bot.    Are you “vetting” your followers?  Is there value in having followers that have nothing in common with your voice or product if they are genuine and seem to engage with their followers?

There are definite bragging rights when you have a substantial following, as long as you haven’t bought them, which is, in my opinion, the equivalent of juicing in the social media world, or cheating, if you will.   I’ll stick to the practice of old fashioned work, I’ll engage my audience, be part of a conversation and get to know more about the people behind the pictures.  I don’t need tens of thousands of followers, I’m posting for the love of the game and if I meet some cool people along the way, then I’ve opened my world just a little more.  When I told my kids what my topic was about, they told me it’s not cool when you follow more people than follow you.  What??  Yet another unwritten rule that I just won’t be compliant with.  Sorry, not sorry.  Its a good thing the under 25 demographic is not my target audience…

Facebook post:  To Follow or Not to Follow.  More rules to break…

Twitter post:  Breaking the Follower Rules







Social Media Rules?

Word on the street, err…in cyberspace, is that Social Media rules! Social Media is where it’s at and it is the future.  It will connect you with people, consumers, your customers!  After two weeks of course reading, my definition of social media has been slightly redefined.  “Social Media Rules” means just that.  There are rules!  Lots of social media rules.  Do this, don’t do that.  Write this way, avoid that way.  Be casual, be professional.  Use this many words here, use hyperlinks there, multimedia for this.  Not to mention the number of platforms.  So many balls to keep in the air.  My brain is going to explode.

I’m, albeit jokingly, called the “social media queen” in my circle of friends and family, but at the moment, I am feeling like the “social media scullery maid” or like Jon Snow, I know nothing.  At 52, an avid foodie and occasional traveller, I have been encouraged by friends to blog about my culinary and other adventures.  Let me clarify, these are hobbies, not paid work!  I’m not taking off on vacation all the time but I do manage to find some fun stuff to do locally, I go on an annual music related cruise and if I’m lucky, I squeeze a couple of road trips in during the year.  And when you’re out or away, you gotta eat and I seem to find all the right places.    I take a picture,  write a fun blurb then post it on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc.  And yes, I autopost (hangs head in shame).   How can I possibly apply all there is to learn, keep up with the changes, follow the rules and still work 9-5 (or 6…7),  be a hip mom to my kids and a good daughter to a mother who has a gagilion doctor appointments??  Autopost was my friend!!!  So long, friend.   This rusty academic accepts the challenge and has been madly scribbling down each blog and publication so that I can follow them and keep “in the know”.  There are so many,  how do you know the content is reliable?  I’ve been using Flipboard to follow some.  Which ones do you follow?  How do you keep them organized?

As bewildering as it is, I have been paying attention.  In the past week, I’ve noticed my Facebook posts have been a bit more concise.  I haven’t autoposted.  I even turned off the links!   I have made a point of using Instagram stories.  I’m laying the groundwork for best practices and my food blog.  Yeah me!!  Our common goals are to sharpen our skills, determine our audience, improve our content and gather more followers, likes, retweets and if you are business, more customers.  But in a world of fake news and no holds barred cybercrime, who do you trust?  Even social media has a black market.  What are social media platforms doing to protect us from this?  Where are their rules?  What measures do we need to take to protect our brand, our posts and even our own faces?  Scary stuff.  While we watch how the powers to be handle these concerns, I’ll be here, balls in the air, making mistakes, breaking the rules, relishing the creative outlet and trying to keep on top of it all.  You ask how will she do it all?  Why, a content calendar for optimal timing of my posts, silly.  Social media has all the answers….

Facebook promo:  Social Media Rules?  Yes it does and yes we have them.  Tips and eye openers

Twitter:  Social Media Rules, two ways.  What’s a new blogger to do?