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SWAG from IFBC 2010 and Muffins

In the last post I mentioned I’d attended the International Food Blogger Conference (IFBC) a couple weekends ago.  The first conference was last year. This year’s event was pretty well organized, considering this was just the second year.  I find that conferences take a couple years to really find their own groove and work out the kinks.  This event is well on it’s way to having it figured out. 
One of the pieces I thought they did a great job pulling together was the SWAG bag.  The term SWAG was originally an acronym for "SoftWare And Giveaways", "Stuff We All Got", or any of a number of similar phrases.  But now it’s taken on a life of its own.  Basically, it’s the term used for free items handed out at trade shows, conferences, marketing or PR events, or sometimes just as a "gift" for business partners. 
The people at Sur La Table did all the work soliciting donations and assembling the SWAG bags for IFBC, I believe, and they did a good job.  Sure, there were a few things I looked at and thought, "Hmm, not for me…", but I bet there was someone else in the group who was very excited to get those items. 
This morning I made a batch of the Zucchini-Cranberry Muffins I blogged about (recipe) around this time last year.  They are still just as good as ever! 
And how does that tie in with IFBC and SWAG, you ask?  Well, one of the items in my SWAG bag was a Chicago Metallic 12-Cup Nonstick Pretty Pansy Cupcake Pan (say that even one-time fast!) which I used to bake the muffins this morning.  I normally try not to purchase things that are too cutesy or have limited use – although I did go through a phase where I collected several cast-iron muffin pans in various shapes – but I kept this flower pan since I thought it could be used a variety of ways.  I’d prefer that it wasn’t purple but that’s a small nit considering it baked very nicely and the muffins popped right out when they were done. 
The resulting muffins were kind of cute.  They’d be nice for a brunch, for instance.  And cupcakes would probably work even better with the pan since cake batter is lighter and tends to expand more than muffin batter does so they’d take on even more of a flower shape. 
In the top photo the background is a Chilewich table runner which was also in our SWAG bag.  I thought it might be a fun background for some photos – we’ll see how it works out over time.  The color is not one I would have chosen but it might come in handy – especially around Valentine’s Day and Easter.  Sur La Table carries a nice selection of Chilewich placemats (I actually have several I use for photo props) and carries several of their table runners.
So there are all my disclaimers about the free stuff used for this post! Kind of a long post just to say:  "It’s zucchini season so go make some of these great muffins!"  But you get the idea. 

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