Tuesday, January 4, 2011
When did you start cooking?
Surprisingly I actually grew up with a pretty limited exposure to cooking and a somewhat simple diet. I did always enjoy baking as a child, but didn't do it as often as I liked. I distinctly remember my first experiences with many basic foods in my adult life (broccoli and cabbage for the first time in college, cilantro in my 30's, freshly grated Parmesan cheese in my early married life). I was only a sophomore in college when I realized that I really liked experimenting with food and I really enjoyed finding and trying new recipes. It was a whole new world for me. Although, my eyes were just opening up to cooking in college, I found that my first few years as a stay-at-home mom was when cooking became a passion. I literally was so excited to discover that healthy foods could taste good too.
Why did you start a food blog?
I think it was through an extension of my love of cooking, that I also developed a passion for collecting and sharing recipes with others. I compiled a simple, little cookbook in college for my church congregation. In 2001 I created a family cookbook for my Mom's extended family. Then in 2007 I started a family blog. It's pretty boring with lots of pictures of my kids, but I was hooked almost immediately. I loved the outlet it was for me for sharing our stories and our photos and I loved the connection it gave me to my family living thousands of miles away. Then sometime in 2008, I got the great idea to combine my two loves--blogging and recipes--and the Recipe Shoebox was born. I had envisioned it being more of a family affair with my three sisters, two sisters-in-law, my mom, and a cousin all sharing our favorite recipes on a regular basis, but it turns out that I was a little more gung-ho about it than the rest of them. They still will occasionally share their recipes here and I totally LOVE it when they do, but probably 90% of the recipes here are mine.
Why no seafood recipes?
My husband is severely allergic to seafood and since I think he's rather hot and nice to be around, I pretty much never make it (except for once or twice when he was out of town).
Why not very many beef or pork recipes?
This is not an allergy issue, but rather a personal preference. I don't care for beef or pork that much, so I tend to use turkey and chicken instead. My family does like beef and pork, so I do try to add it to our menu at least occasionally.
Where do you find your recipes?
From everywhere! I have a few favorite cookbooks (my church one being my very favorite), some magazines (Taste of Home and Cooking Light), and other recipe blogs. I'm definitely a visual learner, so I prefer recipes that show clear pictures of at least the finished product.
Why does your food look like you're taking pictures of it outside? Do you live in Hawaii or something?
No, we live in suburban Washington DC and very much have 4 seasons, but I do usually take my finished products outdoors for better natural lighting. Even on rainy or snowy days, I'll stand under the eaves of my house and take pictures. I'm sure the neighbors laugh at me regularly. Most of the rest of my pictures are taken on a chair near my patio door.
What kind of camera do you use?
I use a Canon Rebel xti DSLR. I received it for Christmas a few years ago and it's been one of my most well-loved tools ever.
Do you accept paid forms of advertising?
Right now...no. I'm more interested in keeping it fun than to dive into the world of paid advertising....not to mention the fact that I don't feel like I have the time to pursue it at this stage of my life. My five kids are my first priority.
How do you find the time to cook and blog with five kids?
What can I say? It's my lifeline to normalcy. Cooking is something I'd be doing anyway, so adding a little incentive for trying new recipes keeps me excited and motivated to keep preparing healthy and tasty meals for my family. Cooking has also very much become a family event in our house. My kids love gathering the ingredients into "our spot" for pictures. My five-year-old loves to help me choose recipes and add ingredients. My eight-year-old loves to be my little scientific helper, asking what each ingredient does and why have I varied from the written recipe. My ten and thirteen-year-olds are becoming very proficient at cooking independently. They beg to make breakfasts and desserts and will even excitedly volunteer to make a dinner when I'm having a crazy night. And even my fifteen-year-old son loves to get in on the action by cheerfully volunteering to taste-test whatever we happen to be making. He's also a good gauge of the recipe's success as he's one of the pickiest of my five kids. If he likes it, then chances are the rest of the kids will as well.
How can I get in touch with you?
You can always email me at email@example.com with recipe questions or ideas for the blog, but be warned that while I try my best to respond quickly, I'm often not as responsive as I could be. I'll blame that on being distracted by taking care of and chauffeuring five kids everywhere, being the PTA vice president this year, homeschooling my eighth grader, dealing with a new epilepsy diagnosis in my youngest daughter, and in general having a love-hate relationship with my email inbox.
Can I post a recipe from your blog?
Yes, I love sharing our recipe treasures with other people. All I ask is that you mention the Recipe Shoebox and post a link back to me. If you happen to use a photo from my blog, please give credit and link back to me. Thanks!
(no, my 15-year-old son was NOT thrilled about the whole thing)