Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Probably more than you ever wanted to know about me....

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.  

My little kitchen helper working on some not-so-healthy cupcakes

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.
All four of us sisters with our Mom.  (I'm the fourth one from the left.)

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). 
My hunny and me just had our 17th wedding anniversary

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.
 I had to photoshop myself into this picture, but here I am with my family outside on a gorgeous autumn day.  No, I did not take any food with me to this photo shoot.  :)

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.
 My hubby and me with our 8-year-old who had just been baptized. 

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. 
A typical Monday

How can I get in touch with you?
You can always email me at wawadehut@gmail.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.   
Lara, the PTA Vice-President Elf, and one other person made over 100 goody bags for the staff at our elementary school

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!

Me and my family in our Christmas pajamas
(no, my 15-year-old son was NOT thrilled about the whole thing)



ann January 4, 2011 at 6:04 PM  

Thanks Lara, that was very interesting! It's nice to learn about the people behind the blogs. 5 kids!

Bon-Bon January 4, 2011 at 6:23 PM  

Lara, you inspire me in more ways than I can count. XO

Quirky Jessi January 4, 2011 at 6:32 PM  

"more than you ever wanted to know about me..." Not at all! I love info like this and I'm sure future readers will appreciate it, too. :)

Anonymous,  January 5, 2011 at 1:43 PM  

What a great post! Love reading/getting to know more about you. :-)

teresa January 5, 2011 at 4:10 PM  

so fun to get to know you better! i didn't know you lived so close to me, we're over in philly! if you're ever in our neck of the woods, let me know!

Mandy January 12, 2011 at 7:34 AM  

This was a great post! You have a beautiful family and a charmed life! You really amaze me with all you do! I can barely hold my own with one child and you have five.... wow! Your husband is a hottie! Like you, I try NOT to cook with pork or red meat much... maybe that's why I love your site so much.... I do lots of chicken and turkey! I don't cook with seafood much even though we love it and aren't allergic to it.... it's more expensive and harder to cook with, I think. I don't want to do advertising stuff on my site either... I Just want it to be fun!

Thanks for sharing so much great stuff with us! It was really nice getting to know you!



Kristen January 23, 2011 at 1:01 PM  

It was fun to read this and learn a little more about you - I love the Christmas jammies! Maybe I can convince my hubby to do that one year.

Kasi February 6, 2011 at 5:39 PM  

I'll be linking back to your blog from mine soon :) Love your blog!

Michelle... April 26, 2012 at 12:42 AM  

Just found your blog! Love it. My hubby's family is from outside the DC area - Rockville, MD. I have loved visiting there - just beautiful!

Domestic Goddess May 24, 2012 at 7:12 PM  

Lara, I just love your blog! I have enjoyed reading about your family, and viewing your family photos. I thought your Christmas photo was quite hilarius Your family in their Christmas pj's, that was too cute!

Lara, because I have been enjoying viewing your blog, the beautiful photos you have taken, as well as your recipes, that is why I have chosen you to receive the Kreativ Blogger Award. Please stop by my blog and pick it up. http://domesticgoddessinthekitchen.blogspot.com/2012/05/kreativ-blogger-award.html

And by the way Lara, I hope you and your lovely family have a safe, wonderful, holiday weekend as well.

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About This Blog

My name is Lara and while I'm definitely not a gourmet cook, I do love preparing tasty, healthy meals for my family. Finding new recipes to try and sharing the ones we've already fallen in love with is a passion I've had since college and the reason why I've started this blog! With five kids, I'm usually in a hurry, so you'll find most of these recipes kid friendly and simple to make.

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