How do you come up with your menus and recipes?
I find inspiration everywhere. I am particularly drawn to reinventing recipes that I enjoyed previously as an omnivore because these meals often lend a familiarity that conveys love, comfort, and tradition. Sometimes I’m simply trying to use up ingredients in my refrigerator and the result is something delicious. Or, I might create a dish that turns out to be a flop, but I see it taking on new life as something completely different. And there are even times that recipe ideas come to me in a state of half dream / half wake – seriously, how weird is that?! Lastly, I am endlessly inspired by food I’ve tried at restaurants and from the recipes of other bloggers and chefs. And in those cases, you will always find credit given to the source of the original recipe.
Is it just me, or are your recipes kind of long? Does that mean they are difficult?
It’s not just you. My recipes may in fact be written in longer form than what you are accustomed to seeing on other food blogs and websites. But don’t worry, the recipes usually aren’t any more complicated or challenging. In fact, I strive to provide more detailed and descriptive instructions so that it will save you the time of guessing or making mistakes during the process. I’ve always been extremely detail-oriented, and my recipes are no exception.
Are your recipes tested?
Yes! I’m also a bit of a perfectionist, which can be a challenge when it comes to food blogging. Good for you, but time consuming for me! Needless to say, recipes posted here have always been tested multiple times over a series of weeks or months to ensure consistent results and accurate instructions, which I think is especially important when you are entertaining. If you ever have trouble with a recipe or find an error in the instructions, please let me know and I will be happy to address it.
Do you recommend any cooking tools, equipment, or resources?
Absolutely. Using the right equipment in the kitchen can have a huge impact on the success of a recipe. Not only can it save you time and potential frustration, but I’ve seen from experience that it can take your food from good to great. I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to make an investment in your kitchen. You can find a catalog of my favorite and recommended products in the Resources section (coming soon!).
Do you have any formal culinary training?
I am a self-taught cook with a voracious appetite for food knowledge. I did consider pursuing a formal culinary education, and in 2009 I was accepted to (but did not attend) the Culinary Institute of America in California. And while I still think it would be an amazing experience, I don’t think culinary school is part of my professional journey. But hey, never say never.
My informal training started as a child in the kitchen with my mother, and has grown steadily with continued reading, watching, and practice. I’ve never cooked professionally, but I’ve catered/hosted bridal showers, brunches, dinners, work retreats, and parties for friends, family, and colleagues.
Also, in 2015 I completed the inaugural offering of the Culinary Rx program presented by Rouxbe in partnership with The Plantrician Project. While not a professional cooking course, this is a great online program covering foundational cooking techniques and the basics of plant-based nutrition. I highly recommend it to anyone thinking about transitioning to a plant-based diet.
What is your food philosophy?
While I hesitate to box myself into a strict food philosophy, in general you will find that the recipes shared here are plant-based and whole food focused. Vegetables, fruits, tubers, legumes, and whole grains are prominent. Besides the obvious lack of meat, dairy, and eggs in my recipes, you will see ingredients like whole wheat flour instead of white flour, maple syrup instead of brown sugar, and extra virgin olive oil instead of vegetable oil. A number of my recipes happen to be naturally free of gluten, soy, nuts, and refined sugar as well.
Please note that I am not a nutritionist or dietitian, but for me personally, I find there is compelling evidence that a plant-based, whole foods diet has many health benefits. And I think we can all agree that eating more veggies is a good thing, right?! I also understand that there are various definitions and opinions about what a “plant-based, whole foods diet” should be, so keep in mind that the recipes here simply represent how I eat.
I’m also open about the fact that I do not eat 100% plant-based at this point. This has been a process, and I’m proud of the changes I have made, but right now I’m eating plant-based about 75% of the of time. At the end of the day, this blog is not about following a strict diet, but more so about sharing the things that make me happiest – cooking and entertaining – while feeding myself and my loved ones in a way that feels good.
I know this is a food blog, but your dogs are super cute. Can you tell me more about them?
I thought you’d never ask! Our first dog, Nash, is a “special” guy who requires patience and understanding that I didn’t know I was capable of. Nash loves: chasing bugs, wide-open spaces, and exhaust fumes. Nash hates: motorcycles, being sedentary, and perceived violations of his personal space. The most recent addition to our family, Sydney, is our peaceful, affectionate girl. Sydney loves: eating grass, following her nose wherever it takes her, and cuddling with anyone who will have her. Sydney hates: Not cuddling? When I’m developing recipes, it is pretty much guaranteed that the dogs are nearby. Sydney resting quietly under my feet and Nash watching and listening from a safe distance for food to drop.