Food Bloggers Unplugged Q & A

Tag — I’m it! Sally, at My Custard Pie, just tagged me to answer the Food Blogger’s Unplugged Q & A.

So far, I think I’ve been pretty good at keeping all my deepest darkest food secrets under wraps, but I suppose I may as well start 2012 transparently! Here goes . . .

What or who inspired you to start your blog?

I have always wanted to write about food, and back in the “olden days” before blogs existed, I thought “if only I could write for a food magazine.” Well, it was early in 2005 when I received an email from my dear friend Nicky, which said: “we’re working on a little project — coming soon!” In March of that year, she sent me an email with a link: I clicked, and the rest was history. Though Nicky’s blog wasn’t the first in the game, it remains one of the best. I thought: how FUN! I want to do that too. But I was busy experiencing morning sickness (in which case, even reading food blogs made me nauseous), having babies and being so sleep deprived that starting my own blog was just a fantasy. In the meantime, though, I got to know lots of beautiful food blogs out there, and besides delicious:days, Ximena’s fantastic sketches on Lobstersquad were inspiring, as were Béa’s stories, told in such a nurturing way, of food and life from La Tartine Gourmande.

Who is your foodie inspiration?

I started out with lots of inspiration especially from my mom and my Grandma Salazar, but also from a friend, named Robin Mendez, who I used to nanny for long ago who is married to a Frenchman named Guy who was a chef in Palo Alto. Her leftovers taught my palate a lot! The rest of the inspiration comes from every day life, books, and the food I try when I’m traveling, and also a large pile of printed recipes that I’ve stuffed into a drawer for safe keeping.

Your greasiest most batter splattered cookbook is?

Martha Stewart’s Desserts cookbook — a gift 12 years ago from my dear friend Jenny. I’ve used it so much the binding is completely broken, pages fall out every time I open it, and it never gets old when I’m looking to make a very special something sweet. And not to be forgotten, Timing Is Everything, which was a gift from Nicky. The binding is shot but  I piece it together every time I roast meat.

The best thing you have ever eaten in another country, where was it and what was it? 

I’ve been blessed to have tried so many wonderful foods on this tasty planet. I’m going to cheat, because there’s no way I can pick just one.

  • A piping hot-off-the-coals Tlyuda at about 2 am on Calle de Independencia in Oaxaca
  • Olla de Carne, made by my friend Monica’s grandmother in San Jose, Costa Rica
  • Stuffed and fried squash blossoms in Castellina in Chianti, Tuscany
  • Crazy delicious Tandoori Chicken at The Cinnamon Club in London
  • A late afternoon roast chicken lunch al fresco, complete with olives, cheese and wine overlooking a field of rosemary in Joucas, Provence
  • Dry cured venison salami and locally made hard cheese, while taking a short break on a breathtaking hike overlooking Scuol, Switzerland
  • Piping “heiβe Maroni,” along with roast duck, Knödel, and a huge Wieβbier in Bavaria
  • Gallo pinto, made by my host-mom, Eugenia, with fried “Queso Tipo Tico,” and lots of light-as-air baguette with cream cheese and guava jam, Moravia, San Jose, Costa Rica.
  • Farm fresh soft boiled eggs with freshly made fig jam by Monika near Asti in Piedmont.
  • Somebody, make me stop. . .

Another food blogger’s table you would like to eat at?

Can I beg three? David Lebovitz, Lesley of The Mija Chronicles, and Béa of La Tartine Gourmande.

What one kitchen gadget would you like Santa to bring you?

A Dutch oven. Can’t believe I have made it this far without one. A mandoline would be nice, but I’m not sure I would use it much . . . I’m sort of anti-gadget.

Who taught you how to cook?

My mom. She started by giving me the freedom to play in the kitchen, so I have vivid memories of making peanut butter with my sister Emily in a blender: peanuts + butter. I braved the making of my first soufflé when I was 13 (which was a total flop). She taught me what good food tastes like, and because she was always “there,” I grew up watching good food being cooked. Doing it all myself later in life was just natural.

I’m coming to you for dinner, what is your signature dish?

My signature dish is usually something I have never made before. I always end up going against the mantra: “never try something new on your guests.” Besides, I need to know if you are vegetarian, a meat-lover, GF, or hate broccoli (like myself). I cook to delight, so you will first get an email from me asking about your aversions and allergies. But if you showed up unannounced, and I was on the spot — roast chicken, stuffed with herbs from my garden and lemons.

What is your guilty food pleasure?

Do I really have to tell? A sizzling hot brat from the grill parked out front of Home Depot with so much mustard you can barely see the sausage. I’m not joking. And Oreos, about once a year. Everything else, I don’t feel guilt about. Lucky me.

Reveal something about yourself that others would be surprised to learn?

I’m not sure how much of this will surprise you, but:

  • I eat hot dogs — not very often, and preferably not “random” ones, but I periodically crave them.
  • I love good, simple food. It doesn’t have to be “fancy.” I grew up eating lots of pinto beans, and beans and tortillas is still one of my favorite meals.
  • I bought jarred tomato sauce (actually, Dave bought it) last week for the first time EVER. Made in Denver, and it was pretty good. . . felt like I was totally cheating.
  • I love sushi, until the gag reflex kicks in, which it inevitably does near the end of my meal, and then — I’m done. Bizarre love/hate thing that I will probably always live with.
  • I once wanted to be a surfer girl in Costa Rica, marry a surfer and breed surfer babies. Instead I married an American of strong German heritage, who just happens to be the love of my life, who skis and plays soccer and has never had long hair. So, what do I know?
  • Before I wanted to be surfer, I wanted to be a neurosurgeon. The brain fascinates me but years of school does NOT.
  • I was too afraid to take an art class in college. I thought I couldn’t cut it, so I missed out. Moral of that story, fear should never rule. Now I apply that in the kitchen!

Tag five other food bloggers to answer these questions.

Some of you are busy writing cookbooks or resting after just finishing them, but we’d love to hear your answers!

  1. Nicky at delicious:days (there are years of press on her, but maybe we will still learn something new)
  2. Lesley at The Mija Chronicles
  3. Ximena at Lobstersquad
  4. Deb at Smitten Kitchen
  5. Matt at Matt Bites

 And. . .  there you have it. Since we’re all getting to know each other, I would love to read comments from each of you, my mysterious and not-so-mysterious readers.

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10 Responses to Food Bloggers Unplugged Q & A

  1. rita says:

    My, I guess there is always something new to learn about you! What a fun and interesting questionnaire. Thanks for letting us in on some unknown thoughts and facts that are “behind the scenes” of Stephanie!:) and The Triangle Plate!

  2. Karen says:

    I am most impressed that you can remember all those wonderful food experiences from some years ago.
    Go, Stephanie!

  3. Auntie Meg says:

    Heck ya! Home Depot brats ALL THE WAY (especially tasty while “with child”). Hmmm I’m either craving one right now or fantasizing about having another baby… :)

  4. Emily says:

    I really enjoyed reading that! Your oreos and Home Depot brats cracked me up. And, how can you be American and NOT crave a good hot dog? Elena and I ate hot dogs for lunch for almost three straight weeks this fall because I discovered that she LOVES them and it turned into a pregnancy craving for me. We were quite the pair.

  5. barbara says:

    Stephany- I met your darling mom on a flight(probably to or from D.C.) and she is so adorable-would make sense that you have such a zest for life and all things good. We talked at lenth about her career and passion for art-yours translates perfectly to the kitchen. Please keep up the good work!

  6. Lesley says:

    Wow, thanks for the nomination! I’m honored to be on your list. Hopefully I’ll get to these questions this week or next!

  7. I thoroughly enjoyed reading your thoughtful and enlightening answers to these questions. So great to get to know more about you – I had no idea of your exciting food journey.

  8. Stephanie says:

    Barbara, nice to “meet” you, and thanks for reading!
    Thanks everyone! So glad you enjoyed the read, and the blog.
    Leslie, looking forward to yours!

  9. MB says:

    You are an excellent storyteller, Stephanie. Here’s to many more stories!!

  10. Pingback: Sloppy Joes | The Triangle Plate

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