Food Blogger of the Month: July 2013

Hello Everyone!

I am finally back with another food blogger review, and do I have a treat for you!

CaitlinCaitlin at The Communal Table is a wonderful young lady who has started a food blog as part of her senior project. I cannot believe the insight and eloquence she possesses at such a young age. When I was 16 I wasn’t nearly as focused or capable, and I salute her.

In addition to offering delicious recipes, she has taken it upon herself to give her readers reviews of various cafés all around the Los Angeles area.

Whether you’re looking for something to whip up, or a place to take a friend for brunch; Caitlin has got you covered.

When did your passion for food begin?: 

I was brought up in a foodie family. A lot of my fondest childhood memories involve food. Every Sunday, I would wake up to the smell of freshly-baked chocolate-cherry scones, or a light vegetable frittata. I always helped my parents cook, but every so often, I would get up before everyone else to make a batch of pancakes or waffles. With the help of my foodie parents, I developed a great palette from a young age and learned a lot about wholesome, fresh ingredients.

I would also say that a lot of my passion for food has to do with my experience with an eating disorder. In my Freshman year of High School, I suffered from severe anorexia nervosa. Eventually, I was in such critical condition that I had to be hospitalized for 2 months. Recovery has been a long process with tons of ups and downs. One way I’ve been able to recover is by learning more about food and what it can do for our bodies. By getting a better understanding of how certain foods enable us to carry out basic bodily functions, fight disease, and improve our lives, I’ve developed a much more positive relationship with food.

Pancakes for OneWhat inspires you to create recipes?:

Part of my blog is devoted to chronicling my “Café Adventures.” If I could go to one type of eatery for the rest of my life, it would be a café-bakery. I love cafés…and bakeries. There’s something about that amazing feeling you get upon walking into a sunlit café that boasts a chalkboard menu of simple and fresh, yet unique salads and sandwiches, but also a mouthwatering selection of magical baked goods. With driver’s license in hand, I’ve begun to explore the amazing variety of cafès dotted throughout the Los Angeles area, bringing back recipe concepts to my own kitchen, where I try to put a healthy spin on the delicious dishes I’ve tried on the road. I’m stressing the concept of health over the idea of low-calorie.

In America, a lot of focus is put on diet and low-calorie options (ex: diet sodas, snacks made with Splenda instead of sugar, and reduced-fat margarine), instead of teaching people the more important concept of health! I don’t believe in using strange chemicals to replace natural products. Our bodies need some sugar and fat, so healthy sweeteners and fats like honey or olive oil are good for us! By using wholesome, organic ingredients, we can enjoy food that not only tastes delicious, but is also nourishing.

When did you begin blogging about food?:

I just started blogging on June 10, 2013 as part of my Senior project, but I hope to continue blogging for a long time!

Five Spice Carrot SoupWhat is one of your favorite go to recipes on your blog?:

My blog is really new, so I don’t have a ton of recipes up, yet, but I love these Pancakes for One and this Five-Spice Carrot Soup recipe! The pancakes are really fluffy and satisfying, and I love how easy they are to make! I’m also obsessed with the Five-Spice Carrot Soup. It has a really unique flavor that’s perfect for any season.

What is one of your favorite ingredients to use?:

Favorite ingredient???!!! Oh my gosh, that is such a hard question…I would have to say that I love ginger. A lot of people think ginger is too powerful, but it’s actually extremely versatile. I love using fresh ginger because it adds brightness and freshness to things like Green Smoothies, salad dressings, or marinades. Ground ginger also works really well in baked goods, bringing warm notes to Fall and Winter recipes! Besides being delicious, ginger is awesome because it’s a nutritional powerhouse, with tons of health benefits including anti-inflammatory qualities.

What is one piece of equipment you can’t live without in your kitchen?:

Definitely my blender. Now, don’t go thinking that all the food I eat is baby food. I usually have smoothies for breakfast, though. I love regular fruit smoothies, and sometimes I’ll throw in spinach or kale for a green smoothie, cocoa powder to add indulgence to a strawberry-banana smoothie, or oats to keep me going through a day of school. I also love my blender because it means breakfast is easy. On mornings when I have school, I’m not the cheeriest or most coordinated of people. With smoothies, I don’t have to worry about getting up early to make a full-on breakfast, or messing anything up in my half-asleep state of delusion.

A Few encouraging words to other food lovers:

Caitlin Words of advice: Try new things. Whether its a breakfast nook you’ve been dying to go to, or an enticing recipe for Dark Chocolate-Caramel Tartlets you’ve been eyeing on Pinterest, just do it! Exposing yourself to new foods, cultures, and cooking styles is a great way to discover your own passions and who you are as a food lover. Also, everything is good is BALANCE! Moderation is the key. Too much of a good thing, can be bad. Remember to always maintain a balance. Don’t get too caught up in one mindset, or you will miss out on so many opportunities.

Please Support Caitlin in her Efforts at The Communal Table, I highly anticipate a bright future from her.

All Photographs are from The Communal Table

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Food Blogger of the Month: April 2013

Hello everyone! This month’s food blogger of the month is someone I’ve been subscribed to on Tumblr for quite some time.

Tango MangoI fell in love with her lovely photographs of the Northwest, and her awesome recipes pretty quickly.

Sue from Tango Mango is as much a photographer as a food blogger, and it’s pretty clear to see. She takes wonderful shots of the food she creates, and always brings her camera along on her various adventures.

If you enjoy delicious recipes and lovely photographs I highly recommend her blog on Tumblr.

Enjoy!

When did your passion for food begin?
I’ve loved to cook as far back as I can remember. I grew up in a nurturing environment and my parents encouraged all of us to cook whenever we wanted. Pretty much everything we ate growing up was made from scratch. My mom loved to cook but I think her primary motivation for cooking with raw ingredients came from my family’s need to save money. As a result, homemade noodles, lasagna, fresh fish from the lake, caramel rolls, corn, beans and tomatoes from our garden, a toothsome gelatin cheesecake are all foods I remember eating as a kid.

Spicy Chicken ChiliOver the years we’ve entertained friends and family, cycled through different sets of cookware, taste-tested scores of recipes, and enjoyed growing food in our gardens. All of these things have influenced my ambitions in the kitchen.

Sometimes cooking is my therapy. I’ve been known to begin cooking a meal at 9:00pm even though I know it will probably be carefully packaged away and eaten the following evening. But the motions of chopping, sautéing, using a favorite spoon or kitchen gadget and enjoying the smells that come from my stove or oven bring me pleasure. I don’t usually even mind doing the dishes.

What inspires you to create recipes?
I tweak recipes pretty often but only occasionally create a recipe from the ground up. Soups, casseroles, salads and stews are forgiving and once you know the basics of food chemistry it’s easy to make something unique. Rarely do I change a recipe when I’m baking unless I’m absolutely sure it won’t compromise the integrity of the end result.

Inspiration for trying different recipes comes from everywhere. It can come from paging through a cooking magazine or seeing a picture in a circular from Williams Sonoma. Sometimes it comes from trying something in a restaurant, or talking to a friend. Finding new foods or foods that are fresh-picked from our garden inspires me, and planning a dinner for guests always gets the creative juices flowing.

When did you begin blogging about food?
August 4, 2011

What is one of your favorite ingredients you use?
Probably shrimp. I try to have at least one bag of raw shrimp in my freezer at all times. I have a multitude of salad recipes that use shrimp. I can stir fry them, or marinate them and then put them on the grill. They cook in no time. A handful of shrimp, some angel hair pasta, fresh herbs and lemon can make a Primavera. If you have shrimp, butter, garlic, white wine and mushrooms you can make magic. They’re high in protein, low in calories and almost everyone loves them.

Breaded Chicken CutletsWhat is one of your favorite go-to recipes on your blog?
I have lots of go-to recipes so I’ll pick two. Next to the bag of shrimp in the freezer sits a bag of skinless, boneless chicken breasts. They’re easy to defrost and I can make multitude of recipes from them. I love to marinate them and grill them, or use them in a salad. The recipe for breaded chicken cutlets is a favorite. Another great recipe is spicy chicken chili. I almost always have everything I need to make it without running to the grocery store.

What is one piece of equipment you couldn’t live without in your kitchen?
I love my kitchen tools but it would be almost impossible to live without my chef’s knife. It’s fairly large but it fits my hand perfectly and has a nice heft to it. I keep it razor sharp at all times and I use it every day. I also have a first-rate paring knife that sees a lot of use. I can cut almost anything with those two knives.

Do you enjoy taking pictures as much as cooking?
I have a BFA in advertising design and have always enjoyed involving some creative aspect into what I do. Combining photography with cooking comes naturally. Sometimes when I’m cooking a dish I’ll consider how I will photograph it. Things I think about are the type, shape and the color of bowl or plate I’ll use and if the shot will be taken at an angle or from above. If the food or any piece of it is translucent such as a potato chip, a lemon, or a lime, I’ll be sure to line up the shot so that the light shines through it. These are a few of the things I think about before I take pictures of food. However, once I get started, I usually see other opportunities and I’ll end up moving the dish into different lighting, shoot it from an odd angle or try a different lens.

Blueberry Lemon BreadA few encouraging words to other food lovers.
I read a story years ago about a young couple who had very little money and hardly any food. One evening they were surprised by a group of friends who showed up at their small apartment unannounced. As the evening wore on, everyone got hungry. Looking for something to feed them, the hostess made crepes out of the few ingredients required. She made a white sauce with a little bit of margarine, some powdered milk and flour. The few vegetables they had were steamed and stirred into the sauce. Candles were lit and everyone ate crepes!
I’ll never forget that story and think about it occasionally. If you know how to cook your world is a richer place. If you can, shop locally. Buy fresh. Experiment in the kitchen. Entertain friends with simple foods. The more you learn the greater your passion will become.

Visit Sue at Tango Mango to see more of her wonderful recipes

All images are from Tango Mango

Food Blogger of the Month: March 2013

Hello everyone! Sorry for no updates last week, I had to prepare my house for a new roommate!

Julianna & NatashaExcuses aside, I am very excited for this installment of Food Blogger of the Month, and can’t wait to introduce you to a fantastic team of foodies. Julianna Strickland & Natasha Feldman of Cinema & Spice are just too fabulous for words.

Their channel on YouTube was one of the first channels I subscribed to, and I’m very glad I did. It focuses on dishes inspired by movies, and it also shows you how to throw awesome dinner parties for a wide range of films.

They are also focused on organic and healthy eating, which makes their meals just out of this world. What could be better?

I hope you enjoy Julianna and Natasha as much as I have, and try out their recipes. You won’t be disappointed.

When did your passion for food begin?:

Julianna: I always have loved food!  I learned to cook with my mom and sisters growing up.  During the holidays we would spend hours making these elaborately decorated sugar cookies, and I loved being able to make something that was both edible and beautiful.   I also love trying food from all around the world, it’s my favorite reason to travel!

Natasha: My real passion for food began when I entered college. Before that moment, it hadn’t occurred to me that food out in the world was not as good, or as healthy as the food I grew up eating. I slowly started playing with different flavors and ideas and discovered how much fun and creativity lies in the kitchen… I really haven’t left since.

What inspires you to create recipes?:

Peppers Stuffed with Turkey and Brown RiceJulianna: I get my inspiration from the movies we choose!  I was a film major in college, and I love the way movies transport you to a specific time and place.  I like to create recipes to pair with my favorite movies because it just immerses you more, and in researching and testing the recipes we learn a lot about the period or country in which each movie is set.

Natasha: I am always inspired by things I don’t know well. When we pick a movie with a cuisine outside of my comfort zone I am the most excited to dive in, figure it out, and in turn help our viewers learn something new!

When did you create your channel?:

Julianna: Natasha and I started C&S a couple of years ago.  We had just moved into the same apartment and we wanted to combine our mutual love of food into a project together.  We were cooking all the time anyway, why not share our creations with the Internet!

Natasha:  I think Julianna summed it up pretty well.  Before we started working together I had another food blog, which I really enjoyed, but I missed the energy of another person. It is so much more fun to cook with a friend!  It just seemed to click and we haven’t stopped since we started!

What is one of your favorite go to recipes on your channel?:

Gluten Free French ToastJulianna: One of my favorite recipes we’ve ever made is our Creamy Chicken Korma that we made to go along with this adorable Bollywood film, Taare Zameen Par. We had never attempted Indian food before, so it took several tries before we got the recipe just right.  But wow, was the recipe testing fun, and now we have a chicken recipe that was love to make for friends!

Natasha: I believe that this is such a hard question to answer because we make all of our recipes based on the things we love to eat!  One of my favorite go to winter recipes is our Tortilla Soup, it’s easy to make, satisfying and a fan favorite.

What is one of your favorite ingredients to use? Why?:

Julianna:  I like to use ingredients that are fresh and in season.  I’m pretty obsessed with farmer’s markets, and I love to find new fruits and vegetables there that I never knew existed!  I also read this amazing book called “Animal, Vegetable, Miracle” a few years ago that is about a family that only eats what they grow themselves for a year, and that inspired me to eat more seasonally and locally.

Natasha: Olive oil and salt!  They enhance every savory dish and can transform a mediocre dish to awesome.  That being said, I like to use a really high quality olive oil for finishing dishes and a less expensive one for cooking.  The same goes for salt.

What is one piece of equipment you can’t live without in your kitchen? Why?:

Cinema and Spice 3Julianna:  The Vitamix!  It’s seriously the best.  I make soups, smoothies, shakes, sauces, dressings, pudding, cake batter, literally endless things.  Natasha and I even have a dairy free ice cream we make in our Vitamix.

Natasha;  Touché!  I can’t tell you how often we use our Vitamix!  Sometimes we rock, paper, scissors to see who gets to use it first!

A few encouraging words to other food lovers:

Julianna: If you love to cook, don’t be afraid to try new things!  Everyone (even the best chefs) fail sometimes, but more often than not, you will surprise yourself with how tasty the new recipe you’re trying is.  I feel like the food you make at home always tastes a little better (and usually is healthier) than the food you buy when you go out, so roll your sleeves up and experiment!

Natasha: The better and fresher your ingredients are, the more likely you are to succeed.  If you can use fresh items your dish will be terrific.  Fresh and local makes all the difference.  Don’t be afraid to let the ingredients shine and serve simple dishes.

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Cinema and Spice 2Be sure to check out these wonderful ladies on YouTube, Tumblr, and even Pinterest.

All photographs are from
Cinema & Spice

Food Blogger of the Month: February 2013

Hello everyone! I apologize for February’s Food Blogger of the Month being so late. I lined up an interview only to not receive word back for this month.

I was scrambling to find someone to replace the interview, until I made an obvious realization: I had a wonderful food blogger in my news feed who posted wonderful vegan food, and seemed fun and very passionate. I yelled at myself for not asking her sooner and sent a message right away.

Alexis from Sugar Coated VeganI was very excited when I received a prompt reply, and everything was set into motion very quickly.

This month I am interviewing Alexis of Sugar Coated Vegan, and I’m pretty excited about this one. Her blog not only looks amazing, but it actually is.

Her sweet recipes are simply amazing, and very inventive. Have you ever thought you could have vegan cherry cordials, because I certainly never have. She has proved to me that you can make almost anything into a vegan treat, and never have to sacrifice flavor to eat better.

Enjoy this month’s interview, and definitely check out Alexis and her lovely recipes.

When did your passion for food begin?

My passion for food began funnily enough when I become a vegetarian because I was forced to make meals for myself which gave me the chance to explore all various types of ingredients and spices. That step of independence brought me to this point of having to create something new because as a vegan you don’t want to just eat salads seven days a week.

What inspires you to create recipes?

Vegan Cinnamon Roll PancakesI love being able to bring all these different recipes to the public and being able to help convey the tools needed so they can create the dishes themselves. Also, personally a lot of my recipes come about when I’m craving something that I haven’t yet veganized so I like to look at the traditional components of the dish and use that base of the recipe to create something completely vegan out of it.

When did you begin blogging about food?

I started fairly recently, January 1st 2013. The beginning of the New Year!

What is one of your favorite go to recipes on your blog?

Vegan Marzipan TrufflesI love, love, love making the marzipan truffles and the cherry cordials! I can’t pick which is better because I adore both, haha. The marzipan truffles just remind me of my childhood and my mom who pronounced marzipan as “matzipan” and I absolutely loved cherry cordials before becoming a vegan so I jumped at the chance to veganize them.

What is one of your favorite ingredients to use?

For sweets, definitely almond extract the aroma is amazing and you need just little bit of it to add something special to your sweets. For savory dishes, garlic tastes good in just about everything! The smell of garlic and onion frying in a pan is one you can’t miss!

What is one piece of equipment you can’t live without in your kitchen?

Vegan Cherry CordialsFOOD PROCESSOR! 100% my food processor! I couldn’t live without it, haha. There are just so many versatile things you can do with it and it saves you so much in prep time. When I first looked at this question it was a toss up between a mixer and a food processor and there’s no way I could do half of my recipes without a food processor.

What are some encouraging words you’d like to share with other food lovers?

Don’t be afraid to explore and step outside of your comfort zone. Try recipes from every single part of the world! If you find your daily meals becoming monotonous just look up a dish from another place and play with it, test it out! Buy ingredients you’ve never bought before and try fruits you can’t even pronounce the name too!

As vegetarian, vegans and even meat lovers we have this amazing world that is so culturally diverse so why should we set ourselves up in these little food bubbles? Try everything, explore every flavor.

All images belong to Sugar Coated Vegan.

Please show her some support, you will not be disappointed.

Food Blogger of the Month: January 2013

Hello everyone and welcome to the second installment of Food Blogger of the Month!

This month I am featuring Lindsay Rey of Vegan Yumminess.

She is currently a stay at home mom, and decided to use her time at home to support something she loves: vegan food.Lindsay Rey

Her mission is to bring her readers delicious, and affordable vegan food; and boy does she ever deliver. Her blog is full of yummy looking recipes, and a lot of them can be made with things you probably already have on hand.

Judging from her pretty impressive list of recipes you might never have guessed she started blogging only a few months ago. She has also put out five new recipes since I contacted her earlier this month. Talk about impressive!

The questions that follow were sent to her in a survey format and was not a live interview. I felt it would be better for both of our schedules. Enjoy.

When did your passion for food begin?

I hesitate to write this, but my passion for food began with my passion for eating—at the ripe old age of two, when my mom tells me I would sneak up to the buffet table at parties and grab handfuls of butter mints, when I thought no one was looking. Even now, I have an embarrassingly huge appetite for a girl, and that appetite drives me to the kitchen day after day. But I like it that way. I think God instilled in each of us a natural desire for good food. As an adult, my desire to be healthy keeps me out of fast food chains and the candy section of the grocery store.

What inspires you to create recipes?

Curried Chick PeasCravings. I’m not pregnant, but I get cravings regularly—sometimes for vegan junk food and sometimes for more healthy options like salads and green smoothies. I don’t believe all vegan food is healthy, but I strive to create recipes that are vegan and that include nutrient-dense ingredients like colorful fruits and vegetables. Of course, we all have days when we just want to eat some vegan junk food, and I am no exception. Deep down inside, my passion is to create delicious and nutritious vegan food that doesn’t compromise taste or flavor.

When did you begin blogging about food?

October 3, 2012 is the day I wrote my very first blog post. I felt like a first grader learning how to read, and I still have so much to learn.

What is one of your favorite go to recipes on your blog?

Vegan Fettucine AlfredoRight now I have a few favorites. For breakfast, I would say, my recipe for banana walnut muffins is top notch. It is crunchy on the top, soft on the inside, and perfectly sweet.

For lunch of dinner, I have been addicted to my vegan fettuccine alfredo. Because I’ve been essentially eating vegan since I was five years old, I have never really tasted alfredo sauce. I’ve always wanted to make a vegan version, but tofu didn’t work (trust me). Enter coconut milk and cashews!
The creaminess and flavor of this recipe is delicious and full of natural fats and proteins.

What is one of your favorite ingredients to use?

My favorite ingredient changes regularly. A few months ago, I would say my favorite ingredients were black beans, limes, and cilantro. Now, I think my favorite ingredient has got to be coconut milk. It is so creamy, versatile, and flavorful. Yet, coconut milk readily takes on any flavor that you give it, which is why it can be used so easily in both sweet and savory dishes.

What is one piece of equipment you can’t live without in your kitchen? 

Tofu Spinach LasagnaMy Vitamix blender. To me, this is an essential for any vegan kitchen. I use mine pretty much every day, sometimes even several times a day. In order to turn cashews and coconut milk into cheese sauce or bananas and spinach into smoothies, you’ve got to have a powerful blender.

Some encouraging words to other food lovers.

Health and happiness are both greatly influenced by the food that we eat. I believe God has the power to help us make positive food choices so that we can live healthy, productive, and happy lives. As the the old proverb says, “Whoso keepeth his mouth and his tongue keepeth his soul from troubles.” Proberbs 21:23.

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Vegan Lemon CookiesAnother wonderful interview with another wonderful food blogger.

If you’ve been looking for vegan food that is tasty, and doesn’t feel like vegan food you have to check her out!

Vegan Yumminess

Also if you know of any other food bloggers who deserve recognition, let me know about them! I am always looking for more amazing people to feature here.

All photos in this article are from Vegan Yumminess

Food Blogger of the Month: Dec. 2012

Hello friends! Welcome to the first installment of a segment I am very excited about. Each month I am going to interview a different food blogger, who I think is top notch, to help my readers discover wonderful recipes, helpful tips, and new outlooks on food.

This month I got in touch with the creator of the first food blog I ever followed. It is such an honor to have her participation in my project.

The Lovely PigamithaPigamitha Dimar is the amazing writer, photographer, and cook behind Notions & Notations of a Novice Cook. She currently resides in Medan, Indonesia; and is a medical student. Where she comes up with the time to create wonderful food, photograph it, and put everything together on her blog as she goes through clinicals, studies, and attends class is a mystery to me.

Regardless of her busy life she does not disappoint on her blog. Everything looks and sounds completely amazing. She also photographs every step to ensure that her readers have a clear reference as they follow her recipes.

The questions that follow were sent to her in a survey form which was not a live interview. I figured it would be best for her to work around her schedule and give her a chance to answer at leisure. At any rate, enjoy the interview!

When did your passion for food begin?

Goodness, where do I begin? I was about 7 when I saw this movie that got me into the world of gastronomique. It was a scene where a guy came inside a diner looking for a job. The owner then asked him, “Do you know how to cook an omelette?

Ramen with a Beautiful Egg on topHe then started to chop up green peppers and onions, then he beat an egg with a fork inside a metal cup. He proceeded to make a fluffy omelette [in a whirl of movements] with soft centre, which the owner took a bite of. Of course, as it would in all movies, he got the job. And no, I never did find out the title of that movie. I couldn’t sleep after watching it. My first ever cooking escapade came about the next morning in the form of a messy sunny-side up. From then on I’ve continually raised the bar for myself in terms of techniques and the varieties of ingredients used.

What inspires you to create recipes?:

Creating recipes is actually a new experience for me. I used to cook by instinct and no measurements. After that it was all about altering others’ recipes that I found while browsing the internet. But as time goes, I wanted to create my own dishes and I find that it’s easier to recreate something if I write down exactly what and the amounts of things I put in.

When did you begin blogging about food?:

I had to go through my archives for this – it was on the 25th of November, 2009 🙂

What is one of your favorite go-to recipes on your blog? Why?:

Hoddeok (호떡)Hoddeok the possibility of things you can stuff inside that thing is pretty much endless.
(Author’s Note: How could you NOT want to eat those constantly in all shapes and forms??)

What is one of your favorite ingredients to use? Why?:

Flour, naturally. Because it’s the building block of the majority of food I make.
(Author’s Note: You can see why I like her food so much.)

What is one piece of equipment you can’t live without in your kitchen? Why?:

If I have to choose one, I think it’ll have to be a really good, stainless-steel, sharp knife.

Some encouraging words to share with other food lovers:

Everybody has to eat. So chances are each and every one of us already have some sort of experience in the kitchen and will have already known a recipe or two (unless, of course, you live in a sprawling mansion with butlers and maids at your disposal. But I digress…). Take that basic recipe for scrambled eggs and try throwing in ingredients like sautéed zucchini slices or sun dried tomatoes. It will really build up your confidence and will make you want to try to cook other things. As for food photography, 50% of it is trial and error. Some foods look good with a close up shot, others with overhead shots; it really comes down to you taking the time to get to know the dish and what angle it looks best in, just like you would with a human.

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Brioche BunsThere you have it. A wonderful interview from a creative and talented young woman. You can follow her at the link below, and I highly recommend you do so. I’ve never been disappointed by one of her posts, and I doubt you will be either.

Notions & Notations of a Novice Cook

All Photos in this article are from Notions & Notations of a Novice Cook