Today is another installment of Behind the Blog! As a refresher, I’ve teamed up with some amazing bloggers from several different niches to share what happens behind the scenes of our blogs. Today I’m interviewing fellow Behind the Blog participant, Erin of The Speckled Palate.
If you aren’t familiar with Erin’s food blog, The Speckled Palate, you are in a for a treat! She believes, “Life is too short to not eat good food.” And I completely agree. Erin and I interviewed each other for our respective blogs. (Check out my interview here!)
Enjoy Erin’s interview!
What is your favorite blog post?
Since I’m a food blogger who weaves stories into food posts, this is really tough!
I’m so proud of my Oven Fried Okra recipe and what a resounding success that is time and again. (Seriously. If you’re an okra fan, you HAVE to try it!) I love that a TV show inspired my Sweet and Spicy Cupcakes. And the story behind my Ham Goo Sandwiches always makes me laugh, and that recipe always hits the spot.
What advice would you give to a new blogger? (Or: If you were starting out today with your blog, what would you want to know from someone who’s been doing it for a while?
Blog for the love of sharing, the love of whatever you’re sharing and connecting with others, not for the potential to make money from home.
Quick! People are descending upon your house in an hour, and you’re hosting an impromptu get together. What do you do first? What do you cook? How do you decorate?
Throw on that kitchen apron and get to work! I keep puff pastry in my freezer quite regularly, so I’d whip up some pinwheels as an appetizer using various ingredients I found in my fridge or pantry. We also keep chips and salsa in our house at all times, so I’d pour some salsa into a serving dish and display the chips with it. I’d throw together some sort of drink — alcoholic or otherwise — and clear off the dining room table, which becomes our catch-all space during the weeks. We don’t really keep any decorations on hand at our house, so whatever seasonal decor I had out would have to work for the impromptu get together!
Where do you find inspiration?
Everywhere. I’m the type of person who keeps a notepad on the side of her bed to jot down ideas that strike me in the middle of the night. I’m also someone who will be watching a cooking show and be randomly inspired to make something that only vaguely looks like what the person on the show is making. I daydream dishes I want to create while running. I sometimes get a hankering for a dish, will check the fridge, freezer and pantry, and then make something similar to what I want, depending on what kinds of ingredients I have on hand.
Instagram. Hands down. Are you following me?
You just redesigned your site and it look amazing! What did that process look like? How long did it take?
Thank you so much! We did a complete overhaul, so not only did we just redesign the website, but we also redesigned my logo and branding materials. We started off with the branding. Casey, my designer, sent me a few questionnaires so she could get a feel of what I wanted out of the branding, what colors I liked, what I wanted my logo and the colors of my site to make people feel. That was our jumping-off point. From there, she did a few logo designs, I chose my favorite, she tweaked the design to my specifications (and several questions about this, that and the other), and that was it.
Then we got started on the website redesign. I had a Pinterest board that I shared with her where I had pinned several websites I adored, writing in the captions why I was drawn to the design. Casey sent another questionnaire about the site, took the sites I loved, and she built my new site from scratch.
The timeline was a bit longer than either of us expected because Casey was very pregnant when we began working together. Instead of rushing the launch of my new website design, we held off until she was back from maternity leave and could troubleshoot. The new site was launched in early June, about six and a half months after we started working together.
What is your favorite meal to make?
Recipe-wise, it depends on what I’m in the mood for. I’ll happily eat Mustard Chicken any night of the week, especially if I don’t have a ton of time to cook. If I have some more time, Chicken Pot Pie hits the spot, no matter how hot it is outside. I’m always down for Dark Chocolate Chip Cookies, too.
That said, my favorite meals are made with the people I love. There’s something communal about food, and it brings people together. I love feeding the people I adore, so there is nothing more enjoyable than being in the kitchen with them, talking about the food we’re cooking, making a meal together and then enjoying the fruits of our labor. Those meals are the best kind.
How has your journalism and mass comm degree aided you in your blogging?
I graduated from college believing I would work at daily newspapers or magazines for my career. I never could have imagined what would happen to the journalism industry after I graduated, nor could I foresee what blogs would become.
I’ve always loved to write, and having a space on the internet to talk about food is perfect for me. I’m able to share stories — one thing I adored about working in journalism, no matter if I was photographing spot news on a highway or snapping images of children playing in sprinklers for wild art on a slow news day — and tell them not only with my imagery, but with my words. While the real world is sometimes a brutal place, it’s comforting to have my own spot on the internet where I can talk about whatever I’d like, and that lightness is a lovely break from the news grind.
I’d like to credit my degree for making me a competent writer, for making me pay attention to the world around me, for making me want to make a difference and for making me want to tell stories, no matter if they’re big or small.
What are your best food photography and styling tricks when taking photos?
This is a tough question because there are so many things that go into food photography and styling, and it’s taken me years to figure out my personal style… and I’m still learning!
My advice? Study the photographs you’re drawn to. Make notations of what you like and what you don’t like. Here are some questions I’d ask myself:
- What does the background look like? Is this appealing?
- Is the image styled sparsely or are there lots of details/props used in it? Do the props and details enhance the overall image, or are they distracting?
- What looks good about the food itself?
- Does it look like something I can make at home?
- Would you want to eat the dish?
Bottom line: You want the food to be the star of the show. Set it up to be the star. Everything used in or around it should enhance it and draw you in and make you want to eat it.
How has your cooking style changed now that you are mom to the sweet Lady Baby?
My style hasn’t changed too terribly much, though I am spending less time in the kitchen these days, so I’m cooking dishes that are done in a short amount of time. I’ve also realized that I am making a lot more vegetable side dishes. Lady Baby loves, love, loves fruits, and I’m always trying to get her to try more vegetables. Since I’m striving to eat more vegetables, this is a fun challenge