An Interview with Meredith from The Food Yenta
From working girl to suburban stay-at-home mom, Meredith made a huge transition from dining at city restaurants to cooking family meals at home. Read about her foodie ways, where she finds some of her recipes, and her go-to recipe when she is in a hurry in our interview.
Tell us more about yourself, your family, and your website.
My name is Meredith and I write the blog “The Food Yenta”. In my previous life, before kids, I was a photographer/graphic designer/production designer but always a foodie. When my husband and I found out we were having our first child, my life changed. I went from being a full-time working city girl to a full-time suburban stay-at-home mom. I went from dining at fabulous restaurants at all hours of the night to learning how to cook a basic meal. Now I am a full time mom to two fabulous high-energy children who love to eat, run circles around me, and eat (did I mention that?).
When did you start The Food Yenta, and what does your site name mean?
The Food Yenta started back in 2010. At first the name was a complete joke. A friend of mine and I were having a casual conversation about starting a small catering business with all the extra time we didn’t have. In between the kids screaming and hustling around trying to “put out fires,” I mentioned we should call ourselves The Two Yentas. We had a good laugh and that night I wrote my first blog post.
Everyone has a different idea of what my name means. To me, a yenta is someone who likes to talk. Not just talk, but someone who likes to passionately talk about everything. I’m passionate about food. About eating food, growing food, finding local food and yes, eating local food. I try to cover it all, as I blog about certain traditional holidays and foods I grew up eating as well as my favorite sandwich or what vegetable I just picked from my garden.
What motivated you to start a food and recipe blog?
The real motivation came from my children. I don’t have the usual pizza, chicken nugget and french fry kids (although they love them). My kids are total foodies. They love to try new things, they love sushi (even though I would never touch raw fish) and they love veggies. The problem that arose was that no matter how much I loved cooking all these exciting dishes, I didn’t have the time, especially since I recently became a “soccer mom”. I needed to find ways to simplify dishes, use half the ingredients, and use all my local sources.
Where do you normally find your recipes? Do you often create your own recipes? What recipes have you created?
I find ideas for recipes through my piles of magazines. Did I mention I am a magazine hoarder? A trip to the food store for me is a chance to check out every new food magazine I can get my hands on. I also have an obsession with cookbooks. The problem I have, however, is that I can’t follow a recipe. My attention span is little to none. When I sit down and look through magazines I email or text myself ideas. If I see a pasta dish that looks interesting I take note of the main ingredients and go from there.
My friends and family are also huge inspirations. They too love cooking and good food. If they happen to come across something interesting, they text me (I have gotten text messages at midnight with new food ideas and pictures).
I basically create all of my own recipes. I take an idea and move on from there. I try to use as little ingredients as possible and try to shorten the cooking time, because let’s be honest, I don’t have hours to cook dinner.
What are some of your favorite dessert and bread recipes? Which do you find the easiest to make? Which dessert of yours never has any leftovers?
Up until recently, I really despised baking. It’s the whole measuring and following direction thing. I made a New Year’s resolution this year that every week I was going to bake something. And I did (until I gained about ten pounds). I realized baking is more of a science and that I needed to tune everything out and just pay attention. So that is what I did. I became more comfortable baking cakes and creating cookies. I just made crème brûlée for the first time a couple weeks back, it’s one of my favorites.
The one dessert that we absolutely love is brownies. My husband accidentally ordered ten boxes of Girl Scout cookies and I had to come up with something to get rid of them. Our favorite so far is the Caramel De-lite Brownies (made from Samoas).
When you are in a hurry to get some dinner on the table, do you have a quick go-to recipe?
One of our go to dishes here… anything that includes pasta. One of our favorites at the moment is penne alla vodka. I like to take the original recipe I posted and add bacon or mushrooms, and of course peas, they are one of our favorites.
What is one thing not many people know about you?
I really dislike raw chicken. I usually make my husband work with it. I sit and instruct and try not to look. It makes cooking chicken when he is not home kind of hard.
Do you have a motto or saying that you and your family live by?
Relax, eat and enjoy.
What are your top 5 tips for all moms?
Wow. 5 tips. Let’s see…
- Have patience. When it comes to food or just playing games, we all lose it sometimes and kids really know how to push all of our buttons. I close my eyes and take a deep breath. I try to remember that that my kids are newbies at life and everything comes in time.
- My mother-in-law gave me very good advice when I was pregnant with my son and freaked out about being a “mom”. Firm, fair and consistent. It’s a rule I live by and gets us through hard times.
- Let your kids get dirty. Whether it be a mud puddle or flour, it’s fun. After all, that’s why we have washing machines.
- Enjoy your kids, even during the worst of times because they grow up quick. It feels like yesterday my son was born and I was holding him in the hospital. Now…now, he’s graduating kindergarten and entering first grade!
- Coconut oil is great for cooking but it is also great for dry skin and eczema.