une Gamine dans la Cuisine, an Interview with Valerie C.
Tell us more about yourself and your site. What motivated you to start blogging about food?
Aside from my addiction to baking, and an odd desire to share my sometimes awkward, clumsy, kitchen skills, starting a food blog was also therapeutic.
I didn’t always have a healthy relationship with food. There was a time when I avoided it, as much as possible. Running a food blog, and working in the kitchen several times a week, has helped me to grow as a baker, and a person. I make mistakes when I’m baking, and things don’t always turn out the way I had planned. I’m okay with that. And I’ve learned to be kinder to myself too. (I’m no longer the rigid perfectionist that I once was.) Thank you, deliciously crooked cakes.
Food is uniting, it comforts, it nourishes…it’s healing. I think that if we just stop, and actually savor food, good food, we’re left feeling much more satisfied, and content. How can anyone enjoy a piece of cake if they’re worried about how guilty they well feel later on? That’s just silly (and I should know, because I did it for years). Allow yourself to indulge once in a while, listen to your taste buds (they know what they’re doing), and please, don’t ever feel guilty about eating something that should be making you jump for joy with happiness.
My blog has thrown me way out of my comfort zone both personally, and in the world of pastries. I hope that people who visit will fell less intimated about baking and trying new things. And that it’s not the end of the world if your pie crust burns or your cookies spread out into one solid mass, or your jeans are a bit too tight. Just laugh, scrape off the bad parts, and savor the good.
Your site has a great variety of desserts. Where did your inspiration come from to find these recipes?
Most of the time I’m inspired by fellow food bloggers. I could spend hours browsing and drooling my way through TasteSpotting and Foodgawker. Other times, I’ll find inspiration in things that have nothing to do with food: When I’m stuck behind a yellow school bus, I crave lemony desserts. Potholes make me think of chunky cookies, and just about everything (trees, flower bushes, Scrubbing Bubbles commercials), makes me think of cupcakes.
Everything comes back to food. Everything.
You have many different recipes for cupcakes, cookies, ice cream, brownies, and cakes. What are your favorite recipes from each of these sections?
That’s a Sophie’s Choice kind of question. I have an ongoing love affair with lemons (with the occasional lime on the side). My current favorite cupcake recipe would have to be the lemon cupcakes with cherry buttercream frosting. They’re so happy, perky, and girly in their pretty pink frosting! Plus, I love the combination of lemon and cherry. (I like the combination of lemon and anything.) Sometimes people scoff when I say this, but I’m not a chocoholic. I’ll eat chocolate if someone leaves it sitting in front of my and I have no choice But to eat it. I just don’t actually crave chocolate the way a lot of people do. Having said that, I’m always up for baking with it, as long it’s dark chocolate, and not cloyingly sweet. The Guinness chocolate cupcakes are my second favorite. They are very moist and rich, and have the wonderfully deep, soft bitter undertones of Guinness. Of course the fact that they’re covered with Nutella cream cheese frosting ups the ante, slightly.
When it comes to cookies, it depends on my mood. Lemon and I are attached at the hip, so I have to include lemon almond cookies in my top list of favorites. But I’m always. Always, up for chocolate chip cookies. And, even though I’ve gone back and forth on this several times, I always return to the Cook’s Illustrated chocolate chip cookie recipe. It calls for brown butter, which is something I could inhale, happily, all day. And it’s a simple recipe…no crazy, torturing, 48-hour refrigeration time. Just a perfect, chewy, decadent chocolate chip cookie.
I’m not a huge brownie fan. (This is terrible coming from a food blogger, I know. Just blame it on my issues with chocolate.) Of course, on a blustery, rainy, autumn day, I’ll happily nosh on a salty caramel-drenched, fudgy brownie, or two. They’re just not high on my list of things-to-bake. Too much chocolate (yes, there is such a phenomena), makes my stomach hurt. I’d rather overindulge on something citrus-y.
Cakes and I have a rocky relationship. Multi-layer cakes dislike me. Ergo I stalk them, relentlessly. Even though I have yet to make a perfectly symmetrical cake, my favorite recipe is the coconut ginger cake, because should my affair with lemons ever fail, coconut is my safety net. And even though this particular cake refused to release it’s hold on the pan (or vice versa…I’ve got my eye on both), the uneven bits were easily disguised with frosting. Frosting and I get along beautifully.
What recipes do you recommend moms make for their family during the summer?
Unfortunately, I’m single, something my mom never fails to bring up at random when we’re on the phone, or meeting for lunch, or during the middle of holiday dinner….But, I don’t have to worry too much about planning meals. For as much as I love to cook, my heart belongs to baking. Unless it’s a special occasion, I’m usually content with risotto, pasta, or couscous. (I love my carbs!)
How do you save money while shopping for ingredients?
I try to avoid going shopping on an empty stomach. It’s also helpful to have a list. (I’m a classic impulse buyer, so a list in my hand is the next best thing to wearing blinders.)
What are you most looking forward to during the summer?
Aside from baking a ridiculous amount of pies and tarts (I love summer’s bounty of fresh fruits), I’m just going to relax, read a few novels, and enjoy the warmth. Summer always goes by far too fast!