I am so pleased to bring you another edition of Burning Down The Kitchen. It’s a weekly series where I have the pleasure of interviewing a fellow blogger. Not only do I interview them but I invite them to do dares. Then I make a recipe of theirs I’ve bookmarked. I hope to show people that anyone can cook anything, and it does not have to look exactly like the photo in the recipe to be good. You can adapt recipes to your own taste, tweak them and make them your own. Trust me, if I can do it you can too. Be brave, tackle those recipes and have fun with them. The kitchen is not a scary place, it’s a place to let your creativity flow. So get in there and tear it up folks. You will thank me.
BURNING DOWN THE KITCHEN WITH CASSIE FROM BAKE YOUR DAY:
I have the very distinct honour of having Cassie from Bake Your Day with us today at the asylum. Cassie has been here before. She’s a sweet blogging buddy of mine. She did a guest post for me and made a Green and Black Olive Tapenade that was spectacular. What I love about Cassie is how genuine she is. She’s just a nice person, the kind of girl you want to hang out with and spend girlie time with. She is always kind and supportive of fellow bloggers. She has such a positive outlook on life. She has a weekly segment called Ramblings that I just love to stop in on. She posts photos and shares her life with her readers. It’s why we all connect with her so much. She’s down to earth and real. Plus she’s an amazing cook. I have oodles of her recipes bookmarked. So it was hard to narrow down what I wanted to make. Everything she makes looks so good. I recently drooled like a maniac over her Birthday Layer Cake. Her Cinnamon Bun Pie brought me to my knees it’s so gorgeous. Her Oreo Cheesecake Brownies are seriously drool inducing. Her Tiramisu makes me want to cry, from sheer joy. Her Spicy Black Bean Burgers makes my mouth water. Her Buffalo Chicken Pizza is a thing of beauty. She made Thai Chicken Lettuce Wraps with Honey-Peanut Drizzle that will knock your socks off. Her Classic Chili is a sight to behold, you must check it out. She makes a Biscoff Banana Grilled Cheese that has me mesmerized it’s so pretty. I am digging her Spicy Buffalo Mixed Nuts in a big way. Every thing she does, she does well. She makes beautiful food, and takes gorgeous photos. I think Cassie is a rare gem in the blogging community. To find someone so genuinely kind is not something I take for granted in my life. Cassie will be a friend of mine for life. I know when you meet her you feel exactly the same way.
Rapidfire Q & A with Cassie from Bake Your Day:
1. How did you get started blogging?
I discovered food blogs a few years ago and kept thinking that I should do it, but it took a while to work up the courage, and find the time to do it. There are so many amazing blogs and bloggers out there that I didn’t know if I would really have a place. I finally took the plunge with the encouragement of my wonderful husband Paul. Bake Your Day was born on a snowy winter day in Kansas City when there was nothing to do but cook a big pot of homemade chicken and noodles. I happened to photograph it, type out the recipe, pressed publish, and haven’t looked back.
2. What would you say your favourite part of it is?
The most surprising part of blogging is that the whole experience is so much more than just a food blog…I have met some amazing people and have learned so much. I have fallen in love with photography, with writing, with blogging, and even more in love with food than before. I think my favorite part is pushing myself to step out of my comfort zone.
3. Is there anything about it you find challenging?
The biggest challenge for me is finding time to fit everything in during the day. I sometimes, as most bloggers do, go through spurts that highly lack creativity. I find it challenging to just ride through those waves and wait for them to pass, as they always do.
4. How did you come up with the name of the blog?
It was the work of my creative husband. I had been talking about starting a blog for probably six months. I don’t remember what we were talking about…I was thinking along the lines of “make my day” or “make your day”. And he said, “what about bake your day for a blog?” It stuck. And I love the play on words. When I have a bad day, it can be completely turned around by a little time with my KitchenAid and some butter. The kitchen is my happy place!
5. Do you find working and blogging difficult to balance?
Yes and no. During the summer, I can photograph in the evening and still have great light. I usually do a lot of cooking and baking for the blog on the weekends and then I edit photos and write posts during the week. So the actual hands-on, in-the-kitchen part is easy to balance. It’s the social media aspect that is a little more challenging at times to keep a good balance. Internet life can easily take over if I am not careful.
6. Have you always loved to cook?
Yes I have. I literally grew up in the kitchen alongside my mothers and grandmothers. And I can have been watching cooking shows on television for as long as I can remember. I grew up on Midwest comfort food like fried chicken and mashed potatoes and desserts like Texas sheet cake. I have a deep love for food but my love for actually cooking the food is unmatchable.
7. What about photography, has that always been a passion of yours?
Not really. I took one photography class in high school where we shot with old Minolta SLR cameras, real film, and developed the film in the school’s lightroom. I always loved it but didn’t spend too much time getting into it. When I started the blog, I started with a Sony CyberShot point and shoot camera. Last winter, I upgraded to a Canon Rebel T2i and most of the photography on my blog is shot with a 50mm f/1.8 lens. I shoot in natural light; use a white foam board to bounce light and style photographs with random placemats and napkins that I pick up at thrift stores, World Market, Pier 1, Crate and Barrel, Sur La Table, and the like. I still have a lot of growing to do when it comes to photographs. I think I learn something new each time I pick up my camera. The only tip that I am even halfway qualified to give is this: photograph, photograph some more, and some more, and then some more. The more you do it, the better you become.
8. Run us through a typical day in the life of Cassie.
My alarm goes off at 4:45; out of bed at 5am. Leave for the gym at 5:15; get to the gym at 5:40; workout until 6:45 or 7; shower and to work by 8 until 5. I work for a local health insurance broker where I manage wellness programs for our health insurance clients. I try to keep up with Twitter, blog reading, responding to emails and comments throughout the day when I have a few extra minutes. I head home at about 5 and with traffic it takes 30-45 minutes. I usually tidy up our loft, cook dinner while chatting with my husband; then we clean up dinner and sometimes we will hang out while he watches TV and I edit photos/write posts for the next day; sometimes we will take a walk in our neighborhood; last night we went to a concert down the street; sometimes we take a motorcycle ride; other times I fall asleep on the couch by 9pm and then do it all over again the next day!
9. You have struck such a nice balance between healthy and indulgent posts. I know you take good care of your body and your mind. Any advice for others how to live a healthy, balanced life?
You nailed it – it’s all about balance. I love the idea of living life well and that definitely means that we should get to indulge in little pleasures, but it also means that we should treat our bodies well by exercising, getting enough sleep, managing stress, etc. Food fuels us and we should look at it as a gift that provides energy to live the best life that we can live. It brings pleasure, it builds community and it just tastes good, but too much of a good thing can…you know the saying. From a wellness perspective, live by the 80/20 rule. That is, keep a balanced, healthy diet and exercise regimen 80% of the time, and understand that it’s then OK to indulge in moderation the other 20%.
10. What advice would you give to a new blogger just starting out?
Just blog about what you love. There is no mold. Be yourself and show your readers who you really are. Don’t be afraid to tell stories, to be vulnerable and to put yourself out there to share the real person behind the screen. It’s your blog, and you are free to be YOU.
11. Biscoff, Nutella or Peanut Butter?
I am fully and whole heartedly in love with Biscoff spread. There is no other spread in my eyes.
12. Milk Chocolate, Dark Chocolate or White Chocolate?
I have a soft spot in my heart for white chocolate.
13. Beer or wine?
Wine – I love merlot and cabernet sauvignon; white – give me some pinot grigio or chardonnay, especially in the summer!
14. Pepsi or Coke?
I don’t drink soda – I just don’t like it. I’ll take a nice tall glass of unsweetened iced tea or a steaming mug of black coffee!
15. White cake with white frosting or chocolate cake with chocolate icing?
White with white, and maybe a little almond! That was our wedding cake…see #12. When given the choice, milk chocolate is always second.
16. If you were having me over for dinner what would you whip up for us?
We would fire up the grill and have KC strips (because you would be in Kansas City!) with grilled veggies (our fave!) and wild mushroom risotto (because risotto is my favorite thing to cook!)
17. If you could do a guest spot on any cooking show which one would it be and why?
Any cooking show? This is a new question, I really had to think about it. I think I must say Good Eats because I love food science and Alton Brown is stinking amazing, so smart and I would love to learn more from him!
18. If you could eat dinner anywhere in the world where would it be and with whom?
It would be somewhere in the Mediterranean, like Greece. I love Greek food, the flavors, the ingredients and their overall diet is one that I absolutely adore. There is an eclectic group of folks I’d like to dine with:
Eleanor Roosevelt – her gumption and drive have always inspired me.
My Grammy – I just miss her a lot.
Jesus – there are many questions that I would love for him to answer.
Julie Child. I want to live inside her brain.
Ina Garten. I love her cooking style and she is so classy.
And of course my hubs, my mom and the cast of Friends. I still miss that show.
19. Apron or no apron?
I have an adorable apron but I always forget that I have it so I rarely wear it. But when I remember, I do throw it on.
20. Where do you see yourself in 5 years? Is blogging still a big part of the picture?
Absolutely. I don’t think I will ever fully give it up. In what capacity will I be blogging in 5 years? I am not sure on that one. I think within the next 5 years Paul and I will probably have a little one, and adding a child will add another dimension to the balance of blogging. I have hopes of continuing to build my blog and freelance food writing and recipe development to be able to work in our home, especially for when we have children.
Didn’t I tell you that you would fall in love with her. I love all of Cassie’s answers but #18 really rings true to me about who she really is. She’s so open and honest, with such a kind heart. I hope you enjoyed getting to know her better. I know I had a blast working with her again.
I chose to make Cassie’s Taco Seasoned Pretzels. I know this is such an odd choice when her blog is full of scrumptious baked goods. I did it for two reasons. First is I was instantly drawn to it. I love tacos and I love pretzels so having something called Taco Seasoned Pretzels is going to draw me in. I could not get them off my mind. I don’t have a ton of snack recipes so this was also influencing my decision. The second reason is it’s too dang hot to turn on the oven these days. We’re in the middle of a heat wave so I was looking for something that I could avoid turning on the oven for and making my house scorching hot. So when I saw these little beauties I remembered I did Slow Cooker Party Mix back in December. So it stood to reason I could do these pretzels in the slow cooker as well. And I could. And I did. And I ate ‘em all up. Cuz they’re tacos and pretzels all rolled into one. Which to me is like saying here have a bite of heaven. I’m not sure you’d want to bite heaven, but if you did this might be what it tastes like. Okay so I’m not making any sense. I’ve had buckets full of Taco Seasoned Pretzels so you’ll have to forgive me. You must try these. Honestly, you will love them. And the side bonus of not having to turn on your oven. Once the weather cools down I’m making the Birthday Layer Cake. But until then it’s all about the Taco Seasoned Pretzels.
Cassie is involved with Tomato Love Recipe Exchange. You can get involved with it and read more about it on Cassie’s site. Cassie is hosting this with Ali of Gimme Some Oven. You can share tomato recipes on your blog if you have one. If not comment on their blogs, or others participating. This campaign is also to help raise awareness for the International Justice Mission’s Recipe for Change campaign. The Fair Food Program has been developed to make a zero tolerance policy for slavery, child labor and harassment in Florida tomato farms. I think it’s an amazing program. So much so that I am planning on getting involved myself. I received an email asking if I’d like to be part of Food Bloggers for Slave Free Tomatoes. I will be joining them and posting on July 24th to help raise awareness for this great cause. So thank you Cassie for putting the word out there for more of us to get involved. It’s people like you that inspire the rest of us to get involved and take action. I’m proud to call you a friend, and honoured to be one of yours.
I encourage all my readers to head over to Bake Your Day and follow Cassie. You can also find her on Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest. You will adore this lady so much. She is an amazing cook and a wonderful writer. Make sure you stop by her blog to say hello.
Thank you to Cassie for allowing me the pleasure of interviewing you. You were a joy to work with again. I loved getting to know even more about you. I think I definitely need to work on my 80/20 thing, I think I got them mixed up which could explain a lot of why I look like me and you look like you.
Toodles and smoochies! xx