Hi folks. I have such a special treat for you today. First for any new readers I'll explain the basic premise of "Burning Down the Kitchen". Each week I pick a different recipe I've bookmark during my weeks doing my "Lunatic Love These Links" series, I will make that recipe and to add some extra fun will interview the person's who's recipe it is. So if your name has come up on my baker's dozen picks over the past year I may be coming for you next!!
Today's featured blog is Pass the Sushi, which is run by the lovely Kathleen aka Kita. The special bonus this week is Kita also owns Silhouette Graphics where she does web and graphic design. Kita is the one who moved my site from blogger to wordpress and made some design tweaks for me to get me by until I can afford a much larger scale project. She did an amazing job moving me and getting the site looking better. So we're talking food then we're going to talk design and moving platforms. So hold on to your hats people this one is going to be a riot. Kita was up for anything I asked and I had a blast doing this interview with her. Without further ado I give you this week's:
BURNING DOWN THE KITCHEN WITH PASS THE SUSHI:
Kita is the mastermind behind Pass the Sushi. She makes the most delicious food and tempts us further by taking remarkable photographs. I think I've bookmarked at least half of her recipes. Her food is elegant, accessible and delicious. To me that's a winning combo. You can find Kita on Twitter, Facebook, Google Plus, Pinterest, and Stumble Upon. She also has a store on Etsy called Frosting and Lace Aprons which obviously sells aprons. She is a go getter this girl. Everything she does, she does well. I love her most recent post of Thin Mint Trifles, and also her Sloppy Joes, and Cherry Coke Cupcakes, and Bubble Up Pizza, and Red Velvet Krispy Treats, seriously I could on like this all day long. So here is Kita and I know you will all fall in love with her the same way I have.
RAPIDFIRE Q & A WITH KITA FROM PASS THE SUSHI:
1. What got you started blogging?
I wanted to see progress in my cooking skills. It was a challenge to myself to prepare two new meals a week. To expand my horizons. They say if you write something down or tell someone your goals, you are more likely to succeed, I guess this was my way of not letting myself get stuck in the same 5 meals over and over again.
2. What's your fave part of it?
The food! I love to eat.
3. What's your least fave part of it?
The drama. Food blogging is great, most of the people are great, but you know how it goes with all good things. The anonymity of the internet can make people behave in a manner that they wouldn't if it was in your own kitchen.
4. Do you have a favourite post you've done?
Not that I can think of off the top of my head. There have been many posts I am proud of, my sausage making one for starters, http://passthesushi.
5. Do you have one you posted that the readers reactions to surprised you, good or bad?
I had to think on this one for a moment, but yes. This apple cake, http://passthesushi.com/
6. What is your best dish you make for family and friends?
It has to be this Cajun Pasta or my fajitas. I make a damned good fajita. I am going to be updating the pasta and re-posting soon. Please don't go looking for it now... that was in the waaay back days.
7. Are you a sweet or savory kind of gal?
Savory - every. single. time.
8. Anything you won't eat?
Not yet. I am usually willing to try anything once, and so far have stuck to that goal. If it was still alive and moving about, I may not be able to handle it though.
9. What was the best restaurant you've eaten at, and what did you order?
That's a hard one, but I think the most impressed I have been was at the Pig+Fish in Rehobeth. For being a beach joint, the food was killer and the portions were for real people. I that that is the only time I have ever orders curry while at the beach. We've been back several times since, and when I am up to chewing (just had my wisdom teeth out) that's where I want to celebrate. There, and with a slice of pizza from D'Lorenzo's in Port Deposit.
10. Worst kitchen mishap?
Lol, orzo. Damn, that tiny box makes a lot of pasta. And that lot of pasta likes to hop about every which way from Sunday as the water boils over. I'm pretty sure I could still pick orzo out of a place or two.
11. Pepsi or coke?
Pepsi Max. It's my crack.
12. Butter or margarine?
13. Chicken or beef?
Beef. Chickens healthy and all, but is there really any competition?
14. Candy or chocolate?
Dark chocolate (that could have been an inappropriate joke - see I am socially acceptable) 😉
15. Veggies or fruit?
Veggies. I think we didn't have fruit as a kid in my household so now the texture really freaks me out. I am trying to learn to enjoy it, and am introducing new fruits to my house regularly, but at the end of the day I will always be a veggie girl, unless we can throw peppers in the veggie category.
16. You just got dental work done, what's the first thing you wanted to eat after?
Holy Jebus.... everything. But seriously, a cracker sounded like the best thing in the world. You don't even realize how many food commercials there are on TV until you can't open your mouth or chew for a few days. Then, that new Dorito taco from Taco Bell looks pretty damned tasty.
17. If you could cook with one famous chef/cook who would it be and what would you make?
I think Anne Burrell and I have the same bit of snarkiness that could either go well or end in flames. I have to say, I'd totally cook with Symon or Batali in a heart beat though. They both have charisma and don't seem like they would be too condescending while you learned. As far as what we were cooking, anything they want!
18. Apron or no apron?
Aprons 😉 or a classy kitchen towel sticking out of my back pocket. I am always in jeans and will forget some times that I've shoved a towel in my pocket until someone says something. I tell them I'm just flashing my gang colors.
19. Do you have a favourite kitchen toy?
My meat grinder. What girl wouldn't have bounced off of the walls after getting that for Valentine's Day. No, not man? Well, my man knows me.
20. You take such beautiful photos, what camera do you use and do you have any tips for the rest of us?
I use a Nikon D3000. I have no proper training and I can't tell you what the difference between a F-stop or an ISO is, but I wrote a post once when a few people asked for tips that you can check out, http://passthesushi.com/
I gave Kita 3 options to choose from and god love this girl she did all three. So I am going to post all 3 because I am so impressed with her willingness to have fun with this.
Dare #1- 1. Show us your kitchen while cooking up a storm!
Dare #2- Show us the inside of your fridge (without cleaning it up and pulling out the bad stuff, lol)!
Dare #3- Show us your junk food stash!
Okay are you loving this gal too! I am digging the red appliances. I love that her fridge is packed to the gills. And Kita that is SO not junk food. I now know why you look like you do and I look like I do. That is one healthy junk food stash. Thank you so much for being so open to the dares.
Now as promised I ask Kita to help me out by doing some advice from both of our perspective on designing and moving blogging platforms. This is what Kita had to say about it.
Tell us 10 things people should know before moving blogging platforms or redesigning their sites from a designer's perspective:
1) Have a clearly defined plan for your blog. Even the best design will not make a website great if the content isn't updated and of a quality people will be compelled to read.
2) Write down exactly the pages you want, and start to figure out what you will put on them. It's not your designers job to make up text for your site. They just make it pretty 🙂
3) Don't panic, freak out, or be crazy. If something breaks while moving, I fix it. It can happen, sometimes it does, sometimes it doesn't but these aren't just files on your computer any more and things can happen. A good designer will find a solution and take care of it rapidly.
4) Don't be afraid to be outspoken. The best customers I have know exactly what they want, even go as far as to hand draw a little picture and will give clear directions of colors and locations. Nothing is more complicated than going back and forth for 14 emails because the color wasn't what you had in mind. Tell us up front. It's ok, I promise.
5) Talk to your friends, look at blogs you love, figure out what it is that makes you love them. Use those as pointers for your designers. No one wants to copy anyone else's site, but as a designer I may be able to pick up on what your expectations are by looking at examples you like.
6) Have a contract. I tend to get a little lackadaisical about this myself it is a friend or a rush job, but contracts help both you and the designer understand defined expectations and dates. They are there to protect both of you.
7) You get what you pay for. If you want a theme that is out of the box, you can purchase one. If you want a theme that suits you, you are paying an educated, skilled, artist who will have the keys to your castle. It's like all investments - you pay for quality.
8) Have an agreement ahead of time about the amount of time you will have learning your new dashboard with your designer there to help you. WordPress and blogger are different and there is an adjustment period. Is your designer going to help you or just give you the keys and bounce? I try to be very accommodating for this. I understand it's a big change and am not bothered with questions.
9) Know that the first draft is just that. It's just a sketch of the site - the place holder images aren't finalized - the text is just something we put in to show you where things go. You won't believe how many people are like, 'but that's not a picture I want to use.' Yes, but it shows you where the picture is going.
10) Listen to your designer. If they suggest something, it's probably for a reason.
Now I'll share my thoughts as a site owner. It's funny how similar our suggestions are. I commend Kita for not physically harming me for breaking all of her suggestions!
10 things people should know before moving blogging platforms or redesigning their sites from a site owner's perspective:
1. Decide on your basic colour ideas before you start.
2. Have a basic idea of font before you begin.
3. Know your budget. Discuss this with your designer. There's still things you can do on a tight budget.
4. Do some research before you start. It didn't matter to my design but one of the things I learned while looking into moving platforms is the read more option can cause havoc in a move.
5. Be clear what you want. The designer is there to help so be descriptive and concise.
6. Look at other sites to get an idea of what you love and what you don't love. This can be very helpful when trying to make something clear but you don't know how to explain it. You can say I like this about site A but I don't like this about site B. It's a great way for those of us who are not techie to explain ourselves.
7. Expect some down time and tell your readers. Moving and redesign takes time. Don't try to rush it. (*cough* like me *cough*)
8. Expect some bumps in the road. Not every move is seamless. There can be issues that arise. Trust your designer to deal with them.
9. Do not panic over every little thing. (*cough* like me *cough*)
10. Communicate!!! Cannot stress this one enough. Kita was amazing through the process. I really had a hard time adjusting to wordpress and she was great working with me. It's super important to have an open line of communication and don't be afraid to talk issues through. Your working relationship should be open and friendly at all times.
So that's it in a nutshell. Hope this helps people who are considering a redesign or moving from blogger to wordpress. I have to admit wordpress baffles me a little bit, but every day I get a little more adventurous. I like to try to make small changes and tweak things. So it's all about learning.
Kita's design website is called Silhouette Graphic. She offers services that range from business cards to print ads to blog design. She does web design, graphic design, site renovations and jazzing things up. You can view her portfolio and see for yourself how talented she is. She also has a handy dandy contact form that you fill in an inquiry. I really hope you take the time to stop by and check her site out. Whether you have a small or large budget, Kita can make your site prettier, more functional, and just sizzling and shnazzy! And I mean who doesn't want their site to sizzling and shnazzy right! So rush over and fill her inbox with requests. Nothing would make me happier!
Thank you so much to Kita for playing along and letting me feature her today. This lady is a dynamo. I love everything about her. Her cooking, her design, her atttitude. And she emails me and tells me she's doing things in manana which makes me howl with laughter every single time. It's just so cute and reminds me of the my favourite muppet video, Mahna Mahna. Now every time I see that video I think of Kita.
So I made Kita's buckeyes for this feature. I was heading out to Orlando so I wanted something we could take with us. I've since made them again because they are just so darn good. This time I added a little twist to them. I used the Biscoff I found in the states instead of peanut butter. Can you say BAM? Omg so good. I am in love. With a buckeye. I'll name him Biscoff. Maybe call him Biff for short. A girl's gotta have her loves right.
I have to say Kita's photos of hers made with peanut butter are way better than my pics. So go check out her Buckeyes Recipe. Her photos will blow your mind. With her permission here's one for you to drool over:
Didn't I tell you she takes awesome photos. Not only a fabulous cook but an amazing photographer. Mine do not look like this. Just warning you now. This is my version below made with Biscoff instead of peanut butter:
Yup I know, I desperately need that new camera. Time's a ticking people. Tick tock, tick tock. I can just picture my life with a shiny new camera. It'd be perfection. Me, my camera and Biff. *sigh*
- ¼ cup cream cheese softened
- 1 ½ cups Biscoff
- 1 cup graham crumbs
- 3 cups confectioners sugar
- 10 tablespoons butter melted and cooled
- 12 ounces good quality dark chocolate broken into bits, I used Scharffen Berger Limited Edition Bentre
- In your mixer with paddle attachment combine the cream cheese and Biscoff.
- Add the graham crumbs and beat for about 10ish seconds.
- Add your confectioners sugar and butter, beat again. Start slow and build speed once sugar is blended in.
- Scrape sides of bowl and beat again.
- I made the balls and put them in the freezer for a couple of minutes to set them before dipping.
- In a double boiler, or pot with glass bowl over it, melt your chocolate.
- Line a cookie sheet with parchment.
- Now dip your balls into the chocolate with a fork or a skewer. Roll around until almost all coated.
- Now place on the cookie sheet to set.
- You can drizzle more chocolate over top if you like.
- Put them in the fridge for about 30 minutes to set.
- Serve with a big Biscoffy, Biffy smile.
I will make these again and again. They are just so yummy. I like them with peanut butter. I like them with Biscoff. I like them with dark chocolate. I like them with milk chocolate. So basically I just like them. Alot!
Hope you enjoyed this edition of Burning Down The Kitchen. I know I had a blast working with Kita on this. Make sure you stop by her blog and her design site. You will not be disappointed. I love the girl to bits.
Toodles and smoochies! xx