Girl Versus Dough

salmon + ravioli with lemon-garlic butter

salmon ravioli in bowl

Maybe it’s the 50-degree weather we had last week (I saw a patch of grass, you guys! GLORIOUS DAY). Maybe it’s because I had my baby shower this weekend and my family and friends and I all got to ogle over baby dresses together. Maybe it’s this playlist I’m listening to on repeat lately. Or maybe it’s this lemony, garlicky, buttery salmon I recently had for dinner. I don’t know. But things are definitely looking up.

Much as I love me some seafood, I really don’t cook much of it at home besides shrimp (and usually I buy the pre-cooked kind, so it’s kind of cheating). I’m not sure why — I mean, we don’t eat a ton of meat anyway, so I suppose when we do decide that today is the Day We Will Eat Meat, we usually go for chicken or, more deliciously, bacon. But this dish alone may change my ways because lemon-garlic butter.

I’m serious. This stuff is a game changer. It takes literally three ingredients and two minutes to prepare, and yet it makes almost anything taste like heaven on a plate. I’m considering making a bulk jar of it and just pouring it on everything — pasta, salads, hamburgers, a spoon that goes straight to my mouth. You get the idea. It’s so g-o-o-d.

cocktail rye bread + reuben dip

cocktail rye bread with reuben dip

Tell me I’m not the only one who grew up on those mini cocktail rye breads at holiday gatherings. You know the ones — they’re square-shaped and, well, mini and they perform like champs when it comes to bringing spinach dip from the bowl to your mouth. Sometimes they also make fun lil’ cucumber sammies. I love ’em.

I love them so much, in fact, that I fear the day when I will need them for a party and they will be all out at the grocery store (which probably will never happen, because I always see stacks and stacks of them by the deli counter, BUT STILL); or the day when I have a craving for them but there’s a blizzard outside (may it never be again this winter, though); or, more likely, when I’m too lazy to put on real clothes and walk out the door but I still want the cocktail rye bread yum yums.

This is my brain on pregnant.

Anyway, that’s how this homemade cocktail rye bread came to be. And the reuben dip is a bonus recipe because, well, what good is cocktail rye bread without a dip? You’re welcome.

food blogging as a career

food blogging career

I’ve been thinking a lot about whether or not to write this post. I suppose this is for several reasons: 1) I am not an expert in food blogging by any means (though is anyone, really, in this dynamic field? If you are, please introduce yourself so I may learn your ways); 2) I don’t feel like what I do for a living is a job as much as it is a passion and a hobby that I love in that deep-down, forever and ever way; and 3) because food blogging as a career looks so different depending on the person and his/her circumstances.

But I do sit here, today, in my yoga pants (#fancy) at my dining room table (a.k.a. “office”) and I’ve called myself a full-time food blogger for nearly two years, so I guess I’d better own it already and go forth.

In all seriousness, the reason I thought to write this post is because I often get asked what I do for a living and how I made food blogging a career for myself. It’s not like I don’t want to get another e-mail or message ever again about what I do and how I do it — please, puh-lease don’t think that! I like you. E-mail me. — but I thought it might be helpful for those who haven’t asked the question yet or, more likely, don’t want to receive an e-mail response from me to the tune of 2,000 words with a lot of “yay!”s and exclamation points (basically, I’m a long-winded tween in e-mail form). So instead, you get a blog post to the tune of 2,000 words.

Let’s do this.

1. How did you get started writing a food blog?

The answer to this question is given in more detail on my FAQ page, but basically, I was bored and unemployed and I needed somewhere to spout my thoughts and energies other than on my new husband, lest he head for the hills. I love writing and baking, so I combined my two loves into this lovely little space o’ internet.

P.S. If you’re interested in starting your own food blog, here is a handy three-step guide to help you out.

2. What is your background?

My degrees are in journalism and anthropology: journalism, because I was convinced from age 13 (yes, that young) that I wanted to be a newspaper reporter, and anthropology, because I ended up taking all of the classes for it (which allowed me to travel to Amsterdam and India during college, so no regrets). After college and a year of not-so-fun jobs at two coffee shops, I was hired as the arts and entertainment reporter for an Iowa City paper. I worked there for a little more than two years while also blogging, all the while slowly falling out of love with what I thought was my dream job (reporting) and slowly falling in love with what I discovered was my dream job (food blogging).

morning glory scones

morning glory scones on cooling rack

Well, you guys, not going to lie — it has been a WEEK. It started with a gigantimous to-do list on Monday after a few rough nights of sleep, followed by server issues on my blog (yay for tech problems I don’t understand! and for sarcasm!) and a few other hiccups in my days. But then it ended with these Morning Glory scones, so I’d say all is well and forgiven, Horrible Week.

Now let’s eat scones and forget about each other.

In case you don’t know what “Morning Glory” implies, it usually has to do with the magical medley of the following ingredients: carrots, apples, raisins, shredded coconut, chopped nuts and spices. Sometimes I see pineapple thrown in there, too, and I’m totally down with that.

mom’s egg salad

moms egg salad

I thought about naming this recipe something like “Smoked Paprika Egg Salad,” or “Simple Egg Salad with Chives.” You know, something unique-ish and impersonal and potentially more SEO-friendly, blech.

But that wouldn’t do this recipe justice, because the truth is that it is my mom’s egg salad recipe. And I think that title alone speaks volumes.

Between my mother’s recipes, my grandmother’s recipes and even my great-grandmother’s recipes (which are currently a mishmash of half-German, half-English chicken scratch on a handful of torn-out notepad pages that my family members are trying to translate into a cookbook to share with everyone, which I so hope works out because I reallllly miss her Black Forest cherry cake), I could fill this blog with posts until the end of time, no joke. It’s funny, because I never thought I grew up in a particularly culinary family — and in the classical sense, I didn’t. But I most definitely grew up around good food: food that has created memories and has withstood the test of time.

Like my Oma’s aforementioned Black Forest cherry cake that she would make for holidays, and my grandfather would always steal a maraschino cherry off the top before she’d serve it so it always looked a little funny once it made it to the table for dessert. Or my grandma’s boiled beef, which I admit is the worst name in the world but it is truly some of the most tender and delicious meat I’ve ever eaten and probably ever will eat and it never goes to waste at our family dinners. Or my dad’s chili — which, as you already know, is so good it has the potential of creating a booming business.

And of course, there’s my mama’s egg salad. It’s so simple, and yet it’s one of my favorite things that she makes.

maple cornbread waffles

maple cornbread waffles

These waffles have saved me from what may have been the longest breakfast rut of my life. MY LIFE.

It was all oatmeal with peanut butter + jam or berries for a while there, folks. And by a while, I mean months. Months and months of the same mushy bowl of goo.

OK that’s a bit of an exaggeration, because there was that one time I had this for breakfast and a couple of times doughnuts were involved. But otherwise — lots o’ oatmeal. I was starting to feel like my body was turning into 50 percent old-fashioned oats.

So thank heavens these waffles came into existence, as I am now made up of about 25 percent oats and 25 percent waffles. Much better.