Today’s “a day in the life” is Joelen of What’s Cookin’ Chicago? I loved learning more about Joelen, I think her culinary journey is fascinating.
Tell me about yourself and how you started food blogging.
I moved to Chicago from the northern suburbs for work. Shortly after, I got married and I started food blogging in January 2007 to capture the day to day recipes I would make at home. As a former suburbanite turned urban dweller, I loved checking out city restaurants… so naturally, I incorporated restaurant reviews on my blog in addition to daily recipes I’d make. I started to look for social groups that shared my passion in the various aspects of food and culture but didn’t find one that fit my needs. So with that, I created my own through a site called Meetup.com.
My culinary social group grew from 3 members present at the first meeting up to over 6,000 in a matter of 3 years where meetings and events took place as often as 9-12 times a month…. Sometimes twice in one day!
I hosted culinary events from neighborhood food tours/crawls, themed dinner and potlucks, restaurant visits, informal cooking sessions at home, etc. Eventually my culinary social group expanded to creating a group dedicated to wine and spirits. When I had my son, I went on to create a group dedicated to moms and children with a focus of kitchen playdates and encouraging learning in the kitchen. In essence, I wanted to capture the way food really impacts all our lives and how it truly can connect everyone regardless of our age, backgrounds, etc. All these experiences were shared on my blog in addition to the daily recipes I made at home.
It’s no surprise that my culinary perspective grew beyond what I knew as the daughter of retired caterers. I went on to culinary school, was an executive chef for a Chicago ethnic restaurant for a brief period. With a baby, entertaining to foodie strangers in my home wasn’t an option so I moved into teaching informal, yet fun and interactive culinary classes around the city and with private clients.
It’s been such a fun and exciting culinary adventure and although I closed my culinary social groups to focus on my family, my blog still captures the various things I do in and out of the kitchen, around the city and suburbs and with my little sous chef son.
Take me through your day.
6am – I wake up & begin our morning routine for me and my toddler, Joel.
7am – I’m out the door to drop off Joel at daycare & I head to work .
8am – 4:30pm – I’m working at a large pharmaceutical benefit management firm where where I create and manage formularies (drug lists) for Medicare D clients/patients.
4:45pm – I pick up Joel from daycare & head home.
5:15pm – 5:30pm – We arrive at home & settle in to prepare dinner. I have an amazing boyfriend, Patrick, who helps out a lot by preheating the oven and starts on dinner before I get home. Usually I’ll prepare weekly meals in advance so all I need to do after a long day is to pop things in the oven or cook briefly on the stovetop.
6pm – We all have dinner together & catch up on our day.
6:30pm – We all clean up after dinner/dishes.
7pm – I change my little guy into pajamas and start our bed time routine.
7;30pm – Joel is in bed and I finally get a chance to relax watching tv, a dvd or just relaxing and spending time with Patrick.
9pm – Patrick heads home, I do some light prep for the next night’s dinner, do any domestic chores I can and then start my bedtime routine.
10pm – In bed and hopefully sleeping…. So I can do it all over again the next day
My blogging/schedulingand bulk of my meal prep happens on the weekends when Joel is visiting with his dad, which is every other weekend. I tend to use the weekends for grocery shopping, meal planning, preparing freezer meals/make ahead meals so that dinner only requires minimal effort during the week.
What is your one must-have kitchen tool or gadget?
A sharp knife! continue reading…