Another must-follow, people! Plus she’s writing a cookbook! Be on the lookout for Cookies + Cream!
Tell me about yourself and how you started food blogging.
I started my food blog in April of 2009 after I realized that I needed some creative way to remember and share the information I had learned from the hours spent watching the Food Network and reading cookbooks and food magazines. I was beginning college and feeling uninspired by my Communications major. About a year after starting my food blog I decided to enroll in culinary school. Starting Handle the Heat has been one of the best decisions of my life; it led to a cookbook deal and what I hope will be a rewarding career in the food world.
- 7:00 AM Wake up
- My culinary classes have all been at nighttime and my regular academic classes have been online so I have the pleasure of waking up naturally without an alarm. I’ll usually have breakfast straight away, which has lately been 2 whole-wheat waffles with peanut butter, fruit, and a glass of almond milk.
- 7:30-9 Computer time
- After breakfast I’ll usually get onto the computer to check my email, comments, Facebook, Twitter, and to make sure my post went up if I had one scheduled. If I have time-sensitive work to get done for school I’ll try to get that completed so I won’t have it looming over me all day. If I need to get groceries at the store I’ll do this now.
- 9-9:45 Workout
- I try to workout 3-5 times a week. I will usually do a workout DVD or follow a YouTube video, as I don’t have a gym membership. After a workout I always make a smoothie with my beloved Vitamix. Lately it’s been apple, banana, frozen pineapple, spinach, and almond milk.
- 9:45-12 Recipe Testing
- If I’m working on recipes I’ll get started now so that I can use the daylight to photograph. I try to post 3 recipes a week but often I’ll make a recipe and decide I don’t love it, so sometimes I have to get through a few failed attempts or weak recipes before I find one that’s suitable for posting. When I was testing recipes for my cookbook I was in the kitchen literally all day long, and making daily trips to the grocery store. Just testing recipes for the blog is much less time consuming thankfully. If I don’t have recipes to make or a shift at my part-time job I’ll take our puppy to the dog park so he can burn off some energy.
- 12-1 Lunch
- Days with recipe testing always leave interesting food selections for lunch, but it’s a good way to taste test everything! I like to catch up on the previous night’s television shows while I eat. I am completely obsessed with Homeland.
- 1-4 Random work
- During the afternoon I try to finish making and photographing recipes, clean the kitchen, edit photos, write posts, write recipes, make grocery lists, and do schoolwork. A couple of times a week I try to get out of the house so maybe I’ll go to lunch with my boyfriend or a friend or go (window) shopping.
- 4-10 School
- If I have a culinary class I’ll start getting ready now and have a snack before driving to school. I’m still not used to going to school at night, even after several semesters. It always feels strange! If I don’t have class I’ll start thinking about what to make for dinner and spend some time mindlessly surfing Pinterest, Food Gawker, YouTube, etc. or I’ll read a book. If my boyfriend isn’t touring with his band we’ll have dinner together or maybe go catch a movie or something fun while he’s home.
What is your LEAST favorite part of the day? Why?
Dishes. There are always so many dishes to do after recipe testing. Then I go to culinary school and there’s even more dishes! It’s endless.
If you could choose one room in your house to spend the WHOLE day in, which room would it be? Why?
I’d be torn between the kitchen and my office. I’m actually lucky enough to spend much of my time between those two places. My boyfriend and I moved into a house a couple of years ago from a 1-bedroom apartment so it’s really nice to have an actual office with a big desk and a bookshelf to house my endless collection of cookbooks and textbooks. I love office décor and organization and would love to spend some real time personalizing this room. We got lucky with the kitchen in this house, too, which has beautiful granite counters and plenty of space.
If you could choose one room in your house to remodel (on an unlimited budget!) which room would it be and why?
KITCHEN. I have an abundance of photos saved of dream kitchens. I imagine big, bright windows, lots of cabinets and counters, Thermador appliances, and a huge pantry. Kitchen organization makes me happy. My current kitchen has nice countertops but the cabinets are awful, in both appearance and function. We also have a pretty pathetic excuse for a pantry. If I ever got a walk-in pantry I might live inside of it.
If you could travel anywhere in the world for free, where would you go and how long would you stay?
I would love to visit Italy and Greece, or pretty much anywhere on the Mediterranean. The food, culture, history, and beauty are all so splendid it would be a dream to spend a few weeks there.
What recipe on your blog do your readers seem to love most?
My most popular post has been Cookies and Cream Cheesecake Cupcakes. I published the post in early 2010 but it still to this day receives the most visitors of all my posts.
What have you found to be the most challenging part of blogging?
Last year I struggled quite a bit while trying to find a balance between writing a cookbook, going to school full time for my bachelor’s degree and then my culinary degree, having a part-time job, blogging, and keeping up with my personal relationships. Every time I feel overwhelmed, though, I think of the food bloggers who have full-time jobs AND children to care for. I don’t know how those people do it!
Do you have any advice for someone who is interested in cooking or food blogging?
If you love something and stay true to yourself you can turn your goals into reality. If someone would have told me back in April of 2009 that I’d be writing a cookbook while still in my early twenties I would have never believed it. Throughout high school I would completely stress out about what I would “grow up” to be, what my college major should be and what my future career would be. I felt like I wasn’t particularly good at anything or impassioned by anything. Now I feel so lucky to be a part of the amazing food blog community and to have a passion in life that may also become a career.
Thanks Tessa! I enjoyed learning more about you. Congrats on the cookbook—can’t wait to get my hands on it! Wish I could get my hands on all your pretty props, too. :)