Julie May, PhD, Culinary Content Network member and author of the blog Menu Musings of a Modern American Mom (she has published a cookbook of the same name) lives in Hattiesburg, Miss, where she also finds time to work as a professor of anatomy and physiology and to raise her four kids. Her mission? To get people cooking at home with their families, not just for their families. Here's what she has to say about blogging:
How’d you get started? I found myself frequently emailing recipes (and snapping photos of techniques) for my friends, who were busy professionals, just like me. This became too time-consuming, considering that I have a full time job as an anatomy professor, so I opened up a blog as a way of sharing recipes in a more convenient way. The recipes would be available whenever they wanted access to them. And the blog just blossomed from there.
Foods you can’t live without: Fresh tomatoes, fresh herbs, cheese, salt.
Food you can’t stand: Organ meats, beets, strong fishy fish, slimy things.
Proudest post: Tomato Basil Chicken. It has been the post that has made the most people happy, and that makes me happy. It was also the first full-length video I did, so I have a sentimental attachment to that memory.
Biggest blog blunder: I do a lot of work on the blog at 5 a.m., before I get the kiddos up for school. Sometimes the coffee hasn't kicked in yet. In one of my posts, I informed readers that they were to "flower" rather than "flour" the board before rolling out the pasta dough. Ha!
Most memorable comment from a reader: I received a comment from a young army wife who said when her husband was deployed she could hardly cook anything, but since she had stumbled upon my blog, she had learned so many new recipes by "cooking along with me." She was so confident in the recipes because of the step-by-step photos, and said that when her husband came back he was going to be so surprised at all the new things she could cook now. She was so proud of her new skills and was just bursting at the seams. I cried through the whole message. I'm a crybaby like that. :)
Your cooking playlist: Stevie Ray Vaughn, The Eagles, ‘80s music.
Worst part of being a blogger: The time commitment. My blog is very detailed because I provided step-by-step photos for each recipe. So editing the photos takes up quite a lot of time — and that's before the writing of the first word even happens. And then there's the social media and trying to get the blog "out there." There are more things to do with the blog that I am so unaware of that it boggles my mind, but since I have a full-time job and a large family, I can only do so much with it.
Recipe(s) you’re currently obsessed with: Healthy salads. Summer is approaching at warp speed, and that means everyone is looking for great salads that are not only healthy, but super attractive and filling.
What would even your most loyal followers be surprised to learn about you? I became allergic to shrimp about 2 years ago so I can no longer eat it. Boo hoo! ...but I still crave it.
Your all-time favorite posts:
Meatball Stroganoff — It really is an awful post. The lighting and everything. But it truly is one of the best loved recipes on the blog for parents wanting a super family-friendly meal on a busy work week day.
Grilled Ginger-Sesame Chicken Salad — This salad is phenomenal, and the recipe makes a ton. Readers have loved it!
Stuffed Zucchini — Everyone is looking for new ways to serve veggies, and this one has been a home run!
Skinny Mexican Pizza — A lightened-up version of a Taco Bell favorite. A bit hit with the teenaged population and folks sitting around watching ball games!
Coconut Lime Chicken — A huge favorite with my kiddos and their friends, and great for moms who have to play taxi driver all around town!
Anything else you’d like to share? I really feel that the most important thing parents can do is to cook at home with their children. This reinforces everything they are learning at school, and builds skills, memories, and bonds that will never be broken. It is the best way to introduce new foods and get kids interested in eating healthy, as they will be much more interested in eating the foods if they are involved in the cooking process. You can always find components of a recipe that the children can assist you with.