I get asked a host of questions over and over so here is where you will find the answers to the most common ones. If you have more, let me know! It was quite fun pulling this together and it brought back tons of memories.
HOW DID YOU COME UP WITH THE NAME OF YOUR BLOG?
Well, that is a story, for sure! When I was in Culinary School, we were given a huge project by our culinary masters. Our challenge was to come up with plan for a business, decide what it was we were going to do or make; how we were going to finance this endeavour; and what are specialities would be to place us into a niche market; marketing of the product; and then, present all of this to a panel of my peers and instructors for discussion, feedback and advice. My “product“, (which I still make to this day) was a spice blend, and variations of that blend. I pondered over the name of my business for quite some time before my creative husband came up with the name “Urb’n’Spice”, which is a play on the words since we had been toying with herbs and spice and urban spice. As you can see, the name stuck! (And I received a great mark for my project! Yay!)
WHAT IS YOUR BACKGROUND?
I am a professional chef, a professional pastry chef, and I also have a background in administration (pre-chef days) with quite a bit of computer training along the way. This diverse skill range is the result of as many career changes as my husband’s bank transfers.
Add to that some competition background in the culinary industry and what ends up happening is a chef who really enjoys developing, testing and writing recipes. (I keep scrupulous notes!)
The result? This range of cross-skills in my background is so incredibly useful and handy in what I am doing now.
My Mom often tells me that of her five daughters, I was the little girl who followed her around the kitchen like a little pup. She was not at all surprised when I told her I was returning to school to become a chef.
I guess I always knew what I wanted to do!
HOW DO YOU GET INSPIRED TO COOK EVERY DAY?
- My family, friends and colleagues
- My cookbook collection (they are like treasured friends to me – I read them like novels)
- A visit to the market (I live in the Okanagan – inspiration comes so easily here.)
- Sometimes not much more than a photograph inspires me
- The challenge of trying something new or figuring out a complicated technique
- The joy of sharing – I love feeding people!
- Other chef’s recipes – I learn so much from reading cookbooks (see above)
DO YOU BLOG ONLY ABOUT YOUR OWN RECIPES OR DO YOU USE OTHER PEOPLE’S RECIPES AS WELL?
Both, actually. I write many, many recipes. If I make someone else’s recipes, I always refer to the source and link to the originator. Some of my favourite recipes are vintage recipes. I have a great time reading really old cookbooks and updating the recipes to reflect the way I cook today and that often reflects dietary restrictions for the people I write recipes and cook for; as well as keeping in mind healthy updates to sugar, salt, and fat consumption.
My recipes are triple tested. When I develop a recipe, there is a precise set of steps that I take before I confidently share them with you. If something has not worked for you, there is often a simple reason (for example: your oven internal temperature is critical and I talk about this and many other reasons here).
HOW DO I ………?
This is actually how my blog started – pure happenstance. Lots and lots of questions! I figured that since I was often asked all kinds of culinary questions and that I truly enjoy helping folks with their cooking and baking questions, it was even more fun to share the information with everyone on some sort of platform. And thus, Urb’n’Spice Food Blog was born. You can find recipes on my site using the Search bar or Recipe Archive on the side bar. You will also find Series of Topics on UrbnSpice like “The Confident Kitchen Series” or “My Favourite Kitchen Tools” or “Double Duty Recipes Series”.
HAVE YOU WRITTEN ANY BOOKS?
Yes! I love writing books. I have organized and written many types of instructional user friendly educational books and cookbooks. Most recently, my series on Chocolate Desserts Made Easy and Delicious was my first, second, third and fourth cookbooks published in e-book format on Amazon.
My goal as a chef has always been to publish a cookbook and I made it my absolute challenge to do that in the first year of my kinda sorta semi-retirement.
About the same time that I was working on my first book, I started my blog – UrbnSpice. I was living in Craig Bay, Parksville, Vancouver Island. Living in such a beautiful place such as this, it didn’t take long to become immersed in the diverse interests, backgrounds and personalities of the community and before long, I was asked to contribute to their monthly newsletter. It was a natural progression to write about the recipes I was developing. I really hadn’t planned on writing a Cookbook series: it just kind of happened. My taste tester groups wanted more! So, Book Two, Book Three and Book Four followed in short order. I kept developing, writing, testing and baking and they kept tasting! It was such fun! If you want more information on my books, you can check here. You can find my books on Amazon.ca.
A project I am very proud of was working on a huge personal cookbook project for our first born girl for her wedding gift called, “Our Daughter’s Request”. It is a private family unpublished cookbook. It was such an absolute pleasure to do. My goal as a Mom was to grant my girl her sweet wish. She asked her Dad and I for a personal cookbook of all of the recipes she was raised with. It was one of my biggest challenges at the time because I was in school full time with responsibilities to my work, school, home life and helping in the planning of my daughter’s wedding. It took approximately seven months to achieve completion, but I am so pleased that I accomplished it! I decided if I could do that, then writing my own cookbook one day was another achievable goal.
I have a different style of writing cookbooks, and I tend to follow that same style when posting a recipe on my blog. You will see the terms Learning Tips and CHEF TALK and CHEF TIP in my recipes. Learning Tips will state what skills you will use in the recipe process. Chef Talk is the blurb before the recipe. I might discuss the inspiration behind the recipe or other tidbits that I would like to share with you. If I feel a specific tip or technique is particularly important, you will see CHEF TIP placed right where I want to elaborate with an explanation.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE MEAL?
This is probably the most popular question that I get asked as a chef. Believe it or not, it isn’t fancy stuff, perfectly plated and elegantly garnished (although I have been trained to do so if the occasion permits). It is simply soup and biscuits! Comfort food at its best! Shared with great people. That makes me very happy. Which leads me to the next question.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE THING TO COOK?
Soup! I could (and often do) make soup every day. Actually, my most popular cooking course is just that! “Simply Soups”. As James Barber used to say, “I could make a bathtub full of soup!” You will find loads of soup recipes on my site. My favourite? French Canadian Pea Soup, of course!
HELP! WHAT CAN I MAKE MY GLUTEN INTOLERANT OR GLUTEN SENSITIVE GUESTS, OR GUESTS WITH ALLERGIES, ETC?
This is just one of the questions I am often asked by someone in a bit of a panic. “What can I make my gluten intolerant or gluten sensitive guests”? This is a question that sometimes makes dinner hosts and event organizers very nervous. We all have gatherings of every kind: from book clubs to cookie exchanges, birthday celebrations to holiday open houses and seasonal events. They sheepishly tell me that they avoid inviting people if they have dietary issues. Well, that is about to change – I can help!
Start with this article will focus briefly on some tips and techniques that I have developed during my culinary career regarding gluten-free products and recipes. There are many other articles pertaining to gluten free or other dietary restrictions (like this one) on my blog – use the search tool or the Recipe archives to find them. You can always send me an email – I will do my best to help. [email protected]
DO YOU FOLLOW A PARTICULAR STYLE OF COOKING OR EATING?
I have a husband who is very easy to feed, and I myself will eat pretty much anything. As a matter of fact (and actually, a little embarrassing) my nickname when I was a skinny little kid in our large family was The Garbage Disposal. My Mom would tell me that I would clean up all of the vegetable and meat dishes and forego dessert after a family meal.
I knew that my husband and I were were destined to be together when the question arose, “Is there anything you won’t eat?” His answer was liver! Ha! Mine, too! Our two daughters have had adventurous palates from a young age. They spent lots and lots of time with me in the kitchen from infant stage to adults and they are both accomplished cooks and bakers. (#proud momma) They started off by sitting in the kitchen sink (I am not saying it would work for you but it certainly worked for me). They graduated to small stools or chairs by my side. The point is, they were involved in the kitchen with me from a very young age.
Our style has always been nutritious and healthy food. Our motto since our children were young was, “have something that the farmer grows first” before a cookie or snack. Fast forward to today, we still all follow a healthy diet always with a focus on making fresh food from scratch (eating real); low sugar (natural sugars only) or no sugar; with plenty of gluten free, grain free and dairy free options to keep abreast of recipes for my repertoire as well as to help some family members with dietary restrictions. We happily plan Meatless Mondays just as happily as we plan our once-a-year indulgence in our annual Junk Food Run for my husband’s birthday. We are happy kitchen dwellers. I adore Jamie Oliver’s style of cooking, as well as Ina Gartner’s casual approach to feeding people. Family style, casually approached and shared with the people that I love to cook for.
ARE YOU ON SOCIAL MEDIA?
Yes! Absolutely! I try to keep up with all the latest and greatest in Social Media land – although I am still in the baby step stages with YouTube and SnapChat.
You can also find me on:
HOW CAN I CONTACT YOU?
Email me: [email protected]
or comment on the blog, which brings us to another point.
I do love your comments and feedback. I would ask and thank you ahead of time if you could keep your comments positive, friendly, and respectful as well as relevant to the post you are commenting on. If you have any more questions, bring them on!
Thanks for dropping by! Blissful Baking! Joyful Cooking! Happy sharing with someone you love.
The Urb’n’Spice Chef