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Spotlight Interview: Elizabeth’s Kitchen-Gingerbread House Competition Winner

Photo courtesy of Elizabeth's Kitchen.
Photo courtesy of Elizabeth’s Kitchen.

I recently got a chance to interview Elizabeth from Elizabeth’s Kitchen . This talented lady was the winner of our First Annual Gingerbread House Competition. You can find her winning entry, Shetland Pepperkakehus here .

Daily Dish: Is your blog a hobby, creative outlet or passion?

Elizabeth: Elizabeth’s Kitchen is both a hobby and a creative outlet. Ever since I was a young girl growing up in rural Eastern Canada I’ve been interested in food and cooking. I could often be found in the kitchen experimenting, sometimes with disastrous results! When I bought my first digital camera in my mid-20s I started playing with food photography, but it’s only very recently, since I’ve learned about styling, that I’ve really developed a real passion for it. With my blog I now have somewhere to share my photos instead of keeping them to myself on my computer hard drive. My family are very supportive of this hobby of mine, even though sometimes I take photos of dinner before they are allowed eat!

Daily Dish: How long have you been blogging?

Elizabeth: I have been blogging for just over a year now. It’s been quite the learning experience on many different levels; a food and photography adventure!

Daily Dish: Why did you start blogging? How did you choose the name of your blog and why?

Elizabeth: I started reading cookery books around the age of 12 when I began to teach myself to cook. I thought there was more to cooking than slapping a pork chop in the oven with an onion ring on top – that’s as gourmet as my mother’s cooking got (bless her!) It wasn’t until I moved into my own home and began cooking for myself that I discovered garlic and herbs and the wonderful tastes and textures in the supermarket vegetable aisle! I started blogging because when I bought my first laptop about 6 years ago, I began using it as a cookbook. I could search for online recipes, bookmark them and place the laptop on my kitchen counter instead of a cookery book. I dread to think of how much flour and icing sugar is under the keyboard! I found hundreds of fabulous recipes over the years and started to adapt them to our family tastes/budget/food availability. I then started developing recipes of my own and I wanted some place to store them, especially as websites change and bookmarks can all of a sudden point nowhere. I’ve lost many a good recipe that way. It wasn’t until I started sharing some of my food and crafting ideas with friends and family on Facebook and someone suggested I should have my own blog with tutorials that I took the plunge. I suspect there is a part of me that likes to show off too, ha! I’m now toying with the idea of going self-hosted, but that seems like such a big, dangerous leap! Initially my blog was fairly private but I opened it up to search engines in mid-October last year and it’s now gone global! I’m astonished at the response it’s had! It’s wonderful to have found fellow foodies to share recipes, ideas and inspiration with. A whole new world has welcomed me!

My blog doesn’t have a very imaginative name, I’m afraid. Everything on my blog was created in my kitchen, so I called it Elizabeth’s Kitchen. It’s a window into my little world. Tangolikeraindrop was a random username Yahoo gave to me years and years ago when I signed up for an email account with them. The email account has long since been closed down, but I liked the username so I kept it for my blog address. When I started the blog I never thought anyone but me would see it so I wasn’t really concerned about what I called it!

Daily Dish: Tell us a little bit about yourself and your family.

Elizabeth: I was born on the West coast of Canada and grew up in Cape Breton on the East coast. When I was in my early 20s the fella I was seeing left me to get back together with his ex-girlfriend. I have to say I was gutted. I didn’t want to stay in the city I was living in – I needed to move on; an adventure was calling for me as I was young, free and single. I laid sulking one evening on the couch, flicking through the television channels, and caught the last twenty minutes of the film Rob Roy. The next day I went to work and thought to myself, “I want to move to Scotland!” and the idea was born! I posted my CV overseas to several small businesses in my field and received a very friendly response from a small shop in the Shetland Islands. The woman who owned the shop was into dowsing with a pendulum and when she hung it over my CV it swung ‘yes’. I accepted her offer of employment and four months later landed in Glasgow, via Iceland, with an army surplus rucksack containing all my worldly possessions and just under £200 cash in my pocket. I am still here, nearly a decade and a half later, on this little rock in the middle of the North Sea – the place I call home. My partner’s story covers as many miles but from the other direction, involving Norway, Iraq, Abu Dhabi and England. Together we are raising our young family on a modest single income. This is reflected in the affordable, local ingredients I use in my cooking and in the upcycling of materials in my crafts. The OH is kindly supporting us while I stay at home with the children and study towards a BSc (Hons) Life Sciences with the Open University. I am just about to start my final project course after many, many long years of study. The end is in sight! In my spare time I am training as a volunteer crew member on an RNLI (Royal National Lifeboat Institute) all-weather lifeboat. The RNLI is a charity which saves lives at sea and it is completely funded by charitable donations. As a dear friend of mine said once, “You can take the girl out of the Maritimes, but you can’t take the Maritimes out of the girl!” As part of my training I got to be winched up into a Sikorsky S92A MCA Rescue Helicopter from the deck of the lifeboat while it was moving at speed. We flew over my village before they returned to winch me back down onto the lifeboat. My OH was at home with the children when he heard the helicopter coming (this large chopper makes a very distinctive sound!) and he called out, “Children! Come quick to the window! I bet your mother is up there!” I was, and I was waving down at them as they were waving up at me. I earned ‘Awesome Mum’ points with them that day!
Daily Dish: Wow hanging from a helicopter? How brave you are and wonderful for you to volunteer for such a great organization! I’m sure your family appreciates you and your cooking. What is your favorite meal to cook for your family?

Elizabeth: My favourite meal to cook for the family is my own lasagna recipe lasagna recipe . It’s been adapted and reworked over the years and it is the one meal I can guarantee that everyone will eat without complaining. They’ll even ask for seconds! Leftovers freeze and reheat perfectly so I can save time by making an extra large batch and that means I’ll get an afternoon off from cooking later on down the road. This is especially helpful when I’ve got university assignments or exams coming up.

Daily Dish: I think lasagna or at the very least, spaghetti, is a favorite fall-back-on-when-you-just-want-dinner meal here in the states too!
What is your favorite utensil in your kitchen or what 10 things you could not live without in the kitchen?

elizabeths kitchen
Elizabeth’s well-organized kitchen.
photo courtesy of Elizabeth’s Kitchen

1. Wooden spoons – for stirring!
2. Food processor – I use this for everything, from creaming butter and sugar to making breadcrumbs and fairy cake batter. I’ve become a bit dependent on it!
3. Mortar & pestle – I have a fabulous large wooden mortar and pestle, perfect for grinding my own herbs and spices in. Once you’ve toasted and ground your own you’ll never go back to commercially prepared powders.
4. Juicer – fresh fruit and vegetable juices are out of this world!
5. Sharp kitchen knives – for obvious reasons. Nothing is more frustrating (and dangerous) than a dull knife.
6. Cookie cutters – I have well over 150 in all sorts of different shapes and sizes
7. Silicone bakeware – nonstick doesn’t mean nonstick forever, I have learned, and silicone bakeware has revolutionized my baking (and lessened my use of grease proof paper)
8. Weighing scales – Here in the UK everything is weighed. I still use American cup measures for some recipes but I much prefer weighing ingredients, especially butter (who wants to scoop out 1/3 cup of butter?!)
9. My Spice Rack – we have a small kitchen with limited storage space, so after years of struggling with having things fall out on top of me when I opened a cupboard, I set to work and designed and made my own wooden spice storage unit. It hangs high enough above my cooker so not to be affected by the heat and all my metal utensils hang from the bottom of it for easy access. I love little ceramic spice jars and I always keep an eye out for new ones at our local charity shop. There’s something very magically “eye of newt, toe of frog” about opening the little clay jars and adding a pinch of this and that to my cooking.
10. My laptop – it’s my cookbook!

Daily Dish: Do you collect anything?
Elizabeth: Recipes!

Thank you again Elizabeth for a delightful interview! Please take a minute and stop by her blog Elizabeth’s Kitchen and say, “hello”!

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Cindy's Recipes and Writings

As a professional cook, I love creating exciting new recipes on the job as well as at home. Assisting in teaching low-income families how to buy, store and prepare healthy food through Penn State’s alliance with Pennsylvania’s Supercupboard Program was very rewarding. During my 11 years with the Master Gardener program, I taught horticultural therapy to assisted living patients using healthful, fr
esh grown food as a focal point. . My hands-on programs and instruction helped hundreds of children and adults learn about where their food comes from and how important fresh food is for your body.
Currently I’m a cook at a college in Pennsylvania. We prepare everything we can from scratch, including our potato chips that tout the seasoning of the day!
Of course I write about food; it's in my blood!

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  1. Thanks Cindy for this great interview with Elizabeth. Very insightful and enjoyable!

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