By Kelly Smith, Contributing Writer
Five years ago if someone would have told me that I was soon to become a grain-free food blogger and cookbook author, I would have replied, “what in the world?”
That’s because I had no idea that anyone wrote about food outside of the arena of cookbooks and cooking magazines. On top of that, at the time, the term “grain-free” would have been as foreign to me as “mise en place” was the first time I heard it.
Fast forward to today, and I can honestly say that it’s been the Lord who has led me on this amazing journey to be able to do something that I absolutely love … develop, photograph and share nourishing gluten-free and grain-free recipes for precious families across the globe.
So when Stephanie asked her contributor team to share a “Day in the Life” story. I immediately knew that I would share the fun and not-always-so-fun adventures of a being a food blogger and cookbook author.
Day in the Life of a Food Blogger and Cookbook Author
There’s no sleeping in around here. With two active boys, a just as active hubby, a soon-to-be-published cookbook to finish, a blog to write and a house to manage, when the alarm sounds it’s time to get to work!
After making breakfast and seeing everyone off to work and school, it’s time to fill up with God’s Word and a cup of caffeinated tea. (The former jumpstarts my spirit, the latter my tired body.) Then it’s time to check my to-do list to see how much I can get done before it’s time to pick-up the boys from school, facilitate homework, transport them to after school activities … and of course, make dinner!
8:30 to 10:45 a.m.
Today, I am working to perfect a new pumpkin bar recipe for my upcoming grain-free baking cookbook. I’ve been developing, perfecting and photographing more than 100 recipes for this book since February and as you can see above, it’s not always easy.
In fact, there are many days the word “FAIL,” “BOO!” or “NO” is scrawled across my recipe journal. However like many others, I usually learn a lot more from my failures, than I do from my immediate successes. It’s the failures that challenge me the most to work harder, and to learn to better translate my culinary skills and passion for cooking and baking into masterful grain-free creations.
After two failed attempts at getting those pumpkin bars right, I give it one more try before lunch. This time, I make an adjustment based on a similar problem that I had when trying to perfect my pumpkin bread recipe – too much flour. (When using moist, dense ingredients like pumpkin, achieving the right balance often requires less flour to keep the bread –or in this case bars– light and fluffy.)
So after making another adjustment to the almond flour measurement, the third time is definitely a charm! These bars taste just like a pumpkin bar should: full of rich pumpkin spice flavor with a light, moist crumb that is oh-so delicious! Hooray!
Of course, I will test this finalized recipe at least 2 to 3 more times to ensure it consistently performs well, because that’s what a makes a good recipe great! (And it’s part of the curse of being a perfectionist – always wanting everything to be absolutely perfect!)
In the meantime, since this recipe is definitely a keeper, it’s time to have a quick lunch, put a load of laundry into the washer, get our favorite garlic chicken into the Crock-Pot, and then take a photo of these little beauties!
12:15 to 1:30 p.m.
You know all those beautiful food shots that you “pin,” or simply can’t stop staring at and wish you could lick your computer screen? Well, the behind-the-scenes scoop is … beautiful photos take lots of time to set-up. The food must be carefully plated and the table carefully styled so it not only adds further beauty to the food itself, but so it also tells an inviting story. A good food shot should make you feel like you’re about to be transported into an amazing experience … an experience rich in flavor and warm with emotion.
Of course, the real story comes alive through the lens of the camera, and the better you can become at learning all the essentials of taking a good photograph, the better the story you can tell and the more appealing your recipes become to readers. That’s why investing in food photography lessons, reading great books on photography, studying the photos of other food photographers you love and having a great camera and professional quality lens are a must for really learning the art of bringing food to life. It’s an art that I am definitely passionate about and am continually striving to learn as much as I can.
What does the final shot above say to you? I hope it says: “Welcome home, my dear one! Come sit down, and enjoy a delicious pumpkin treat – baked just for you!”
That might sound a little silly, but it’s what I love most about food blogging – the opportunity to create easy, delicious recipes that bring families together. It’s worth all the time and energy and passion I pour into my blog, my cookbooks and the everyday meals I make for my family and friends.
To me, good food is more than just physical nourishment, it’s the catalyst for bringing families and friends together to break bread and to share their lives with one another.
1:30 to 2:45 p.m.
It’s time to download all the photos to my computer and spend some time reviewing them to determine the best shot to use for my upcoming cookbook. I also spent some time taking many of the other photos you see in this post, so those have to be downloaded and my notes about this glorious day transcribed into this post, which hopefully, you’re still reading (smile).
And now it’s time to leave behind the HUGE mess I just made and go gather the troops from school. Then head back home to tackle homework, snack breaks and of course, get back into the car to run everyone to their various afterschool activities.
While homework is underway, I attempt to make a dent in the piles of dishes that I’ve created. Yes, being a food blogger results in LOTS and lots of dishes. In fact, there’s a continual stream of dishes (or maybe a better word would be “ocean” of dishes) around here.
And since my “magical dish fairy” (a.k.a. my mom) isn’t visiting, I’m on my own. Sure, the boys would help, if I asked them, because doing dishes is definitely more fun than homework. Well, maybe not?
But before I can finish the dishes, a sweet face appears with a simple question … “Mom, when do we get to eat those pumpkin bars?” I guess all that photo styling worked … those bars really do look inviting and delicious. Oh course, the aroma – oh, that pumpkin spice aroma! – I guess it was just too much to expect the boys to wait until after homework was completed to indulge in these tasty little treats!
This is truly the best part about being a food blogger … bringing a smile to the faces of those I love, and hoping that the many delicious GF recipes I share bring smiles to the faces of all those you love as well!
4:00 to 8:00 p.m.
Snack time was a hit! Homework is done (and the dishes too)! Now, it’s time for baseball practice and piano. Then back home for a quick and easy slow cooker dinner, followed by our family devotional, as well as some fun and relaxing family time!
8:00 to 10:30 p.m.
Boys are tucked in, prayers said, and it’s time to finish this post, review the last of my cookbook photos, and then spend some quality time with my amazing hubby who’s hard work and encouragement are the reasons I’m able to do what I love the most – be a full-time wife, mom, homemaker and food blogger.
It’s time to say goodnight! My hubby and I spend some time reading God’s Word together and praying – remembering the many blessings we are so thankful for and asking God to continue to use us for His glory. It truly is a blessing to be able to not only share delicious recipes, but more importantly, to encourage us all to not seek healthy living just for the sake of good health, but so that we can use our lives to better serve the Lord and others in everything we do!
P.S. If you’d like to be receive my weekly newsletter with lots of delicious, healthy grain-free recipes and free weekly whole food meal plans, please feel free to join The Nourishing Home Community. I’ll also be sharing more about my new cookbook – Everyday Grain-Free Baking – which is set to release in bookstores nationwide (and online) in January 2015.