My parents are big foodies, but my dad more so than my mom. When I was born my parents got a live in house-keeper to help take care of me, and my brother and sister a few years later, and taught her how to cook. I was extremely lucky to have the most amazing home-cooked meals growing up, my favourite being roast chicken with all the trimmings. I used to sit and watch Chrissie as she cooked up these superb meals for us, and it all must have sunk in because I can remember them all – and every time I make spaghetti Bolognese or macaroni cheese (when I could) I am reminded of growing up. I especially loved her scrambled eggs – the secret it to make them with real butter to so that they are lovely and creamy… mmm...
In my early teens, I got all independent and started experimenting with my own after-school lunches – I used to whip up soups, and ratatouille and always had my head in one of my mom’s cookbooks to come up with something new and exciting for lunch.
Eventually I moved onto dinners – my mom has a simple palate, but I would love to make sauces incorporating Port and cream and everything else delicious and try and get as much flavour in my meals from using garlic and herbs. She would frown and grumble a little under her breath, wondering why I wanted to use such rich ingredients, but the truth is it was inside me – I had no control over it. My sister also started cooking with me and some of my happiest memories are of us whipping up things in the kitchen.
My dad moved to Plett when I was in standard 5 (or grade 7); this was a tough one, but my brother, sister and I soon realized that this had its perks – a holiday by the sea, twice a year, not many of our friends could say that. He and my step-mom opened a guest house called Laird’s Lodge, which is renowned for its amazing food, it is also a member of the Good Cooks, and during my gap year after school, I worked there for 6 months . I think that is where my passion for food really started to develop. BB, the chef taught me some knife skills, as I had to prep for breakfast and dinner and taught me how to make delicious goodies like malva pudding.
I have always been a creative person, my favourite subjects at school being English and Art. After my gap year, I went on to study Copywriting, at AAA School of Advertising, and promptly pushed food to the back of my mind, until my health started to deteriorate. Last year after about 8 years of ulcers, bloating and a number of other uncomfortable symptoms, I went to a Homeopath, (doctors and Iridologists not being much help). I had some blood tests done and discovered that I had type 3 allergies to wheat and gluten, dairy, eggs, yeast and garlic. In an ironic way, this discovery fueled my passion for food once again, although it was extremely tough in the beginning – so tough in fact, it made me wonder if other people out there were experiencing the same dietary problems as I was, which prompted me to start this blog and I haven’t looked back since.
I joined the Food24 community and have become part of a family of fantastic food bloggers, I can’t believe how encouraging and supportive they all are. My choice of food blogging is a very niche one, but my main aim is to help people and hopefully I will do so through my recipes and experiences.
Question and Answer Session:
What is your day job? Payroll Manager and Head Office Manager
Briefly describe what your blog is about. My blog is about my journey of self discovery and the rebirth of my passion for food. The main focus is on flavour – just because I have to eliminate certain ingredients from my diet, it in no way means that I have to eliminate the taste! I get such pleasure in pushing boundaries and coming up with fantastic flavour combinations. My friends are my guinea pigs –I love cooking for them and seeing their reactions. My food is for everyone, not just people who have food intolerances.
How does your blog differ from others? My blog is dedicated to my recent change in eating habits; in October 2009, I was diagnosed with type 3 food allergies to garlic, yeast, dairy, gluten and eggs and most of my recipes avoid these ingredients. My blog is also largely based on my own experiences – I love to write about cookbooks and edit recipes to make them allergy free, as well as about new places and restaurants that I have visited and unusual ingredients that make eating with food allergies a whole lot more yummy!
Why did you start blogging? My main goal was to get the word out about type 3 food allergies as so many people aren't even aware that they have them; I have been receiving great feedback, which reiterates the fact that my blogging has a purpose - to help people! In the beginning, it was really daunting figuring out what I could eat and what I couldn’t, but each day brought me closer to feeling healthy and fantastic – I have loved every moment of my journey and wanted to share my experiences with as many people as possible! I also love the fact that I have a medium to express myself, creatively, with words, food and photos, all in one place and plus now I am able to keep a concise record of all my recipes, instead of jotting them down on scrap paper and never being able to find the one I'm looking for! I like the idea that one day my kids can look at my blog and be proud of what I have achieved.
When did you discover you had food allergies? The final straw came when I experienced extreme dizzy spells in late 2009; I went to a doctor, but he couldn’t cure my problem, I eventually decided to try a homeopath, who introduced me to the ImuPro Food Allergy Type 3 (IgG) blood test. Type 3 is a delayed allergic reaction to food and can occur 2-72 hours after consuming the food. It's virtually impossible to pick up what you are allergic to on your own because of the delayed reaction; although you may have some idea (I assumed that I was allergic to wheat). You are prone to Type 3 allergies if your small intestine is damaged, which mine has been for many years. The good news is that if you have Type 3 allergies, you can grow out of them, by eliminating them from your diet for a certain period of time (3 months to a year) depending on the severity of the allergy, as well as rotating the foods that you are still able to eat, within a four day cycle, so as not to create more food allergies. You are then able to slowly introduce the offending foods, one at a time, every four days, to see if there is still a reaction.
Where do you find your different recipes? Most of my recipes come out of my head, but I follow other bloggers on Food24, and elsewhere, for inspiration as well as read lots of magazines such as Food and Home, Woolworth’s Taste, Pick ‘n Pay’s Fresh Living, many cookbooks and the internet is also a great source of information. Daily life also inspires me – as well as nature, I try to use only natural ingredients. I have also learnt to listen to my body a lot. I am challenged and motivated to come up with inventive recipes; having limitations only makes me want to try harder and when I have created a recipe that I can be proud of - wow, the sense of achievement is indescribable!
How long have you been blogging? I started blogging on 9 February 2010
What is the hardest part about blogging? Finding the time to blog and staying inspired
Would you like to make a career out of blogging? I would love a career that involved my two passions, writing and food. Writing for a food magazine would be an absolute dream come true.
How do you plan your blogs? It is different each time I blog; sometimes I focus on the recipe and describe how I felt while eating it or what reactions I got from others. At other times I will focus on one ingredient and do as much research as possible around it, finding all the positive attributes. I try to be as original as possible and to put as much enthusiasm into my posts so that my readers can get a sense of how much I enjoyed discovering, cooking, eating and writing about it.
How often do you blog? Last year I blogged at least 2 – 4 times a week, but I am finding it a little harder this year to stay on top of everything. I also decided to move to Cape Town, to pursue my passion for food further. Once I am settled, I know I will be able to blog and blog and blog.
What networking do you do to promote your blog? I am on Food24 and have linked to the South African Food Blogger’s Showcase on Facebook. I also use Twitter and in February I went to the Food and Wine Blogger’s Indaba in Cape Town, which was amazing. Meeting the bloggers that I had admired and that had helped and encouraged me over the previous year was too fantastic for words.
Where’s your favourite place to eat out? Roots Restaurant is one of the most scrumptious restaurants – they have shown such gumption is creating memorable meals for me, that are all allergy free! And the setting is pure bliss too – an escape from Joburg for a few hours, heaven!
What makes a good blog writer? You must be able to put yourself out there, take risks and have broad shoulders. Not everyone is going to like what you do, especially if you are unique. Your imagination is your biggest asset – but make sure to edit your blog posts a lot; have other people read them to get a different perspective and make sure that they are exciting, easy to read and that you don’t ramble too much. Short, punchy sentences are key – you must get your readers hooked!
What is the biggest blogging mistake? Not being unique and able to stand out from the crowd
What is the ultimate goal for bloggers? For food bloggers it is to share our enthusiasm for food with people who love food and to inspire them to get into the kitchen and create the magic for themselves. There is no better reward than to hear that someone has tried your recipe and loved it and that you have inspired them to get more creative with their cooking.