The Lemon Bowl's interview
We interviewed The Lemon Bowl!
Visit the blog: The Lemon Bowl.
Hello The Lemon Bowl, so tell us...
When did you begin your blog, and what inspired you to start it?
I began my blog four years ago this month, in June 2010. I had recently lost over 35 pounds and friends were constantly asking what I was eating to lose the weight. Since I use a lot of seasonal ingredients or items I have on hand, I rarely make the same meal twice. That being said, a food blog seemed like the easiest way to document my recipes and share them with friends and family.
How do you stay motivated? What has been the greatest obstacle that you have had to overcome?
I stay motivated by eating seasonally. We take local produce very seriously here in Michigan. After a long winter, nothing gets me more excited to cook than the first crop of fava beans or asparagus. When June arrives, strawberries hit the farm stands followed by blueberries, peaches then apples. By eating with the seasons, you never get bored. The greatest obstacle that I've had to overcome is having to cope with re-gaining the weight during both of my pregnancies and then having to re-lose the weight after each baby. It's a lot more fun putting on the weight than losing it and it takes twice as long to come off as it did to put on. :-)
What are your culinary influences?
My mother and my aunts are my primary culinary influences. From the minute I could reach the counter I was cooking side-by-side with my family members. I loved watching my Great Aunt prepare a beautiful platter of hummus with toasted pine nuts or a perfectly dressed Lebanese salad. The love she put into the meal was infectious and I have been inspired ever since. Of course, so many of our family's Middle Eastern recipes use lemons which is where the name The Lemon Bowl was born.
Where in the world was the best meal you’ve ever had? Do you have a favorite foodie destination?
The best meal I've ever had was at my Aunt Paula's house 2 minutes down the road from here. She hosted a "Syrian Feast" a few years ago where she prepared all of our favorites including stuffed kousa, baked kibbee, hush wee and more. I could eat Syrian food every day of my life. Full of garlic, mint, olive oil and lemon - you always feel good after eating it and never weighed down or heavy.
What was the best meal that you have ever prepared?
The best meal I ever prepared was Lebanese Baked Stuffed Kibbee. The trick is to use plenty of clarified butter/ghee. It is made with ground beef seasoned with cinnamon and toasted pine nuts. It is so incredibly delicious and flavorful.
Do you have a secret ingredient, a product you use a lot that is unexpected or that helps you save time?
I love using za'atar, a Middle Eastern spice blend, to season everything from grilled meats, salad dressings, pita bread and more. It is made with thyme, sesame seeds, sumac and other spices. I always have a big bag of a pre-made blend that I buy at a local Middle Eastern market on hand. It makes anything from grilled asparagus to pork chops taste incredible. Other than that, fresh lemon, fresh garlic and salt will always get you through the week.
How has becoming a mother influenced your cooking?
I must confess, I don't cook any differently now that I'm a mother. I'm very lucky in that my kids are not picky eaters (knock on wood!) I've never "dumbed down" their food. They eat what we eat and fortunately they love everything from toasted nori seaweed sheets to kale chips to sushi to Lebanese food. Of course, as a mother of a toddler and a nursing mother of a baby, I am very conscious of eating whole foods that provide my children with a wide variety of nutrients. But I must be honest and say that I've been focused on high quality, nutritious food well before I ever got pregnant.
What was your most unusual culinary experience?
My most unusual culinary experience was when I visited Morocco, Africa. It was during college and I will never forget the meal we shared with the locals. It was very humble, flavorful food with the most fragrant mint tea I've ever tasted. Sitting and eating a meal in Africa was an experience I will never forget.
Is there any dish, ingredient or type of food you refuse to cook? Or anything that you refuse to eat?
I can not stand canned black olives or raw green peppers. Other than that, I'm an equal opportunity eater.
My biggest food flop was..
Trying to bake a pizza from scratch! The dough was great and the toppings were delicious but I could not figure out how to get the dough from the counter on to the paddle to get on to the baking stone. It was a disaster and there may have been tears involved. I leave the baking to my husband.
Thank you The Lemon Bowl for answering our questions and see you soon!
Published by Rachel - 06/27/2014
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