The blogging world can be a little female-heavy, especially where Jewish food blogs are concerned. Not that that’s a bad thing, being a female Jewish food blogger myself. But it was a lovely change of pace to chat with Yosef Silver a few weeks ago of This American Bite, who definitely has some unique perspectives on cooking and blogging. I learned his home is largely gluten free and dairy free: I could never survive.
Stay tuned for Yosef’s recipe for eggplant dip tomorrow, and in the meantime enjoy learning more about this daddy food blogger based out of Kansas City.
I noticed your blog describes your style as “whole food cooking.” How do you define “whole food?”
We eat real food. We don’t believe in “kid food” or processed food. We are very particular about what our kids will eat and we don’t want to buy too many items that come from a factory. We are also gluten free and dairy free out in our home. My wife, who is a nutritionist, has really influenced the healthy eating side of me. It amazes me how much people don’t want to cook. Food isn’t just about the food for me: it’s also about family dinner, togetherness. Wholesomeness.
When I was waiting to receive my green card and wasn’t working, I was cooking a lot. And at some point I wanted a way to record what I was making, and what was good. I began writing for myself, and people enjoyed it. I am not sure at what point it really grew. I don’t write for an audience, although I am conscience what my readers enjoy because I love sharing.If I am not enjoying what I am making, then the quality of my food suffers.
You are originally from England – how does that influence your cooking?
I was raised by mom and it was just the two of us. No matter how busy my mom was, there was always a home-cooked meal. We always had dinner together no matter what was going on. And we continue that tradition for our kids.
We also love having guests at the house. It’s our normal. When we don’t have guests for Shabbat dinner, our kids are like, “um what is going on?” Shabbat for me is very much about community and enjoying a special meal together. If I am cooking for you, it’s a statement of our relationship. If I am angry with someone, I have a hard time cooking for them.
Is that how your wife knows you are mad at her?
Ha, she will eat anyway.
I noticed you recently collaborated on a recipe with Melinda from KitchenTested and used Marmite. I always thought that was an Australian thing?
Marmite = British. Vegemite = Australian
Marmite gives dishes a real beefy, stocky flavor. For example, I put it in my chicken soup and my split pea soup.
When my mom comes from Israel she brings me like 10 of them. And so I gave one to Melinda and we decided to collaborate on a dish when I visited NY in February.
We were brainstorming what we were going to do with it. And when we came up with the aioli, I wasn’t sure it was going to work. But the result, Scotch Eggs with Honey Marmite Aioli, was delicious. For me it reminds me of my childhood. It’s the kind of thing that people love or hate, there is no middle ground.
What advice would you give to someone else who wants to blog?
Just do it. Don’t worry about your domain, or what it looks like. Just start writing. Even if you write in a google doc and start sending out to your friends for the first couple of months, just start doing it. And if your content and recipes are awesome, then it won’t matter what it’s called.
What’s on the horizon for This American bite and Yosef?
I ask myself this all the time. I would love to write a book.
I love the connections I am making through writing about food, like Melinda of KitchenTested and Whitney of Jewhungry. I love the online marketing field, and I love food. I love anything that combines both. Not sure where it will take met yet.
I have been following Whitney Fisch, aka Jewhungry, for the past 6 months on instagram, and eventually started reading her blog as well. I love her fresh, kosher recipes and the stories she shares about being a mom and a middle school counselor at a day school in Miami. So when she and I finally got to catch up on the phone last week I was absolutely thrilled. Read more below to hear how she got into cooking (hint: it all started in Jerusalem!) and about an exciting Passover cookbook she has in the works.
Why did you start blogging?
I started blogging about three years ago, initially with my friend Jeremy, mostly about cultural Jewish stuff and some food. I was working all the time and I really needed an outlet that allowed me some escape from my busy work life. It didn’t start as a food blog, and I actually took some time off from blogging all together while I was pregnant because the smell of all food made me nauseous.
After my pregnancy, Jeremy and I, though still very close friends, decided he would focus on other writing opportunities so I ended up taking over the blog, and it organically took on a new direction: parenting stories, stories about being a social worker and a counselor as well as stories about growing up in the South and living in Miami. And of course, I was writing about what I was cooking and eating.
Have you always loved cooking?
No not even a little bit!
I tried so hard to cook after college. And I had some tragic mishaps along the way. For example, when I was 22 I tried to make potato salad, but it didn’t dawn on me that I had to boil the potatoes first. I tried to serve it at a backyard picnic…well, it was not successful.
It wasn’t until I moved to Jerusalem and I was a stone throw’s away from the shuk that I started experimenting with cooking. It happened that I also met my future husband at that time and he let me use him as a guinea pig for my cooking. There was actually one time he made roasted potatoes with onion soup mix – how “Ashkenazi mom” of him – and I thought it was a culinary revelation. This shows you how much I was food illiterate.
It was through being in Jerusalem, having the time to cook in the evenings and being so close such amazing, fresh food that I really started cooking.
Has living in Miami influenced your cooking?
Absolutely! I am influenced both in terms of taste and visually. The colors that I choose, props I use on the blog – everything. I use lime and cilantro in at least half my dishes – those flavors are so prevalent here.
And the weather here really influences my cooking. I am not making cholent, stews or heavy meats. It’s 85 degrees! So I want to eat fresh.
You didn’t always keep kosher. Is there anything you miss?
I wouldn’t say there is anything I miss per say. It is more about foods I am curious about that I have never eaten. For example, I want to try full-on French food. I read all of Julia Child’s books. And then I read all of Ruth Reichl’s books. So it’s more about what I am curious about eating more so that any single food that I miss.
What have you learned from blogging?
Early on I was advised by someone who told me I should write less, and I am glad I ignored that advice. I get amazing letters from people that read and really enjoy the stories I share.
So while I have continued writing, at some point I stopped doing complicated recipes and starting cooking more simple things, because that’s what I had time for and also those are popular with people. Sometimes people just want a good veggie chili recipe, etc.
What has been the best thing that has happened as a result of blogging?
Definitely the connections between people – the friends I have made online, especially with other bloggers. For example, I had a google hangout this morning with Amy Kritzer, Liz Rueven and The Patchke Princess talking about the Passover cookbook we are working on! I feel like we are supportive of one another, not competitive.
I have made so many friends through the internet and blogging including unexpected friends like The Rural Roost, who is neither kosher nor Jewish. But how exciting is it to connect with someone from Montana who I may not have ever met otherwise!
What advice do you have for someone else who wants to start a food blog?
Make sure you figure out your voice and where you want to go with blogging. Once you figure out your voice, you need to make sure you are connecting with other bloggers who share a similar focus as you. It helps build a community through like-minded bloggers.
What’s on the horizon for Jewhungry?
A lot!I am moving to Los Angeles where, among other things, I will be doing recipes and parent blogging for JkidLA. I am also working on a redesign for the blog and of course the Passover cookbook I mentioned.