Today I have another installment of My Favorite Foodies series. This time I am interviewing my friend Gina from What’s For Dinner Across State Lines. I love this blog and totally adore Gina. She is a very talented cook with a great sense of humor and one of the sweetest bloggers I have come across. Some of my favorite post on her blog are those she talks about her family and their traditions. The love, dedication and affection she has for them really shines through. I can’t really remember when I found her blog but from the beginning her mouthwatering recipes kept bringing me back. It was one of her post that made me laugh on a day when I really needed to laugh that completely hooked me forever. I hope I don’t embarrass you Gina, it was a post titled “Thanks Foodbuzz – I’m so famous now; I need to wear a disguise!” Her baked goodies always leave me feeling like I need to run to the kitchen to try to calm my watering mouth. She really inspires me to learn more about baking. Gina is one of those bloggers I hope to meet in person one day, I know she would be so much fun and I would love to learn so many things from her. A big thank you Gina for letting me interview you. And now I leave you with my favorite foodie Gina ~ What’s For Dinner Across State Lines.
1. Can you tell us a little bit about your blog?
I began my blog with my Cousin Robbyn, we had been working on creating a television show for public television and writing recipes for other projects. She had to relocate to another state and we figured the blog would be a perfect way for us to keep working on recipes. That’s where the across state lines part of the blog name came from. Robbyn had family priorities that needed her time, so now you just have me. The hardest part for me has been learning all the technical stuff, Robbyn was the technical one.
2.So now that Robbyn is not blogging with you, you will continue with the blog and will the message or idea behind the blog stay the same?
When I started writing the blog, I couldn’t stand the thought of it just being one way, it’s more of a work in progress, just like myself. Instead of focusing on one cuisine, it’s a journal of what’s going on in my kitchen at the moment, recipes of the seasons, and recipes for all the events that are constantly going on.
3. Why do you love to cook/bake or spend time in your kitchen? And have you always liked being in the kitchen?
I love cooking and baking, spending time in the kitchen is relaxing to me. I love entertaining and enjoy the whole process of figuring out what I’m going to make for everyone. I didn’t learn to cook growing up, but I was my mom’s cookie baking assistant.
4. Do you have professional training or experience in the culinary world?
I haven’t had any culinary training. I learned the old-fashioned way of trial and error. I learned a long time ago, I had to do something to truly learn it. If it didn’t work, I would just try it again another way. I don’t own very many cookbooks, I think it’s because I can read a recipe, but it doesn’t sink in until I actually make it.
5. On the “About Gina” page on your blog you speak about your Italian grandfather. Do you have recipes on your blog that he taught you to cook?
I’ve written about my Grandfather on the blog, because he made such an impression on me as a child. He brought me into the restaurant kitchen where he worked, and I was in awe. I wish I could of cooked with him, but he died when I was little. He had quite a career, yet he made us feel like we were the special ones. He didn’t leave behind written recipes, so when I make dishes that he made, they are my interpretation of them. It’s really great because it keeps him in my thoughts.
6. Does your Italian heritage influence your cooking or do you prefer to try a little bit of everything?
I love Italian cuisine and I love adding Italian ingredients to almost anything. But I also love trying new cuisines. I’m not the type who could be happy eating the same thing everyday, I’m always wanting to try something else. I have a wanderlust for food. I could have eaten breakfast and I’m thinking about lunch, I’m pretty sure it’s a disease.
7. What is the best family tradition in your family, involving food?
I’m lucky that my family celebrates every occasion, and there is always food involved. I have 14 nieces and nephews and another on the way, so it’s always someones birthday. But if I had to pick a favorite, it would be Christmas Eve over at my mom’s. We all go over there and have lasagna and the kids go crazy waiting to open gifts.
8. What is your most memorable or most special kitchen moment, be it a happy or a disastrous memory?
I didn’t know how to cook when I got married. I was trying to think of something to make my husband for dinner and I decided to make him a tuna casserole (don’t ask why, I had never even eaten one before). It was so bad we threw it in the garbage and he said, “Don’t ever make that again”. I figured I’d better learn to cook, because that casserole was probably the worst thing I’ve ever eaten.
9. On those occasions when you want to treat your family, friends and yourself to a special dish/dinner or dessert, what fabulous food do you prepare?
When I’m feeling like getting a treat, I like to go out for ice cream. I’d make it at home, but I don’t trust myself enough having it on hand. When I want to make a treat for my girls, I’ll make them chocolate souffles.
10. What is your favorite spice and why?
My favorite spice is thyme, I know not the sexiest spice, but there is something about the scent that puts a smile on my face every time I get a whiff of it.
11. What is your favorite ingredient, the one you couldn’t live without, the one you use most often? And is this ingredient the one that inspires you the most or is there another?
My favorite ingredient would have to be olive oil, I use it every day. I have a real weakness for whip cream, and sometimes I have to use all my restraint, to not put it on everything.
12. What food is your food vice? You know, one you sneak in a little extra of when no one is looking.
If I had a food vice, I’d have to say it’s chocolate. If anyone tried to keep it from me, well then we’d have a problem.
13. When you go out to eat what do you go for?
When I go out to eat, I have to have Japanese, Vietnamese or some other ethnic food. I live in a pretty small town, so the restaurant selection isn’t really all that great. I cook at home most nights, I used to wonder why I had the only kids that didn’t want to go through the drive-thru. I would ask the kids, if they wanted to stop and they’d say, “No, we’d rather eat at home”.
14. Do you like to listen to music while you cook? What do you listen to? Do you sing and dance along?
I don’t listen to music while I’m cooking, only because my house is already noisy. I like all kinds of music, from pop to country. I like to listen to it when I’m alone in my car, because when the kids get in, they change the channel. I don’t think I’m much of a singer, but I’ve beaten my nieces in dancing videos games, so maybe I have a few moves.
15. Who is your favorite foodie (be it a professional Chef, enthusiast, novice, friend or family)? Have they, do they or how do they inspired you and your cooking?
I remember growing up watching, Julia Child, Frugal Gourmet and Yan Can Cook. I much prefer some of the older stuff, than the current celeb chefs. Although, I do have a soft spot for Tyler Florence! (Please don’t tell that to my husband, it can be our little secret!)
16. How do your family and friends feel about you being a food blogger?
My friends and family could care less about my food blogging. The only one I think reads it is my sister, and then she tells me, how come you haven’t made that for me. It’s something I do for myself.
17. How do you organize your recipes before publishing them on your blog? Do they get written down on paper or do you type them up as you share with us?
Blogging has been a great way for me to get my recipes written down and organized. I can admit it, I had stacks of recipes, written in various formats all over. Now I keep a notepad in the kitchen, and write down quantities as I’m making something, instead of counting on my bad memory later on down the road. I have to type everything up now, because I have the worst handwriting in the world, maybe I should have been a doctor.
18. What about hobbies or what do you like to do to relax and enjoy your free time?
When I have some free time, I love sewing, painting and even using power tools. If I could afford it, my hobby would be traveling.
19. What is your goal or what do you hope to accomplish with your blog?
I want the blog to become a collection of recipes with something for everyone, for all skill levels. I’d love to eventually figure out how to link the recipes, so that when you wanted to plan a menu, you could grab from all the recipes and you have a complete meal.
20. Anything else you would like to say or share with us, tips or advice?
My number one tip is let the blog be a compliment to who you are! I’m a lot of other things, a wife, mother, aunt, daughter and friend, the food blog is just something I’m doing because I enjoy it. I think it’s easy to get wrapped up in the mechanics of it, I just try and allot a certain amount of time to it and that’s it.