In this edition of My Favorite Foodies Series we meet Trix of Tasty Trix. I don’t remember exactly how I stumbled across Tasty Trix, but I do know that it has been one of my favorite blogs for a very long time. Trixie does not only write one of my favorite blogs, she is also one of my favorite foodie friends. We bonded during difficult times in both of our lives. She has been there for me and that is something that I will forever cherish. Those of you that read Tasty Trix will surely agree that it is among the best food blogs around. Mouthwatering unique recipes, beautiful photography, well thought out and clever writing is what you’ll find there. It is with great pleasure that I introduce you to Trix.
1. Can you tell us a little bit about your blog?
My blog is roughly 90% original recipes, many of which are influenced by international flavor profiles and World cuisines – I love South Asian, Eastern European, and African flavors, to name a few. Travel always inspires my cooking, and I love to document my trips in posts. I lean heavily towards savory dishes, but I’m trying to break out of that a little, just to be well-rounded. I create homemade dishes from unprocessed ingredients that (for the most part) aren’t too fussy. That’s not to say that everything I make is healthy – I am not averse to using cream, butter, and/or animal fat when it’s called for! Moderation is key. You’ll never see anything made from a box mix on my blog, that’s for sure. Honestly, I wish I had a handy catch phrase to sum up Tasty Trix – I fear I will never get a cookbook deal without one!
2. Why do you like to (cook/bake) spend time in your kitchen? Have you always liked spending time in the kitchen?
I find that there is something soothing and meditative about chopping vegetables and weighing and measuring ingredients. I tend to always have a running conversation going on in my head – it’s very loud and busy in my brain! – and getting my mise en place together is a time where I can achieve a much-needed internal peace and focus. At its best, cooking is very Zen. And then of course there is the visceral pleasure of smell and taste and touch, and the satisfaction of watching a dish that you only imagined come together – ideally, just in the way you had hoped!
I haven’t always found refuge in the kitchen; in fact, growing up, no one in my family really liked to cook. I can see though, that it’s a natural fit with the sort of creative things I have always loved to do. While writing has been one of my creative outlets since I was old enough to read, I have always needed something more physical to balance the stillness of writing. When I was much younger that included ballet, theater, and even, for a brief time, playing drums in a band. It makes sense that I’d love cooking, because it is so physical, and I think rhythmic when done well.
3. What is your favorite food to cook or bake, and why?
That depends on my mood, but overall I would have to say making yeasted breads is one of my favorite things to make, though I don’t do it nearly enough. I love kneading the dough by hand – again, it’s very meditative – and while I know that bread baking is a science, there’s also something mysterious and intuitive about it to me. I talk to my dough, and give it a little affectionate pat before leaving it to proof – and it is always astonishing to me that the whole process of combining water, flour, yeast and salt can actually produce something edible.
I was living in New York City with my then-boyfriend (now husband – you may know him as Poppa Trix). Back then, he actually cooked more than I did, though I was beginning to become more and more interested in it. And so together, one year, we undertook a project that seemed huge at the time: making Thanksgiving dinner for family members who were visiting from out of town. As I recall, it was something like 5 or 6 dishes, nothing incredibly fancy or gourmet – stuffing, potatoes, carrots, cheesy spinach balls, salad – but we had never cooked that much food before! I remember thinking it was really good, but it mostly made me incredibly proud to be able to feed my mom a real homestyle meal and have so much fun doing it.
5. What is the first dish or meal you successfully prepared?
When I was fresh out of college, on a very tight budget and living in a small apartment with a couple of roommates, we would take turns making dinner for one another. I had no idea what I was doing in the kitchen at the time, so I always made fettucine alfredo – except the alfredo sauce was from a powdered mix in a packet. I was quite impressed with myself that I successfully was able to make dinner for 3 people, even if it did come from a mix!
6. What is the most difficult thing you have ever cooked or baked?
Everything I had to make for my culinary class final. None of the individual components were inherently tough – Hollandaise, veloute, soup, grilled chicken, homemade pasta and sauce. This was more of a mental game for me. My dog had died a few days before and I was literally physically sick with grief. But I knew it wouldn’t honor his memory to skip something I had worked so hard for all semester. I really needed to psyche myself out and put myself in the right mental place to complete every dish on time, and to my teacher’s pretty high standards. I am proud to say I got an A … and not ashamed to admit that I burst into tears the second I was alone after the test.
It’s incredibly difficult to pick just one! It depends on my cooking mood really. But to narrow it down – smoked paprika, both for the color and the flavor it gives to just about anything; and saffron, just because it’s so distinctive and whenever you add it to a dish you know it’s probably going to be something special. And I know this is actually an herb and not a spice, but the fragrance of curry leaves has to be one of my favorite smells in the entire world.
8. What food or ingredient repulses you, and why ?
That’s a tough one because I know that so much of what repulses us is cultural and I think with an open mind you can really overcome a lot of what you think you don’t like. That said, even though I have learned to love a well cooked and prepared oyster, I have not yet been able to overcome my disgust at their appearance in their raw state to eat an uncooked one.
9. When you want to treat yourself or loved ones what do you prepare or splurge on?
One word: carbs. My husband and I both love, love, love pasta and pizza. Maybe a little too much. But if I indulge too much … well, let’s just say it’s a lot easier to put on weight than to take it off. Once for a special occasion I made him a selection of homemade pizzas and called it a “pizza party.” He loved it!
10. When you go out to eat what do you go for?
There is no one answer to that question! It most definitely depends on my mood – it could be Indian, Thai, Mexican, French – there is no set thing I go out for. These days, though, I eat out so often for work because of my job as a food writer, editor, and restaurant reviewer, that when I don’t have to go out for work I’m likely to just want to make something at home. And of course when I travel I want to eat the most authentically local food I can find.
11. What food is your food vice? You know, one you sneak in a little extra of when no one is looking.
I have a lot of these! You simply cannot leave me alone in a room with smoked almonds. I will literally eat an entire container, and I don’t even want to think about how many calories I’ve ingested doing that. Also Utz brand potato chips – I can’t bring those into my house. I will inhale them.
12. Who are the people that inspire your culinary journey? (be it a professional, enthusiast or novice)
I was very much inspired by an instructor I had in culinary school. He was so knowledgable, such a perfectionist, and so hard to please – but also really funny and nice, especially if you worked hard – that I was always inspired to push myself and not accept “good enough.”
As for other people who inspire me … As an ongoing thing, I don’t find inspiration from any one source. I can be inspired by an amazing street food, or an unbelievable dish in a restaurant, or even something I see on a cooking show. As a general rule, I am not inspired by so-called celebrity chefs, but rather by people who cook more for love than for fame.
13. Do you like to listen to music while you cook? What do you listen to?
Definitely! I often try to theme the music with the food; for example, if I’m making something Italian I’ll want to listen to Rosemary Clooney or Frank Sinatra, or if it’s Southern style I may put on some Patsy Cline. But my favorite genre, the one thing that always gets me in my happy place cooking zone is Cajun Zydeco. I love it. It’s joyful and exuberant and everything I would like my food to be.
14. What is your goal or what do you hope to accomplish with your blog?
I have been a professional writer and journalist for nearly 15 years, and I was really burning out it until I started my blog. Tasty Trix reinvigorated my passion for writing, while simultaneously growing my passion for food and cooking. Even though I had a ton of clips from newspapers and magazines, I didn’t have a lot of food writing under my belt when I started it, and so it definitely helped me land my current position as food editor at a local publication. I’ve also learned a ton about photography, and even landed a couple of professional photo gigs based on the strength of the photos on my blog.
All this is to say that I hope to continue growing in my cooking, my writing, my food styling, and my photography – because who knows what will happen? That said, I enjoy it purely for the sake of doing it and for the creative outlet it gives me, and I would never give up the autonomy to write and feature whatever I please at Tasty Trix.
15. Anything else you would like to say or share with us, tips or advice for fellow bloggers?
It’s cliche to say that you should follow your passion and have fun with it – but it’s true. Because if it’s not fun – why do it? No one is forcing you! At the same time, as long as you are going to put your voice and your work out there, I think that comes with responsibility: be meticulous, fact-check, spell check, do a re-write (or two) and never, ever, ever steal another person’s work, in whole or in part. Credit anything that isn’t your own! Be mindful of fairness and honesty. Don’t just give something a glowing review because you got a free sample! Bloggers may not be journalists, but we should still adhere to ethical conduct. Since I live on both sides of the fence, so to speak, I feel very strongly about this.
Thank you so much Trixie, it has been a pleasure. Now everyone head over, say hi and pick out a recipe to try out tonight.
Recipes for images in the graphic and photos can be found in the links below.
– Mediterranean Chickpea Chili
– Fish Meatballs in Tomato Saffron Cream Sauce
– The Tycoon: Steak, Fingerling Potato, Blue Cheese, Roasted Garlic & Quail Egg Flatbread Pizza
– Gruyere Stuffed Purple Potato Dumplings with a Walnut Parsley Pesto
– Grilled Portabella Mushrooms with a Garlicky Carrot Puree, Wheat Berries, & Cranberry Creme Fraiche: a Lighter Version of a Czech Classic
– Sweet, Juicy, Spicy: Shrimp & Chicken Sausage Jambalaya
– Spicy Chicken and Rice Mulligatawny Soup
– Savory Salmon Mousse Eclairs
– West African Pepper Soup
– A Tale of Two Tortes: Brown Sugar Fig & Lemon Plum