Meet Erin at the stove and as a food writer.
An interview with Erin M. Phelan, a regular contributor to All Foods Natural and a successful blogger on her own right.
Erin at the stove
Tell us about your background: Where and when did you learn to cook?
As soon as I could reach the stove, my father began to teach me how to cook. It started with the muffin mix bags. Since measurements and instruction following was involved, I was able to follow complex recipes around the age of five. My first family size dinner that I made without help was at 6 years old. I made fried chicken, mash potatoes, cream corn and a chocolate mouse from scratch. My father has cooked all over the world. He taught me how to adjust recipes to make them fit our tastes, as well as cooking with non-mainstream ingredients and “gourmet” meals. My mother taught me the more down home type cooking. My training is home/family based, with a few years in a class as a child.
Which one is your favorite food? Which dish is the one you cook best?
My favorite food? That would have to be a mild Italian Sausage. A well- made Italian sausage is one of the most versatile meats I have ever run across; it goes wonderfully in just about every dish, from a potato’s O’Brian, to a sweet brown sugar laden casserole. The dish That I cook the best, and is my favorite is Candied Italian sausage with made from scratch Florentine with a simple Alfredo sauce.
Who does the cooking at home? Do you cook for one or two, or a family?
I do all the cooking at home, well my sons help as I am teaching them like my parents taught me. My 4 year old make wonderful cookies. I cook for a family of five, but it is not unusual for me to host surprise dinner guests.
Which ones are your favorite recipes/dishes at home? Eating out?
Besides the Candied Italian sausage recipe, my favorite would be homemade pizzas. The entire family gets involved and we have some interesting concoctions. No two are ever the same. We rarely eat out, maybe twice a year. We enjoy the family dinners, the uglier the building the better the food. However, my favorite when it comes to eating out would have to be sushi.
Please, share with us a typical menu you serve when you entertain friends.
We tend not to have typical entertaining when it comes to dinner parties. We have a set BBQ, though, which you can find that menu in the BBQ article. It depends on what guest I have. More often then not, we do homestead type meals of in season produce and meats.
Erin M. Phelan, food writer
What was your motivation to start writing about food and creating recipes?
Writing and cooking have always been a part of my life. It was just felt natural to combine the two.
How did you get started with writing? Do you have a special routine, a special place?
Just like with cooking I have been writing since I could talk. I know that seems like an odd statement. However, I began story telling as soon as I could form complete sentences. Then put them to paper as soon as I could handle a pencil. My routine is 1,000 words in the morning, before my children wake, and more after they have gone to bed. Special place? The computer area if it needs to be on the PC, otherwise where ever the urge strikes me.
What problems did you have to face in order to balance your family time, your writing time and the work you do on your homestead? Did you use any specific time management techniques?
I am still having those issues. Things on the homestead can change abruptly, depending on the season. Time management is very important, and I am still working that one out. However, as writing, cooking and living a simpler lifestyle with my family is very important to me, I try hard to keep things running smoothly.
What would you do differently if you had to do it all over again? What would you do the same if you had to start over?
Differently? Possible more training when it comes to cooking. There are times I feel I am unable to properly write about a technique because I was never formally trained. The Same? Easy, enjoying both food and writing.
If you had to advise a friend who wants to follow on your footsteps to become a food writer, what would you tell?
Buy a thesaurus as you can only use so many words to describe something is yummy, experiment with your favorite recipes until it resembles nothing like the original, and love what you do. In addition, don’t give up. You will burn your baked goods, explode your soups and flatten your cakes.
Open up to new ingredients, things you might have hated in the past could become your favorite with just a touch of something new.
Moreover, never say quits because it has yet to work in your favor. Rejections and inedible food are all part of this job.
Thank you very much Erin, we hope to enjoy your writing for many more issues of this newsletter.