Welcome to the newest series on my blog; an interview series with some of my favorite food bloggers. First up we have Meg from Beard & Bonnet:
Introduce yourself – tell us a bit about you and your blog.
My name is Meg and I write the gluten free, vegetarian blog, Beard and Bonnet. My household consists of 1 gluten free vegetarian husband, 1 preteen daughter that will eat just about anything except for cheese, a toddler with a severe gluten allergy and a love for all things meaty, and our 2 pets who are also on a gluten free diet for health reasons. Me? Well, I can eat pretty much anything except for shellfish and processed soy.
It may seem like there is a lot of going without in our kitchen, but what I can promise you is that we don’t feel like we are missing out at all. My goal has always been to cook 1 meal everyday that not only meets all of our dietary restrictions, but pleases everyone at the dinner table then I share all of those recipes on my site for our readers.
In the past few years of writing B&B there have been plenty of memorable meals, but some of our family favorites are my “Pulled” Cauliflower BBQ Sandwich, Sweet Potato Taquitos, and Asian Lettuce Wraps.
Where does your passion for cooking come from?
My passion for cooking began at an early age; my mother is an accomplished pastry chef and my grandparents were avid gardeners so I was always surrounded by food! I can vividly remember picking corn and green beans in my grandparents garden then sitting under their tree with my grandmother and a glass of tea as we tipped and tailed the beans and shucked the corn.
Whenever I think of those times with her I can still recall the smell of the fresh beans and corn and how in that moment with my grandmother nothing else really mattered. Because of all of this inspiration from the amazing cooks around me I wrote my first cookbook when I was 9 complete with pictures and illustrations, my mom still has that tattered cookbook at her house.
Where do you get your recipe inspiration from?
I can find recipe inspiration from almost anywhere. Whether it’s seasonal vegetables at the farmers market or the desire to recreate an old family favorite from my childhood there really is no one particular place that I find inspiration.
Any ingredients you can’t stand? Which one can’t you live without?
Can’t stand? That would have to be dill pickles. I had a bad experience with them as a child and it has stuck with me all of these years. I can’t even stomach the taste of dill, which is sad because I would love to cook with it. If I had to pick one ingredient that I can’t live without it would have to be limes. I use them every day, they are always in my water and served alongside meals at my table. There is just something about that little oomph that they give finished dishes that I can’t get enough of.
I don’t care what type of food you are cooking it is almost always enhanced with a little squeeze of lime or a sprinkling of lime zest.
Are there any cooking techniques, dishes or styles that particularly intimidate you and you have yet to try?
Thai food used to intimidate me a lot! I loved eating it and exploring the depth of flavors, but the ingredients and some of the techniques were so foreign to me that I couldn’t even wrap my head around it. A few months back I saw this quote on Pinterest from Julia Child, “The only real stumbling block is fear of failure. In cooking you’ve got to have a what-the-hell attitude.”
I was so inspired by it that I committed to overcome my fear and to learn as much as I could about Thai cooking. So many recipes that I have created over the last few months now have been influenced by the new techniques and ingredients I have learned about! One of my favorites is my Roasted Spring Vegetable Curry, it has a mild heat factor which makes it perfect for my kids and is equally delicious with a little sriracha and fresh chilies added for Todd and I.
Share your worst cooking nightmare. Any epic recipe failures?
I don’t have one particular failure or nightmare that stands out. I prefer to think of them as learning experiences, ha! I can say that for me it comes in waves; it seems like when I am on a roll and the recipes are flowing it feels like there is no stopping me, but every now and then I hit a wall for a few days and it seems like nothing is turning out right.
It’s during those times that I find it really key to find new inspiration; whether that comes from the farmer’s market, a new cookbook, or finding a new blog to pour myself into. I find that if I focus my attention on finding new inspiration that the wall comes down and I can get back in the kitchen.
What’s the most adventurous dish you’ve ever eaten?
I grew up in the South surrounded by men that loved to hunt and cook. My grandfather had a ritual of always making breakfast for the family whenever we would visit him in Columbia, TN. One Saturday morning he served up homemade biscuits with a fried medallion of meat. Being only 10 or 11 at the time I figured it was some type of pork because that was his favorite breakfast meat.
Turns out it was squirrel that he had hunted himself, I don’t think I have been the same since.
If I’m only going to make one dish from your blog, which one should it be?
Hush Puppy Tacos. They are the perfect fusion of my southern upbringing and my love of fresh California cooking. All I can really say about these tacos are that they are a flavor explosion that everyone should experience at least once.
You made the adjustment to gluten free eating due to your son’s gluten intolerance. How difficult was this transition?
I’m not going to lie, in the beginning it was very hard to wrap my brain around! We were very much a baguette with dinner, pasta 2 – 3 times a week, and sandwich obsessed family. Watching our son get better everyday that gluten was out of our diets was well worth the transition though and actually became a huge source of inspiration for me. I feel fortunate that I can taste the foods that he sees and wants to try then I can go home and recreate them for him. One of his favorite treats that I have recreated for him are my cinnamon sugar donuts, they are dangerously addictive!
You seem to have moved around a lot over the years, has this affected your cooking style in any way?
I have lived in 14 different places in the past 12 years and have taken inspiration from each and every one of them. I love exploring our new environments for fresh local flavors, new to me ingredients, and building lasting friendships with the people I meet in each place over food. You can’t beat that type of life experience, but I will say that the moving itself has become harder over the years and more draining on us physically and emotionally.
We are finally back home in Southern California where we feel at home and have no plans on moving again in the future.
Bio: Meg van der Kruik is the blogger, photographer, and recipe developer behind Beard & Bonnet, a gluten-free vegetarian blog that celebrates style, design, food, and family. Meg has been cooking vegetarian dishes for over 7 years, but it wasn’t until her son was born with a gluten intolerance that she delved into the world of gluten-free cooking. Meg’s goal is to show others that gluten-free, vegetarian living can be easy, fulfilling, and delicious! Meg’s recipes have been published in Southern Living and Go Gluten Free Magazine. Along with her husband, she’s also one half of the duo behind the award-winning eco-design studio Union Eighteen, whose recycled rugs have garnered international acclaim.