Wendi Spraker from Loaves and Dishes (Transcript)

Season 1 - Episode 9

October 31, 2018

Transcript - Wendi Spraker of Loaves and Dishes

Nicole:                                       00:00                     Welcome to BFF with the Chef. I'm your host, Nicole Schwegman.

Nicole:                                       00:00                     Aloha, friends and foodies, and welcome back. Today I'm interviewing Wendi Spraker, the blogger behind Loaves and Dishes, a website dedicated to unapologetic comfort food, where Wendi also serves up funny stories, memories, and nourishment for body and soul.

Nicole:                                       00:00                     In addition to writing her blog, Wendi serves on the board of the International Food Bloggers Conference, where she recently also served as a moderator. She's a director of her local arts council culinary program, Taste of Stokes, and she's a food columnist at her local paper, The Stokes News.

Nicole:                                       00:00                     When she's not writing, teaching, or speaking at a food conference, you'll find Wendi at home in the mountains, enjoying her family, hiking, kayaking, or hugging her pugs.

Nicole:                                       00:00                     Hey, Wendi. Welcome to the show.

Wendi:                                       00:00                     Hey. Thank you very much. I'm so happy to be here.

Nicole:                                       00:00                     I'm excited to interview you. I feel like I have a little bit of a celebrity here, there's some people yelling [inaudible 00:01:09]-

Wendi:                                       00:00                     Oh [inaudible 00:01:08]-

Nicole:                                       00:00                     So I'm like, yes. Well, Wendi-

Wendi:                                       00:00                     Aww.

Nicole:                                       00:00                     So I start the podcast with three questions, so are you ready?

Wendi:                                       00:00                     I'm ready.

Nicole:                                       00:00                     All right. Tell me about the last meal you cooked for yourself.

Wendi:                                       00:00                     It's been a long time since I've been by myself at home, but ... to cook just for myself. Like, for instance, last night, all the kids, their spouses, all came over and we just did hamburgers and hot dogs on the grill. But the last time that I cooked for myself, I fixed a pan-seared chicken breast with like a mushroom cream sauce. Oh, it was delicious. And oven roasted fresh baby carrots, like straight from the garden. And some broccoli, just roasted in the oven. Oh, it was delicious. So that's what I do for myself, when I'm by myself at home.

Nicole:                                       00:00                     That sounds really good. That sounds really good. Okay, tell me about a meal that brings you back to your childhood.

Wendi:                                       00:00                     Oh, let's see. The thing that brings me back to my childhood is breakfast. Just breakfast. Scrambled eggs, and bacon and sausage and grits. Grits are a staple here in the South, and although I grew up in the North, my parents were from the South. And every time I sit down to that breakfast, it just reminds me ... my dad always cooked breakfast every morning, even on school mornings, he'd get me up and fix breakfast. And it just feels so comforting and good to have that hot breakfast with just those basic ingredients. Scrambled eggs, bacon or sausage, toast, grits. It just feels really comforting and like being at home and back in my childhood.

Nicole:                                       00:00                     That sounds really sweet. Are you a big breakfast person now?

Wendi:                                       00:00                     No. I almost never eat breakfast.

Nicole:                                       00:00                     What happened?

Wendi:                                       00:00                     I don't know. I drink my coffee breakfast most everyday now. But on the weekends, we do breakfast. I just ... I don't know ... I just don't as an adult. Maybe that's why it's so special now anyway.

Nicole:                                       00:00                     Oh.

Wendi:                                       00:00                     I don't recommend that, by the way. That's not a good diet plan, but that's just what I do.

Nicole:                                       00:00                     No, I mean, look, hey. Everybody has ... I don't know ... I don't know too many people who are like, every morning I have two eggs and I have a side of turkey bacon ... no, nobody does that. People work. People work a lot, but I do ... I will tell you that on the weekends, breakfast is my favorite meal. I love breakfast. If you offer me a good breakfast brunch, I'm there.

Wendi:                                       00:00                     What do you like for your breakfast? What do you do for your breakfast?

Nicole:                                       00:00                     Oh, my goodness, it depends on how I'm feeling. So sometimes I love pancakes and bacon, which I think is the ... that's a breakfast childhood meal that I love. But lately I've found that I can't just do straight white flour pancakes. For whatever reason, I'm just out the rest of the day. I'm so sleepy and tired. But I recently ... one of the other folks that I interviewed, Colleen Cox, introduced me to these things called Kodiak cakes, and it's this mixture that has protein in it. And I tried it actually this weekend, and I ate my usual ... I made waffles with it, so I had waffles and blueberries and bacon, and I noticed that I wasn't as sluggish as I normally am. And it tasted really good. And I'm not what you would call a person who's always consciously trying to ... I mean, I just eat food, and whether it's kale, or, as I mentioned, I love bacon.

Wendi:                                       00:00                     Me, too.

Nicole:                                       00:00                     Yeah. I will eat ... I just love food. And I love to eat it and I love to talk about it, obviously. But, yeah, I'm really glad that she introduced me to that, because it definitely is something that allowed me to enjoy a breakfast item that I truly love, but I also was able to kind of still move about my day.

Wendi:                                       00:00                     Right, right.

Nicole:                                       00:00                     But it depends. I also love a good baked egg dish, any type of baked egg dish I'm really all for. Especially if it has ... if you have like a frittata or if you wanna do like a savory bread pudding, I'm down with that.

Wendi:                                       00:00                     Okay, now I'm getting hungry. I'm gonna have to go have breakfast [inaudible 00:06:18].

Nicole:                                       00:00                     I know. Or Brinner. Breakfast for dinner.

Wendi:                                       00:00                     There you go. There you go.

Nicole:                                       00:00                     Finally, an ingredient that you can't live without.

Wendi:                                       00:00                     Oh, an ingredient I can't live without is definitely ... there's two, but number one would be salt. I get so upset when I go out to eat and the dish is not seasoned at all or not enough. That is so frustrating. Salt, number one. And number two would be garlic. I put garlic in everything, so it's those two, really.

Nicole:                                       00:00                     Okay, I think this must be a food blogger thing, because a good percentage of food bloggers that I talk to say garlic, salt. Some of them say butter. A lot of them say eggs. The basics. You'd think people would be like truffle oil. You think, what? No.

Wendi:                                       00:00                     No, uh-uh.

Nicole:                                       00:00                     It's just the basic ingredients. I agree with you on the salt. I just went to dinner a couple of days ago, and I had a fish dish. And this, by all means, this fish dish should have been delicious. It had all the elements of deliciousness there. But they, whatever, they just didn't salt it correctly, like it wasn't salted enough. It was so bland, and I was so disappointed. I'd been to this restaurant before and things had been delicious, and I don't know if they had a new person on or what, but that person did not salt that fish correctly. And if you don't salt a fish correctly, forget it.

Wendi:                                       00:00                     Right. There's a lot of foods like that. Like it's easy to sit back and say, well, she can just put the salt on her fish at the table. You could, but it wouldn't ... it doesn't taste the same as if it's salted when it's being prepared.

Nicole:                                       00:00                     Exactly.

Wendi:                                       00:00                     Totally different.

Nicole:                                       00:00                     It's just not the same. When your food is raw, that's the best time to salt it, because that's when you have a chance to add the most flavor, and the salt has a chance to do chemically what it's supposed to do, which is kind of wake up the flavor in your food. And so, when you wait until after the food is cooked, you're just really kind of putting salt on top, and it doesn't penetrate the same way.

Wendi:                                       00:00                     Right, right. It doesn't have time to melt and get down in the creases and be all the goodness it can be.

Nicole:                                       00:00                     Exactly, exactly. All right. So, I wanna start by talking to you about how you got started in food blogging, because you're kind of a big deal.

Wendi:                                       00:00                     Oh-

Nicole:                                       00:00                     Yeah, so ... give me your humble beginnings.

Wendi:                                       00:00                     You probably hear this from everybody, but I've just always loved cooking. It's not something I have chosen as a ... well, now I guess I've chosen it as a career, but originally I didn't choose it as a career. It's just a hobby. And over the years, I just got more and more and more ... I have a serious cookbook addiction. I can probably give away half of my cookbooks and they'd still be tumbling out on the floor in my kitchen. But it's just-

Nicole:                                       00:00                     You have to keep every single one of those cookbooks.

Wendi:                                       00:00                     [crosstalk 00:09:49]. It's a problem.

Nicole:                                       00:00                     It's like a child. Would you give away a child? Like, no. There's a recipe, there's one recipe in every single one that you must keep.

Wendi:                                       00:00                     Right. And I read cookbooks for pleasure. I'm one of those weirdos.

Nicole:                                       00:00                     Nope, not a weirdo. I also ... if you look at my bookshelf, you would see a ton of different cookbooks, science cookbooks. Oh, my goodness, my husband's like, really, another cookbook? And I'm like, come on. And I like, and I don't know if you're like this, but I like the physical book when I'm talking about a cookbook.

Wendi:                                       00:00                     Me, too.

Nicole:                                       00:00                     I've tried to do a Kindle, and it's just not the same.

Wendi:                                       00:00                     No.

Nicole:                                       00:00                     Even on my iPad. It's just not the same. There are some people who can do it, but there's something so pleasurable about holding a book in your hand. And I just, I don't know, there are some books I go to and they have sauce splattered on them, the spine is torn a little bit. But I love that book. I just love holding it in my hand.

Wendi:                                       00:00                     Right. That's how you know which ones are the best recipes. They're the ones that are the most messed up.

Nicole:                                       00:00                     Yeah. I have this Thai one I've been cooking out of this past year, and its ... the spine is torn on it now.

Wendi:                                       00:00                     Well, anyway, so I have this cookbook problem, and I enjoy cooking for groups, like for church or for book club, or whatever. And people are always asking me for my recipes and I was a food blog reader. And so, I kept thinking, if I could just figure out how to do the website part of it, I think I could do everything else. I can write pretty well. I definitely have recipes. I don't know, I can learn photography, which by the way, is much harder than it seems like it should be.

Nicole:                                       00:00                     Girl.

Wendi:                                       00:00                     But anyway, I found Food Blogger Pro, and that's how I learned how to build a website. And just one thing led from there. It was just a way to share my recipes, really, in the beginning, with family and friends. And it's elements we've added on along the way, and here we are.

Nicole:                                       00:00                     That's awesome. It's really awesome. So I wanna talk about this phrase on your blog, and I love it. I'm gonna say it, this is going to involve cheese, butter and cream, because when it comes to cow versus chemist, I choose cow every single time. Okay, talk to me about that.

Wendi:                                       00:00                     When you are cooking and creating dishes, I find that when you're cooking with real ingredients, things that either came up out of the ground the way they are, or arrived at your place pretty much in the form that they came on the earth in, your dishes will taste so much better. And the closer you can get to the point of origin, the better they will taste. So for me, using things like margarine or any artificial ingredients, it's just not in the plan. I will choose the original. I don't care if it's higher fat. I don't care. I don't care. I'm gonna use the original.

Wendi:                                       00:00                     And besides that, a few years ago, I saw a nutritionist. And I really thought, here I am, a nurse and a cook, I don't need to see a nutritionist. I know what I know. I just don't choose to do what I need to do is the biggest ... but she really educated me that if what you're craving, for instance, is a cup of milk, and you drink the whole milk versus the skim milk or the almond milk or whatever other milk it is, that you will be satisfied with less than if you ... like, maybe with four ounces of whole milk versus eight, 12, 16 ounces of skim milk. Because your body was needing something. That's why you were craving it. So just go on and have the four ounces of whole milk and walk a little further when you go outside.

Nicole:                                       00:00                     [inaudible 00:14:17].

Wendi:                                       00:00                     That's what I follow. I try not to use artificial ingredients. Sometimes, in some of my recipes, because it's easier and I know that I'm cooking for people who ... or creating recipes for busy people, sometimes I do go ahead and use some preprocessed ingredients, but not often. It's usually whole original ingredients.

Nicole:                                       00:00                     Yes. I agree with that. And I like that. I definitely will go to any ingredient that's very unprocessed, if I can. I don't know, I just think it tastes better. To me, it's about a taste thing. And I'm a big advocate of loving whole milk and then organic whole milk? Get out of here, that's delicious.

Wendi:                                       00:00                     It sure is.

Nicole:                                       00:00                     I can't drink milk as much as I used to, but for a long time, I was like, why do I feel bad? And then someone was, you're probably lactose intolerant. And then, like, oh, well, I'm just still gonna continue drinking milk. Now my body's like, yeah, I think you need to cool it on the milk.

Wendi:                                       00:00                     Right.

Nicole:                                       00:00                     So I just have to take a pill before I indulge in dairy, and I'm right back at it. Because I'm not a quitter. [crosstalk 00:15:48].

Wendi:                                       00:00                     Even in those cases, I think, not that you have to go to substitutes, but there's lots of other things out there that are delicious.

Nicole:                                       00:00                     I can still eat butter. Don't you worry, I can still eat butter. That hasn't got me yet. No, I love that phrase, though. So I'm gonna bring up a little bit of a controversial topic with you.

Wendi:                                       00:00                     Uh-oh, uh-oh, okay.

Nicole:                                       00:00                     I know. Dressing versus stuffing. On your blog, you have a little bit of a hey, let me tell you what the difference is. And I know it's not Thanksgiving yet, but by the time people hear this, it will be close to Thanksgiving.

Wendi:                                       00:00                     Exactly.

Nicole:                                       00:00                     So, can you solve the debate once and for all?

Wendi:                                       00:00                     Well, I hope I can. You know, dressing and stuffing are both similar ingredients and what you put in them. Dressing is a dish that you serve alongside of your meat, and stuffing is what you put inside the cavity of the bird, the chicken or the turkey or the duck or whatever bird you're serving. So on my blog, I recently did a cornbread dressing recipe. It's baked in a pan separately and you have it cut in squares or dip it out or whatever. But stuffing is the same thing, the basic same thing, put inside, cooked inside of the bird so that as it cooks, the drippings from the bird go down inside. It's delicious, too. But often it's something that's not recommended because it's not at the right temperature and that kind of thing, and you can end up with people getting sick. And you don't wanna do that. So, typically we do dressing at my house.

Nicole:                                       00:00                     Okay.

Wendi:                                       00:00                     But here's the real thing. You don't wanna get on a real cooking Facebook group and confuse the two. Because you will have somebody jumping down your throat saying, you're talking about dressing, you're not talking about stuffing. Or vice versa.

Nicole:                                       00:00                     There's someone screaming in the car right now at us about the whole dressing versus stuffing debate. Guarantee you we're gonna hear about it.

Wendi:                                       00:00                     There's a similar thing that goes on between, here in the South, between Duke's mayonnaise and Hellmann's mayonnaise. They both have their avid supporters and probably shouldn't, unless you're ready for a fight, you shouldn't stake ground on either side of that.

Nicole:                                       00:00                     Oh, I know. And I'll never tell which one I use.

Wendi:                                       00:00                     No, don't. In my pimento cheese recipe, I recommend using Duke's for that recipe, and that's how I found out how serious the Hellmann's versus Duke's struggle is.

Nicole:                                       00:00                     Oh, man. I'm sure. Did you get like a thousand people going, excuse me-

Wendi:                                       00:00                     Oh, yeah-

Nicole:                                       00:00                     Actually ...

Wendi:                                       00:00                     It was like near death threats. No, it wasn't that bad. I'm exaggerating. But that's kinda what it felt like. It was that serious to people.

Nicole:                                       00:00                     I've learned my lesson, especially on Reddit. Do not go on Reddit thinking you know everything, because they will let you know in a minute, you do not know.

Wendi:                                       00:00                     You do not, you do not.

Nicole:                                       00:00                     You do not. Well, I'm glad you cleared up dressing versus stuffing. I'm not gonna lie. For years, I thought they were the same thing. I might have interchanged and used my terms. I know I should be committed to food blogger jail for that.

Wendi:                                       00:00                     Well, I have done the same ... I still do the same thing, but I'm trying to be better about it. That's why I was kind of tongue in cheek about that post I did, but I'm sure you must have read, though.

Nicole:                                       00:00                     Oh, yeah. But the struggle is real. People do jump on you. Someone right now is going, I don't jump on you. I just want you to use your terminology right. Like, we know.

Wendi:                                       00:00                     Exactly it. We know.

Nicole:                                       00:00                     And who is this person I imagine that's out there doing it? Everyone's like, no one is saying that. Just you.

Nicole:                                       00:00                     All right. So what are some of the meals that you cook over and over?

Wendi:                                       00:00                     Oh, meals I cook over and over are just things that my family loves. So there's hamburgers we had last night. We have those all the time. They're easy, everybody likes them, you can please everyone. So, hamburgers and hot dogs, that's one. I have a fettuccine-

Nicole:                                       00:00                     Do you do anything special to those hamburgers? Is there anything special that you ...

Wendi:                                       00:00                     I try to handle the hamburger as little as possible, because the less you handle it, the juicier it is. If you handle it a lot, it gets tough. I think we've all had those hamburgers that are tough and swollen, and you chew and chew and chew, and they don't ever want to [inaudible 00:21:11], so just as little as you can handle them as possible to get them patted down into a patty. I do add A-1, salt and pepper, and garlic powder and onion powder to mine. And that usually makes it pretty tasty.

Nicole:                                       00:00                     Are you a smasher or are you a griller?

Wendi:                                       00:00                     We grill ours, usually.

Nicole:                                       00:00                     Do you put a little dimple in them?

Wendi:                                       00:00                     I do, because otherwise they puff up and they roll around on the grill.

Nicole:                                       00:00                     Yes, I do the same thing. Put a little dimple in the top of your hamburger, so that way it one, it doesn't turn into a hockey puck, and two, you can easily turn it over once it's cooked on the first side. I will admit though, if you ask me between a grilled hamburger and a smashed hamburger, I am a smashed hamburger-

Wendi:                                       00:00                     Are you?

Nicole:                                       00:00                     Type person. I love a good smashed, griddled hamburger. Oh, my goodness. [crosstalk 00:22:16].

Wendi:                                       00:00                     If you have a serious griddle at your house, that would be the way to go. They really are good that way.

Nicole:                                       00:00                     I bought one of those, I don't know if you've ever heard of it, it's a baking steel. And this guy makes these baking steels that you put pizza on-

Wendi:                                       00:00                     Yeah, yeah.

Nicole:                                       00:00                     There's a mini one he made, and if you turn it over, it's a griddle and I actually use it for the griddle way more than I use it to make a mini pizza on. And that thing it, look, I mean, if you make good smashed hamburgers, you're gonna smoke out your kitchen, so just be ready. Just be willing to live with that. But it's worth it. It really is. And I just take it and the first 30 seconds, I can put a little salt on the top, and I just smash that thing to kingdom come with a spatula, and then I just let it get nice and caramelized on the bottom before I scrape it up and put it on the other side. Yeah, I'm a small patty, smashed burger person. But I am not opposed to grilling. I just like ... if you ask me which way I want my hamburger, I prefer it to be smashed.

Wendi:                                       00:00                     And the other secret to hamburgers, besides the dimple and handling it as little as possible, is put a little bit of salt on the surface of your hamburger before you cook it. It makes a world of difference-

Nicole:                                       00:00                     That's right.

Wendi:                                       00:00                     In how it tastes. A world of difference.

Nicole:                                       00:00                     Oh, yes. I a hundred and ten percent agree with that. Just try it. Try it and tell us about it afterwards.

Wendi:                                       00:00                     Yeah, yeah, exactly.

Nicole:                                       00:00                     If you haven't been doing it already. So speaking of the meals that you cook over and over, do you have like a kitchen tool that you use that you can't live without?

Wendi:                                       00:00                     I do. I have a handful of things that if my house were on fire, I would grab these things out of my kitchen on my way running out the door. I have some good knives, but I have a seriously good 10 inch chef's knife. I love that thing. I use it for absolutely everything. I think it's a Wusthof brand, but keeping it with a nice sharp edge, it can do anything. I'm like a kitchen samurai with that thing.

Wendi:                                       00:00                     I have some good cast iron pans and some good wooden spoons. Those are my faves, but I'm gonna tell you my very, very favorite kitchen item. Back when I was a kid, and I'm gonna tell you, that's been a long time ago. When I was a kid, we had this metal spatulas that had this really flexible flipper on it. They don't make them like that anymore. I can only find them in antique shops and Ebay and that kind of thing. They weren't expensive then and they're not expensive now. I think the most I've ever paid for one is like 12 dollars. I collect them. But usually you can get them for like fifty cents or a dollar. Those spatulas that you can flip, flip, whatever you're flipping in your pan with, I would grab those if my house was on fire. Because I love those, and they're so flexible, and you can get under whatever you're flipping. That's my favorite kitchen tool.

Nicole:                                       00:00                     Oh my goodness. We're gonna have to have you take a picture of that, because I wanna see what this looks like-

Wendi:                                       00:00                     I will do that.

Nicole:                                       00:00                     And then I'll ... yeah, send me a picture so I can share it on the Instagram-

Wendi:                                       00:00                     Absolutely.

Nicole:                                       00:00                     Yeah, so people will be like, what? That sounds awesome, though. I love that you collect them. I collect honeypots.

Wendi:                                       00:00                     Oh, do you?

Nicole:                                       00:00                     When I was a midshipman at the Naval Academy, there was this family who would bring me over for dinner, and one of the things they had ... I'd never seen a honeypot. I know that's crazy, right? They had this lazy Susan and they had all their condiments on the lazy Susan. And when you'd come over to their house for dinner, they'd make these fresh biscuits, and oh my goodness, there's nothing I love more than a good, flaky biscuit with butter and honey. And they had this honeypot with a little honey stick, and I was fascinated by that, and that's what started my love of collecting honeypots. I'd go all over the world and try and find honeypots. I still have ... I've lost some of them in a move, but I still have about four or five. I can't bring myself to stop trying to look for more honeypots. I might have collected every honey-shaped type pot in the world. One of my prized possessions is honeypots.

Wendi:                                       00:00                     So there you go.

Nicole:                                       00:00                     I wanna be cremated an put in a honeypot when I die.

Wendi:                                       00:00                     Well, we all have our things, don't we?

Nicole:                                       00:00                     We sure do know. All right, I wanna talk for a moment ... you have so many amazing recipes on your blog. I saw your apples and ale barbecued chicken. I'm obsessed with that. I wanna make that for dinner. Like, I saw that, and I wasn't even hungry, and that made me hungry.

Wendi:                                       00:00                     Aww.

Nicole:                                       00:00                     And then the apple and pecan waffles ... the sauce. How did you come up with that sauce?

Wendi:                                       00:00                     Oh, that was just one of those things that I was in the kitchen messing around with the ingredients I had available, and that's what I came up with. Plus, my husband loves waffles and pancakes. I'm not a big lover of waffles and pancakes, but he is. So I was trying to create something that he would really, really like. He loves those things. So we have them pretty regularly.

Nicole:                                       00:00                     So is it more of like a brown sugar sauce, or like a ... can you talk to us about the sauce for a moment?

Wendi:                                       00:00                     Yeah, sure. I'm having to remember, because I did that one a long time ago. It's like apples, brown sugar and butter, and you cook it all up and make that, just make a sauce. It's really good, though. You can't ever go wrong with brown sugar and butter together, and then you add [crosstalk 00:28:26] the apples with a little acid, or lemon juice, something with a little acid in it, and you have a delicious sweet sauce. You just can't go wrong with that.

Nicole:                                       00:00                     It sounds so good. And I also wanna touch briefly on your chicken soup secrets. What are some of those secrets, because that soup looked really [inaudible 00:28:51]. It just looked so comforting and homey. Probably now it's fall, and people are starting to wanna cook those really warm, inviting recipes, and you said you had a bunch of chicken soup recipes. Can you give us one chicken soup secret?

Wendi:                                       00:00                     Yeah, I think the most important is that you don't wanna overcook the chicken. Have you ever had chicken soup, like chicken soup out of the can from the store? The chicken is real stringy and tough and it's really not pleasant in your mouth. And I don't know if it tastes good or not, probably not. But anyway, good chicken soup, the chicken is cooked just right. And the way you do that is that you're really careful about ... you're gonna boil it a little bit, but you just want your water to just come to a simmer, and simmer just a little bit, until the meat is cooked through. Just cooked through. Not overcooked. You don't want it like a boiling cauldron. Just let it simmer. Just be gentle with it. And that chicken will be really tender and really tasty. And the side benefit from that is that the broth that you create will be a lot more clear. For years, I'd been trying to make a clear broth and I couldn't master that, just because I was cooking it too hard. I was bubbling the heck out of that chicken. You just want to gently simmer it, and then that will help the broth stay clear, and it will cook the chicken tenderly, and you'll have a delicious soup.

Nicole:                                       00:00                     Are you a dark meat or a light meat person?

Wendi:                                       00:00                     Oh, I love dark meat. But I think for the photos for that post, I used white meat. But I like dark meat myself. I think it has more flavor and it's usually more tender.

Nicole:                                       00:00                     I think so, too, and actually, it's usually cheaper.

Wendi:                                       00:00                     Yeah, and there is that, too. Of course, of course.

Nicole:                                       00:00                     I'm a dark meat fan. I also believe it's more flavorful. Okay, I wanna talk about food conferences.

Wendi:                                       00:00                     Oh, okay.

Nicole:                                       00:00                     What are they like? I know you've been a speaker at several of them. I know you've moderated panels. But what are they like, and why should someone go?

Wendi:                                       00:00                     It can be a little overwhelming, especially if you blog full time. Because like, here I am, sitting in my home office, all by myself, and this is how I spend most of my time, food blogging by myself, in my office, or by myself in the kitchen. So you go to these conferences, and there's hundreds of people there. And that to me gets overwhelming. That's the overwhelming part. The good part is, is that usually there's all kinds of speakers about all kinds of topics that inevitably we need more education on. So SEO, photography, writing, any of the subjects that have part in your blog, you'll find a speaker on. And they're almost always real pros in their own profession or in blogging, so there's a lot to learn. I find it hard to get all my notes down, whether I'm typing them out on a computer or writing or whatever. They're usually so meaty, it's hard to get it all down.

Wendi:                                       00:00                     The second thing is that holy cow, you're in a room with all kinds of people who have the same love as you. So you're never gonna run into that at home. How many people do you know who are food bloggers? None. You might know one or two, but you'll be in a whole big room full of people who enjoy the same thing as you, who geek out on different types of salts, or different types of olive oils, or whatever, you name it. There's people there, and they're all excited about it. And I just think it's wonderful.

Wendi:                                       00:00                     I went to three conferences last year. It can be a little pricey getting there, flights and whatnot. But if you keep an eye out, you can usually find something pretty affordable. So I love going to conferences. And I totally recommend it, especially if you're planning on trying to make this your career. That is a way to meet people who can make a difference in your career for you. Not that you go there with that intention, but like, I was standing in line for lunch at the Everything Food conference, and one of the biggest bloggers in the world was standing right behind me, and I just struck up a conversation with her to talk while we were waiting in line. And she gave me some of the best advice about my blog that I've ever had. So wow, who knew that was what I was gonna get standing in line for lunch? So, anyway, I totally recommend conferences.

Nicole:                                       00:00                     Well, that's awesome, and I ask that for all those budding food bloggers out there who are thinking about starting your own food blog. If you're listening to this, you probably are someone who loves to hear and talk about food, and who loves to just be a part of food culture. That's how I wanted to start up the podcast, because I actually just wanted to be able to talk to other people who love this subject as much as I do, and I have a lot of fun talking about all the things I want to eat.

Wendi:                                       00:00                     Me, too. Me, too.

Nicole:                                       00:00                     And your blog looks absolutely ... the food on your blog looks so delicious. And I'm telling you the truth, I think I'm gonna try the apples and ale chicken thighs tonight for dinner-

Wendi:                                       00:00                     Oh, great.

Nicole:                                       00:00                     Because I love a good cast iron meal. Oh, yeah, I love a big cast iron pan recipe, and chicken in a cast iron pan, you say, one of the things you say about when you put chicken in there is, put the chicken down, leave it alone.

Wendi:                                       00:00                     Right.

Nicole:                                       00:00                     Don't touch.

Wendi:                                       00:00                     Don't touch. That's the hardest thing to do, because you wanna peek under there and see, how's it doing, how's it cooking, what's that skin looking like? But don't. Leave it alone. Because that's how it caramelizes and gets all the great flavors on there for you. Try not to touch it.

Nicole:                                       00:00                     Exactly.

Wendi:                                       00:00                     And in that recipe, I think I give in the recipe, instructions like put it skin side down first and leave it alone. Then turn it over. Leave it alone. I know that's a lot flipping and flopping back and forth between skin side, which why does it matter? It matters because you want that skin to get that flavor. So try to ... if you can't follow everything else about the recipe, at least follow that part.

Nicole:                                       00:00                     Done and done. All right, Wendi, so what's one tip that you can give to a home cook out there that can help them in the kitchen?

Wendi:                                       00:00                     One tip. I can actually give you two really quick ones. One is taste as you go. If it's something that you shouldn't be eating raw, like chicken, then don't taste that. But sauces, and anything else that you can taste, learn ... even for me, it's been a long time. It takes me usually three or four tries at a recipe before I have it exactly the way I want it. So don't think that you're gonna get a recipe perfectly right on the very first try. Even that doesn't happen for me. It's probably not gonna happen for a brand new cook that's never cooked anything. But as you're trying recipes, taste them as you go. Learn what it should taste like at each step, so that you know, and then you can make adjustments if you need to with the seasonings, the lemon juice, the salt and pepper.

Wendi:                                       00:00                     The other quick tip I wanted to say was ... here's an easy, easy sauce. And if you can learn to make this sauce, it's not hard, it's just melting stuff in a pan together. Then you will have a sauce that goes over potatoes, vegetables, chicken, pasta, whatever. And here it is. It's a delicious cheese sauce, and you just melt one stick of butter, that's eight tablespoons butter, and one eight ounce block of cream cheese, one cup of heavy cream. You can substitute milk if you need to, but that will make a much thinner sauce. So one cup of heavy cream, and x. And it can be the kind in the green can if that's what you've got. But if you can get your hands on some real Parmesan that you grate up by hand, that makes a world of difference. That is a delicious, delicious, delicious cheese sauce. It's good over broccoli, it's good over carrots, it's good over pasta, it's good over everything. So that sauce, you'll be set. You can fix it for company. You can fix it just for yourself or for your family. It's delicious.

Nicole:                                       00:00                     That sounds delicious. A cheese sauce, or even just drink it. [crosstalk 00:38:17].

Wendi:                                       00:00                     Just drink it.

Nicole:                                       00:00                     It sounds delicious. Cheese, butter, heavy cream, all delicious ingredients. Sounds so, so good.

Wendi:                                       00:00                     It's so simple. And if you fix it and then you need to heat it back up later, it kinda clumps up. So you just add a little milk and whisk it and heat it. Milk and whisking will get the lumps out.

Nicole:                                       00:00                     Okay. That's a great tip. Those are two really valuable tips. Thank you. Okay. So where can people find you? I don't even-

Wendi:                                       00:00                     I would love for everybody to find me. I'm at LoavesandDishes.net. Kind of like loaves and fishes, but loaves and dishes dot net. You can find me on Twitter @loavesanddishes. You can find me on Facebook at Loaves and Dishes. Pinterest at Loaves and Dishes. The one outlier is Instagram, and that's Wendi with an I, W-e-n-d-i underscore loaves and fishes. I am working on a new site. I hope to have it out ... well, it's already up. It only has two recipes on it, though. It's called Simple Recipes for Two, and that is because most of my readers have emailed me and said, I love your recipes, but it's just me, or it's just me and my significant other, and so making a big pan of this stuff is too much for us. So it's some of my best recipes cut down for just two people.

Nicole:                                       00:00                     That sounds awesome.

Wendi:                                       00:00                     Yeah.

Nicole:                                       00:00                     I'm gonna check that out.

Wendi:                                       00:00                     And it's SimpleRecipesforTwo.com. And it's in the building stage right now, but hopefully by the time this is broadcast, it'll be up and running.

Nicole:                                       00:00                     Awesome. Wendi, thank you for sharing so much with us today. I really appreciate your time.

Wendi:                                       00:00                     Oh, you are so welcome.

Nicole:                                       00:00                     All right. Well, we'll see you out on the internet.

Wendi:                                       00:00                     All right. Thank you.

Nicole:                                       00:00                     Oh, Wendi, what a darling. She's so nice and just so giving. And that cheese sauce. You know you wanna go out and make that right now. So look all, there are no corrections for this week, but I did wanna note that I said I would put up a picture of Wendi's spatula. You know, the one where she would not leave it even if her house was on fire? That one. I'm gonna put it on Instagram this week, so take a look for that. And I'll also put it in the Facebook group. And I'll also put links to the Wusthof knife and the baking steel griddle that we both chatted about during the show in the show notes. And I will be writing out and sharing the recipe for her cheese sauce, because come on, you know me by now.

Nicole:                                       00:00                     Oh, and I wanted to know, as we march towards Thanksgiving, what are your thoughts on the dressing versus stuffing debate? Are you team dressing or team stuffing? Does your heart break when you hear someone use the terminology wrong? Are you screaming in your office right now as you listen to this? Look, I wanna know it all, so tell me. You can join the Facebook group and tell me, or you can write a note on Instagram. I usually post about the episode for a week. You can leave notes there. I may even put up a team dressing versus team stuffing Instagram post, so you'll have to see.

Nicole:                                       00:00                     All right, like I said, love Thanksgiving. I've been excited about Thanksgiving since September first came and went. It's like the Superbowl of food for me, so of course, I'm going to have to host a very special Thanksgiving episode, and I'm gonna put that out the week before Thanksgiving. It'll be me and a very special guest that are gonna talk about all things Thanksgiving dinner. There's gonna be tips and recipes and some of the crazy Thanksgiving traditions that my family has. And of course, we're gonna have butter and bacon in that discussion. So don't worry, not leaving out the butter or the bacon. They make a Thanksgiving a Thanksgiving. So I am looking forward to that discussion, and I hope you are, too.

Nicole:                                       00:00                     And finally, consider joining the Facebook group. There are some extra things I only share in that group. So for example, if you want my killer chocolate chip cookie recipe, you're gonna have to join to get it. And if you like this podcast, please consider giving me a review. Those reviews really help the podcast be found by other people who also love butter and bacon, you guys. So help those guys out.

Nicole:                                       00:00                     And until next week, this is BFF with the Chef, wishing you a great week, and hoping that you've been inspired to go and make something delicious. Good-bye.