Season One - Episode 2
September 11, 2018
Nicole: 00:00 Welcome to BFF with the Chef. I'm your host Nicole Schwegman. Aloha friends and foodies and welcome back. Today I have the awesome opportunity to interview Emily Wilson. Emily is the chef and caterer that runs The Craveable Kitchen, a blog that focuses on her favorite eats. Emily's mission is to inspire and encourage home cooks to get into the kitchen and prepare delicious fresh meals from scratch using wholesome ingredients.
Nicole: 00:35 Since she started cooking later in life, both by watching cooking shows and reading cook books and food magazines, Emily is a firm believer that anyone can cook, but as she puts it, you just have to try and not be afraid to burn a few things along the way.
Nicole: 00:49 Hi Emily. Welcome to the show.
Emily Wilson: 00:51 Hi Nicole. Thanks for having me. I'm so excited to be here.
Nicole: 00:54 Goodness, well you are one of my first chefs that I get a chance to talk to and I'm really excited to ask you some of these questions. If you're ready I have three questions that I start every podcast with. You ready?
Emily Wilson: 01:10 Ready, let's do it.
Nicole: 01:12 Great. Tell me about the last meal that you cooked for yourself.
Emily Wilson: 01:20 Actually I've been cooking a lot lately so that feels good for myself. Earlier this week I've been doing a sort of summer book study with a group of women and we decided to talk about food, so I made a lentil and quinoa salad for us to enjoy together. It was vegan and gluten free because you never know with groups of people these days what kind of dietary restrictions you're having. I had some pickled fennel in there, lots of fresh herbs, other vegetables that I can't remember right now, so a good lentil salad. Then I made an olive oil cake for dessert that I topped off with sort of an apricot pistachio, honey and dried cherry relish sort of, if you will, and a little fresh basil because I like to put fresh herbs in everything. That was earlier this week and was healthy but also a fun little meal to have in the middle of the week.
Nicole: 02:19 Okay Emily, so normally I go into these three questions but we're going to take a side detour right now.
Emily Wilson: 02:24 Sure.
Nicole: 02:25 Pickled fennel?
Emily Wilson: 02:26 Yeah.
Nicole: 02:27 Do explain. How'd you make that?
Emily Wilson: 02:31 I really love quick pickling things. Actually I have a post on my blog about pickled red onions, which are very popular these days. Lots of people are doing that. What I found is that with a simple combination of vinegar, water, sugar and salt you can kind of quick pickle anything. What I love to do is if you take a bulb of fennel and you tend to use the bulb part and then you have these stalks that sort of get lopped off and then not necessarily what do people do with those? I slice them thinly into little coins and then I use the same pickling liquid that I use on my red onions and pickle the fennel.
Emily Wilson: 03:10 They're really good actually and I love adding something pickled into different salads like that, like the grain salads because they add just a pop of acidity and brightness. By pickling the fennel too you kind of use the sugar part of the pickling sort of offsets that sort of anise licoricey flavor of fennel so it kind of mellows it out a little bit too. I love to do that and it's a great way to put those stalks to use too.
Nicole: 03:35 Do you boil the pickling liquid first? Sometimes it'll tell you when you're making pickles to boil it or do you literally just put it all together, put it in a jar, and then just let it sit for a few minutes, hours? What are we talking here?
Emily Wilson: 03:50 That's a great question. I always boil the pickling liquid because that will dissolve the sugar and the salt into the liquid so it's all just homogenous. Then depending on what I'm pickling I may let the liquid cool before I pour it over. For example, with the fennel and the onion I pour it over hot. I put the prepped pickles or fennel, for example, in heat proof boils and I'll pour the hot liquid over. That kind of tenderizes the vegetable too.
Emily Wilson: 04:19 If I'm doing something more delicate, like say I also like to do pickled blueberries and put those in salads, if I'm doing a fruit that's really fragile then I'll let the pickling liquid cool first and then I'll pour it over the blueberries so that it doesn't actually break them down at all. Those sort of need to sit in there a little longer before you will notice the pickling effect because it's not going in hot.
Emily Wilson: 04:46 Usually if I'm pouring the liquid over hot, like with the fennel for example, I'll just let them hang out at room temperature on the counter until the liquid cools and then I just package them up and I put them in the frig and then snack on them or use them in my recipes as needed.
Nicole: 05:04 That sounds amazing. Wow. Also side note, my mother-in-law has a little blueberry hobby farm and I've been trying to get her to pickle blueberries.
Emily Wilson: 05:19 Oh cool.
Nicole: 05:19 It's going to be amazing. I have never been able to prove to her that people pickle fruits like blueberries and blackberries. You just said that no nonchalant so nonchalantly. I'm so glad you said that. I'm going to play this for her and like, "See, people do pickle blueberries."
Emily Wilson: 05:38 Totally, I love it, especially because in the summer pickle the blueberries. I love to make a cabbage slaw with feta and blueberries and pickled blueberries. I even make a blueberry jam vinaigrette. Blueberry all summer long for me. I love blueberries and pickling them is just another way to toss them into things and use them in something savory. They don't always have to be for dessert.
Nicole: 06:01 You use the same pickling liquid no matter what or do you alter it a little bit?
Emily Wilson: 06:06 Yeah, I mean I do alter it. I keep it pretty basic so that it is true to it's name of quick pickling. I don't doctor it up too much but I might use apple cider. I should mention this, for the vinegar I usually use apple cider vinegar or rice wine vinegar because I tend to like the flavor of that vinegar just on it's own. White vinegar to me, a distilled vinegar, is a little bit too pungent. I like to use something that has a little bit more sweetness to it, so rice wine vinegar, apple cider vinegar. I usually do equal parts vinegar to water so then depending on the batch I'll add more sugar and then just a little bit of salt.
Emily Wilson: 06:46 I could use that same ratio and vinegar to water and one of those vinegars, whether I'm doing blueberries or fennel or onions. I just kind of keep it simple in that regard.
Nicole: 06:57 I'm sorry I took us off track but once you said ...
Emily Wilson: 07:00 No, that's okay. I'm [crosstalk 00:07:00] about that.
Nicole: 07:01 Pickled fennel, I was like we have to talk about that. I'm a big fan of pickles. I love pickled watermelon rind. I love all types of, especially like a sweet pickle. I think they just make food more dynamic.
Emily Wilson: 07:17 Yes, absolutely.
Nicole: 07:17 I love that you put that into a grain salad. It sounds so delicious. What a great way to, I think people when they're first trying to go vegan they aren't quite sure how do I ... I tried to go vegan for a month. It's difficult if you don't have some basic things that will make your food taste delicious. What a great way to add some flavor, some interesting flavors to your food.
Nicole: 07:49 I'm going to bring us back on track. I'm sorry.
Emily Wilson: 07:50 No problem. I love it. [crosstalk 00:07:53] about the vegan too.
Nicole: 07:55 What meal brings you back to your childhood? I know you talk a lot about on your blog, especially when you talked about why you wanted to start your blog, a lot of what's influenced you your grandma, but I'd love to know, tell me about a meal that brings you back to your childhood.
Emily Wilson: 08:12 Yeah, absolutely. Growing up I didn't come from a cooking family or cooking household, however, from very, very early ages I remember eating food and having memories of my favorite foods. This is a great question because one meal that takes me straight back is growing my dad actually lived in Asia. A lot of his time was spent between Japan and Korea. I have favorite foods from sort of each country and place that he lived. One of the meals was Korean barbecue. He lived in Seoul, Korea for a while.
Emily Wilson: 08:45 If I smell, with Korean barbecue you grill the meat in front of you and you can wrap in a lettuce cup. My favorite part was that they'd serve this little dish of sesame oil with salt in it and you would dip it. Even as a kid I remember that dish of salt with the sesame was my favorite part of the meal. If I smell sesame oil to this day it takes me back.
Emily Wilson: 09:13 We have some really good Korean barbecue restaurants here in the Detroit Metro area and so just a couple months ago I went with some friends. Just sitting at that grill and moving the meat around and cooking your food and wrapping in the lettuce and then dipping it in the sesame oil with the kosher salt, it's like I'm eight or nine years old again. That meal does it for me for sure. The sensory, the smells and everything just I love it.
Nicole: 09:39 That is so interesting. I grew up in a military family and I tell you Curry Wurst in Germany when I was a kid, I loved Curry Wurst. It was just something that reminds me of my childhood. I just recently went through Germany maybe about two years ago. Me and my husband were on vacation and we were coming through and I had a chance to eat it again. It's always funny how things that you loved as a kid, if you taste them as an adult they have a different ... You're like, "Oh, this tastes a lot different than what I thought it would taste like," but yes, anytime I have Curry Wurst immediately I'm a 10 year old kid again living in Germany.
Emily Wilson: 10:21 Totally. The funny thing about the Korean barbecue, to your point about things being different as an adult, is when I was a kid I had laser focus on the meat, the lettuce, and the sesame. I remember my dad would always favor ... We would put onions on the grill top and the little cloves of garlic and my dad loved that. I'm sure we had all the little dishes of stuff, but I wasn't a fan of spicy food as a young person so a lot of the little dishes scared me because I thought they might be the kimchi and the really spicy stuff. I really just honed in on the lettuce cups and the sesame oil, like I mentioned.
Emily Wilson: 10:55 Now as an adult when I sit at the Korean barbecue table and they bring all these dishes of all these little side things I want to try every single one. I love the spice and I love the variety. As an adult I'm actually getting more out of it than I did as a kid because I love all of it and not just that one little component. It's actually more exciting for me now, which I really appreciate.
Nicole: 11:15 I completely agree. Give me an ingredient you cannot live without.
Emily Wilson: 11:22 So many. I think salt and pepper. We're just going to leave those out because those are just standard, like basics. I think when it comes down to it, if there's something that if I worry I'll run out of having in my frig or I know I need to get to the store for it are definitely eggs. I always have eggs in the frig. I eat eggs almost every morning for breakfast.
Emily Wilson: 11:48 What I love about eggs is if you have them on hand you can bake a lot of things, you could make pasta if you want. You can even use them if you're going to bread a chicken. I like to bread vegetables and do pan fried zucchini and things like that. If I have eggs in the house I can use them at any meal time. They're obviously a very versatile ingredient. If I'm down to one egg I'm going to be running to the store. That's for sure.
Nicole: 12:20 I always wonder when people are, whenever you're getting ready for a snow storm on the east coast where I used to live if there was a snow storm, a threat of a snow storm coming to DC people would run screaming mad to the grocery store and buy bread and milk. I always wondered why aren't they buying eggs? If you have eggs you have a dinner, you have breakfast. You have so many ... You have a soufflé. That's such a great ingredient.
Nicole: 12:50 I've heard people say garlic. Mine is butter. My husband says I'm stockpiling for the global apocalypse and we're going to buy our lives with butter.
Emily Wilson: 13:01 Butter is a good one too because it's always in my frig. If I'm at the store it's always like, "Okay, do I need butter?" It's like, "Well I'm down to one pound so yes." I can never run out of butter either so it's always have at least one pound for backup in the frig at all time or four sticks, but then make sure you have extra so that you never run too low on butter. That butter would be a close second for me. I agree with you on that.
Nicole: 13:26 Exactly. You never know. It's such an important ingredient. Plus I'm going to trade, I'm going to trade it for other ... It's going to be more valuable than money I think if you ever run out.
Emily Wilson: 13:39 Pretty sure.
Nicole: 13:41 Let's get into talking about your food blog. Why did you want to start blog?
Emily Wilson: 13:52 For about four years a few years ago I got a really great opportunity to work for a startup company, a startup website. It was an online utility that helped people.
Emily Wilson: 14:00 ...company had started a website. And it was an online utility that helped people cook more efficiently. And my role with that started out or was, for the 4 years, content creator. So what I started out doing specifically was creating recipes that would then be able to interact within the utility to ... And be delivered to home cooks who could kind of follow along on their computer. Throughout those four years, my role evolved into sort of sharing that content. And so, I started blogging for the website and for the business. And doing some social media, which even back then about five or seven years ago when we were really kind of getting into it. Facebook as a promotional tool for food blogs is somewhat new. Instagram when we started wasn't even around. So, it wasn't until the later part of that.
Emily Wilson: 14:51 But so, through that job I was already exposed to blogging and social media and sort of sharing. And then writing recipe, developing recipes, testing them, photography. I did the food photography for that site as well. With somebody else's vision, I was sort of given this role of doing all those things. And I loved that job. I loved working for that group. And when that ended up ... it ended up that we just ran out of money, went out of business, unfortunately. 'Cause we all loved it so much. It was a great passion of ours.
Emily Wilson: 15:22 But, when that four years was sort of said and done, I was left with this real desire and passion for creating content that as I created it, I thought about the home cook. I thought about what somebody in their own home, in their own kitchen with either a ton of cooking experience who just wanted something new and creative to do. Or somebody who had very limited experience and we were maybe their first kind of foray into trying to cook. So, I was cooking for both mentalities. And I just really was left with this real passion for that. And I connected to people and home cooks through that experience who used my recipes. And it helped them become better cooks. And I just fell in love with that process.
Emily Wilson: 16:05 Over the years, I never really gave up or never really let go of that mental processing of like I just made this dish. Now, how could I share it was somebody else and help them make it too? Cooking for me has always sort of felt now like this sharing experience. Like when I cook, how can I share it with someone else so that they can cook too? And so, I just realized this past fall that ... Well on my, I have a website for my catering business. And so I had sort of started blogging there. But, it started to feel a little limited. Because it was really more of a business store front website versus a blog. Which a blog has many faucets and lots of ways to navigate and share different things.
Emily Wilson: 16:49 And so, I just decided to kind of make what I call my spin-off website, which is my food blog. And start that totally from scratch. And just to really feed into this need I have to share recipes with other people. And hopefully give them something that will inspire them to try cooking for themselves. Or like I said, people who love to cook, but they just kind of get bored with the same things. And they're looking for something that is a little bit different from what they normally make.
Nicole: 17:15 That's really great. I love that it's not just for you about cooking and making meals. It's about really sharing that information and knowledge. One of the things I love about cooking is I love feeding people. I love watching people eat the stuff that I make. It sounds really creepy. But, it's because ...
Emily Wilson: 17:34 No, I hear you.
Nicole: 17:37 My husbands like, "Could you not stare at me while I'm eating this?" And I'm like, "I wanted to watch your face as you eat it the first time."
Emily Wilson: 17:42 Yeah.
Nicole: 17:42 'Cause that's the joy and it is ... There's nothing that makes me feel more proud. Or just more excited than when someone says they like something that I've made.
Emily Wilson: 17:52 Yeah.
Nicole: 17:53 I think that goes for a lot of people who like to cook.
Emily Wilson: 17:55 Yeah.
Nicole: 17:55 You don't just love to eat delicious food for yourself, although that's a big part of it for me. I'm not gonna lie. I'm never gonna be a bikini gal. 'Cause I love to eat too much. And I'm okay with that.
Emily Wilson: 18:05 Yeah. Me, too.
Nicole: 18:06 I’m just like, take up space. But, one of the things that really drew me into cooking was my mom. She could cook. She didn't like to cook. But, she definitely ... It was a labor for her. It was definitely a chore. And so, when I was able to be old enough to where I could cook and actually start to get good ... 'Cause when I started, I was terrible. But as I started to get better in high school, I was the one who cooked. Because my mom worked pretty much my whole life. I think a lot of kids in the 80s, your mom worked. She worked long hours. I ate a lot of TV dinners. God bless my mom, she's an amazing mom. But, cooking just wasn't something that she loved to do. Although she could do it. She just didn't love to do it.
Nicole: 18:52 And so, when I was old enough in high school to really take over the duties of cooking, I would cook for my whole family. And they loved it. My dad loved it. My mom loved it. I could ... She'd give me cash and send me off to the grocery store. And I could buy whatever I wanted.
Emily Wilson: 19:08 Yeah.
Nicole: 19:08 And I just loved watching their faces and how grateful they were that I was taking on that role. So I loved that you, as a chef and as a blogger, wanna share that love and share that knowledge. Which is quite frankly, I love being able to learn things from chefs. I'm not a chef myself. But, I love reading about the things that you guys do and just the little bits of knowledge that you have. So speaking of the fact that you are a chef, walk me through, walk us through okay I think you said on your blog that you were an accountant or you worked in accounting. And then did you one day just have one of those like "you can take this job and shove it" and through up your papers and go running off to culinary school? Or what happened? Just tell us how that worked.
Emily Wilson: 19:53 So, I always loved to eat, I mentioned that. But, cooking was never on my radar. And so, I went to college here in Michigan. I went to Michigan State. And just like most of my peers, we went to college and I got a degree in accounting. And so, when I was ... I was sort of ... I graduated in December, but I had an accounting job lined up to start in September. I was going into public accounting. So, they sort of do it ... Back then, they did it in these sort of like classes. So, I had this amazing opportunity to take, basically, January through August. I call it my hiatus. And I just lived at home with my mom and my stepdad. And I just did things. I traveled. I had a part-time job. I studied for the CPA exam.
Emily Wilson: 20:37 And in this time frame is when I really started watching a lot of Food Network. And I would wake up in the morning. And I would fall asleep to Food Network on the TV. And then I would wake up in the morning. And I would get on foodnetwork.com or whatever it is. FoodTV.com or something back then. And I would look up recipes from the stuff I feel asleep watching. And then I would ...
Nicole: 20:57 What's your favorite? Just out of curiosity, what was your favorite Food Network show at the time? Do you remember?
Emily Wilson: 21:01 Oh back then, I remember that Emeril Live was really big back then. And the whole bam. And then I also really liked Sara Moulton. She had this like call in show.
Nicole: 21:09 I love Sara Moulton.
Emily Wilson: 21:11 Yeah.
Nicole: 21:11 She's now on a podcast. I think she does it. Milk Street Kitchen.
Emily Wilson: 21:15 Oh yeah. Yeah.
Nicole: 21:16 Yeah. She is the best. Anyway, sorry. Keep going.
Emily Wilson: 21:19 Well, I love that format of the calling in. Because it really took ... I mean, I think they were real callers. And the way she was able ... I mean, just the way that they brought up their real cooking concerns or troubles. And that she trouble shooted them right on the air. I thought that was just ... I really loved that format.
Nicole: 21:34 And so brave because what if there's something ...
Emily Wilson: 21:35 Yeah.
Nicole: 21:36 What if someone's like, "I'm cooking cow's feet." And you're like, "What?" No. Yeah. So brave.
Emily Wilson: 21:43 I remember that show. And then Bobby Flay was big back then, too. So, I liked watching. And those were more instructional. They have a lot of competitive ones now. So, I would wake up and I would print. And similar to what you mentioned, my mom would sort of just give me her credit card. And I would go to the store. And I remember I would just ... Like one time I came home with filet and I made a cognac mushroom sauce. And it was like dinner probably cost like 80 bucks or whatever. And nobody cared. And so, when I finally moved to Chicago to do my real job ... My mom and my stepdad would joke that they were glad I finally left the house because they were gaining all this weight eating cognac cream sauces and beef tenderloin for dinner on a Tuesday.
Emily Wilson: 22:22 Yeah. I really just ... That's when I really started to connect the fact that the food I loved to eat was food that originally before we had fast food or before we just relied on restaurants so much, these were foods that people made with their own hands. And then the fact that I could be creative. So, I remember making a salmon spring roll. Because, I mentioned, growing up going to Asia a lot. And I loved dim sum and dumplings. And I remember seeing that I could make an egg roll at home. But, I could put salmon in it, which was something I had never experienced before. And I was like, "I can make a salmon egg roll? Yes, I want to do that immediately." So, I'd run to the store and get the ingredients.
Emily Wilson: 23:07 So, I was still on track to go to accounting though. And cooking was really just a hobby. But, as I lived in Chicago my first year. I just entertained a lot. My apartment with my roommates ... We sort of were the hub. And we had people over a lot. And I would try to think of ways I could feed people while they were there. 'Cause to me, entertaining always starts with the food. And so I remember at one point I had this moment where I was having guests, friends over. And we were socializing on the back deck. And I just said, "I should just quit my job and go to culinary school and be a caterer or be a party planner." And they were like, "Yeah, okay." And then a year later, I did it. That's what I did.
Nicole: 23:45 Wow.
Emily Wilson: 23:46 Yeah.
Nicole: 23:46 I mean, that's pretty brave actually. Just to say, "Yeah. I'm not gonna do this whole accounting thing that I went to school for. Forget it. I'm gonna go off and go to culinary school." And I know there's a lot of people out there who are just living vicariously through you at the moment thinking, "Oh, my goodness. I wanna do that. I wanna quit my job. I'm gonna go follow my dreams. I'm gonna do this whole culinary thing." So, I have to ask you. So, there was life before you were a chef where you're watching the Food Network. You're in your mind. I don't know if you do this, but I have imaginary conversations with all of my favorite chefs. And for me, it's Alton Brown. I'm always talking to him in my mind. "What do you think Alton?" That's gonna sound creepy. Sorry, Alton.
Nicole: 24:37 But, there's what I think being a chef would be like. And then there's what being a chef is actually like. And I know that I have my fantasy of what life would be like if I was a chef. What was it ...? What did you think it would be like? And then what has it been like? And more importantly, what's been the most surprising thing to you about that?
Emily Wilson: 24:59 I will start out by saying that I have had a very non-typical career in the food industry. When I made that sort of proclamation like I should go and do this and be a party planner, I really wanted to have a career that would be very diverse, very ... Like you could do it anywhere, a lot of opportunity, constantly different. And part of the reason I chose accounting, to be honest, is 'cause everybody needs an accountant. And you can ... Accounting can take you all over the world. And so, I sort of had similar logic for choosing that degree. But, then when I started doing it for real life and I was in an office every day and I was looking at spreadsheets ... Which I love Excel still to this day. But when I'm looking at spreadsheets every day, I thought, "Oh gosh, this isn't really stimulating me. I'm not really feeling excited that this could be my life for the next 30 or 40 years."
Emily Wilson: 25:50 So, I went to culinary school with the idea that I wanted something that was creative, something where it was very dynamic, constantly changing. And that I really could have the opportunity to do it anywhere in the world if I wanted. And so, that is very true of the food industry in general. But, I spent ... I've done a lot of difficult things that aren't necessarily right in the kitchen. So for my biggest, sort of my first career outside of culinary school after I graduated and had done my cooking internship and that sort of thing, I ended up planning. Working in catering, but for front of house. So, I was planning events for clients and then working with the chefs to plan menus. And that was my favorite part in catering was always planning the menus. And so, that was sort of a really great skill set I had as a catering salesperson. But, I wasn't working in the kitchen at that time.
Emily Wilson: 26:39 And then the recipe development opportunity came up. And I thought, "Absolutely. I would love to take on this experience and see what this is like to work for a start-up and to develop recipes that other people will, hopefully, cook and enjoy." So, that was a very different experience, too. To be a recipe developer from a restaurant chef, for example. As I got out of the recipe development, I sort of took the catering and the recipe development experiences that I had and combined them into one thing to do my own business. So now, I cook weekly meals for clients. And I also do catering and parties. But, I'm doing all of it. I'm doing the selling, the menu planning, the purchasing, and the cooking itself, and the dishes sometimes. So, I'm doing all of it.
Emily Wilson: 27:27 So, my career has been kind of all over the place I say, really. But, that's sort of why I went into the food industry in the first place. Is because I didn't wanna have a predicable trajectory in my career. I wanted something that would offer me a lot of different opportunities, a lot of creative opportunities. So in that regard, even though the specific details in my career have all surprised me, that was one of the things that I really wanted out of the food industry. Was versatility and constant change. So, that really has been true to my expectation I guess you could say.
Nicole: 28:01 Awesome. So, I want to ask you cause you mentioned recipe development and I've been all over your blog and it looks delicious. One of the things I saw on your blog that I really want to try is you have a recipe for chimichangas. I went to the Naval Academy and chimichangas, the first time I had a chimichanga was at the Naval Academy. I didn't even know what a chimichanga was. It just wasn't something we ever made in our house or that I ever had. The joys of Mexican food was something I discovered in college. So, yours is one of the first chimichanga recipes I've seen outside of just traditional chimichangas and it looks just so, so delightful. I can't wait to try it.
Nicole: 28:50 But, I'll put a note in the show notes to this chimichanga recipe that I'm referring to. I think you just recently did it. I'm looking for it now as I look on this site. As I was looking through your site I saw this chimichanga recipe and I'm like, "I'm trying that."
Emily Wilson: 29:09 Yeah, it was right around leading up to Cinco de Mayo cause I love Mexican food also. Some people would argue that chimichangas are not authentic Mexican food. So, I hear them, I hear them-[crosstalk 00:29:20]
Nicole: 29:19 Someone's screaming right now. There's someone in their car screaming right now.
Emily Wilson: 29:23 There's something-I looked into before but there's something about this sort of Tex-Mex kind of border crossover type thing. So, I don't want to insult anyone by saying that they're this deeply rooted Mexican food. But, leading up to Cinco de Mayo, I just love Mexican food and Mexican flavors and the textures and the salty creaminess of that Mexican food flavor offer. So leading up to Cinco de Mayo I have quite a series of Mexican inspired recipes.
Nicole: 29:50 Exactly, that's what I would say chimichangas are. They're kind of Mexican inspired. Like I said, someone's screaming in their car right now. "Technically." We know, we know. It's probably not exactly what we're saying is the right thing but you love food, we love food, you get what we're saying and we definitely...look, I'm gonna eat a chimichanga, Mexican or not.
Emily Wilson: 30:10 Do it. Let's do it.
Nicole: 30:12 I'm looking at it now. The shrimp and zucchini chimichangas. She posted it on May 3rd. That's what I'm referring to. It just looks so yummy and delicious.
Emily Wilson: 30:20 Cool, thank you so much. Yeah, I love that one.
Nicole: 30:22 Well, I wanted to ask you what's a recipe, what's one of your favorite recipes that you've but on this site?
Emily Wilson: 30:29 Oh, goodness.
Nicole: 30:31 You're like, "All of them." No.
Emily Wilson: 30:33 I'm trying to...that's a great question because it is fairly recent that I started, since November.
Nicole: 30:39 Oh, my goodness. I noticed that. You have been prolific.
Emily Wilson: 30:44 Oh, thanks. Yeah, I had a little bit of a slow season here in this past June just because of business stuff. But I'm digging back in. Especially cause in the summer right now I just love all the ingredients that we have.
Nicole: 30:56 If you can give one tip to that home cook out there that will help them to make better meals what would that be?
Emily Wilson: 31:03 So, if it's alright, I'd like to sort of split my answer.
Nicole: 31:07 Sure.
Emily Wilson: 31:07 If that's okay. My first just sort of pointed answer short of chef-y answer is acid. I cook with a lot of vinegar and I have a lot of vinegars in my pantry. So, I mentioned the rice wine and the apple cider and then I love white balsamic. I think whenever a dish is falling flat adding a splash of vinegar will brighten it up and that acidity is sort of what wakes up our taste buds. So it's something that I think people don't really understand the power of.
Emily Wilson: 31:35 Even a lemon or a lime. Acid in that sort of fresh fruit. But the great thing about vinegar is it's shelf stable. You can leave it in the pantry and you don't have to run to the store to buy a lemon. So that's sort of my hidden ingredient tip, if you will.
Emily Wilson: 31:48 But my overall tip, I guess, is just for people. I really believe that anybody can cook. It is not a skill we're born with. It is a skill that gets learned and developed. So my advice always to people is to just try it. Whether you're somebody who cooks a lot and maybe that tip means just try it, just cook the lobster, just cook the short ribs, just do it. Because maybe that's something that you feel is a little out of the comfort zone, you know? So go for it. Just go for it.
Emily Wilson: 32:18 And if you're a new cook who doesn't really feel like you can cook or you don't know how to cook or your mom wasn't a good cook and so you're afraid to try, just try it. I remember when I mentioned to you previously about my hiatus my mom and I were just reminiscing about this the other day because that's when I started out cooking. I would use literally for that filet and mushroom dish, I would use every dish in the house it seemed like. This pile of dishes and my stepdad, bless his heart, would always like, "Well, you cooked so I'll do the dishes."
Emily Wilson: 32:48 And I'm like, "But, Tom, I used every dish in the house." He's like, "Just sit there and relax. It was a great meal."
Emily Wilson: 32:53 And the other thing was that we always ate two hours later than I said. So if I said, "Okay, dinner's gonna be at 6:30 we would eat at 8:30." So, in those early days, I had a big learning curve and I was really...I hadn't gone to culinary school yet. I was cooking from recipes I found on the internet or in cookbooks or magazines like I mentioned. But I did it. It didn't turn out perfect every time. It made a mess and we were usually late to the table. But, we really just came together as a family and like, used that time as bonding time and had fun with it. We have really great memories about it to this day. I mean, just to make it real for a minute. The other day when I was cooking those lentil and quinoa salad for my book group I burned the quinoa. I was super distracted. I used the wrong size pot. I knew I was doing it but I did it anyway and then sure enough I burned the quinoa. I've made quinoa like a bazillion times and here I am burning quinoa on a Tuesday morning. I was just like, "This is so silly."
Emily Wilson: 33:56 I share that just because cooking is never gonna be this perfect start to finish. You're always going to have little hiccups or things you don't know or, "Oops, I thought I had that ingredient and I don't" so substitute something else. Cooking really is very fluid and very forgiving. I just think anybody can do it. I'm a firm believer that anyone can do it so my encouragement really is just to get in there and try it out. If you need to follow a recipe to do that then great. But if you are a little more using a recipe as a suggestion and kind of fly by the seat, do that too. Because cooking, like I said, is really forgiving and at the end of the day you're going to have something worthwhile to show for it. I really believe that.
Emily Wilson: 34:36 And if not, and you have to order some pizza then that's okay too and just try again the next day. So that's really my encouragement for people who are wanting to be better cooks is to just try it.
Nicole: 34:47 Emily, this has been a blast. I have learned stuff from you. I'm gonna try pickling blueberries. I've always knew that was something you could do and now I'm gonna try it. But I want to ask you, where can people find you so they can go find these awesome recipes that you've been making?
Emily Wilson: 35:02 Yeah, thanks so much Nicole. I'm so excited to hear you say that. I would love for people to check out the blog. My blog is called "The Craveable Kitchen" because my food cravings are what lead me to cook. I imagine that a lot of people out there who crave food and would love to know how to cook it. So, The Craveable Kitchen.com and I'm also pretty active on Instagram. So Instagram @thecraveablekitchen and I also do Pinterest. I'm becoming a big fan of Pinterest so people can follow me along there if they want to just see more recipe inspiration. So yeah, that would be great. You can sign up for a newsletter on the blog as well if you want to just get the reminders when new posts go live and stuff. I'd really appreciate people following along.
Nicole: 35:44 Thank you so much, Emily, for coming on the show today. I know people are going to really enjoy this interview. I'll guess we'll see you out on the interwebs right?
Emily Wilson: 35:55 Thanks so much, Nicole. Yeah, it's been so fun. I really appreciate you having me on as a guest.
Nicole: 35:59 Alright, take care and we'll see you guys on the next show.
Nicole: 36:05 Okay, you just heard me talking with Emily from The Craveable Kitchen and it was really awesome to talk with her. Her blog has so many delightful recipes and I really encourage you all to go and look around and try some of them. I've specifically put her recipe for pickling liquid in the show notes along with a link to her blog.
Nicole: 36:34 I used that recipe here a couple of weeks ago. I made some pickled cherries with it which I will share on Instagram a picture of what they look like. I'm gonna try and savor those cherries for as long as possible throughout the winter. Put them in salads, like Emily suggested. A lot of green salads cause I think they're gonna be delightful.
Nicole: 36:58 Alright, so, corrections for this week. So there's a point where I saw I tried to go vegan for a month and I allude to the fact that it was hard cause if you don't know how to flavor your food it could be difficult to stick to. I didn't quite complete that thought. Sometimes in my head I think I'm being clear but my husband, when he listened to that, was like, "What?" So here's what I meant. In January, I did try to go vegan and vegetarian mostly because I thought it'd be a great challenge and I wanted to try and figure out ways to flavor my food without always relying on meat-based ingredients.
Nicole: 37:37 If you don't know me, I think butter and bacon are food groups. But, I follow a lot of yummy looking vegan accounts and a lot of yummy vegetarian accounts and I did want to add more vegan dishes into my meal rotation. I think there's some really delicious vegan meals out there that I want to enjoy and indulge in.
Nicole: 37:57 But one of the reasons why when you ask someone they try to go vegetarian or you try to go vegan is that well, they don't like the taste of fruits or vegetables. They're not really into that. So they think that if you go vegan that's all you're gonna eat and that it's not gonna taste very good. So, my point was that having something like a pickled blueberry or a pickled cherry or strawberry is just this explosion of flavor and it's another way that you can flavor your food that I hadn't thought about.
Nicole: 38:31 But it's just really delicious. And it's just a demonstration of how there's so many ways to flavor your food without having to always use meat. So that's kind of where my head was. It's a lot of extra explanation but I felt like I needed to explain that so you would understand why I made that comment.
Nicole: 38:52 Oh, and yes, I know chimichangas are not Mexican. It's a Mexican-American dish. Forgive me all. So I did link to the recipe that we talked about during the interview. It's in the show notes and I've also put a link to a site that gives the history of the chimichanga. Yes, I totally read it. So forgive me anybody out there who was screaming in their car that I said chimichangas were from Mexico. They are not. That is a Mexican-American invention. It's delicious and I still love them.
Nicole: 39:32 So, I'm sure I probably made a lot more mistakes and you should tell me about them. Share your knowledge on the Facebook page or send me a note because hey, I'm not perfect. I want to hear what you know and I want to talk about it with you. What other questions do you have that you want me to ask future podcast guests? Finally, if you like this podcast please consider giving me a five-star review. Those reviews really help the podcast be found by other people and it really helps out the show.
Nicole: 40:04 So, until next week, this is "BFF with the Chef" wishing you a great week and hoping that you've been inspired to go out and make something delicious. Goodbye.