Bread & Honey's Alicia Lynn Carrier in her kitchen
Regular readers of Daily Buzz know that I'm obsessed with the food blog, Bread & Honey.
So you can imagine how beyond excited I am that Bread & Honey's Alicia Lynn Carrier—mom, photographer, and blogger—agreed to give us a tour of her kitchen.
I adore Bread & Honey for its striking photography (by Alicia, of course!), celebration of ingredients, and seasonal, accessible recipes. Until recently, Alicia and co-blogger Summer Allen-Gibson took turns posting their wondrous creations. But now that Summer is pursuing other interests, Alicia is going solo.
1. Tell us about your family.
We're a lot younger than most of the people we know with kids: I'm 25 and my husband is 26. I got pregnant a month after I graduated from art school, and it was a HUGE (but welcome, for the most part, haha) lifestyle adjustment, to say the least. We live in Portland, OR, where I grew up. My husband repairs espresso machines for a local coffee company, and I work part-time as a nanny for my friend's kiddo and as a barista on the weekends. My husband and I are both long-time service industry folk; my first real job was at a crappy diner when I was 15, and my husband's been in kitchens for years—he has a culinary degree. My son is 2 1/2 and he RULES! He's hilarious, and I love being able to stay home with him all week. We go to the park whenever the weather is nice and try to do lots of fun stuff. We're a pretty normal family. My husband is trying to start a band, and I want to learn how to tattoo. :)
2. How would you describe your cooking style?
Oh, crap. I don't know! We're on a pretty tight grocery budget, so we make a meal plan every week and shop accordingly. We pretty much buy the exact same stuff every week and rotate through the same things all the time (stir-fry with brown rice, pasta with red sauce, burritos, always at least one night of burritos, salad night), and then occasionally we make something fancy. So, I guess my cooking style is "cheap." But not cheap like crappy, haha. People always complain about how expensive it is to eat healthy, but I don't really get it. Vegetables are cheap! We get our week's worth of vegetables for under 50 bucks, usually (sometimes we have to run out and replenish something, but not often), and then we fill in the gaps with staple items and rarely spend more than 100 dollars a week. We don't eat much meat at home, but every few weeks we buy a whole chicken, break it down, make stock from the carcass and portion out the meat for different meals.
We can get several meals from one chicken, and they only cost like $8-10, even for the organic ones. We don't buy many prepackaged items except for stuff like pasta sauce or whatever. (I love saving the jars and using them to hold other stuff!)
3. Can we see the inside of your kitchen?
Yeah! My kitchen is my favorite thing about my apartment, actually. It's a lot bigger than most of the kitchens that come in these little cookie-cutter beige box apartments.
I love that my kitchen has that bar that sticks out where people can sit on the other side and chat with you while you prep...
I love having a window with a great view...
...and I love all the storage...
The only thing I don't particularly love about it is the color scheme. In a perfect world I'd get to paint all the cabinets a lovely robin's egg blue or something cheery—I'm pretty over the orange-y wood. Cement counters would be nice, too. Oh man, but what I really love is having a dishwasher, it's like heaven.
4. When it comes to cooking, where do you find inspiration?
The weather plays a huge part in my cooking. In the winter time, we make a lot of soups, roasted meats, and vegetables, stuff like that. In the summer, we love to do salad rolls, cold noodle salads, mezza plates, whatever is light and fresh. But seasonal produce also plays a huge role, I get so excited when berry season hits, I love going berry picking and gorging on them like candy, I love tomato season!
5. What traditions or rituals do you and your family have with respect to food?
I come from a family of 6, and my mom made a lot of "mom food." We don't cook that way very often, but sometimes we really like to sit down and scarf on a meatloaf with mashed potatoes. One thing I'm really looking forward to is BLOWING MY SON'S MIND when he's older by making him pancakes for dinner. My mom used to do that from time to time, and it seriously turned my whole world upside down for like half an hour at dinner time, haha! We don't have a lot of recipes for dinners or anything like that, but I finally got my mom to give up her Christmas cookie recipe, which in my mind, is like the UBER-COOKIE.
6. What do you make better than anyone else?
Oh, I don't think I make anything better than anyone else. My husband is a way better cook than I am anyway, but I prefer my stir-fries to his. (I like my veggies more crispy than he does.) I make a pretty badass risotto [see Alicia's photos of making Asparagus Risotto below], but it's not like anyone else can't do that. One thing I do love to make, which I haven't made in awhile, is just a simple pomodoro. When I was about 17, I washed dishes at an Italian restaurant where my best friend worked as a pizza cook. Every once in awhile they'd let us cook s*** on the line when it was slow, and I learned how to throw together a quick pomodoro. It's been something my friend and I have always enjoyed cooking together: lightly browned garlic, a splash of white wine, some fresh Roma tomatoes, a handful of fresh basil, and a lot of cracked black pepper and chili flakes. We used to hang out, drink wine all night, cook pasta, and then we'd run outside for a cigarette and come back in so we could smell the garlic anew, haha. (Smoking is bad! Don't do it! Same with underage drinking! Right?)
7. What is your one (food-related) indulgence?
I pretty much indulge in whatever I want in REAAAAALLY limited quantities. When I was pregnant I went apes*** for milkshakes—that was kind of gnarly. Now I'm not as into sweets. It just depends on my mood—anything really savory, rich, I don't know. I love food. I eat healthy pretty much every day now, but then I let myself have whatever sounds good in small amounts because HOLY CRAP, YOU ONLY LIVE ONCE. I'm trying to lose weight though, so I don't go crazy anymore. I guess if I found out that pasta made your waist trim and cured cancer, I'd eat it by the bucketful every day for the rest of my life.
8. How has your cooking changed since you had your son?
My eating habits have changed DRAMATICALLY. Before I had my son, I was about 150 pounds, smoked like a chimney, drank SEVERAL beers a night, and ate whatever was around when I was hungry. I knew I was hypoglycemic (Oh yeah, I'm hypoglycemic, by the way.) but I didn't take good care of myself. When I got pregnant, I quit smoking, but I had no concept of eating healthy, and I ate s*** like Taco Bell and candy bars and milkshakes like EVERY DAY. I gained almost 100 pounds! Part of the problem was that I didn't realize what I needed to do to control my blood sugar issues, and I was just SO HUNGRY all the time and it was miserable, let me tell you. After I had my son I tried to eat healthy but nursing took a lot out of me too, and I was still starving ALL THE TIME. Finally, when I stopped nursing, my appetite started to get back to normal, and I was able to start really taking care of myself. I've lost all but about 15 pounds of my baby weight, and I eat much healthier now than I ever have. I try to eat a lot of fresh vegetables, always a salad for lunch, and I usually have a small one with my dinner, too. I've been carrying almonds and dried fruit around with me to help control my blood sugar (I'm a mess if I don't eat every 2-3 hours) and it helps a lot. I also cook healthy for my family, we eat brown rice now instead of white, whole wheat bread, lots of vegetables, etc. I had to train myself as an adult to enjoy whole wheat bread, I'm glad I've started my son off on it so he's already used to it.
9. What are some ingredients/food items that you could never, ever live without?
I refuse to live without a rice cooker. The damn thing cost like 10 dollars, and they're completely indispensable, in my opinion. My best friend growing up was Filipino, and her house always smelled like jasmine rice, because they had a huge rice cooker going 24/7. Seriously, you could just sneak into the kitchen at like midnight and there would be rice in there, ready to eat. It was awesome! I asked for, and received, a rice cooker for my birthday one year (I think I was in the 5th grade), and I was so pumped! I've had one in my possession ever since and I would never let mine go. I use mine at least twice a week, if not more.
10. What are you favorite food blogs or Web sites?
I like browsing TasteSpotting for lovely photos, I read Orangette fairly frequently. I lurk on local food message boards to read about restaurant industry stuff. I spend most of my time online looking at photos on Flickr and refreshing Facebook, honestly.
A huge thank you to Alicia for letting us into her kitchen! Don't miss last week's Kitchen Tour With Adriana Velez of What I Made For Dinner.