In the Kitchen With: Cafe Johnsonia

Cafe Johnsonia

Lindsey Johnson with her daughter, Lilly

You're definitely going to want to check out Cafe Johnsonia, a lovely food blog by SAHM of three, Lindsey Johnson.

Today, Lindsey takes us on a tour of her Utah kitchen and introduces us to her three darling children.


Recent recipes that Lindsey has featured on Cafe Johnsonia include Hazelnut-Toffee Cookies, Banana Sour Cream Muffins, Parmesan-Herb Biscuits, and Blackberry-Strawberry Sherbet. Sound amazing? Then you'd better keep reading...

CM: Tell us about your family.

I love my little family. I'm married to a wonderful man named Fred. We have three darling children: Lilly (4), Fritz (2.5), and Babetta (7 months). I have been fortunate enough to be able to stay at home with them. We recently moved from the NYC suburbs to a rural community in Utah. (It's been quite the adjustment!) The other thing to know about our family is that we are die-hard fans of They Might Be Giants.

Cafe Johnsonia painting

Lilly and Fritz painting

How would you describe your cooking style?

I had to ask my husband for help on this one. He says that I am a perfectionist in the kitchen. Translation: I like to look for recipes and perfect them. (He says I can take bad recipes and make them better.) Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. My style is definitely of the homespun variety. We do fancy, we do simple, we do ethnic, but it's almost always from scratch. The only things we don't get into are fusion and food from packages. (Or fast food.)

Can we see the inside of your kitchen?

We rent a small,  quirky, old house. My kitchen is one of the more quirky spots—it's not a very functional kitchen in the traditional sense. (But I actually love it.) It's two or three times the size of my old kitchen in NY and has more cupboard space than I've ever known.

Cafe Johnsonia kitchen

And the walls are robin's egg blue, which was a huge plus. We (I mean, I) wanted to rent our house solely based on the color of the kitchen.

Cafe Johnsonia kitchen

My very favorite feature of my kitchen is probably my counters—I love that I can set a hot pan on them or roll out cookie dough, and they clean up nicely. I am also in love with my huge double sink. On sunny days, my kitchen is full of light. It makes me happy to spend time in there preparing food.

Cafe Johnsonia kitchen

Cafe Johnsonia kitchen

The built-in shelves at the end of my counter are my other favorite little nook. I've never had room for my cookbooks in the kitchen, and I love having them nearby when I'm cooking.

Cafe Johnsonia kitchen

When it comes to cooking, where do you find inspiration?

I find inspiration everywhere.

As a child I would watch the cooking shows on PBS and be inspired. It took quite a few years before I was adept in the kitchen, but that was when the seed was planted.

Julia Child is probably my favorite chef. When I think back to the times I watched her shows on PBS, it makes me feel warm and fuzzy inside. She was such a wonderful human being to begin with, but she never had that haughtiness like some celebrity chefs have. I loved the way she treated the guest chefs on her show—she let them be the experts even though she was an expert herself. I can still vividly remember watching her make homemade lady fingers and being intrigued by the process of making a sponge cake batter. I own several of her cookbooks and read them like novels. I can't say enough about Julia.  She is a legend.

Right now, my greatest inspiration comes from my husband. I call him my muse. People we know call our relationship the perfect marriage between one who loves to cook and one who loves to appreciate food. He is a discerning, thoughtful eater. He appreciates how food looks and smells just as much as how it tastes. He's also my taste tester. I call him in for the final word when I'm making something and can't quite figure out what it needs. We're a good team.

I've also drawn a lot of  inspiration from friends whose cooking I have most admired—including some dear friends I've met through blogging.

Traveling to foreign lands has also provided a certain amount of inspiration. We've both traveled quite a bit around the world and some of our favorite dishes have come from the places we visited.

The grocery store is another place I find inspiration. If I see a fruit or veggie that looks super fresh and inviting, I will almost always buy it and find a way to use it.

What do you make better than anyone else?

Lilly said "Lots and lots of pizza."

Cafe Johnsonia birthday

Lilly at her birthday party with all her favorite foods

Cafe Johnsonia pizza

My husband said, "Everything." And when I asked my little guy, he didn't answer. He had an apple in his mouth. But, I'm guessing he'd say "Peanut butter and homemade jam on homemade bread." He practically lives off of that.

Cafe Johnsonia bread

Cafe Johnsonia son

Lindsey's son, Fritz

The baby would eat anything if we put it in front of her.

Cafe Johnsonia baby

Lindsey's baby, Babetta

I would have to say that I make the best homemade ice cream. (Move over David Lebovitz!)  And I'm not at all arrogant about it, can you tell? Our ice cream maker is churning on average, about once a week. Sometimes more often than that in the summer. Ice cream is one of those things that we love and provides a blank canvas with so many varied options.

Cafe Johnsonia ice cream

What is your one (food-related) indulgence?

Dairy. Can that be the one? We love dairy. Frequently you'll find expensive cheeses, butters, and yogurt in our fridge. We'll always spend top-dollar on good cheese.

How has your taste/cooking changed since you had children?

My husband and I are adventurous eaters. We like to try new and interesting things.  Having kids hasn't changed that part of our personalities. But, we've had to tone down what we eat for dinner because of the kids. Sometimes I end up making two dinners—one for us, and one for them. My kids are funny. They will eat things like fish, broccoli, curry, Chimichurri sauce, and Stilton cheese, but won't touch potatoes or plain rice. They keep me guessing.

Generally I will encourage my kids to at least try whatever it is I've made because I don't want them to end up being picky eaters. I spent too many years as a kid and teenager thinking I didn't like certain foods that I now love. As a compromise, lately I've been making more traditional food that we can all eat as a family.

What are some ingredients/food items that you could never, ever live without?

Heavy cream. (I have the bum prove it.) Need to thicken a sauce or soup? Add a few tablespoons. Ice cream without cream? Forget it. Most desserts we love have cream in them (or on them), so there you go. Our fridge always has heavy cream in it. Always.

Butter. The real stuff. We don't buy margarine.

Fresh herbs, spices, natural extracts, and other time-proven flavors. Life would be so bland without them.

Fruit. I could live without veggies, but not fruit. We go through more fruit more than anything else.

And last, but not least, chocolate. But we're pretty picky about what kinds of chocolate we will eat. It can't be run of the mill. We like imported chocolate.

What are your favorite food blogs or Web sites?

A big thank you to Lindsey for letting us into her world! And don't miss these previous In the Kitchen Features on CafeMom:

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