Food & Drink

Passion for cooking shared by many Ky. bloggers

Tiffany King started her blog, Eatathomecooks.com, in part as a way to share family recipes, such as pepperoni pizza pasta, above.
Tiffany King started her blog, Eatathomecooks.com, in part as a way to share family recipes, such as pepperoni pizza pasta, above. ©2012 Herald-Leader

If you search the Web for a new recipe, chances are you will land on a blog written by someone who has a passion for food.

Foodista and Zephyr Adventures, organizers of the International Food Blogger Conference, conducted a survey in February and found that "your friendly neighborhood food blogger can be described as a married woman in her 30s or 40s living in the United States. While she is either a parent or perhaps on the way to being so, she is likely to be employed full-time, part-time or working in her own business. She most likely comes to the food-blogging world with some relevant food, marketing or writing background."

The survey found that three-quarters of the respondents don't earn any income from their blogs. As Foodista and Zephyr Adventures put it, "Ultimately, a successful food blog is one that makes a blogger happy."

We found several Central Kentucky food bloggers who write about the food they cook, the farms where they raise their food, or where they buy the best produce, all because they love it. We talked to several of them about their passion for what they do.

Joyce Pinson: Friendsdriftinn.com

Joyce Pinson of Pike County is not the typical mommy blogger.

"I look through the world from bifocals. I have hot flashes. I am not quite ready to hang up my corporate suit, but aspire to be an author as my 'encore career,'" she said.

Pinson's blog was launched in January 2011 as a way to document Appalachian foodways for her 11-year-old nephew Jake, and to give a voice to the baby boomer generation, she said.

The focus of Pinson's blog is farm-to-table. "I am passionate about saving and preserving Appalachian heirloom vegetable seeds, especially cushaws. I speak of the bounty of the mountains including papaws, wild greens, ramps and walnuts. I cook. I can and preserve from my garden. I travel to the cities to interview chefs, learning how to reinterpret familiar ingredients in modern ways," said Pinson, who owns an insurance business with her husband, Charlie.

Pinson writes a column for the Appalachian News- Express and recently launched a monthly farm-to-table television show on PIKETV, the local cable access station.

Her blog is named for her grandparents' restaurant in Northern Kentucky.

"Back in the '50s, my grandparents owned a commercial orchard and grew many of the vegetables served at the diner. They kept bees. They canned and preserved the harvest. The original Friends Drift Inn is long gone, but Friends Drift Inn blog 'cyber-retreat' reflects much of my grandparents' farm-to-table philosophy," Pinson said. She lives in Johns Creek near Pikeville.

Rona Roberts: Savoringkentucky.com

Rona Roberts of Lexington writes about local foods and restaurants, and sustainability. Roberts is the author of Sweet, Sweet Sorghum (CreateSpace, $24.95).

"I sometimes think I was born to blog. It combines so much that matters to me: expression, pleasure, contribution, beauty, fun, challenge. It's a way of making a difference for farms and farmers, I hope, without actually having to farm. In addition, the people I feature and the work of doing justice to their stories seem to connect me to the central meaning and richness of my departed parents' lives," she said.

Roberts grew up on a farm in Wayne County.

"My parents farmed until I was 10 or so, then added teaching to their farm work. Dad taught vocational agriculture and mother served as a school librarian. I cannot remember ever not cooking.

"I thought of cooking and the world of food as the fun side of life, not a vocation. I studied music, English and communication, went to the Peace Corps in the Philippines, came home and started a family and a business."

Roberts and her husband, Steve Kay, started Roberts & Kay Inc., an organization and community development firm, in 1983. They have a blended family of three sons, two daughters-in-law and two grandchildren.

"Steve and I work together on community and civic projects as well. Recently we have focused attention on strengthening our local food system through supporting Seedleaf, convening the weekly Local Food Percolator lunches, working toward a local food-friendly government and hosting weekly corn bread suppers (an open, supported community potluck) at our house.

"We live in an extraordinary agricultural haven, one of Earth's most wonderful growing places. I decided I could build a blog to showcase our foods, farmers, farms, chefs, restaurants and markets, ideally inspiring more investment in local farms. The people involved in local food in Central Kentucky are rock stars to me, role models, and at the same time, they are us, both amazing and authentic."

Jonathan Piercy: Whatscookinnow.org

What's Cookin' Now also is the name of a radio show that Jonathan Piercy has co-hosted for almost three years on WMMT-88.7 FM in Whitesburg. His co-host/co-blogger is Jenny Williams.

The blog is meant to be a supplement to the radio show, and they post announcements, wrap-ups and recipes, but "it's also its own thing, providing an outlet for us in between the once-a-month radio shows," he said.

"I gave a talk a while back at a blogger conference about the radio show and more generally about why we blog. I think it comes down to three things: We're here to educate, inspire and entertain. You can get recipes from anywhere, but a good blog post might offer up a good solid tip (educate), a great picture (inspire) or some great writing that sticks with you and keeps you coming back (entertain)," Piercy said.

"It's always surprising which posts catch on," he said. "One of mine that got the most reader response was a quickie post about vermouth, and how you need to keep it in the fridge and throw it out after six months. A lot of the discussion about blog posts and such anymore doesn't happen on the blog itself, but on Facebook and Twitter, which is a big change from my earlier blogging days."

Carolyn Gilles: TheWholesomeChef.com; she also oversees Bourbonandbeans.com even though she doesn't write it

Carolyn Gilles of Lexington went to New York to attend the Natural Gourmet Institute for Heath and Culinary Arts and stayed for five years. In 2006, she founded a non-profit social network, Green Edge NYC, focused on innovative education about sustainability topics. She returned to Kentucky to start a consulting firm for small businesses, and she teaches cooking lessons at The Wholesome Chef.

"I have a passion for sharing fresh foods with people and letting them taste that healthy foods don't need to taste bland or be boring," she said.

"As a chef, I blog because I know there are many home cooks out there looking for guidance on how to eat well while juggling work, family and play. It is my goal that through blogging I can provide a piece of insight or inspiration to them to get back in the kitchen and trying again. It takes effort to eat well, and I hope to provide a little motivation for people to go out of their way to make a better choice," Gilles said.

"My favorite topics to write about are those where I relate to my audience and I get to share my own struggles to eat well in a busy day. It's not easy, and I want them to know that I get that and I'm not coming from a place of naiveté and idealism. We're all in this together; I just have many years of education and practice to share."

Catherine Seiberling Pond: Growcaseycounty.blogspot.com; Farmwifeatmidlife.blogspot.com; Inthepantry.blogspot.com

Catherine Seiberling Pond of Casey County writes three blogs. Her most recent is Grow Casey County, which pertains to promoting Casey County produce and locally grown food and related products, especially from spring through fall. Farmwife at Midlife is about the family's life on a farm in Kentucky. In the Pantry is about domestic/pantry/food-related things and was started when she began researching her book, The Pantry.

On Grow Casey County, there's a bulletin board page that posts items for sale in Casey County that relate to produce or any product that is farm-grown, raised or related to farming.

Before moving to Kentucky, Pond and her husband, Temple, and their three children lived in his ancestral 1813 Federal home in a classic New England village.

"We built two traditional-style butler's pantries and collected too many things. Now we live on a ridge in Kentucky where we are farming and planning our ideal country farm home (with pantries, of course)."

Tiffany King: Eatathomecooks.com

King describes herself as a home-schooling mom of four.

"I like cooking and writing, so blogging was a natural fit for me. It's also opened up an interest in photography, something I'm not sure I would have discovered if it hadn't been for blogging," she said.

King started her blog 31/2 years ago to share easy family recipes. "It's grown much more than I could have imagined. I still post many recipes, but I also publish menus with printable grocery lists every Monday. These are by far the most popular posts on my blog. There are over two years worth of menus to choose from, and they're all free.

"The next most popular of my posts is homemade chicken and dumplings. This recipe has always been popular, but it got an extra kick when Tasty Kitchen Blog picked it up several months ago. It's been pinned on Pinterest 36,000 times, which is crazy. I have no idea why it's so popular, other than homemade chicken and dumplings are wonderful to eat.

"I've found that readers like posts that solve a problem for them — like the menus, slow-cooker recipes, 15-minute recipes, and they always like a good chocolate dessert.

"I do think I get a good response from readers. My readers leave comments on my blog, but they are much chattier on the Facebook page. That may be because they're just more comfortable using Facebook than blog comments."

King has an e-book, Feast in 15, about speed-cooking weeknight dinners.

Janette Heitz: The2seasons.com

Heitz and her daughter Jordan write a lifestyles blog and feature a recipe every Friday.

"I have a degree in journalism and missed writing. I mentioned to her (Jordan) that I was thinking of writing a blog, and she suggested we write one together. She was in her first year of marriage, and they had just moved to Syracuse, N.Y., where they bought their first home — a 1928 Craftsman bungalow," Heitz said.

"My husband (Mike) and I had been married 38 years at the time and had just down-sized from the family home in the suburbs to a townhouse downtown. She and I were at two stages of our lives and decided to call our blog The 2 Seasons. On the blog, Jordan is Spring, and I am Autumn. We felt our blog would appeal to two demographics — her age group and mine."

For other Kentucky food bloggers, go to Facebook.com/KentuckyFoodBloggers.

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