Friday, April 17, 2009

The Times UK: Meet the Food Bloggers: Steamy Kitchen

From Times Online

April 9, 2009

Meet the Food Bloggers: Steamy Kitchen

Jaden Hair enthuses about how blogging won her a TV career, 'pimping' her kids in food videos and Gucci steaks

Nick Wyke

5. Blog: Steamy Kitchen

What inspires you to write a food blog?

I simply wanted to keep track of all the recipes my Mom had recited to me over the phone... I tend to lose loose sheets of paper and my hard drive was prone to the BSOD [blue screen of death]. Blogging was the way to go, and inspired an entire food career for me. After the blog started gaining popularity, I was offered a weekly food column in a local paper called Creative Loafing, then a weekly column in The Tampa Tribune.

I also wanted to try my hand on television, so I started cooking the recipes on my blog on a small local ABC affiliate ( and a larger station Tampabay's CBS10. I cook, talk and demo on both stations as a regular twice a month now. Then, something really amazing happened - a show called Daytime which is syndicated across 100 markets in the United States asked me to be a regular on the show - and I'm so thrilled!

The blog also inspired a cookbook which is being released in autumnl '09 called The Steamy Kitchen Modern Asian Cookbook published by Periplus/Tuttle. Instead of having a small group of recipe testers, I asked my blog readers to test the recipes with me. And over 700 testers from all over the world came to the rescue!

So, this food blog has transformed into my dream career - all in 24 months.

What sort of posting really gets your readers excited (good or bad)?

Of course contests for free stuff like fabulous kitchen knives make people go berserk. Also, when I pimp out my kids and take photos of them making and eating food, like No Knead Bread and Thai Grilled Beef Skewers. But I'd say that the most popular post ever is the How to Turn Your Cheap Choice Steaks in to Gucci Prime Steaks. It has gotten quite a reaction around the world - good and bad - apparently people are very protective and passionate about their steaks. But my technique works.

Which cookbook can you not do without and which chef is your hero/heroine?

The Key to Chinese Cooking by Irene Kuo. It was published in 1977 and the only copies you'll find are worn and tattered. But it's my Chinese cooking bible. When I read it, I imagine I'm hearing my grandmother's voice, whom I only have a handful of memories of since she passed away when I was a little girl. The book explains in detail the more traditional methods of Chinese cooking, how our parents and grandparents cooked (ie. without an immersion blender and Cuisinart!). It just feels so good to learn and understand the basics, just to keep some of that tradition alive.

Share a seasonal recipe with us... and a tip for a local restaurant?

I live in Florida, so our seasons are a bit longer than many areas of the world. Right now, I've got tomatoes comin' outta my ears and my herb garden is in full bloom 365. Asparagus, too, are fat and happy in Florida - here's a recipe for Asparagus with Browned Butter and Soy.

My favorite local restaurant is called Lucky Pelican in Bradenton, Florida. They make everything from scratch - all the sauces, soups and stocks except the ketchup. I love their Raw Oysters with Asian Mignonette

Tell us something about food from your part of the world?

Well, I live in a smallish town in Florida and about 10 miles east of my house, my husband and his friend go hunting for wild boar. On my husband's second time out he bags a 150lb wild boar, which we turned into 80lb of deeeelicious pork chops, brats and roasts! Florida is lush with wildlife. Because of my love for steaks, I'm trying to convince huzb to go cow hunting... though he says that's "poaching."

What would you eat for your last supper?

Uggh, I hate this question. OK, if I must answer, I'd probably gorge myself silly with dim sum: steamed chicken feet, bbq pork buns, shrimp dumplings, steamed rice rolls.

Which other food blogs do you read regularly?

My Asian "sistas": RasaMalaysia ; White On Rice Couple ; Andrea Nguyen's Vietworld Kitchen ; Appetite For China

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