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Author - LiveI am Deb Perelman, old-school blogger, fan of sprinkles, and author of "Smitten Kitchen Every Day"! AMA!

Oct 24th 2017 by debperelman • 18 Questions • 155 Points

In celebration of the publication of my second cookbook, "Smitten Kitchen Every Day: Triumphant & Unfussy New Favorites," I want you to ask me anything.

More here: https://smittenkitchen.com/

Proof! https://twitter.com/smittenkitchen/status/922852898668777472

Hey guys, I have to sign off now and get ready for the book launch tonight. I love all these questions and will answer them all soon; I want to give some the proper time and attention. Thank you! Thank you for making this so fun.

Q:

I just wanted to say that I've been following your blog for years, and I've tried a whole pile of recipes off of it - they have ALWAYS been keepers. Never a failure! Smitten kitchen is pretty much my first site to go look at now if I need a recipe.

My question is, are there any other food blogs you regularly check out yourself?

A:

A ton! Many are here: https://smittenkitchen.com/reading/ It's not hugely up to date so some newer ones might not be on it but yes, I basically read everything that comes across my screen about food and I love to see what people are working on. I'm very embarrassed if I meet a food blogger and haven't seen their site before, although given how many thousands are out there, it definitely happens.


Q:

Hi Deb! How do you keep the writing accompanying each recipe fresh, so you're not just writing the same post about tasty food over and over?

Also, I think you hit a really nice balance between giving little hints into your life so that you seem like an old friend I check in with weekly, while not trending towards the realm of overshare. Do you have any particular rules you live by to keep public/private separate or is it just a gut feel?

Can't wait to dig into your new cookbook this weekend!

A:

The secret is: I have a lot to say. (Anyone who knows me is nodding in agreement.) And I love talking about not just a recipe but how I got there, why I love it, why this version, why not the other one, why today, what happened when I made it, what happened when we served it, etc. I love the things that root a recipe in real life. I love recipes with texture.

And thank you. I hope you like the book. I hope it's worth the wait.


Q:

Hi! I've been reading and loving your blog for around a decade. I'm 25 now, and I firmly believe your blog has been one my main influences in the kitchen. Some of my earliest and most meaningful cooking and baking wins have come from your blog (hello cranberry, almond, and caramel tart!). Thank you!

Lately though, after starting a new job, I've been feeling almost too exhausted to cook most nights. How do you find inspiration to cook or develop recipes when you are feeling drained?

Thank you for everything you do! We are lucky to have you!

A:

Thank you -- this is very sweet to read.

I, too, go through periods of having no cooking motivation but my solution is not maybe the best one: I just do it as little as I can get away with. I trust that if we just eat, say, scrambled eggs and toast for dinner one night and spaghetti with a simple sauce the next, rotisserie chicken and a quick vegetable side, etc. if I just keep doing these half-cooked meals, I will get my mojo back. I'm more fearful of destroying my will to cook and enjoyment of it by pushing myself when I don't have time or will be unhappy with a rushed outcome. And so far, it's worked. I say if you're too busy or wiped out, give yourself a break. There will always be a cold weekend when you want to make a long-cooked soup again. Wait for it.


Q:

Since your tour kicks off today as well, here's a practical question from someone who also travels a lot: How do you eat well, both from a health and tastiness perspective, when meals are often out of your control? I carry around a bag of snacks, but that's cumbersome and gets me some odd looks. What are your tips? Thanks!

A:

I am TERRIBLE at this. It's also been 5 years since I last toured but I tend to do the opposite; I find airport food so depressing, I just decide I'll eat later and then I'm busy at an event and it's too late to get food after and then I don't want to order a sad salad from room service and then the next morning I eat a horse. So, not a model human at this at all. That said, it's weird and terrible but I find it a little freeing sometimes to be off the three-meals requirement when you have kids, when I'm often not hungry for breakfast yet but it's breakfast time so ¯_(ツ)_/¯


Q:

Hi Deb! I’ve been following your blog for nearly 10 years now and it’s definitely my favorite. How do you decide what goes in the books vs the blog?

A:

First, thank you! Deciding: Oh boy, it's a lot of things. It's not an exact science, definitely more of a gut thing, but in general, I want stuff in cookbooks to be decidedly original -- as in, I haven't seen this take on this dish before, or done in this manner, I want it to feel like a dish you might make forever if you could, and I want a completely stranger to be able to pick up this book in a store and open to any page and see something on it that makes them want to cook right now (a tall order, more of a pipe dream, but I think about it all the time). I want these things on the site too, but I also feel like it's okay when the site is more service-y: how to make better pie dough or easier roll-out cookies. And sometimes the site is just the very best thing to make right this second for a holiday tomorrow, i.e. has a narrow schedule, so it works well in a constant circulation of content.


Q:

Are there any recipes you've been intimidated by? Any you still want to tackle?

A:

Probably 500! I am so far from done with my Want To Cook This List. Most recently: Dutch Apple Pie! It's been on my list forever and I think I've almost got it right. This new book has a bunch of other recipe demons exorcised (pelmeni, short rib carnitas, bakery-style butter cookies, a marble cake that doesn't suck). I have yet to successfully make chocolate fudge. I want to make khachapuri. I want to make a proper goulash. I want to create a florentine/lace cookie that works for everyone. That's the tip of a massive iceberg!


Q:

What 3-5 dishes do you think a "really good" home cook should have in his/her repertoire?

A:

I think it should be the 3-5 things you love to eat that nobody else makes well. It should be personal, so you're always motivated to cook, so you always have something you can make if you're hungry. For me, it might be a good frittata, simple pasta, a favorite soup, a dinner than seems fancy for a party but isn't hard to make and a beloved-but-easy last minute dessert, most likely, who are we even kidding, chocolate cake.


Q:

Hi Deb! I’m so excited for my copy of your book to arrive today!

If you had to make and eat the same thing for lunch every day from now until forever, what would you pick?

A:

I would have a terrible time choosing but I do have my comfort foods: Crispy egg on toast, avocado toast (I'm sorry, you're allowed to roll your eyes), butter-chive egg noodles, any format of egg with black beans and salsa... um, peanut butter and jelly, bread homemade, but literally nothing else


Q:

Hey Deb! What are your thoughts on kitchen tools/gadgets/accessories? For example, tools for specific fruits or madeleine pans; basically, most of the gorgeous things in Williams Sonoma. How do you decide which seemingly decadent things are a must, especially in a small kitchen?

A:

I decide by not getting anything and figuring out what drives me crazy repeatedly that I don't have. I like to wait until I'm about to lose my mind before coughing up for something. Whenever I've bought something before I was sure I'd need it, it rarely became heavily used. Some favorites: flexible fish spatula (everyone should have one, just buy it, disregard everything I say above, heh; it's not just for fish), bench scraper (not just dough but cleaning up), a good serrated knife, a cheap sharp paring knife...


Q:

Hi Deb! Fellow New Yorker with limited kitchen space here, so I always know your recipes are doable in my small space.

Do you ever wish you had a huge kitchen/more space? Does it change the way you make/choose recipes?

A:

I often wish I had more counters so I could work on more than one recipe at a time or have more people hang out when I cook but honestly? I've had small kitchens for so long, I'm used to being able to reach everything. I'm gotten (fairly) good at trimming it down to the essentials (although far from perfect). I feel overwhelmed in a huge kitchen. Although, if pressed, I promise I'll do my best to get used to it. ;)


Q:

While eating butternut squash galette last night (from your first book -- so good!) we discussed what foods just don't belong in pie crust. The list was short. What recipe "fails" have you encountered over the years?

A:

Everything can be a pie if you believe it in it. :)

I'd say very wet fillings are always going to be a challenge. (Unless just a top lid.)

I had a flan flop a bunch of years ago and I love flan, but I just haven't gotten back to it yet. Fudge, which I mentioned earlier. I also made trofie pasta by hand, watched a million old Italian ladies making it on YouTube first, but just couldn't get it right. It was right, but very hard to get the thicknesses exactly the same so some don't overcook before others cook through.


Q:

HI DEB! I pre-purchased your new book for my sister's birthday coming up in December and she's going to freak out (unless she sees this post, oops). She turned me onto your site years ago.

ANYWAY. My question is, on those days that you are just too exhausted to make dinner, what is your favorite takeout meal? You could do a top 3 if choosing 1 is too hard.

Never stop posting! I check your site first and foremost for ANY recipe I need, and they always turn out amazing.

A:

Thanks! I do not have a favorite takeout place right now, and it's devastating. I am more likely to pick up some good bread (hooray for Maison Kayser), mozzarella and tomatoes in the summer for a quick caprese-ish thing; in the winter, we might do some quick eggs and toast and vegetable. It still is faster than waiting for delivery, amazingly enough. But I still want my Hummus Place back!


Q:

Hi Deb! Your all butter pie crust made my pie making dreams come true! Thank you!

My question is what is your go to, quick and easy, last minute, kids are yelling for food, dinner?

A:

Spaghetti with butter and cheese. Frozen pelmeni with butter, sour cream, or vinegar (depending on the kind). Scrambled eggs and toast.

And thank you!


Q:

Thank you for your blog and first book. How does your new book compare to what you blog and have written about with your first?

A:

So, cooking for me has always been a impulse thing: I want this, I'm going to make it. This served me well for many years, and right through the first book. Two kids has... shifted things. They require meals you may not feel like making when you don't feel like cooking. (The understatement of the century, I know.) This book was a bit about me fighting to keep making food I was excited about -- that felt triumphant and worth the effort -- but but an eye to practicality, to schedules, to real life.


Q:

Hi Deb! I make your confetti cookies for absolutely everything... I have developed a bit of a sprinkle habit because of it. What is the biggest challenge you find cooking in a kitchen the size of yours? Also, what is your favorite kitchen gadget?

A:

I find it impossible to work on more than one recipe at a time. I'm not a huge fan of multitasking anyway, but there are times, like yesterday, where I wished I could queue up my next cooking project, lay out the stuff, etc, on another counter that didn't exist and the table was already covered with the last project and... yes, space. Just space.

Favorite gadget: Not even a gadget but I use a small offset spatula more than any other tool. I'll fluff flour with it and sweep it into a cup, then sweep it flat. Spreading stuff. Loosening a cake from a pan. Flipping cookies, etc.


Q:

Hi Deb! I'm always self-conscious about my cooking. I like doing it for myself, but when it comes to cooking for others I get a little nervous. So with that in mind, what are your favorite things to bring to a potluck?

A:

Don't be nervous -- anyone who doesn't appreciate homemade food, made imperfectly but with good intentions, is probably not very nice anyway. But of course, I know we worry anyway. For potlucks, I often volunteer for dessert because it is easy to bring, doesn't need to be heated or assembled at the last minute. Everyone loves a good pineapple upside-down cake in the summer, or the strawberry summer cake (on SK). For party treats, salted brown butter crispy treats, always. There's never one left at the end of an hour.


Q:

Have you ever felt conflicted about sharing as much of your personal life as you do? Obviously you don't share everything, but pictures of your kids, etc. I love seeing them grow up, especially as our daughters are very close (a month!) in age, but I could understand hesitation to share on your part.

A:

Such a good question, but in general: no. I don't have completely and total confidence that I'm doing everything right (and if you meet someone who does, well, I don't believe them) but my rule is I don't share anything I don't want. I don't share anything because I feel pressured to. I won't embarrass my children. (I might tease them, though, but about gentle stuff.) No potty training, no trouble at school, no tantrums, hopefully nothing they'd look back at later and find mean-spirited. I enjoy sharing a picture of a day at the park, but I think that their lives should be their story to tell. I hope I'm doing it right; realistically, nobody does.


Q:

Hi Deb! I am a longtime fan and frequent maker of your recipes! I am moving to NYC next week (Chelsea!)... where do you grocery shop?

A:

I'm in the East Village so I use the Westside a lot. And the Greenmarket, of course. I used to live in Chelsea and used the Whole Foods a bit and also the Garden of Eden on 14th (but maybe it closed? Can't remember). But also Fresh Direct. Most people I know use it more than anything else. I'm just lucky enough to have a store close enough these days that I don't have to.