First things first: If you blog, we’d love to get your thoughts on an idea we’re spinning up here at Trivet. What we envision is a food-specific niche advertising network specializing in lightweight, non-tracked ads that are relevant to food audiences, and open to blogs that haven’t yet reached the traffic levels required by the premium ad networks.
You can learn more about the idea, as well as help give us the insights we need to move forward, by filling out a brief survey. (All answers will be kept confidential.) If you’d be interested in participating—pending the details—you can let us know there, too. Thank you!
What else? Trivet Recipes has seen a wave of new users lately. Welcome to Meals by Molly, the Frizzled Leek, the Botanical Alchemist, Ugly Duckling Bakery, Live to Sweet, Cook with Sharmila, Fooodlove, Ascension Kitchen, Low Sodium Foodie, Wholly Tasteful, Piece of Lulu, Inspired Fresh Life, Flavor Walk, Debra Klein, Foodzesty, Rooted in Foods, Smarty Pants Kitchen, Nordic Recipe Box, Return to the Kitchen, Simple Spoonfuls, Kalyn’s Kitchen, 24 Bite, Lynn’s Way of Life, and Simple Meal Girl, among others!
They’ve added too many recipes to name, but here are a few that leapt out as things I’d love to make or have served to me right now. (And hmm, it looks like my body’s craving nourishing, plant-based food. That, and maybe Alicia Kennedy’s latest newsletter got in my head.)
Vegan gado gado from Kindly Coconut is an egg-free take on a classic Indonesian hearty salad that features a creamy, nut-based dressing
Kitchari, also new to me, is a food with Ayurvedic roots, a fragrantly spiced, porridge-like dish that Ascension Kitchen explains is sometimes referred to as “Indian chicken soup,” for its balancing and illness-fighting properties
Vegan kitsune udon is a veganized version of the classic soup of wide noodles and fried tofu in dashi broth, as created by Kindly Coconut
And finally, adaptogenic maple and chia oatmeal from the Botanical Alchemist is quick and simple, and makes me feel fueled for the day just looking at it.
In this issue of the newsletter, we’re catching up with Ben and Caryn Schneider of Yay Kosher, who found time to start a food blog during a pandemic with four kids and a baby at home, and don’t even sound that stressed about it.
Hello, Ben and Caryn! How long have you been blogging?
Ben: Hi, Katherine. We have been blogging for a little more than three months now.
What were your motivations for getting started?
Ben: Caryn had the idea for Yay Kosher about five years ago, and we had kicked it around a few times but never did anything significant with it. During the last year we had a lot more time to spend at home and it seemed like the perfect time to put our ideas in motion.
Can you say a little bit about the rules and strictures involved in kosher cooking?
Ben: The big ones are: 1. No pork products, 2. No shellfish, 3. No mixing of dairy with meat. There are a lot more specific rules and customs that come up, and we try to be sensitive to those as they arise. For example, in our recent post “Miracle Challah,” we talk about the custom of removing and burning a part of the dough when it gets made with a certain amount of flour (over twelve cups.) This is not as well known and we like to think that we are teaching interested readers about these rules as well as providing the recipes.
Caryn: Since we do not mix milk and meat in a meal, I can make just anything non-dairy. Most of the time you would never guess it's non-dairy. Sometimes it's even better than the dairy version.
On Yay Kosher!, you focus a fair bit of energy on creating kosher versions of not-typically-kosher foods. Are there other blogs doing this, or are you carving out a new niche here?
Over the last twenty years or so there has been a transition in kosher food toward more mainstream recipes. I think a lot of other blogs have touched on making kosher versions of non-kosher recipes, but we like to think that we are carving out a new niche of “treif hacks” (treif being a Hebrew word for not kosher). I know that I spend a lot of time watching shows like Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives, and I will see an interesting recipe that uses non-kosher ingredients. I always tell Caryn “I can do that, but kosher.”
What are your goals and aspirations for the blog?
We started this blog as a way to share our food ides with other people. While we keep a strictly kosher diet, we’ve both spent a lot of time making food for people who do not keep kosher or are not Jewish. We have both learned that it does not matter whether you are kosher or not, Jewish or not, good food is good food and everybody appreciates that. We strive to have a blog filled with good recipes that everyone can enjoy.
There's a lot that goes into starting with blogging, between finding hosting, finding and customizing a template, using plugins, choosing an ad service, creating content, and then promoting that content on social platforms. What's it been like to wade through all that?
That is a loaded question . . . I came in with some experience in web design as I had just learned about web design and SEO when I redid the website for my law firm. That being said, it was still a ton of work to get things rolling, Fortunately, there are a lot of great resources out there right now that make things easier to get up and running. I could talk for days about the things I have learned about hosting, plugins, themes, etc., but it is all very academic until you make your first post. The point at which you make the first recipe, take the first photos, edit them, write, and optimize the content and then say “I'm done” is a scary thing. Hitting the publish button makes all that technical knowledge go out the window because now you have a live post that you have to do something with. Navigating social media has been like learning a new language for me. Before starting Yay Kosher, I had never used Instagram or Pinterest. I not only had to figure out how to use them, but I am the type of person that has to understand why people use them as well. The how was not difficult for me, but I spent a long time struggling with the why. I don't think I will ever stop struggling with the why.
Caryn: Ben is not exaggerating he literally had never been on Instagram or Pinterest. He doesn't even send text messages! With that in mind, I am absolutely blown away by how much and the speed at which he has learned about the technical side of blogging.
What's your favorite thing you cooked last year? What are you looking forward to tackling in 2021?
Ben: Favorite from last year—Camembert cheese. Looking forward to this year—more cheese.
Caryn: My favorite food is chocolate chip cookies, so I’m sure this blog is going to fill up with five hundred ways to make them, eventually.
Passover is my favorite holiday and since we cannot eat any flour, corn, or soy (amongst other restrictions), I am looking forward to creating some creative and delicious new Passover recipes to share.
How do the two of you spend your time when you're not blogging or cooking?
Ben: We had a baby last March a week after stay at home orders were introduced. Our fifth. Caryn came home from the hospital to find me in the middle of orchestrating Zoom school for our four other kids. So basically, a lot of laundry, and cleaning.
Caryn: Also, Ben has a weekly board games group he’s been running with some buddies for over ten years now. They have been doing it virtually since Covid started. And he plays games with the kids, too. I like to read and talk to my friends. I miss going to restaurants and eating other people’s cooking for a change.
Finally, I try to keep an eye on food books set to be published over the coming months, and I wanted to highlight one. Black Food: Stories, Art, and Recipes from Across the African Diaspora, edited by Bryant Terry, is out this October from Penguin Random House, and available for preorder starting now. A cookbook also filled with essays, poetry, and artwork, it looks to be a gorgeous and significant read.
If you need something sooner, two titles dropping this month look transporting, like wistful treats for your travel-restricted summer.
Camper Food & Stories, by Els Sirejacob and Bram Debaenst, from ACC Art Books, groups recipes around a handful of family road trips taken in Europe and Britain, and is packed with photos of food and travel.
And Bress ‘n’ Nyam: Gullah Geechee Recipes from a Sixth-Generation Farmer, by Matthew Raiford, from Countryman Press, is a sumptuous introduction to the African-influenced foodways of the Gullah-speaking people of Florida and the Carolinas, which have been getting a little buzzy of late.
Happy exploring, happy pre-summer, and see you in a couple weeks.