There are so many fabulous food bloggers out there that I adore because they constantly inspire me with their original recipes, beautiful instagram feeds and diy creations. I love keeping up with their lives through their blogs, and getting a better understanding of the way they think as well as what drives them to constantly create. My most favorite bloggers are those that I want to sit down with over a good vegan meal after reading their blogs and get to know better. Since that’s not always possible, I came up with a new column idea on Olives for Dinner called Why I Cook that virtually allows both me and you the chance to get to know great bloggers better.
In this column, I’ll ask some of my favorite bloggers questions around, well … why they cook! If you don’t already know about these noteworthy bloggers, you’ll be introduced to some great ones and, if you are already fans, you’ll learn something new about them here!
The first blogger I’m featuring is the absolutely talented and inspiring Cara of Fork and Beans. I actually have sat down with the LA-based Cara over a good vegan meal and have to say that she is one of the most hysterical and inspirational #girlbosses I know. I started reading Cara’s blog several years ago and love her infectious enthusiasm (especially around Halloween) and playful approach to cooking that comes through each and every one of her posts. Cara’s photography is drop-dead gorgeous and when I come across a photo of hers on social media, I know she has shot it before I even see her name or brand attached to it. Her trademark food art always makes me happy, and her instagram feed always gets a double-tap. (Plus, her captions are always hysterical.) Cara’s recipes are all plant-based, allergen-friendly and kid-approved. More on the fabulous Cara below!
My favorite Fork and Beans creation: Dark Chocolate Pretzel Screams
When did you start to cook and what about the process itself kept you interested in it?
I became interested in cooking 5 years ago when I needed to make a change in my diet for health reasons. Man cannot live on McDonald’s alone, you know? I had gained weight but I also was experiencing an increase in digestive issues that I found a cleaner diet helped out a lot. And who knew, cooking wasn’t as intimidating to me as I thought it would be AND I was actually good at it. I’ve come a long way, baby!
Describe your process of recipe development. How do you come up with fresh and new ideas on a regular basis?
I’m inspired by what’s different, unique, and simply taking a creative spin on food. It’s just how my brain works, it’s crazy in there! You might see a muffin but I see the potential of as many different animal shapes that I can make from it. How I usually develop my ideas is like this: I will sit down and plan out the month in about 30 minutes. I try to come up with as many objects and colors that are associated with the particular occasion that the month is attached to and then visualize what foods could best be transformed into those objects. So for example, for the month of December, because penguins are popular that time of year, my brain immediately thinks of chocolate-frosted donuts and how perfect they become for the penguin body.
What influenced your love of cooking?
Not necessarily one person but a collective of influencers like: The Food Network, food magazines of all kinds, bloggers, cookbooks, etc.
Define your own style of cooking.
Quirky. Fun. Creative. Inventive.
Describe the best dish you’ve ever made.
The holy grail of all things gluten, egg, and dairy free: YELLOW CAKE / CUPCAKES. I know it seems simple and basic but when you take out all the good stuff in the ingredient list, it’s really hard to come up with a cake that is still moist (I hate that word but it deserves to be in this description) and something that when people eat, they don’t say with disgust, This is gluten free isn’t it?! The best part? It’s the perfect canvas for ANYTHING. I mean, think of all the shapes I can make from it! A clown, boat, puppy, bear, owl … you get the point.
(Cara’s Puppy Love Valentine Cupcakes)
If your current self could give your past self one piece of sage cooking advice, what would it be and why?
You’re going to be writing a cookbook in a few years. Relax. It’s all going to be okay.
(ed. note: psssst! Click here to take a closer look at Cara’s fabulous cookbook!)
Who are some of your culinary heroes or influences and why?
Martha Stewart and Karen Tack. I love the way these two see food differently.
If you could choose anyone to cook with in the kitchen, who would it be?
I actually prefer working alone in the kitchen, is that bad? It’s my meditation time but maybe I’d let Martha wash the dishes (ha!)
(Cara’s Smashed Chickpea Bouquet Wraps)
If you could throw a party for anyone who would be there and what would the menu look like?
I’d throw a kid’s party for my nieces and nephew, full of the most fun food art I could think of. I’d probably enjoy it more than they would, let’s be real.
Name one ingredient you can’t live without.
My homemade googly eye recipe. I slap those babies onto everything I can get my hands on!