Sweet Pea’s Side Dish: (Re)Meet Sweet Pea
Welcome to the third edition of “Sweet Pea’s Side Dish”, where once a week I share with you what’s going on in my life besides food. This is a place to share with you what is going on in my life, baby stuff, our traveling adventures, and whatever else I feel like rambling on about that week. For years I’ve been writing all sorts of recipe posts on Sweet Pea’s Kitchen that have included a few glimpses into my life and thoughts beyond the recipe, but very few of you actually know the real Christina. For the longest time my “about me” page was a three-sentence paragraph. Three sentences! After several years of posting, I guess it is about time for me to let you in on the real person behind Sweet Pea’s Kitchen and how this blog came to be.
My experience in the kitchen dates back as far as I can remember, from baking cookies with my mom to helping my dad make banana bread. But my love of cooking didn’t start until my husband and I moved to Indianapolis and we were on our own. It didn’t take long to realize that I had no clue what I was doing in the kitchen. The drive to cook led me to a website that one of my coworkers urged me to checkout, allrecipes.com. I cannot tell you how many recipes I have tried from that website over the years. It was a few of those recipes (meatloaf, pumpkin bread, cinnamon rolls) that I adapted, made, and served to family and friends that really got me interested in cooking. I quickly realized that I was able to make restaurant quality food right in my own kitchen! I began creating a large 3 ring binder full of my favorite recipes. Over the first year that binder grew from one recipe to over 100 favorites and slowly family and friends started requesting the recipes. At first I would lend out the binder, but as more and more people began requesting it, I started emailing the recipes. After countless emails, one of my friends suggested that I start a food blog so that they could always have my recipes on hand. And that’s how Sweet Pea’s Kitchen was born.
When trying to think of a name for my blog, the name Sweet Pea was one of the first ones my husband thought of. Ever since we met, he has affectionately referred to me as Sweet Pea, so it was a no-brainer that I would call my food blog Sweet Pea’s Kitchen! I wanted my blog to be a place where both novice and experienced home cooks would feel inspired and comfortable. I also knew that I didn’t want to devote my whole blog to one area of food. Instead I wanted to feature a mix of recipes, basically whatever I’m craving. That’s why you’ll find a mix of everything from muffins to Indian food on Sweet Pea’s Kitchen!
I’m self-taught, learning purely through my experiences in the kitchen. I admit I am by means no expert, there have been plenty of kitchen disasters and terrible recipes. I made some egg white oatmeal that was so bad my dogs wouldn’t even eat it! And there was the time I almost burnt down our apartment in Indy making Bananas Foster (one reason you won’t find that recipe on my blog!). Food was never something that I thought I would be talking about someday. I graduated from college with a degree in Early Childhood Education and worked as an early childhood teacher for seven years in Columbus, Ohio and Indianapolis. My first guinea pigs were the other teachers and staff at Lew Wallace 107 in Indianapolis (miss you guys!!). I would bring in treats almost daily and eventually they would expect the treats to arrive. I would have a crew following me into the teachers lounge every morning where I would drop off the highly anticipated treat of the day.
I enjoy a wide range of hobbies besides cooking, including running, working out, traveling, scuba diving, hanging out with friends and family, hiking and photography. I am a sucker for silly comedies (Zoolander is hands down the best movie ever) and sappy romantic movies that my husband refuses to watch with me. I lead an active lifestyle not because of all the desserts I make, but because I genuinely love it. I love physical challenges and thrive on being able to check off workouts on a calendar. I’ve ran in numerous half marathons and in 2010 I completed my first full marathon. My friend Erin and I signed up for the full marathon after a night of drinking and I honestly never thought we would ever go through with it. But there we were, every saturday morning waking up at 5:30am to run our long distance run for the week. Although it was hard, I can honestly say it was one of the best experiences and I can’t wait to run one again someday! (Erin, I just need you to move a little bit closer to me, we have spare bedrooms! 😉 )
When I first started this blog I was using my husband’s Nikon D40 that he had bought for an African safari trip that he went on in 2002. I had only used point and shoot cameras and disposables (seriously whatever happened to those?). I had no clue what I was doing when I first picked up the camera (as evidenced in my first post Roast Chicken with Balsamic Bell Peppers). Can you say yuck? Looking at the picture I don’t even want to try that recipe and I know how great it tastes! Starting out I shot everything in auto mode and was scared to death to try manual. It wasn’t until I purchased my Nikon D7000 that I really started to learn how to properly use a DSLR (although I know I am by no means an expert). I photograph my food with either a Nikon 40mm f/2.8G lens or Nikon 18-105mm f/3.5-5.6 lens. As of August 2012 I shoot in Raw format and all of my post-processing is done with Adobe Bridge and Photoshop CS 5.1. Good lighting makes all the difference in the world when it comes to food photography. I prefer to use natural light as much as possible so my set-ups are often on the move as I try out different locations to find the best light. I’m sure my neighbors think I am insane when I’m shooting photos out of our south facing front windows (next time you see me fumbling with the white foam boards come on over the treats are ready! 😉 ).
According to this crap that my husband wrote last week, he taught me how to cook. That’s a bunch of nonsense! If it wasn’t for me cooking everyday I swear he would be fine eating mashed potatoes (that I made and he reheated) garnished with beef jerky sticks and a beer! I’m telling you folks, no matter how much he talks about teaching me how to cook-don’t believe it! The first meal he made me was spaghetti with jarred sauce and frozen garlic bread (although I loved it honey!). Sometimes I do humor him and allow him to think that he was the one who taught me how to cook, although we both know the truth! I will admit, however, that it wasn’t until he came along and I had someone to try out my creations in the kitchen that my interest in cooking began.
And that’s how Sweet Pea’s Kitchen came to be. I’m sincerely thankful to the readers of this blog for providing support and encouragement throughout the past 3 years. This blog has grown to something I would have never dreamed of when I first posted that recipe for Roast Chicken with Balsamic Bell Peppers. If any food bloggers would like to share comments regarding why you started your food blog I would love to read them. If you’re a reader of Sweet Pea’s Kitchen I would love to know how you came to find me in this vast world wide web!
Until Next Time,