Yesterday we got to take a look inside this beautiful book.....and now I think you should get to know Whitney Ingram--the genius mind behind the The Family Flavor. (also take a look at the page layouts. Easy to read recipes and GIANT photos)
When did you know you loved to cook?
All of my memories from childhood involve food. I have always been fascinated by it! Cuisines, tools, traditions, methods, ingredients. All of it. I would say that actual cooking became big for me when I was in high school. I had an awesome foods teacher, Mrs. Cluff, and her class was my favorite. But it wasn't until years later that I was married and a mom and my first baby started eating solid foods that I got serious. I wanted his eating habits to start off on the good foot and no one else was going to make that happen but me!
Why did you want to write a cookbook?
I wanted to write a cookbook because I knew it would be a challenge and I wanted a challenge. I like writing recipes, but they needed to go somewhere. And I knew a book would be a great way to showcase them. I also wanted to write a book because I wanted it to get into the hands of people who are daunted by cooking. Cooking and feeding my family bring me the greatest joy. I want everyone to feel that way!
What is your favorite recipe in the book?
How can I possibly name just one?! All of these recipes are a piece of my heart. Each one was given so much tender love and care. So much making and remaking and making again and remaking again. They are like my babies! But which ones do I enjoy making and eating the most? I love the rotini pasta salad with summer veggies and red wine vinaigrette. I love standing at the cutting board and chopping a pile of fresh veggies. It's so therapeutic for me. The chocolate-swirl pumpkin gingerbreadalso has my heart. It's so fun to swirl the chocolate in before it goes into the oven. And the warm spices transport me to autumn. And the grilled ribs with homemade BBQ sauceare unreal. This recipe was a collaboration with my husband. Food is a big part of our relationship, so this recipe is special to me. And what about the chocolate cream pie?! My kind of dessert is creamy chocolate and this pie fits the bill entirely. Gosh, I could name favorite recipes all day. I should stop now.
What recipe did you work the hardest on?
There are a couple of recipes that I made so many times, trying to get it just right. The brownieswere made maybe 9 times. And so were theKorean beef lettuce wraps. Trying to tweak it just right to get the right amount of sauce that wasn't too thick or too thin was tricky. Would you be surprised if I said the toasted garlic bread was a hard one too? I wanted just the right crispness. After a bunch of mediocre results, I finally got the garlickiest, toastiest bread of my dreams. Oh! And I almost forgot! The cheesy chicken and rice! Who knew simple comfort food could be so hard to achieve! After so many failed attempts, I finally nailed it. And now it is my 8 year old's favorite dinner.
What is your favorite photograph in the book?
It's hard to pick just one when the great and wonderful Sheena is your photographer. Truly guys, you will die when you see the work she has done. But I will say that the dessert ones are my favorites. The picture from the buttermilk cake with strawberries and whipped cream is perfection. I just want to swipe my finger over the image, hoping that my finger hops through the page and gets a big swoop of the whipped cream.
How did you find Sheena?
I get asked this question all the time! A long time ago, I had a food blog and Sheena was one of my nicest readers. She had emailed me once, maybe 4+ years ago, and said how much she liked my blog. She wrote a p.s. and said, "And hey, if you ever want to photograph a cookbook, I am your gal!" Well, poor girl. Little did she know I never forgot that. About 2 years later, I emailed her and said, "Hey, remember that one time you said you wanted to photograph a cookbook? How 'bout it?" Lucky for me, she gleefully answered and she was onboard. We met up at a Barnes and Noble one snowy January night and got to know each other face to face and then we were go for launch! Sheena has been a dream to work with. So easy-going, fun and creative. She has such a natural gift and I feel so blessed to get to take advantage of it!
What would you make for dinner when you have guests coming over?
I love a big Sunday dinner. It's my favorite day of the week to feed my people. I always start with planning out the dessert, because weall know that is the most important part. And I love making chocolate cake. So I would do Elma's double chocolate cake. For dinner, I have to think about what season it is! Since it's summer, I would grill. Maybe my husband'sorange and herb marinated tri-tip steak. So good! For sides, I am partial to potatoes with meat, so the roasted garlic mashed potatoesfor sure. Another good veggie side is thewalnut green beans. Don't know about walnut oil yet? Get to know it! It's delicious. And I think some frozen lemonade would be delightful to round it all out.
What is your "I'm in a hurry" go-to meal?
The black beans and rice are a simple, cheap and easy one. My kids always go for that. Thefettuccine with tomato cream sauceis my 5 year old's favorite and I almost always have the ingredients on hand. Potato pancakesare always great because all you need are potatoes, an egg and some flour. And chicken noodlesoup. Anytime I am sauteing onion, carrots and celery, my kids ask if we are having chicken noodle soup.
What advice would you give to someone who says "I can't cook" ?
YES YOU CAN! I wish I could bring anyone that says that into my kitchen for an afternoon and work together to make a delicious meal. If you want to cook, but are nervous, I would say to start with one dish that you want to get just right and make it over and over until it's perfect and your signature dish. I did that with lasagna years ago. When you can build your confidence with getting a certain dish right, you will be ready to branch out. Practice makes perfect.
What is your favorite kitchen gadget?
My precious knife. My husband is a chef and we own a catering company. He has a big fancy tool box full of all kinds of fun cooking stuff and a beautiful set of knives. After stealing his santoku knife out of his tool box at least 10 times, he finally stopped stealing it back. I use it for everything.
Who is your cooking inspiration?
There are lots of people. Bobby Flay, Ina Garten and Anne Burrell on the Food Network are faves. Ruth Reichl, Jeff Henderson and Julia Child's books are books I wished would have never ended. Rick Bayless is the master of Mexican food and I could eat Mexican food all the live long day. As for people in my own life, there have been many, but the one who tops the list would be my mother. My mom cooked healthful and diverse meals when I was growing up. She instilled my food foundation and a lot of thanks goes to her.
Want more Whitney?
Whitney will soon have a blog for you to drool over, but in the meantime go follow her on Instagram-- @whitneyingram. She posts all kinds of easy recipes right there on her feed....find her!
Get your copy of The Family Flavor (still on sale!!!) HERE