There is nothing I like more than a well written and informative blog, except for maybe a piece of delicious rhubarb pie; one of the reasons I particularly like Rachel Zenhausern’s blog The Essential Rhubarb Pie. Rachel is down to earth and even admits to being a picky eater. We caught up with her recently and chatted about her blog.
FriendsEAT.com: Where did you grow up?
Rachel Zenhausern: I grew up in Westchester County, NY (and still reside there). It’s nicely situated between the diverse restaurants of NYC and the farms upstate.
FE: What inspired you to start a blog?
RZ: I’m obsessed with food. I love talking. I love talking about food. I wanted a place to give my kitchen a voice.
I love creating and adapting recipes and often found that once I cooked something, I’d have no record of it. My blog is a place where I can archive my best recipes and share them with the world. I also enjoy simply talking about food-related topics that aren’t about cooking. I like talking about everything from the restaurants where I dined to the silly dreams I have about chocolate.
FE: What field of food does your blog focus on and why?
RZ: I’m pretty eclectic. My blog is just about foods I like. In my blog you’ll see a lot of chicken, pork, broccoli, garlic, and chocolate. How they’re prepared on any given day will vary depending on my inspiration, my mood, and how the planets are aligned.
FE: What is a typical day in your life like?
RZ: I work a full time job, so my mornings are usually a rush to get my morning workout done and then it’s a quick breakfast (usually a homemade smoothie) and head to the office. In the evenings I may be off to a dance or theater rehearsal. When I’m home I use that nice stretch of free evening to create a really great meal.
My husband and I have horses and we keep them about 90 minutes away from home, so on the weekends we’re out in the morning and with our horses all day and often go out to eat when we come home. I love finding new restaurants as well as revisiting old favorites.
FE: What was your childhood kitchen like?
RZ: My mother is a really good cook. Before I was born, Redbook magazine did an article on her and published a bunch of her recipes. I was a picky eater as a small child, so she had to save her best stuff for company and stick with the basics for me. As I grew older, I learned to appreciate her more.
Because she was a single mother, I ate many of my meals at my grandparents’ home. My grandfather did all of the cooking at their place and he was a good cook too. He was very meat-and-poatoes in his approach. Italian pasta dishes were about as foreign as the food got, but it was always well-prepared and there was always plenty of it.
FE: What is your kitchen like now?
RZ: It’s a tiny space filled with my favorite gadget and gizmos. My refrigerator is either completely filled with stuff I’m about to cook during the week or it’s the weekend and it’s almost empty. I cook about 3 times a weeks – the nights I’m home – and then it’s 2-3 days of leftovers and 1-2 nights of going out.
FE: What type of people read your blog?
RZ: My blog audience is pretty small, but is wonderfully eclectic. My regular readers span different age groups and life situations. I have single men, mothers with children and everyone in between reading my blog. Some of them are pretty well-known bloggers, so I’m very pleased that some of the “cool kids” read my blog.
FE: What comes to mind when you hear the word “bacon”?
RZ: The response is rather Pavlovian. Bacon is one of my favorite things in the world.
RZ: My favorite restaurant is The Iron Forge Inn in Warwick, NY. It’s a beautiful country restaurant in an 18th-century farmhouse building. The food is very innovative and often locally sourced. I can’t say I have ever known a chef more creative than Erik Johansen. Not only is the food and the setting lovely, but the service is always impeccable as well. I really can’t stop talking the place up. It’s that good.
FE: And your favorite ingredient?
RZ: Hoo boy. That’s tough. There are a few things I use reguarly. Chicken, white wine, tomatoes, onion, garlic, and pork products of all sorts (chops, roasts, bacon, pancetta, etc.)
FE: How do you feel about foodtertainment?
RZ: I think it’s way too much about entertainment these days and not enough about food.
FE: What do you predict to be the future of food blogging in 5 years?
RZ: It seems like everyone in the country with working tastebuds and a home computer has a food blog these days. However, I’ve noticed in the past year or two that some of the ones I was reading regularly have stopped updating consistently or have been taken down. I think in 5 years food blogging (in terms of volume) will peak and decline. The blogs that remain will be from the folks who are most committed and passionate about what they do.
FE: Is there a place that nobody has ever heard of that has a special place in your heart?
RZ: Rani Mahal Indian restaurant in Mamaroneck NY rocks. More people should definitely be going there. The staff alone makes the meal worth the trip.
FE: What is the most important issue facing foodies today?
RZ: You walk into a store and you’re faced with an aisle or two of fresh food and 6 aisles of stuff in cans, boxes, and jars. Everything is filled with sodium and HFCS. Produce comes from everywhere but our backyards. On the good side, farmer’s markets are flourishing, but if you have a busy lifestyle, they’re not always convenient. It can be hard to cook real homemade meals from fresh food in a world where the food industry is constantly fighting to make sure that industrial food products are always more abundant.