Karlynn was selected as one of the top 50 Food Bloggers of 2011. When she was nominated by the community we could see why: she cooks, bakes and gardens (and like me, she does not enjoy the clean-up part of cooking). Somehow she manages being a mom, working at a hospital and sharing her culinary experiences on her blog. Maybe it has to do with her wonderful sense of humor, down to earth attitude and gentle demeanor. If you want to get a little insight into this super-mom/supper-blogger read on.
Friendseat: What’s the story behind your blog’s name: The Kitchen Magpie?
Karlynn Johnston : I have a propensity for collecting shiny things, old costume jewelry, shiny retro glass, you name it, if it sparkles I like it. My dad has teased me for years with the nickname “magpie” so it was almost natural to name my blog about my kitchen escapades that way.
FE: On your blog, you make the interesting claim that you don’t know most of what you’re talking about and yet it does not seem like you are ever at a loss for words. How does that work?
KJ: It’s a disclaimer, written more in my style than an official one. The other half of that quote “I haven’t learned half of what I would like to know” sums it up nicely, I’m still learning, just like most people. If you want an expert, visit Ina or Ramsey. I’m just having fun here, folks, come along for the ride!
KJ: Almost my entire life has been spent in rural central or south Alberta, Canada,
FE: What was your favorite food as a kid?
KJ: My grandma’s deer stew. And it is deer stew. I grew up in a hunting/fishing family, so there was no “venison”. It was deer. Or elk. Or moose. Or whatever unlucky animal wandered into the yard that day. Just kidding. …uh..sort of?
FE: What inspired you to start a food blog?
KJ: I’ve always blogged and all my old original content is actually still on my site. It just so happens that when I write about my adventures, food takes a large part of that up. It just became so prevalent that I renamed it and just went with the natural direction that my site was headed.
FE: What field of food does your blog focus on and why?
KJ: Whatever grabs my attention that day. It’s that bird like attention span, I can’t help it. I can definitely say that I don’t stray into complicated methods, ingredients that readers will never find and keep it light and easy. I do have a sweet tooth beyond measure though and my site reflects that accordingly.
FE: What is a typical day in your life like?
KJ: Get up, drive the kids to school, come home, weep over the mess we made at breakfast, clean said mess, answer emails, edit photos,have lunch, panic that I have nothing planned for dinner, play with my new IPhone and ignore the dinner problem,solve dinner dilemma, prepare dinner, pick up kids. Wonder how I wasted 6 hours by myself with emails, photo editing and writing…. rinse and repeat.
KJ: Large wooden cabinets, beautiful 1970’s gold appliances, the usual 1980’s fare.
FE: What is your kitchen like now?
KJ: Ooh. It’s shiny and new. We just moved into our new house and the kitchen planning was mine…all mine. I chose my dream cabinets which are white with glass pane fronts, dark granite countertops and the GE Cafe series of appliances. That gas stove is my new best friend. My island has a lovely work space on it for baking and creating. It’s not a huge kitchen but it’s amazing and I feel so lucky to have it.
FE: What type of people read your blog?
KJ: Awesome ones. I have great readers, they love to comment, interact on my Facebook page, they make this whole experience so much fun. It’s mostly women, looking for recipes, tips n’ tricks, but I get a lot of men stopping by as well.
FE: What comes to mind when you hear the word “bacon”?
KJ: Put it back on the Sunday breakfast table please and get it off my desserts. Stop beating a dead pig.
FE: If I say “chocolate,” you say?
KJ: Anytime, anyplace.
FE: How does being a mother factor into your recipes?
KJ: Having kids turned the way I viewed eating around 360 degrees. Starting with nursing my children, which had me giving up foods due to a lactose intolerance with my son, to scrutinizing the way I was feeding them when they moved on to solids, re-thinking and revising the views on eating that we grew up with and ending with my being a short order chef. One child hates meat, the other eats everything plain. I now realize that if I make anything decadent or with meat for the husband and I, the kids are not eating it. Once a week I don’t compromise on dinner and make what I like. We have a stash of whole wheat noodles and spaghetti sauce ready for the kids on nights like that.
FE: Do your children help with the cooking or do they just help with the eating?
KJ: Oh no, they love to “help”. We were at a loss the last two weeks without our barstools at our new kitchen island and quickly re-established their “spots” for helping mom make dinner.
KJ: Daawat’s on Whyte Ave here in Edmonton. Their Vegetable Korma with a side of coconut naan is as close to heaven on earth as we’re going to get.
FE: What is your favorite ingredient and why?
KJ: Chocolate, because no one will ever complain about anything with chocolate in it. It’s almost not even possible, I don’t think. Unless of course, it’s with bacon. Then you’ll see me complaining.
FE: What is your opinion of the current state of Foodtertainment?
KJ: There’s almost too much of it. I can’t remember the last time I tuned into a reality cooking show, the choices out there are simply too overwhelming. You can have too much of a good thing, you know. I do like the trend of cookbooks being more personal and fun, rather than just recipes with no stories, but the onslaught of cooking shows I can do without.
FE: What do you think is the future of food blogging in the next 5 years?
KJ: Food blogging is here to stay without a doubt and it’s bigger than ever, but with that means there are more food bloggers than ever. I see a lot of bloggers getting into the podcasts and videos and wonder how much staying power those are going to have. Sometimes they ruin the “picture” that people have in their heads of a writer when they start using live media formats. I am pretty sure video is the next “wave” that’s going to hit food bloggers, whether that backfires or not, we’ll have to see. And whether or not I head into the video territory, we’ll also have to see!
FE: Would you like to give a shout out to the best joint that no one has heard about?
KJ: It’s not unknown here in Edmonton but to those who are going to visit our lovely town, you must stop at Duchess Bake Shop. Their brioche Pepin has to be my favorite breakfast treat ever and their macarons are world class. Everything there is amazing and I am slowly trying to eat my way through the menu. A girl’s gotta have goals, you know.
FE: What do you think is the most important issue facing foodies today?
KJ: Not being seen as food snobs. With books out there on how to “out foodie” other foodies, I think that the term has almost come to have negative connotations to it. Some of us just like food. We don’t want to outstyle anyone else, pick up our forks fancier, sniff corks snootier, we just want to create/eat a great meal. I also think that the trend of using the fanciest ingredients possible is leaving readers in the dust; I can’t count the times I have been emailed with thanks for using normal ingredients. I had one woman email me gushing about how – to quote her exactly- she loved that I didn’t “use vanilla beans grown by Tibetan monks”. I think that the trend of trying to impress other foodies with complex, fancy recipes leaves writers not paying enough attention to the real audience anymore, and it’s not other foodies. It’s an entire nation looking for great workable, simple recipes online.