Sometimes when you meet someone, you know immediately that you have met someone special. That happened to us when we we were down at Food Blog Forum Orlando where we met Merry-Jennifer of The Merry Gourmet. We were told by one of our dear friends, Wendi of Bon Appetit Hon, that Merry-Jennifer was going to be at FBF and we must talk to her. We are so glad we did!
Merry-Jennifer is a self-taught cook with a wonderful blog where she shares her tasty dishes. She is not afraid to get in the kitchen, get her hands dirty and learn something new. All of her recipes look delicious and all of her photos are beautiful. You have to take a peak at her Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream, Blueberry Ice Cream Pie, Potato Doughnuts with Cardamom and Cinnamon and many more.
We know you will love her.
Why did you begin Merry Gourmet, what was the inspiration?
I had a personal blog that I started in 2006, mostly to update my family and friends on what was happening with our family and to share stories about my children. Over time, I found that I wasn’t as interested in writing and it became somewhat of a burden to update the blog. When I did update it, I tended to write about food experiences I was having – either at restaurants or cooking for and with my children. It was only while writing those food-focused posts that I felt engaged with my blog again. Cooking and eating – and writing about it – were the things that held my interest and got me excited.
Finally, in February 2010, I decided to start a separate blog, the merry gourmet, for sharing my experiences with food and cooking. I think I wrote just one more post on my personal blog, and that was that. I found my passion when I started the food blog.
We were lucky enough to meet you at a Food Blogger Conference; we are often split on our feelings of a conference, what is your goal when attending and how do you make the most of the time spent there?
Food blog conferences are a wonderful opportunity to get to know people with similar passions for food and for the creative activities, such as photography and writing, which surround it. My personal philosophy is to go into a conference setting with an open mind and with no preconceived notions or expectations – other than to learn at least one new thing and make some new friends.
The IFBC conference in Seattle in August 2010 was my first conference, and I fell in love with the conference experience then. There is something energizing and motivating about so many members of this great food blogging community getting together to share our love for what we do. It’s inspiring.
How have you learned to cook over the years and how do you do it today? We have read on your “About” page that you taught yourself to cook. What has been the motivation to do so?
The biggest reason I did not cook until 2003 or so was fear. I used to be scared and intimidated by the process of cooking. Having children was the motivation for me to get over it. When I became pregnant with my first child in 2003, though, I realized that I was going to be a pivotal influence in shaping my daughter’s life and relationship with food. I wasn’t happy with my own relationship with food – something I still struggle with today – and I didn’t want to force her into a similar lifestyle.
I started teaching myself to cook by just getting in the kitchen and trying out recipes. I had to learn that it was okay to deviate from a recipe and to make mistakes. I read a lot of cookbooks and food magazines, and these serve as great teachers and guides. And, not only have I overcome my fear of cooking, I’ve noticed that my children are expressing an interest in the cooking process and in where their food comes from.
So far, so good.
We noticed you have two children; is spending time in the kitchen together something you and your family do often? Do your children have any interest in cooking and baking?
They adore cooking with me, and I let them help any chance I can. I’m still scared of letting them use the knives and the hot stove, but I let them do small tasks. My daughter calls herself the official Taste Tester of the household.
On your “About” page, you wrote about a wine class you and your husband took together. From that course, do you have any advice for wine pairings, do you have a favorite?
The world of wine is so amazing. I’ve been interested in it since I took that class seven years ago, and it’s a constant learning process. My advice to the novice wine drinker is to just drink what you like. Wine pairings can enhance a meal, but if you prefer white wine with your steak, go for it. Probably my favorite pairings, though, are a nice cabernet sauvignon paired with a steak, or a dry Riesling paired with Chinese take-out. And I’ll drink a Rosé with any meal, for any occasion.
What is your favorite thing about food and cooking? Why do you think so many of us have such a passion for it?
Food unites us all. Bring up food in a conversation – with friends or strangers – and everyone has something to say or an experience to share. Regardless of race, ethnicity, religion, or culture, we all cook food and we all eat. Food gives us pleasure, and the act of cooking a meal makes us human.
Thank you, Merry-Jennifer!
All the photos in this post are credit of The Merry Gourmet.