Foodbuzz: Next Food Blog Star

by Andie Mitchell on September 19, 2010

For the better part of twenty five years, I’ve been in the kitchen.


What I’ve learned about myself, in all these years, is that I am not me without food. Without cooking. Since I was a tiny baby…scratch that, I was never a tiny baby. Since I was a venti-sized baby, I’ve been cooking. I know, impossible. A newborn with a whisk? Sometimes I wonder.

But it’s true. I find cooking when I scan my oldest memories. Flour dusting over third birthday parties, crumbly dough balls wedged in between that time the front tire popped off my Big Wheel and I learned that pesky cursive “Q,” a melted butter sheen on my first love letter.

How did my crib get in the kitchen?


I’ve always been an observer. Keen on watching people, things, and events like I was going to be tested on my recollection later. A shame I didn’t go the detective route. A wonder I didn’t do better on my SAT verbal. I’m intensely interested in how things are made and in the manner in which others go about doing things. Fitting that I’d sit for hours on the painted oak footstool in the kitchen and watch my mother put on a magic show with butter, flour, and eggs. What’s her trick? Though never a rabbit, what she pulled out of the oven was magnificent- different every time.


My whole life, I loved to watch her cook. I’m sure if we were to dig up her birth certificate, we’d find her middle name to be “From Scratch.” The woman was making homemade crackers, pies, stews, wellingtons, and pates, faster than Good Housekeeping could churn out a cookbook. It was marvelous. I’d look up at her dusting confectioner’s sugar on a pan of the most lusciously lemon squares. With family to arrive any minute, she’d still have her wet hair in a towel, basting a golden brown bird with buttery glaze. She wrote the book on entertaining. The whole enchilada- from table setting, to theme, to tettrazini followed by tiramisu.

By age 4 I was helping her frost a freshly baked layer cake. We were browsing the Silver Palate Cookbook like a bedtime story. I spent years at her side, asking questions, watching cupcakes dome through the oven door, learning to read almost exclusively by recipe cards. Most likely spelling ‘Andouille’ before ‘Andrea.’ I divided my time between Sesame Street and Julia Child. And somehow, without consciously realizing the transition, I became the cook. Funny how that happens.


I loved the layering of ingredients, the depth of flavor, the trust I gained in myself as a cook. The anticipation of taste and texture. The fact that the end game was always an exhibit of my own creativity. The way that careful plating fed my eyes first. I flowed with a natural ease, a sashay from stove top to sink to counter. From mince to mix to mascerate. I embraced the timing. The precision. The delicate nature of cooking and baking. The requisite taste testing. Because there’s value in wrapping your tongue around the beater’s wires to get every last lick of buttercream. What that value is, I’m not sure, but my belly is, and I’d say that’s enough. I leave most major decisions to that part of me- the wisdom of my waist.

I don’t just love food. It’s not the strands of linguine wrapped around the tines of a fork that I’m after. It’s knitting the velvet robe of bechamel. It’s not even the slice of dark chocolate torte. Ok, it is the slice of chocolate torte. What I mean to say, is that my passionate love affair with food does not begin and end with the food itself. I fell in love with the dish, the slice, the bowlful, through the learning… and the labor… and the loving memories born of them.


Perhaps especially in the past five years, after losing 135lbs, I have made even more of a life in my kitchen. Uncertain of how to reintroduce the foods I loved all my life, but had given up throughout weight loss, I began creating my own recipes. Healthier versions of the classics. I said to myself, “Anyone who throws caution to the wind and uses an unlimited amount of butter, cream, oil, and the like, will ultimately make a dish that tastes delicious. Because butter, in and of itself, takes taste to the next level. But the true challenge, the mark of a truly good cook, is the creation of flavor. Knowing the essence of good food, understanding flavor complements, how to use herbs and spices to cultivate that perfect palate pleaser, believing that food can be just as beautiful on its own without makeup and a ballgown.


I experimented. I failed. I may have cried once or fifty- two times. But making the dishes I had always loved, in a way that felt wholesome and somehow pure, felt so worthwhile. So satisfying. My mind jogged through memories of buffalo chicken pizza in my first college dorm, White paper boxes of Chinese food littered around my family’s table, and every celebration with thick wedges of buttercream-bathed fudge cake. There will be a life for these beloved eats, I promised myself.

I kept that promise. Five years later and I’m still cooking up classics with my own flair.


I sit here now in my own kitchen, a coast away from my mother, the one who breathed life into my cooking lungs. I recreate the confections we once made. The ones that drew me, nose first, into the kitchen, tied themselves to moments in my life, and tucked themselves away in the closet of my memory. Enough to fill a book. A bookcase.

I cook and I cook. And when I’m done cooking I bake. Then I bake again. Because I am not me without it. I’ve built a life here, in my kitchen. And even as an adult… the butter, the sugar, the flour and the eggs…they still feel like magic.

This is my official entry for Project Food Blog’s first challenge, to explain who I am, why I blog, and the reasons I think I have any shred of what it takes to be the Next Food Blog Star.  Here’s a little information about the contest:

Project Food Blog is the first-ever interactive competition where thousands of Foodbuzz Featured Publishers are competing in a series of culinary blogging challenges for the chance to advance and a shot at the ultimate prize: $10,000 and a special feature on Foodbuzz.com for one year. Voting for entries on the first challenge will kick off September 20th, and contestants will be whittled down over the next 12 weeks via exciting challenges related to food blogging.

Voting begins at 6am on September 20th and lasts until 6pm. Just log in to Foodbuzz to vote here: CanYouStayForDinner


As always, thank you for reading.


{ 71 comments… read them below or add one }

Evan Thomas September 19, 2010 at 4:55 pm

You have The Next Food Blog Star written all over this post! I think there’s a part of your story anyone can relate to. And you’re right–add enough butter and anything will taste good. But making it flavorful, unique, and something new is always a challenge and what you bring to the table.

Reply

Can You Stay for Dinner September 19, 2010 at 4:58 pm

Wow, thanks so much Evan!! I think you just made my Sunday!

Reply

Tina September 19, 2010 at 5:16 pm

This is the most beautiful Next Food Blog Star post I have read yet!!! Way to go Andrea. You have it all going on. Amazing recipes, a way with words, and pictures that draw us in.

Reply

Can You Stay for Dinner September 19, 2010 at 7:57 pm

I appreciate every.single.word you write, Tina. Thank you for always encouraging me, even when I feel like a schmoe (sooo….most days).

Reply

Fuji Mama September 19, 2010 at 5:24 pm

The second I got finished reading this paragraph, I couldn’t quit: “But it’s true. I find cooking when I scan my oldest memories. Flour dusting over third birthday parties, crumbly dough balls wedged in between that time the front tire popped off my Big Wheel and I learned that pesky cursive “Q,” a melted butter sheen on my first love letter.”

BEAUTIFUL post! Good luck in the contest!!

Reply

Can You Stay for Dinner September 19, 2010 at 7:55 pm

Thank you Rachael. You know it’s funny, I almost deleted the entire post and considered not entering, thinking it was all unworthy. You made me smile.

Reply

Janene September 19, 2010 at 5:29 pm

The way you weave your stories is so inviting, it’s like each post delivers us straight to your kitchen to smell, taste and experience each and every recipe – in other words, you’ve definitely got my vote! :-D

Reply

Can You Stay for Dinner September 19, 2010 at 7:54 pm

Thank you a million times over, Janene. It means so much.

Reply

spabettie September 19, 2010 at 5:39 pm

this is the most amazing entry!! such wonderful writing that evokes memories of my own early culinary adventures…

and the photos are mouth watering beautiful !!

Reply

Can You Stay for Dinner September 19, 2010 at 7:53 pm

That is so so kind of you to say, I really appreciate it!

Reply

Amy @ Second City Randomness September 19, 2010 at 6:30 pm

Good luck my dear! You know I’m rooting for you! :)

Reply

Can You Stay for Dinner September 19, 2010 at 7:52 pm

Lots of love, Amy! Thank you!

Reply

Divina September 19, 2010 at 6:46 pm

Wow, Andrea, what an amazing introduction to you. I learned about your blog through Project Food Blog, and am racing now to add you to my Reader! Good luck on the contest!

Reply

M.J. Jacobsen September 19, 2010 at 6:56 pm

You are a winner, I just know! It will be exciting to follow with you! :)

Reply

Can You Stay for Dinner September 19, 2010 at 7:52 pm

Thank you, as always, M.J.!!

Reply

Lily @ Lily's Health Pad September 19, 2010 at 7:07 pm

You have such a way with words. Your passion for cooking and baking exudes from this post. All your posts, really! One of the best entries I’ve read because you can cook, bake, take beautiful pictures, AND write.

Reply

Sana September 19, 2010 at 7:52 pm

This is exactly what I love about your blog. The way you weave your memories, passions and food into a story.

This story is warm and full of the love of food. You may have changed on the exterior but your love of food will always be the same.

Thanks for sharing your love with all of us :)

Reply

ashandlewplus2 September 19, 2010 at 8:57 pm

Thank you for sharing you life with us. I am loving reading about everyone’s life during this foodbuzz challenge. I posted my FBC blog yesterday. Check it out and let me know what you think.
Ashlee
http://ashandlewplus2.com/2010/09/18/project-food-blog-ready-set-blog/

Reply

peggyhogan September 19, 2010 at 10:16 pm

Beautifully written and lovely scrumptious pictures. Your blog stardom awaits! Good luck. I’ll be sure to pass you on to friends.

Reply

Can You Stay for Dinner September 19, 2010 at 11:09 pm

Thanks so much, Peggy! You always make me feel good!

Reply

Ashley September 19, 2010 at 11:56 pm

Such a lovely post my dear. I could really feel you through your words. Awesome photos too!!

Reply

Nicole September 20, 2010 at 6:10 am

You should win this contest. In my eyes, you already have. I read a lot of food blogs, but yours is — without a doubt — the best!

Reply

Can You Stay for Dinner September 20, 2010 at 9:35 am

Oh dear. Wow, thank you so very much for that, Nicole.

Reply

Sarah (Running to Slow Things Down) September 20, 2010 at 7:25 am

I absolutely love your thoughts on creating food that tastes good without all “the makeup and a ballgown.” So well put. :D

Your blog is a constant inspiration and so fun to read. I literally savor every word. :D

Reply

Gabriela @ Une Vie Saine September 20, 2010 at 7:40 am

Amazing post. I always love your recipes and creative stories that just seem to intertwine so well with the food. Good luck in PFB!!

Reply

Krista September 20, 2010 at 8:12 am

You definitely have my vote, Andrea. I think you’re a super star in the kitchen!! :)

Reply

Nate @ House of Annie September 20, 2010 at 9:19 am

You got my vote! Cheers and aloha.

Reply

Joan Nova September 20, 2010 at 9:43 am

Very well done post. I just cast one of my votes for you. Good luck!

Reply

Can You Stay for Dinner September 20, 2010 at 10:04 am

Thank you, Joan!!

Reply

Angela September 20, 2010 at 10:27 am

Good luck! You deserve it – every recipe you post leaves my mouth watering, both through the photos and the descriptions. You tell wonderful stories.

Reply

Can You Stay for Dinner September 20, 2010 at 10:32 am

Hey! Thanks Angela!

Reply

Amy (Sing For Your Supper) September 20, 2010 at 1:21 pm

I LOVE this post!! Totally just voted for you girl!

Reply

Can You Stay for Dinner September 20, 2010 at 1:22 pm

Thanks Amy!!

Reply

The Enchanted Cook September 20, 2010 at 2:05 pm

Great story!! I love the way you express yourself and your food photos look delectable! I’m looking forward to trying some of your recipes and best wishes in the challenge!

Reply

Decor Girl September 20, 2010 at 2:15 pm

You have my vote. I so enjoy how you write. It becomes conversational like having a chat with a friend. Your amazing photos (how do you do that?) help to bring the conversation closer to the reality of being there.

This is the most fun and enjoyable food blog, educational too! Good luck!

Reply

Can You Stay for Dinner September 20, 2010 at 2:24 pm

Lisa, you are such a kind person. Thank you!

Reply

Foodie (Fab and Delicious Food) September 20, 2010 at 3:08 pm

Awesome post! I love your writing voice! You just have such a way with words! And your pictures aren’t too shabby either, haha! Seriously, the photos of your food are always fantastic as well, everything always looks so amazing!

I loved reading about how your mom is such a good cook/baker! My mom is as well! She can make anything taste delicious! Growing up, we always had a home-cooked meal on the dinner table! That’s something I’ve always appreciated! And holidays are the best! We always have the best holiday spreads at our house, from the main entree and side dishes to the desserts (homemade apple pie, mmmm!) Hopefully one day I can be as good of a cook and baker as she is!

Best of luck with PFB!

Reply

Can You Stay for Dinner September 20, 2010 at 3:12 pm

Thanks for sharing about your mom, it was such a thoughtful comment!

Reply

Isabel September 20, 2010 at 4:23 pm

First time on here and I absolutely love your post! I can’t wait to read the rest of your blog. I am voting for you :)

Reply

Can You Stay for Dinner September 20, 2010 at 4:30 pm

Thank you Isabel!

Reply

letizia golosa September 20, 2010 at 8:50 pm

Great blog!!!! You have my vote! Good luck!!!

Reply

Can You Stay for Dinner September 20, 2010 at 10:29 pm

Thanks, Letizia!!

Reply

kristy September 21, 2010 at 1:34 am

Hi there, what a beautiful blog post! You will sure have my vote. Thanks for the add and nice to meet you. Enjoy your day. Good luck!
Kristy

Reply

Can You Stay for Dinner September 21, 2010 at 8:52 am

Thank you Kristy!!

Reply

Conor @ HoldtheBeef September 21, 2010 at 5:38 am

It’s been a little while since I visited you here, but consider yourself voted for! :) Good luck!

Reply

Can You Stay for Dinner September 21, 2010 at 8:52 am

Hey Conor! Hope all is well! Thanks!

Reply

wnk505 September 21, 2010 at 7:03 am

touching post! beautiful food and pictures

Reply

Can You Stay for Dinner September 21, 2010 at 8:51 am

Thank you, Whitney!

Reply

Heather September 21, 2010 at 11:07 am

I absolutely loved this post.

Reply

Can You Stay for Dinner September 21, 2010 at 12:20 pm

Thank you, Heather!

Reply

Sharlene (Wheels and Lollipops) September 21, 2010 at 11:48 am

You had me at ‘How did my crib get in the kitchen” – This is my first time visiting your blog, but I will definitely be back ! You have my vote !

Reply

Can You Stay for Dinner September 21, 2010 at 12:09 pm

Thanks so much Sharlene!

Reply

Biz September 21, 2010 at 2:34 pm

I voted for you!! Good luck!

Reply

Can You Stay for Dinner September 21, 2010 at 3:11 pm

Thank you Biz!!

Reply

lynn @ the actors diet September 21, 2010 at 9:54 pm

you got my vote already!

Reply

Can You Stay for Dinner September 21, 2010 at 11:15 pm

Thank you Lynn! Hope you’re doing well!

Reply

Lick My Spoon September 22, 2010 at 1:55 pm

Your photos are beautiful, can you link me to the recipe for the first image? Excited to see what’s next, you’ve got one of our votes!

Lick My Spoon

Reply

Can You Stay for Dinner September 22, 2010 at 2:14 pm

Hey! Thank you very much! Here is the link to the Chocolate Almond Toffee Bars: http://canyoustayfordinner.com/2010/08/25/chocolate-toffee-almond-bars/

Hope you enjoy them!

Reply

Healthy Coconut September 22, 2010 at 4:35 pm

I love your writing Andrea. I’m such a visual person and your writing makes it easier to follow the story you’re telling and your pictures rock.

Reply

Can You Stay for Dinner September 22, 2010 at 4:51 pm

Thank you thank you thank you! That really means a lot to me.

Reply

flavorfulworld September 22, 2010 at 8:15 pm

Great entry you’ve created! I voted for you :)

Best luck to us all,
Anthony
Flavorful World
http://alturl.com/499hw

Reply

Jean September 23, 2010 at 9:36 am

Very nicely done! So nice to have come across your blog via PFB. You got my vote, of course!

Reply

Can You Stay for Dinner September 23, 2010 at 9:40 am

Thank you so much, Jean! I adore your blog!!

Reply

Mariko September 23, 2010 at 6:04 pm

Your writing is divine. I’m an English teacher, so I should know. :) Great entry.

Reply

Can You Stay for Dinner September 23, 2010 at 6:09 pm

Thanks so much Mariko! I really appreciate that!!

Reply

Lara (Thinspired) September 23, 2010 at 7:23 pm

I am so impressed with this entry. There have been SO many good entries out there, but if voting is still open, I think I’ve finally made my decision.

Reply

Can You Stay for Dinner September 23, 2010 at 7:28 pm

Lara, I’m really really touched. It’s so kind of you to say. Thank you!

Reply

Morgan Burtt-Henderson September 23, 2010 at 8:22 pm

Ha! I noticed your name was first when I went to check the vote. I voted for you both days!! Good luck, yours is da best!

Reply

Can You Stay for Dinner September 23, 2010 at 10:22 pm

Morgan, I love you. Thank you.

Reply

Amber September 25, 2010 at 8:46 am

You have an amazing writing style. Definitely the best post I have read. You deserve the title of The Next Food Blog Star. Hands down :)

Keep up the good work. Will be voting and routing for you!

Reply

Can You Stay for Dinner September 25, 2010 at 9:41 am

Thank you so very much Amber! Made my day!

Reply

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: