Alexandra Stafford of Alexandra Cooks
Q: When and why did you start blogging?
A: I started blogging in 2006 when I started working as the food editor for a small Philadelphia newspaper. I wanted to keep track of all of the food I was discovering in the city as well as at home, and blogging seemed like a good way to chronicle everything.
Q: How do you think your blog stands out amongst other food blogs?
A: Gosh, I don’t know. For awhile, I was very focused on the local-food movement and shopping only at farmers’ markets and buying only humanely raised meats and dairy products. Now, I’m still focused on supporting the local-food movement, but care most about featuring in-season ingredients. There are so many good food blogs out there, and I can’t really pinpoint how mine stands out — perhaps too many photographs ?
Q: What does your family think of your blogging?
A: My family, my mother in particular, are my biggest fans. They all subscribe to the email feed and couldn’t be more positive/encouraging/enthusiastic about every post. When they don’t receive an email for a few days, I get emails asking, “What’s going on?!”
Q: Where/how did you learn to cook?
A: My mother taught me to cook. I grew up eating homemade everything. My mother considers all things bottled — salad dressings in particular — repulsive. I learned to make homemade bread in elementary school. I was spoiled for sure. After college, I worked at a catering company outside of Philadelphia — Peach Tree and Ward — which was a blast, and then at a restaurant — Fork — in Old City Philadelphia. That’s where more than anything I became a more efficient cook. I loved my time in a professional kitchen but it wasn’t something I could do forever. I have such respect for kitchen workers — tough work, long hours.
Q: How much time daily do you spend blogging?
A: I probably spend about three to six hours a week blogging? I’ve never kept track. That’s terrible. I don’t blog every day, and I suppose every week is different. Some recipes take longer than others. Sometimes I take a million process shots, and editing those shots is time consuming. But between cooking, photographing, writing, and responding to readers, I would say six hours a week is about right.
Q: What blogs do you read?
A: So many! My favorite food site right now is food52.com. And I love my daily Canal House Cooks Lunch email.
Q: How much do you correspond one-on-one with readers?
A: At the very least, I try to respond to every comment that is a question. When I share the same enthusiasm for a comment, I often respond as well. When readers email me, I always respond.
Q: What joys did you not expect when you started blogging? What pains?
A: I did not expect to receive so many emails from readers who share my enthusiasm for certain foods or recipes. It brings me such joy to read an email from someone who has had success with a recipe and who has brought joy to his/her family or friends or significant other or just for his/herself in the process. Nothing makes me happier, truly. The pains I have experienced are pretty trivial overall. Sometimes I feel torn between blogging and the other priorities in my life, and sometimes I feel stressed when I can’t find the time to blog during the week. I’ve learned, however, that when I start feeling this way, I just have to step back and keep perspective. Readers likely aren’t as concerned about not seeing a current alexandra’s kitchen post as I am.
Q: What’s something your readers don’t know about you?
A: Hmmm. I just had a baby… haven’t gotten around to blogging about it yet, so I suppose few readers know that. What else? My husband is an officer in the Marine Corps. I didn’t grow up in a military family, so moving around the country and enduring deployments was new to me. It sounds silly, but having a blog helped me so much during deployments. I spent time in the evening writing, photographing, editing, posting — not worrying/thinking about my husband. More than anything, life in the military has taught me to cherish our moments as a family together.
Q: What are some of your favorite recipes that you’ve featured on Alexandra Cooks?
A: I have so many, but here are a few of my favorites:
Fresh Corn Polenta
Blueberry Buttermilk Breakfast Cake
Favorite Chocolate Chip Cookies
All-Time Favorite Brownies
Orange and Olive Oil Cake
Homemade Tomato Sauce
Homemade Ricotta Cheese
Baked Overnight French Toast
Chez Panisse Eggplant, Caramelized Onion, and Tomato Pasta