How did you learn to cook?

My Mom is an amazing cook and I give her all the credit for opening my eyes to the world of food. When I was growing up, she would always prepare the most mouth-watering meals. As long as I can remember, family and friends anticipated her meals as they gathered around my parent’s kitchen island, smelling the delicious aromas of the dishes that she prepared.

Up until recently, she never really understood how I acquired my cooking skills, especially since I was never in the kitchen with her. Much to her surprise, I recently told her that although I was hardly ever in the kitchen alongside her, I was always watching what she did as I jotted down mental notes.

As soon as I had a kitchen and prep area of my own, I quickly got to work preparing dishes for my husband (he was my boyfriend at the time) using many of the techniques I watched my Mom use in her kitchen. It was a little tricky trying to win my husband over with my dishes when I was first starting out since he was very picky particular when it came to food. Over time, I began to adopt my own ways of preparing food and opened my husband’s eyes to dishes that he never dreamed of enjoying.

I still love visiting my parent’s house because of the mouth-watering food that I enjoy time and time again. However, when it comes to food, there is no greater joy for me than spending time in my kitchen, preparing delicious food that I can serve to family and friends.

How did you learn to bake?

To be honest, I give my Mom all the credit when it comes to cooking. Baking, on other hand, is a whole different story. I love you, Mom, but we all know that when we asked for homemade chocolate chip cookies, she usually ended baking cookies pucks that my brother could take with him to hockey practice.

After a few times of being served these crunchy treats, I figured it was time for me to test my skills as a baker. When it came to baking, I quickly learned that it was important to stick to the measurements. Thanks to my anal rententiveness and self-diagnosed OCD, I fell in love with baking because it was so organized and measured. Ever since my first try at homemade chocolate chip cookies, I have always enjoyed preparing tasty treats for family and friends.

Why did you start a blog?

I started How To: Simplify because I found myself growing constantly frustrated with recipes that required an insane amount of ingredients that would cost a fortune. I often found myself buying the countless ingredients only to discover that I would never use them again unless I prepared the same exact recipe.

For me, time spent in the kitchen is supposed to be simple and enjoyable…not frustrating. After giving it a lot of thought, I decided to start this blog to showcase my adventures in the kitchen. My philosophy when it comes to creating dishes is — the more from scratch the better. However, I know that many people find it difficult to create delicious dishes due to either budget, time constraints or fear of the end result. How To: Simplify is meant to share tips and tricks, as well as simple recipes that require very few ingredients and only a small amount of prep and cook time.

How To: Simplify is such a huge part of my life and I could not be more thankful. Through How To: Simplify, I have met amazing people and have been presented with wonderful opportunities from fellow foodies and friends. I love sharing my stories on my blog with family and friends, as well as tips, tricks and recipes that simplify life in the kitchen.

Do you write your own recipes?

I do create and write my own recipes unless otherwise stated on the post. Being the food lover that I am, I am constantly reading through cookbooks and magazines in search of inspiration for my savory dishes and tasty treats. If I ever use a previously published recipe, I make sure that I give credit where credit is due.

What photography equipment do you use?

When I first started my blog I used a Nikon Coolpix L22 Point-and-Shoot Digital Camera. After getting completely frustrated with the quality of photos on my blog, I thought it would be a good idea to give myself a gift before things got ugly. I now use a Nikon D3000 Digital SLR Camera with a Nikkor 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 VR lens. I also use a Professional PRO 72″ Tripod and a wireless remote control.

I have found that in order to get the best photographs of food, it is always best to use natural light when possible. This has proved to be difficult at times, especially since I work a full-time job during the day, leaving me with very little light in the mornings and evenings. For this reason, I usually leave plenty of room on my calendar on the weekends to bake, cook and photograph.

I live in a rowhouse in D.C. and my house faces North while the back of the house faces South or, in other words, an alley and a row of houses that tend to block some of the natural light. I have a large door that leads out to my deck so I position a stool next to the door whenever I have decent natural (never harsh) sunlight and setup shot.

I have yet to invest in Photoshop because I try and do as little editing as possible on my photographs. However, if photographs need to be tweaked, I tend to use online photo editing sites such as Picnik.

Can I use your photo on my website or blog?

You are more than welcome to use my photos on your Web site or blog. All that I ask is that you give credit where credit is due: please ask for permission and always provide a link back to my site.

Do you like to collaborate with others on special projects?

I always welcome the opportunity to work with other bloggers and companies who are relevant to the subject of my blog. Please feel free to contact me so that we can discuss your special project(s).

Do you review products or host giveaways?

If you have a product that is relevant to the subject of my blog, please feel free to contact me so that we can further discuss the possibility. However, to be completely upfront, I will not offer guaranteed endorsement in exchange for free products.

Are you willing to try a great recipe that I have?

I am always on the lookout for great recipes and would welcome the opportunity to try one of your recipes. Please feel free to send me your recipe. If it’s easy to prepare, only requires a few ingredients and agrees with my tastebuds, I would love to feature it on my blog.

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