Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Adopt-a-Blogger Interview Part One: Marilla's Kitchen

I am lucky enough to be involved in Dine & Dish's Third Adopt-a-Blogger Event. The goal of this thing is a mentoring partnership between a newbie food blogger (that's me) and a veteran (you'll meet her in a minute) who can show the newbie the ropes. So to speak. The rules to this program are simple: we introduce each other on our respective blogs, chat it up for three months, and do wrap-up posts at the end that offer advice (her) and lessons learned (me). Easy Peasy.

So before I belabor it too much, my blog mother probably could not be cooler. [And I tried to come up with something less lame than "blog mother", but it reminds me of "earth mother" which cracks me up... so I can't stop.] Her name is Marilla and she is the brains behind the super-popular blog, Cupcake Rehab.

She's a graphic designing, cupcake baking, animal loving, blog sensation. Her blog is chock-o-block full of sassy entries about cupcakes of every color, flavor, denomination, textile, orientation (does anyone else get stuck in a list they can't get out of?) and so forth. And... there is a pin-up on her cupcake. Yeah.

Anyway, I'm starting things off with part one of an interview I did with Marilla. And I have to give a nod to Amber for giving me the interview idea. Part One of the interview contains questions focused around Marilla's Kitchen.

Amanda: When did you start baking cupcakes? Did you have one of those “Aha! Moments” that Oprah is so fond of?

Marilla: I started baking in the late summer of 2007. By baking I mean hardcore, twice a week, from scratch baking. I had always baked for holidays and birthdays and stuff, and always had Duncan Hines or Betty Crocker mixes around (I know, most bloggers out there are hanging their heads in shame for me saying that- but those mixes still come in handy!) for those random cake cravings... but I found myself with time on my hands and no employment and while googling for some recipes I found some awesome cupcake blogs and I thought to myself, "That looks like fun!" I'd had blogs before but never thought of having one about cooking/baking until then.

A: As a kid, I hated being involved in the kitchen. It just wasn’t my thing. I’m curious about others’ experiences. What was your experience with cooking/baking when you were young?

M: My mom was always cooking, baking and making things, she's where I inherited my craftiness & creativity from. Every holiday and birthday she'd bake, and she cooked almost every night. I used to love Christmas though because it was time to make magic bars and strufala and sugar cookies in massive amounts, and I liked to decorate the cookies and help out. So as a kid that was always there and it was always enjoyable. But I never was really "into" doing it for myself or others until recently. I was too cool as a teenager, too busy as an early 20-something adult, and then I found myself doing it all the time and loving it. Now its at the point where I really hate when someone else cooks for me, because I want to get in there and make it myself!

A: How do you come up with your cupcake recipes?

M: Most of them I find on the 'net, usually on other blogs... some I find in magazines like Bon Appetit or Gourmet, and of course Martha's magazines. And some are just regular old cook book recipes. I don't really do anything weird and unusual with cupcakes because I'm a firm believer that a savory cupcake is NOT a cupcake, and that a basil flavored cupcake is not fun or cute. I mean, really, who wants a freakin' sushi flavored cupcake with tempura on top? Its gross. So I stick to the basics. No experimentation here.

A: I like recipes that have a lot of little steps built into them. The more complicated the batter, the happier I am. What kind of recipes to you like to follow?

M: I like butter. The more butter thats incorporated into a recipe the happier I am. And I like batter to be thick enough that it doesn't pour out and wreck my liners, but not so thick its like cookie dough. I hate that!

A: How do you handle disasters in the kitchen? Throw it out and try to forget about it? Blog it anyway?

M: I've been lucky in that I've had only a few disasters. One of which was cupcakes, three were cakes and a fourth was candy. The cupcakes made me so angry I couldn't bring myself to blog about it. The cakes, well, two I blogged about because they worked out okay visually and tasted fine, the third I didn't because I just scrapped the idea and let the family eat it. And the candy I just threw out- it was cherry hard candy that was going to be made into hearts to top cupcakes and it never set, it was like mushy Jolly Ranchers. So the shape didn't stay and I ended up with blobs of red cherry candy. I just used another candy to top them and threw away the blobs.

A: Do you have a favorite kitchen disaster story you can share?

M: There was this one disaster that I mentioned above... I was so disappointed in it, I didn't even WANT to photograph or blog about it. It was cupcakes, and I didn't even bother to FROST them! It wasn't really a disaster so to speak, I didn't blow up my kitchen or set anything on fire... it was just a recipe that came out really bad. And that recipe was Paula Deen's red velvet cupcake recipe. They came out as muddy brown colored dry little rocks. Gross. I threw them in the backyard for the squirrels. It took me a long time to trust a Paula recipe after that, because I refuse to believe I could've messed it up that badly. I've since discovered the Magnolia Bakery recipe and its amazing. I'm scared to try Paula's again. I still can't understand to this day how I used so much red food coloring to get mauve-ish colored cupcakes? There was another one too- an applesauce cake that I was making for Christmas 2007. I mixed everything together and it seemed fine. I didn't use a pan the size they recommended though, and when I started to bake it, it sort of overflowed out of the bundt pan and all over the oven. I told my mother hysterically and she told me to calm down and put a sheet pan under it, which I did. It kept overflowing, it was like some kind of weird science experiment. I was convinced it wouldn't come out okay but it did, the bottom was all uneven and lumpy but I just cut it off and nobody noticed. I did blog about that experience (though without pictures for some odd reason), because I thought it was something that might happen to others and wanted to show them it was okay. Nobody was EVER gonna see those cupcakes though.

There you have it. I think you can tell from this interview that Marilla is a pretty cool chick. I am excited to hear more about her blog and her readership, and you can look forward to hearing about that too in upcoming posts. In the meantime, check out Cupcake Rehab and all the cool cupcakes Marilla has to offer. Those of you with dogs might be interested to read about a few treats she has made for her dog, Indy. :) And those of you who wear clothes or own objects (I don't judge) might be interested in her store.

Now go forth and try not to be jealous of our pairing.


How To Eat A Cupcake said...

<3 that blog!

I bought my shirt at Waterside in Norfolk. It used to fit, and I wore it all the time... I call it "representing" Lol! Anyway, I've had it so long that it's all stretched out, so now I only wear it to bed. But I was in another state in that picture! :D

Marilla @ Cupcake Rehab said...

Blog Mother- I love it!

Now I have to think of something super nifty to do for you on my blog. You're showing me up, kid ;)

Elyse said...

Great interview! Sounds like your blog mother is quite cool. Can't wait to see more about your "partnership" in future posts! By the way, your blog is great :)

CB said...

I love the interview idea! Can I have permission to steal idea for my AAB pairing too? Marilla is the coolest chick ever and it looks like you both are a great match! Looking forward to reading part 2 :)