Kitchen Careers is a regular feature that goes behind-the-scenes with chefs, bloggers, critics and others in the food industry to get the inside scoop on what its like to cook, or eat, for a living.
A graphic designer turned stay-at-home mom, Meredith Steele focused her creativity and love of cooking to create “In Sock Monkey Slippers“, a blog packed with family-friendly recipes and lighthearted stories about motherhood. Meredith can be found at “In Sock Monkey Slippers“and as a food writer for Gojee.com.
Who is your culinary icon?
I’d have to say my culinary icon would be Dean Fearing. Being a Dallas girl, youcan’t grow up not hearing the man’s name and craving his food. In high school and throughout college I would actually tape his segments whenever he was on “Good Morning Texas” or other local shows. His food is elegant, bold, saturated with Texas culture, and always makes me feel at home. It’s been years since I’ve actually enjoyed a Dean Fearing meal but I will always regard him as the one that triggered my interest for wild game and inspiration for Texas flavors.
Why do you love to cook?
I wish I could say I was one of those who grew up at her mother’s apron strings and learned all of my recipes and techniques passed down from generation to generation but I grew up with a hard working mom who’s freezer was full of Hungry Man dinners. I do have a grandma that can cook a mean brisket and I grew up with one spirited nanny. RoRo was her name and my fondest memories as a child was snapping beans or shucking corn and listening to her grumble at Julia Child while watching “The French Gourmet.” She would roll her eyes and say, “Hmmpf, that’s not how you do beans, that lady needs some pork knuckles.” She got me hooked on cooking shows (and soap operas) and it was there I really became inspired by their creativity. For me cooking is all about telling a creative story. It expresses so much about someone, like a tasty biography that tells a story of history, personality, love, passion and soul. When you taste someone’s most prized dish they are telling you all about who they are, where they come from and what their passionate about. I like to tell stories with food that is fresh, real, and vibrant. It’s a love that I will pass down to my daughter.
What is the best part about being a food blogger?
The best part of being a food blogger is sharing my love for cooking, telling a story and spreading the word that real food is not from a box, can or bag. It is simple, easy, beautiful, and one of the best things you can do for yourself and your family.
Who would you want to battle on Iron Chef?
Ha! Well, that would be one of the most hilarious Iron Chefs in history, although I’m up for a challenge. I would battle Masaharu Morimoto. I would most definitely crash in a blaze of glory but at least I would get to shake his hand. Chef Morimoto is amazing and has the cutest smile I’ve ever seen on a man with a knife.
What was your first published recipe?
My first published recipe on InSockMonkeySlippers.com was Chicken and Hatch Chili Stew. It’s one of our family favorites and I cook it immediately when the wind shifts in Texas and I feel fall moving in.
What is your favorite food city?
My favorite food city is San Francisco, by far. I’ve been there a couple of times and from everywhere I have eaten from the small alley restaurants, and gastropubs to the “must eat” places, I have always been impressed. Even the food bloggers from San Francisco are the nicest and most knowledgeable I’ve met. Such a mixture of flavors and talents I wish I could spend more time there.
What three PBS personalities would you invite to dinner (animated, muppet, or living)?
That’s a good question. I’ll have to use that at my next dinner party. First, I would invite Chef Lidia Bastianich from Lidia’s Italy. I love her show and her combinations of flavors. I would be immersed in every word she says. Second, Bob Ross would have to be on the guest list. Who doesn’t love his happy little trees? In art school there wasn’t a time that his name didn’t come up. He was like a peppy afro wearing mascot for us. Finally, my last guest would be Murray from Sesame Street. My daughter, Mia, would be upset if I didn’t have at least one muppet monster to dinner. He’s my favorite muppet and you can imagine how much Sesame Street we watch over here. He is more than welcome to bring Ovejita. That would be an interesting dinner party, don’t you think?
What meal/snack is your guilty pleasure?
A wood fired olive oil, buffalo mozzarella, arugula, parmesan, and prosciutto pizza. There are just no words. No words. Although a fresh loaf of sourdough with olive oil is a close second.
What is your favorite under appreciated kitchen tool?
My favorite kitchen tool is my microplane. I use it everyday for grating cheese, salt, garlic, nutmeg, and zest. I think if I were deserted on an island I would have to have it with me. But if you were to ask my three-year-old daughter this question her answer would be the mini muffin tin. Cook anything in it and she will eat it.
In one tweet (140 characters or less)- what is your culinary style?
Fresh, simple, creative, honest food with bold flavors that hopefully inspire you to get into the kitchen and tell your own story with a meal.
When outside the kitchen, how do you spend your time?
I love to cook but I love spending time with my husband and daughter more. My favorite days with them are at our family’s cattle ranch not too far away from where we live in Texas. Watching my husband and daughter chasing our dog and getting lost out there with my camera is the perfect day outside of the kitchen.
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