When I decided to shift the focus of my blog, one of the things I was most excited about was the opportunity to reach out and connect with other bloggers, talking with them directly about why they cook and why they blog. The first of these conversations took place back in May, when I spent an hour or so on Google Hangouts with Shanna and Tim, talking about Food Loves Writing, which is, as I told you on Monday, one of my absolute favorite blogs.
Back in March, Shanna shared some wonderful thoughts about the value of blogging.
So when I say I’ve been thinking about blogging, I guess what I mean is that I’ve been thinking about the value of blogging. As in, Is blogging valuable? And of course, yes. When I recite to myself the long list of intangible benefits that come from this beautiful online community you and I share, I can’t deny its power.
These words, and the encouraging email conversation that followed, proved foundational for me as I began to wrestle with my desire to explore the “why” of food blogging. Talking to Shanna and Tim gave me the courage to tackle this new project. I am so thankful for the conversation, and so glad to share a bit of it here with you…
Q. Why did you start your blog?
Shanna: I was looking for a creative outlet. I recently read Edith Schaffer’s The Hidden Art of Homemaking, which reminded me that food and cooking are art, too.
Tim: (Tim used to have his own blog before he and Shanna met, through blogging.) I was focused on health and nutrition, looking for food ideas from a health standpoint. I came to blogging through internet marketing, and started using my blog as a way to make money. With Shanna, the focus is on aesthetics and community.
Q: Can you talk a bit more about blogging and community?
Shanna: The community of food blogs engages people in a larger world of food and social change. The community we have developed around Food Loves Writing is full of open-hearted people, looking for recipes with high quality ingredients. People come for both the food and the stories we share.
Q: Do you think of blogging as activism?
Shanna: We are advocates in the sense that anyone doing something they believe in is an advocate by example. We do what we believe in personally, and connect to people through stories. It’s a subtle activism.
Q: Did you cook before you started your blog?
Tim: I was already into cooking when I met Shanna. I had to step up and learn how out of necessity when my mom was sick. I realized that if you want to eat well, you have to cook.
Shanna: Some people seem more predisposed to learning to cook quickly. My mom cooked, but she didn’t really teach me how to. I had to learn by following recipes, and I’m still very linear in my approach–I want clear steps or directions. Tim can just improvise. But cooking takes a lot of practice, trial and error.
Q: How has blogging changed your relationship with cooking?
Shanna: We are in the kitchen together most of the time, though we switch roles–someone leading and someone assisting. It takes humility to do things together as much as we do. You learn from one another, and you have to respect that the other person will do things differently than you might choose to do as an individual. Learning to cook together is a microcosm of learning to be in a relationship.
Q: Through which sense(s) do you primarily engage in cooking?
Tim: More than engaging the senses, to me cooking is all about a fun adventure. It’s exciting and it’s experimental.
Shanna: Cooking helps me to decompress. It’s stress relief. Working with my hands frees my mind–there are so many opportunities in the kitchen.
Q: What is it about food blogs that keeps you coming back?
Shanna: To some degree it’s about the aesthetics and the information, but the overall tone is very important. I have to find a blog relatable–I like writers who share with honesty and openness, with vulnerability. Blogs give me an opportunity to make a connection with someone who I might not connect with in the same way if we only met face-to-face.
Thank you so much, Shanna and Tim! It was so fun to talk with you both!