“It's not about what it is
It's about what it can become” ~ Dr. Seuss, The Lorax
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Today is the debut of a new series here at The Veggies, one devoted to people living lives filled with creativity and inspiration. Over the past few years, they're the kinds of people I've found myself fascinated with and gravitating toward. People who are a joy to be around, they're so lit up about doing what they love.
I've started asking them questions. The more I ask, the clearer it's become, just how many options there really are for people (of all ages) to live a pretty incredible life.
I hope you enjoy reading about them as much as I've enjoyed writing.
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Food blogger Lindsay Ostrom lives in Saint Paul, Minnesota with her husband Bjork and their puppy Sage. A former fourth-grade teacher, she's turned her love of blogging at Pinch of Yum into a full-time career. It's such a fun site to visit. Not only are her recipes delicious (think bbq chicken sweet potato pizza and old-fashioned whole wheat apple pancakes); its homey vibe makes you want to stay a while, and take in all of the beautiful pictures.
But that's not all. She's created a series of workshops where she teaches others how to master food photography, develop their style, and build a brand.
But that's still not all. She and her husband have created Food Blogger Pro, an online community designed to help others start, monetize, and grow their blogs.
As those who've followed Pinch of Yum over the years will attest, Lindsay knows a thing or two about creativity (as well as blogging). I'd been dying to know some of her secrets and finally I simply
Today, inn Part I of a week-long series, she chats about cooking in college, her favorite cookbooks, and the hustle.
If you're a food blogger, you're certain to discover some tips and tricks. If you're not, one never knows where they'll find nuggets of inspiration.
Why did you start Pinch of Yum?
I started Pinch of Yum because I was really enjoying the process of trying new recipes. When Bjork and I first got married, I was working as a teacher. I loved coming home and making dinner because I had someone to cook for and eat with. Now that I had an audience for my new recipes, I found I was really having fun sharing them on Facebook too.
“I think all of my Facebook friends are going to get annoyed if I keep posting so much about food” ~ Lindsay Ostrom
Thus began the conversation: Was there a better place for the recipes and ideas to be shared? That's when we settled on a blog.
When were you bitten by the cooking bug?
I lived with a group of girls in college. We all loved food, loved to cook, and started something called “Roommate Dinner Night” We'd choose a theme and make dinner together. Looking back, that was really when I started to try cooking on my own.
The family I grew up in loved food, so it was a big part of my early years. Every night we sat down to have dinner as a family. We watched the Food Network together. So many of our traditions are based around food. It's not as if I grew up spending my days in the kitchen necessarily, although food was a big part of my life.
Do you have a favorite cookbook?
I do, although it's changed over the years. When I was just getting started, my favorite was Cooking Light's Fresh Food Fast. One of my more recent faves is Saveur's The New Classics Cookbook, which isn't my standard. Usually, I like cookbooks with big pictures and easy recipes, but this one is a little more comprehensive. It's a more serious cookbook. When I first got it, I literally read it from cover to cover.
Personally, I love Saveur's cookbooks and recipes. I love to read and think about recipes that are off the beaten path. At the same time, I feel really passionate about creating approachable recipes that real people can make on a day-to-day basis. A lot of the time, either with the prep or ingredients, these recipes (high-brow cooking) become inaccessible to normal everyday people.
Therefore I use my mom (or my friends) as a benchmark. Could my mom buy these ingredients at the grocery store? Would she generally feel ok making this recipe? Would she have time to make this recipe? Those questions are helpful for deciding what ends up making it to the blog
What is your blogging philosophy?
I've found it's changed over time. Three years ago, the philosophy was to focus on the hustle. To work harder than anyone else I knew, in order to see my thing grow. As I burnt out on that phase and prepared for the next, my philosophy changed. Now my mantra is “Staying light on my feet,” which comes from the book Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert. In it, she writes about the fun and lightness inherent to a creative pursuit. Where I am now, it's 50% fun and creativity and 50% business. So there's a time and a place for both approaches.
In general, my most important job in this phase is to keep myself interested. To keep myself curious and to stay light on my feet. If I'm feeling bored with something then I need to change it up and always be flexible, which is hard. I'm someone who likes structure and consistency. Being open to the idea that the blog might look different a year from now is ok, and it's a good thing. I need to follow what I'm interested in and what that natural pull is. Success will naturally follow.
There's an idea that if you enjoy what you're doing, it won't feel like you've worked a day in your life. After a while, even though you didn't start out that way, that thing you enjoy can start to feel like the daily grind. So I'm in this phase right now where my philosophy is to keep it fun and light, so it doesn't feel like work. To search for those new things, so that it doesn't necessarily feel like the daily grind, and I'll able to stay with it for the long haul
Do you miss the hustle of the early years? When you were figuring out pretty much everything(!) How to blog, take better pictures, write good content, design a website, and market yourself?
I don't miss the hustle as much as I miss the rapid growth of those early days. It's something that's fun and almost addicting. When you start, there's nowhere else to go but up, so everything you do builds on the thing before and you're experiencing rapid growth (if you're hustling). That's a really fun phase, not for the hustle necessarily, but for what's happening. You feel like you're on a wild ride. I compare it to a line graph in that you have this hockey stick growth. It grows nicely; things are clicking along, it plateaus and even has a tiny dip down before entering the next big phase of growth. I feel like where I am right now is on that flat or dipping down a little bit phase. Not even so much as the success of the blog, but even in my interest in it. It changes with time.
In a way, I do miss the pace of that, and the excitement it brought. The time where everything felt like a new success that's building on the previous one. As opposed to “I built this successful thing and now I need to maintain it and keep it at this level.” You're not shattering records anymore, you're figuring out “How do I sustain this?” That's something for sure that I miss. The reality is I didn't hate the hustle when I was doing it because I loved what I was doing. Definitely, it was a lot of work and there were times when I was under a lot of stress, but I always loved what I was doing. I've never looked back and thought “I regret working at it so hard,” because it was always pretty fun for me
How do you define hustle?
To me, it's a mindset. In every spare minute, you're getting something done. You're always moving. You're a mover and a shaker. You don't have time to watch three t.v. shows or go out every night. This is the unglamorous side that people don't always think about; but during the early years I'd cancel plans or intentionally not schedule anything, so I could stay home and work on my e-book, my posts, or whatever it may be. Certainly, there's a balance, but I do think there's a period of time where you almost have to put it before peripheral things like friendships, side work events, projects on your house, or leisure. A season of saying “no” to those things so you're able to get as much done as you can because it's happening during the time that you're not working at your day job
What resources do you turn to when you have a question?
I learn a lot by googling. I'd rather get in and play with it, figure out what I can on my own, and then attack individual roadblocks as they come up. If I have a problem, I'll look up the answer to the one problem I'm having rather than taking an entire class on (for example) Photoshop. That being said, I still need a lot of help, and it mostly comes from people I know in the industry – friends who are bloggers or photographers. So much comes from people connections. I should mention Bjork and I have done a few courses through Lynda, but in general, it's not my best mode for learning.
Tune in Thursday for Part II. You'll love Lindsay's advice on everything from taking your blog from a hobby to a career, fighting fear, authenticity online, and much, much, more
( .. to be continued .. )
I sat in front of my computer, pen in hand, prepping for our interview. Certainly, there were questions to finalize, but at that moment my mission was to choose two or three Pinch of Yum recipes to feature during the series
A few hours later, I emerged with a short-list of twenty-five(!) Everything looked so good. The recipe for slow-cooker chicken and wild rice soup was toward the top, and on her short list of favorites as well
“I love crock-pot recipes. I have a chicken wild rice soup that's developed from my mom's. It's easy and reminds me of home. I make it a lot in the winter” ~ Lindsay Ostrom
Lindsay's slow-cooker version can be found at Pinch of Yum. Below is the stove-top version I've made so many time over the years. Both are incredible.
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~ Adapted from Food and Wine
Creamy Chicken and Wild Rice Soup
- ½ cup carrots, chopped (or coined)
- ½ cup celery, diced
- ½ cup broccoli buds (mushrooms are a good substitute)
- ½ cup diced onion
- ¼ cup paste style chicken base low-sodium (I used an organic brand)
- 2 cups of water
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1 tsp finely chopped thyme
- 2 cups milk
- 1 cup cooked wild rice
- 1 Tbsp butter
- 1 Tbsp flour (any flour will work)
- ¼ tsp fine grain sea salt
- ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 2 cups monetary jack or Colby cheese shredded (optional, but delicious)
- 1 pound cooked chicken, cubed
- parsley, optional for serving
- In a soup pot, combine carrots, celery, broccoli, onion, chicken base, and water, and bring to a boil.
- Add milk, and wild rice, garlic, and thyme. Return to a boil.
- In a small saucepan, add the butter and cook until the mixture bubbles. Remove from heat and stir until incorporated.
- Add the shredded cheese (if using), sea salt freshly ground black pepper, and chicken
- Stir and simmer until incorporated. Taste and adjust spices
- Before serving, garnish with parsley, if desired