For the next Food Blogger Spotlight, I’ve got one of the cutest people I’ve [n]ever met. I’m talking, of course, about the beautiful Paula Jones from Bell’alimento. Her blog outlines the food of Italy, as experienced through the eyes of an American who lived there during her childhood. Translated from Italian, bell’alimento means “beautiful food.” And she takes that very seriously, as you can see from her photos (which are peppered throughout this post).
Paula’s motto is “beautiful food doesn’t have to be complicated” – and that’s what keeps people coming back to her blog. She develops recipes that are uncomplicated, unpretentious, and quite simply, delicious. Check out the bottom of this post for a handful of my favorite recipes from her site. She also did a guest post here on Wasabimon about how to make espresso in a moka pot.
So please welcome Paula, and feel free to post any questions in the comments.
We all have staples that we couldn’t live without. What three ingredients do you *always* have in your kitchen and why? I’m not talking snacks like chips and hummus, but rather ingredients you use all the time in your cooking.
Only three? Yikes, I’m not sure I can narrow it down to just three. Ingredients that are of EQUAL importance to me are: garlic, extra virgin olive oil, PASTA, arborio rice (for risotto), parmigiano reggiano, canned tomatoes (preferably Italian) oh, and yes, onions. I always have them in the house. ALWAYS! (If I don’t, something must be seriously wrong)
These items are the basis for most all of my meals. With these few basic, good quality ingredients, you can create multiple masterpieces. I suppose, however, if I had to choose just three ingredients it would have to be garlic, olive oil, and pasta. What good Italian cook would be without these? Garlic and oil are essential to just about every dish; and the pasta, well, it’s just a weakness – LOL.
Imagine you moved to the smallest apartment possible – a shoebox, really – and you only had room for a single cookbook. Of all your cookbooks, which one would you keep? Why do you love it so?
I do have a number of cookbooks in my house. No outrageous amounts of cookbooks mind you. It’s not that I dislike cookbooks. I do enjoy them. I do look to them on occasion for inspiration (both for the recipes and photography. I could drool over food photography alone for hours). I use them as a jumping off point, if you will. However, I am much more of a chop and go kinda girl.
I like to create recipes as I cook – combining ingredients, tasting, writing them down. Obviously, taking lots of notes as I go. What works, what didn’t (and yes, sometimes they don’t work). So, instead of cookbooks I would have to grab my Moleskines that are filled with my handwritten recipes and stained with olive oil, spatterings of tomato sauce and what not. They are filled with recipes from my mom, recipes that were given to my mom when we lived in Italy, and recipes from friends. That is the cookbook I would I keep – the book that I cherish.
When you’re looking for new recipes (or creating one of your own), what is your number one priority? What makes you pick one recipe over another?
My priority when creating a recipe of my own, or trying one from another source, is that it incorporates good quality ingredients. Preferably they should also be ingredients that I have in my pantry (that’s the budget friendly cook in me talking – a whole nother issue, I truly don’t think you have to spend a fortune on food to have an amazing dish).
Ideally, the recipe should also not be too time consuming. I have three little ones after all (yes, I’m a master multitasker), so time is a hot commodity for me, but just because I might be strapped for time, that doesn’t mean that I want to grab a lot of precooked or prepackaged foods. I like to cook a healthy meal.
So, dishes that are quick and hearty while also healthy help me to give my family what they need and give me the extra time to spend with them (or in other cases driving them around LOL) rather than be chained to the stove. For me cooking is a joy, I don’t want it to ever be cumbersome or stressful.
Blogs have the potential to be so many things, from personal journals to outrageous adventure reports. What is the most important thing you put into your blog, and what is the most important thing you get out of it?
The most important thing for me is that my blog is authentic. That it represents me and the food I love to cook and share. I truly believe that food is meant to be shared, and what better way to share it with everyone that than through a blog.
Cooking is a creative outlet for me. It’s my way of being creative – making things with my own hands. I dream up new recipes in my sleep, I call my home phone to leave flavor combinations when I’m driving or can’t write them down. Yes, I’m that passionate about food. Sometimes they’re ah-mazing and sometimes not so much. But it’s with those not-so-much recipes that you learn.
I create the recipes, cook/bake them, photograph them and then write the story behind them (in my own voice, crazy as it may sound sometimes). It is a labor of love, but by sharing my recipes and stories it will be a record for not only my children and family, but for my friends as well. My life as an Air Force brat means that I have friends and family in literally every corner of the world. So, Bell’alimento is the perfect medium for keeping in touch and sharing my recipes with them, and all of my new friends to come!
Thanks for sharing, Paula!
Here are a few of my favorite posts from Bell’alimento: