Food Blogger Spotlight: Diana Johnson

For this week’s Food Blogger Spotlight, I’d like to introduce you to a very special lady: Diana Johnson of Dianasaur Dishes. Diana is one of those food bloggers who’s out to change the world, pouring all of her time and energy into supporting the people that surround her. She tirelessly offers herself up to the assistance of others, volunteering to help teens in recovery and teaching people within her community how to eat healthier on a budget.

Diana was my roommate during our trip to Ixtapa, Mexico, and while at first I was nervous to be sharing a room with someone I didn’t know very well, I discovered that it’s pretty much impossible to be uncomfortable around this girl. She just oozes love and support, making everyone around her happy and at ease. Miss Diana is trying to make the world a better place, and if anyone can do it, I know she will!

Please welcome Diana. I know you’ll love her. :)

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.

Aloha Shoyu! I buy it by the gallon, it’s my favorite soy sauce and I use it almost daily. Also rice vinegar and sesame oil. I can cook with almost any other ingredient if I have those three things on hand. Actually any vinegar really, it doesn’t have to be rice vinegar. I’m a bit of a vinegar addict and have 13 different kinds in my cupboards right now. It’s great for salad dressing, marinades, bread and more!

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?

It would have to be my friend Jaden’s cookbook, The Steamy Kitchen Cookbook. Because I spent most of my life in Hawaii, I tend to cook a lot of Asian food. I love how simple her recipes are and she has a great sense of humor so it’s a good read in addition to being a great resource.

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?

I tend to make recipes based on what’s in my cupboard and fridge. I think the number one priority is that it excites me, whether because of a new ingredient or a combination of flavors, colors, or textures, something has to make me excited about it. As far as making a recipe from someone else, not only does it have to excite me, but I have to be able to change it. I never buy ingredients specifically for a recipe, I might buy some lamb chops one day and say, “I want to make something with these because I never have before,” but I don’t see a lamb chop recipe and go buy some. So recipes need to be easily adapted to what I have on hand.

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 I put in my blog is myself. I try to really share my stories with honesty, even when it hurts. I believe that all of life’s experiences can be used for good, including the worst ones, so I’m pretty much an open book.

I’ve shared about the death of my dog, my autistic brother, health issues and my time without money for food. By being honest about who I am and what I’ve been through, I can build deeper relationships than are usually possible online, and most importantly I can help others. Which leads to the most important thing I get out of it. When I’ve helped someone, whether it’s sharing something in my life that they’re also going through, or teaching them to cook from scratch so they can learn to work with their food allergies, I love getting comments and emails from people I’ve helped. One of my favorites is a reader who’s a missionary in Asia and didn’t know how to cook with a lot of the ingredients there until she found all the Asian recipes on my blog. She’s become one of my best commenters!

Click here for more Food Bloggers Spotlight interviews.

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Comments from other ninjas:

  1. Nate @ House of Annie says

    Aloha Shoyu! My favorite brand of soy sauce as well. But can’t get any of that here in Kuching.
    .-= Check out Nate @ House of Annie

  2. Fuji Mama says

    I’m with you Diana, I HAVE to have shoyu, rice vinegar, and sesame oil in my pantry, otherwise I wouldn’t be able to cook 85% of what I cook! Great spotlight!

  3. Carrie Oliver says

    I love Diana and have had the pleasure of meeting much of her wonderful family, too. As for the three ingredients, sounds like I need to get back over to her blog more often as I’m trying to expand my horizons with regard to food (esp. as I can drink many vinegars from the bottle, yum).
    .-= Check out Carrie Oliver

  4. Dianne Jacob says

    Hey Diana, great to see you profiled here on Stephanie’s blog. I love the community that has developed as a result of our Ixtapa trip.

    My husband doesn’t like the Chinese soy sauce that I grew up with, so I always have Aloha around — also because I love it.
    .-= Check out Dianne Jacob

  5. DianasaurDishes says

    Aww thanks so much Stephanie! It was so much fun sharing a room with you. Glad to see there are some other Aloha Shoyu fans out there!
    .-= Check out DianasaurDishes

  6. Sheryl says

    13 vinegars…interesting. That is one thing I must learn more about, although I have been experimenting with rice vinegar and the taste is fabulous!