Name: Kelly Brisson
Blog name and URL: The Gouda Life | http://thegoudalife.ca
Where were you born? Ottawa, ON
Where are you living now? Ottawa, ON
Why did you start your blog? I started TGL in 2009 after I realized I was the only one of my friends/family that wanted to talk about food, eating, dining out, ingredients, wine etc 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. It gave me an outlet to feel fulfilled without driving my favourite people crazy. Though despite my best efforts, I still do.
How did you decide on your blog name? I’m not entirely sure, to be honest. I’ve always been a lover of a good pun AND a lover of good cheese, but the name sort of just popped into my head one day and the rest, as they say, is history.
What do you blog about? For the most part I write about seasonal foods/dishes that are accessible to all and easy enough to make on a weeknight. I relish showing busy young adults/families that cooking dinner isn’t as daunting a task as they think. At very least, food should be fun, simple and delicious and I think most of my recipes reflect that. Every so often I go on a decadent rampage, but I usually find my way back to whole foods.
What post are you most proud of and why? About a year ago I finally got around to making my own red curry paste from scratch. This is likely a small feat for most people, but for me it was everything. It meant a venture into a cuisine I wasn’t familiar with cooking, courage to seek out ingredients from smaller shops I wouldn’t normally find myself in, and flavours that were totally foreign in my kitchen. I remember feeling incredibly proud of the dish. It marked the shedding of my comfort zone cooking and the start of taking risks in the kitchen.
Which post’s success surprised you and why? I did a cocktail post for Taste of Home blog’s Cocktail Friday. It was a last minute piece that I found out about a few hours before it needed to be handed in so I grabbed for whatever booze, herbs and fruit I had on hand and ended up with a Lemon-Thyme Tequila Spritzer. It really was delicious, but I never thought people would go as nuts for it as they did. It’s still one of my most pinned recipes. Honestly, I think it took me 20 minutes to make, photograph and write about. It’s almost a little embarrassing and goes to show that you should take the time to put your best out there for every possible post/recipe. You never know who’s going to be looking at it for years to come.
Which post do you wish received more love and why? Shrove Tuesday (pancake Tuesday) fell the day before my birthday last year. I’ve never been much for sweets but I have a special disdain for the typical birthday cake. It’s sickly sweet and does nothing for my savoury-loving taste buds. I decided to make the most of Pancake Tuesday & my birthday by creating a recipe for Strawberry Tiramisu (my favourite dessert) Pancakes - my version of a birthday cake. They turned out so well and I was so proud of them, but they just didn’t take off. It was one of those recipes you’re sure people are going to fall as madly in love with as you did... and then crickets. Thankfully I created the recipe to enjoy myself and enjoy I did. You have to celebrate kitchen successes even if you’re the only one with a party hat on!
What is one (non-kitchen) gadget you can’t live without? Oh my. My phone, I think. It’s glued to me at all times. I’m a self-proclaimed over-sharer but I can’t help it - I adore social media and am fascinated by it. I’m currently in the midst of a lusty affair with my newly acquired instagram... but don’t tell twitter, he’s a jealous lover.
What is one kitchen gadget you can’t live without? Crappy, cheap metal tongs. I found a pair in an apartment I moved into years and years ago and they remain my most used tool in the kitchen. Is it weird that I use kitchen tools that were left behind by someone I’ve never met? Maybe. But I don’t think my kitchen would have been the same without them. Like so many other tools, they come with a story.
Favourite food, care to share a recipe? I think it’s safe to say that my favourite “food” is soup. Any soup, anytime. I could easily live on it given it’s incredible versatility. One of my favourites is a hearty cream of mushroom soup. In no way does it resemble that can of Campbells Cream of Mushroom from your past (or at least my past). It’s earthy and satisfying, smooth but still has some texture.
Cream of Mushroom Soup
- 1oz dried wild mushrooms
- 3 cups hot water
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 3 sprigs of both thyme and sage, tied together
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- ½ tsp red pepper flakes, optional
- 1 pound button mushrooms, cleaned, stemmed and sliced
- 1 pound shiitake mushrooms, cleaned, stemmed and sliced
- 1 cup dry white wine
- Salt & fresh ground pepper
- 3 cups organic or homemade beef stock
- ¼ cup table cream
- 2 tbsp. butter
Place the dried mushrooms in a bowl and cover them with hot water for 30 minutes until plump. Remove the mushrooms and strain the mushroom water through a coffee filter set in a bowl to remove excess grit. Set mushrooms and soaking liquid aside.
In a large pot over medium-high heat, add the oil and bundle of herbs. As the oil heats up the herbs will start to infuse it with flavour. After 2 minutes, add the onions. Cook until just starting to brown, 5 minutes. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes, if using, and cook for another minute.
Turn the heat up to high and add the sliced mushrooms. Cook for 10 minutes or until they have released all their moisture. They will shrink considerably. Once browned, add the white wine and cook, scraping up all the browned bits on the bottom of the pot, until reduced completely. Add the rehydrated mushrooms and their liquid, beef stock, a few pinches of salt and pepper and simmer over medium heat for 30 minutes. Remove the herbs and stir in the cream and butter. Using a blender (or immersion blender), puree until smooth and serve with a drizzle of good olive oil, fresh thyme leaves and crusty bread.
What else should we know about you that may or not be in your “About Me” page? Ooooh juicy! I wish I had something really wild to tell you about. I suppose I should divulge that while I cook whole foods and scratch-meals more often than not, the foods I crave most often are processed and horribly unhealthy. Kraft Dinner, Zoodles, Campbells Tomato soup (with lots of cheddar and Tabasco!), grilled cheese made on Wonder bread with cheese slices... they rustle a childhood nostalgia deep in me. I don’t always act on the cravings, but I do think it’s ok to indulge in a guilty pleasure once in a while.
What makes your blog unique? With so many accomplished food blogs out there, it’s really hard to be unique these days. I don’t know if it sets me apart from anyone else, but I do try to stay true to my own voice. To speak from a place that’s honest and real, and to create food that makes me as happy as I hope it does my readers. I put a lot of work into my photography because I know how much I appreciate when other blogs share photos that move you. The ones that take you somewhere else, that make you feel something more than you thought you could by looking at a plate of food. Those are the things I strive for, and the things I think make TGL a nice spot to hang out.
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