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Name: Mardi Michels
Blog name and URL: eat. live. travel. write.
Where were you born? Adelaide, South Australia
Where are you living now? Toronto
Why did you start your blog?
It was 2009 and I had just finished my M.A. the year before and was about to embark on my PhD. Needing a creative outlet after 3 years of rigorous academic writing, I continued what I had started the previous three summers when I was in Paris completing course work for my M.A. I’d been writing a blog in iWeb (remember that?) just for friends and family – a sort of travelogue which ended up being mostly about food. I figured why not see if I could make this an ongoing thing, not just a summer fling with writing. I signed up for a “New Media” course at www.writers.com (best thing I ever did!), learned the basics of the tech side of blogging and got some writing tips and haven’t looked back since!
How did you decide on your blog name?
Truth be told, I couldn’t figure out what I wanted my blog to really be about so I made it a blog about “all sorts of things” – and yes, that used to be my tagline (for about 2 seconds) – it was a nod to the licorice all sorts that are in my header and that many of you know me as from my Twitter avatar 😉
What do you blog about?
Travel, recipes, teaching kids how to cook, working my way through Dorie Greenspan’s Around my French Table for French Fridays with Dorie, (I’m the only person so far to not miss one week of this in three years!), and macarons.
What post are you most proud of and why?
Probably the post I am most proud of is this one where I documented Kate Hill making an apricot tart at her kitchen in Camont. I was spending the weekend there to take part in a photography workshop with Tim Clinch (who, incidentally, wrote a fabulous post here on FBC about iPhoneography. The photos in the apricot tart post were some I worked really hard on and I was so pleased with the results. Tim taught me to look at things differently and think about photos in a way I wasn’t used to. The lessons from that weekend have remained with me, and do every time I pick up my camera.
Which post do you wish received more love and why?
I wish all my Petits Chefs posts received more love. For those of you who don’t know, I teach my students (all boys, aged 7-12) how to cook twice a week after school. It’s one of my favourite parts of every week and an opportunity to get to know the boys outside the classroom that I really appreciate. Even though I know what I am doing (teaching basic kitchen skills) is a drop in the ocean of educating the next generation about food, I still wish more people would pay attention to those posts. No, the photos are not always perfectly styled (in fact, we’re lucky to get pictures at all some weeks – it can be a little crazy in there!) and sometimes they are even taken with a – gasp! – point-and-shoot camera, but these posts show the reality (and fun!) of cooking with little boys in a science lab in under an hour and how impressive the results can be. I’m so proud of the boys and what they can do that it makes me sad that the posts don’t get more attention.
Which post’s success surprised you and why?
Without a doubt it’s got to be “How to Make Rice Cakes (not the Quaker ones!)”. It’s a post I wrote just a few months into blogging when I basically had no idea about photography (excuse the photos!) and there’s really no information in there at all. In fact, it doesn’t tell you how to make rice cakes at all – unless you are interested in the way they make them in Laos. Apparently, it’s something a LOT of people Google because not a day goes by without this having a bunch of hits. I really should figure it out myself and post a real recipe!
What is one (non-kitchen) gadget you can’t live without?
My iPhone. Anyone who knows me will not argue with that!
What is one kitchen gadget you can’t live without?
It’s hard to choose between my KitchenAid stand mixer (so awesome for so many things), my knives (good knives are so important!) and my Microplane zester that I use so much it barely sees the draw it lives in. It’s either in use or being washed!
Favourite food, care to share a recipe?
Not my favourite food (to eat!) but definitely a favourite to try to perfect – macarons. Apparently it’s the same for many people because this post with my macaron recipe is by far and away my most read post. If you are a visual person like me, you might need some video tutorials to go with that – I have those too!
What makes your blog unique?
Euh, that I don’t have a niche at all? 😉 I think what makes my blog unique is that every time you come to it, you’ll find something completely different – from travel posts to cooking with kids, it’s eclectic to say the least!
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