Name: Jen Hodge
Blog name: Clockwatching Tart
Where were you born? Toronto
Where are you living now? London, Ontario
Why did you start your blog?
I love cooking and I thought it would be a great way to document my meals while learning about photography. I also love travelling and discovering local food and drink places, so I like that I can write about that as well.
How did you decide on your blog name?
I was looking for blog name ideas and reading through quotes for inspiration. I liked this James Beard quote: "A gourmet who thinks of calories is like a tart who looks at her watch." I do think of calories, but also flavour, convenience and ease, so I called myself the Clockwatching Tart.
What do you blog about?
Simple meals and more involved cooking projects, travel, cocktails, and my husband writes regularly about craft beer as the Beer Baron.
Is your blog your business, your hobby or something in between?
Definitely a hobby. I work full time in HR so I mainly blog for fun. All my recipes are meals my husband and I ate and that’s another reason the photography isn’t expert-level. We are hungry and want to eat!
What post on your blog most encapsulates you and why?
I think my post on my family’s traditional Thanksgiving dinner of Meatsticks (breaded pork skewers) with turkey, pierogies and potatoes is one of my most personal posts. It’s a struggle sometimes for me to be open and personal on my blog, so this is a rare occasion where I told a story from my own family history. Plus, it’s a nice memory that has a little historical context and it’s a great recipe!
Which post do you wish received more love and why?
I love this post on how to make fresh cheese from a few simple ingredients. I love cooking/food projects and the magic of science in the kitchen, so I’d love more people to know how easy something like cheesemaking can be.
Which post’s success surprised you and why?
I guess it shouldn’t be a surprise, but my Small Prime Rib Roast for Two is by far my most popular post. It’s from way back in 2013 and the pictures are terrible, but people must be searching for a small prime rib recipe regularly. I know I go back to it at least once a year, whenever I see a little prime rib on sale, the perfect size for my family of two. Also, it includes a link to my home made horseradish, which is another of my favourite kitchen projects.
What’s your biggest challenge as a blogger?
Making time to create new posts, and photography. My pictures have improved a bit but I still have lots of work to do. I have a decent camera but haven’t made time to learn to take great pictures. I keep planning to take a course but life gets in the way.
What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned as a blogger?
Lighting! Looking back at pictures from the early days of the blog makes me cringe. I was just using my kitchen lighting and it’s awful. Now I have a photography light and try to use natural light when I can. Dark winter dinnertimes are frustrating.
Share a couple of your favourite food blogs to read. Why do you like them?
I really like Smitten Kitchen and actually make a lot of her recipes. I like the way Deb approaches food and also the way she anticipates reader questions and tries to answer them before they’re asked. I also really love The Food Lab column at Serious Eats. I love the way Kenji applies the scientific method to food. It is fun but also such a practical way of learning the best ways to cook your favourite dishes.
Favourite food - care to share a recipe or a restaurant destination?
If you’re near London, Ontario and like craft beer you have to go to Milos’ Craft Beer Emporium. The beer selection is incredible, but we go for the great staff. We always feel so welcome there. The food is really good too. The menu changes seasonally and they have great specials, but their burger is tough to beat!
What are you working on next for your blog?
We were in California recently and I haven’t had a chance to write about it yet so stay tuned! We also just put in a vegetable garden so I anticipate lots of vegetable and canning posts this summer if all goes well.
What else should we know about you that may or not be in your “About Me” page?
Food is just a really fun and wonderful part of my life. I've been taking a local gardening class and want to start growing new and exciting things. Beyond that, food just makes life more interesting. We travel to new places and seek out interesting dishes, try new recipes, discover new cultures and meet people we never would have met without our love of food and drink.
What makes your blog unique?
The travel aspect of my blog is unique. Whenever we travel, I always research the local cuisine or most interesting restaurants and craft cocktail spots while my husband always makes sure to find all the great local craft breweries or cideries, so I think I end up with a blog primarily focuses on food but also has interesting travel and drink ideas.
What part of the FBC site do you find most useful?
I love the articles about new social media tools and blogging tools, like the recent series on Tailwind. And the photography and props tips are great. I loved the recent article on resources at your local library. Also, the craft beer column!
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