Each week we profile a different Canadian Food Blogger who is part of the FBC community. This week meet pescetarian blogger Dana of Killing Thyme.
Name: Dana Sandonato
Blog name: Killing Thyme
Where were you born? Welland, Ontario
Where are you living now? Raleigh, North Carolina
Why did you start your blog?
I became obsessed with the Food Network back in 2007 and I knew I had to cook, create, and be exciting in the kitchen. I grew up in a meat and potatoes house, so for me, seeing all of these wonderful and exciting dishes was like when the Dorothy lands in Oz and suddenly everything is in color. Don’t get me wrong, my parents are fantastic cooks--but routine.
So after years of exploring, learning, and cooking, I wanted a platform where I could share my creations. My friend Suzy suggested food blogging, and I’d never felt so smacked in the face with the obvious before. I’m a Journalism grad, and writing has always been a huge part of who I am. On top of that, I’ve always been enamored by food photography. So embarking on a project that incorporated cooking, styling, photographing, and writing just made sense.
How did you decide on your blog name?
I’ve always been the “punny” one in my family/group of friends, so I knew it had to be puntastic to stay true to who I am. I made a Facebook status asking friends and family for suggestions, and the suggestions really got my wheels turning. I came up with Killing Thyme because people tend to browse the Internet and blogs to kill time. In comes the play on words with thyme. I thought it was cute and clever. I’m glad I went with it, because I’ve yet to grow tired of it.
What do you blog about?
I blog about pescetarian-focused recipes, so you'll find a lot of fish, seafood, and vegetable-centric dishes at Killing Thyme. I do try to include more generic recipes as well, like oatmeals, cocktails, muffins, etc., because pescetarians don't *just* eat fish and veggies. I like to think that omnivores and vegetarians can enjoy my content as much as pescetarians, so hopefully that comes through in my creations. I'm also currently working on expanding my "How-To" section with tutorials on cooking fish; it can be intimidating to some people and, as we've all learned at some point in our lives, overcooked fish is just dreadful. I'd love to help people become more comfortable with handling it and cooking it, and incorporating more of it into their lifestyles.
What post on your blog most encapsulates you?
This would have to be my Salmon with Sriracha, Honey and Lime, hands down. I remember this day and this post very clearly. The weather was starting to get warm and I was so tickled to be outside on the deck, barefoot, grilling away. Not to mention, when I’m excited about food, I want to share it with everyone and I want to be responsible for converting doubters such as fish doubters. I think that comes across quite well in this post. This particular recipe is still my favorite salmon recipe. Ugh, now I want it.
Which post do you wish received more love and why?
Definitely my Lemon Poppyseed Cream Pasta with Oyster Mushrooms and Asparagus. This dish has such bright and rich flavors, but it still manages to be on the light side. I thought it was a total hit. Unfortunately it didn’t get the response that I’d been hoping for. But hey, it happens.
Which post’s success surprised you and why?
Oh boy. My Philly Steak Grilled Cheese. This thing has the most views out of all my posts, and by a lot, thanks to a spot on Buzzfeed. I can’t help but shake my head, though. This sandwich was the result of having had too much to drink the afternoon before and not being able to eat my steak at dinner time because bed seemed like a much better idea. So, the next day, I decided to take my refrigerated steak leftovers and make this hangover sandwich. Not so glamorous now, huh? I guess sometimes it just irks me that a grilled cheese sandwich is my most viewed post. I can do better! I have done better, damnit.
What’s your biggest challenge as a blogger?
My biggest challenge is to not be so hard on myself, and to remind myself that my worth as a blogger does not lie in my page views.
Share a couple of your favourite food blogs to read. Why do you like them?
Cookie + Kate: I love the vibe of her blog. Kate just comes off as super chill, and I think it’s adorable that she includes her pup, Cookie. Her recipes are healthy, vegetarian, and her blog is just clean and minimalistic.
Minimalist Baker: Speaking of minimalistic, Minimalist Baker is also a fantastic blog. I love Dana’s (great name, by the way) approach to simple recipes using 10 or less ingredients. Her blog’s vibe is also very chill, much like Kate’s.
JustineCelina.com: One of our very own! I actually don’t immerse myself into many lifestyle blogs, but Justine’s is different. It has such a feel-good vibe, and it’s really aesthetically pleasing. It also reminds me of how much I love fashion and that I don’t really need to be wearing yoga pants and comfy Sketchers all the time… ha.
Favourite food - care to share a recipe or a restaurant destination?
If you’re in Niagara and you appreciate the gourmet street food movement, you need to hunt down the El Gastronomo Vagabundo food truck. Chef Adam Hynam-Smith (who is also a Food Network personality) runs a very well-oiled machine with his partner in crime and wife Tamara. I had the pleasure of spending a day on the food truck with them in the summer of 2014 to write a piece on their operation and all I can say is, “Wow.” Their menu is hella innovative and always changing, and their ingredients are as fresh as they are bright and beautiful. I highly recommend checking them out, and if it’s on the menu, get the Korean chicken wings!
What are you working on next for your blog?
I’m currently working on my first independant e-cookbook. The idea behind it is turning classic meat dishes into vegetarian dishes like beef stroganoff, chicken piccata, etc. I love being pescetarian, but there are definitely some meat dishes that I miss. So I’m on a quest to remedy that. I’m hoping to have it ready by the end of the summer.
Also, I really need to get my butt into gear and start playing with video. That’s in the cards… somewhere.
What else should we know about you that may or not be in your “About Me” page?
Fun fact: I’m one of those people who are genetically predisposed to hating cilantro. It basically tastes like poison to me. The funny thing is I keep trying to make myself like it because people rave about it and it’s a very popular ingredient here in the South. I want in on this cilantro love fest! But I need to remind that I’m tasting something completely different than others, so it’s pointless to try and like it the way other people do. I substitute cilantro with parsley in my cooking.
What makes your blog unique?
I'd like to think that my blog voice and sense of humor sets me apart from other blogs, as well as my particular niche. There aren't too many pescetarian blogs out there which has its pros and cons. I also like to bring attention to the importance of sustainability and shopping responsibly, but without shaming people who can't make it happen all the time. Let's face it: high quality sustainably sourced fish can be pricier than the rest, and it's not in everyone's budget! I want to encourage people by letting them know that even if they make better choices half of the time, they're still making a difference.
What part of the FBC site do you find most useful?
Honestly, for me, it’s the FBC Facebook pages. You can take any type of question or concern to the Facebook page and have several responses within minutes, and everyone is so encouraging and supportive to one another. I will say, there have been days where I’ve just wanted to quit. I get to feeling pretty defeated. When I get that way, I just head on over to the Facebook page and skim. Something or someone there flips a switch in me and reminds me why I’m doing this, and that I’m not alone in my food blogging struggles. FBC is a huge part of my foundation in building the “personal empire” that is my blog.
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