Each month we profile a different Canadian Food Blogger who is part of the FBC community. This month we meet James and Elaine with a perfect philosophy being: buy the freshest ingredients you can find, prepare them simply, present them beautifully, then share the meals with friends and family.
Name: James & Elaine
Blog name and URL: Zimmy’s Nook
Where were you born? We were both born in Toronto.
Where are you living now? Ajax, Ontario
Why did you start your blog?
Our business began from our growth on Instagram and focuses first and foremost on content creation. However, from the content we create, came constant requests from followers, friends, and family for recipes. Early on, we would write up the recipe and send it to those who requested them. But we soon realized that we needed a website to ‘house’ our recipes for all the requests we were getting. We launched zimmysnook.ca in 2019.
How did you decide on your blog name?
I (James) am often asked if my name is Zimmy Snook. As you now know, it is not. One evening, as we entertained our young nieces and nephew around the dinner table, Elaine began calling me Zimmy. Not long after that night, I was building an enclosure to protect the grill from the strong winds that can occur out back… a BBQ “nook” if you will. “Zimmy’s Nook” is where I am often found (rain, snow, or shine), enjoying the view, sipping a glass of wine, and grilling our meals.
What do you blog about?
It began as simply an expression of a home cook who loves to grill year-round. Our philosophy being, buy the freshest ingredients you can find, prepare them simply, present them beautifully, then share the meals with friends and family. As we evolved, we partnered with and passionately promote the stories of local farmers, food producers/purveyors, as well as the products of companies who share our passion for quality, innovation, and design.
Is your blog your business, your hobby or something in between?
Our blog is an extension of our primary business, so let’s say ‘something in between’ would be most accurate today. However, our strategy for 2023 is that it becomes a much bigger contributor to the business.
What post on your blog most encapsulates you and why?
We think our Flank Steak Tacos post, created in partnership with Ontario Beef most encapsulates who we are.
In this post we share a glimpse of our trip to Heatherlea Farm to buy a beautiful Angus beef flank steak for these tacos. Whenever possible we make it a point to know where our food comes from and have had the pleasure of getting to know several of Ontario’s Farmers. We love that all of the farmers share a deep appreciation and respect for their land, the environment, their livestock, and their customers who purchase the products that they produce.
Our goal is to evoke as many senses as we can with our meals. Showcasing bright fresh colours and flavours is key to creating well balanced meals. We believe this mouth-watering flank steak with all the colourful and fresh taco toppings is an ideal example of this.
Which post do you wish received more love and why?
Is it wrong to say all of them? We have enjoyed creating each recipe post as much as the one before it and think each has sometime to offer.
Which post’s success surprised you and why?
The Individual Ground Beef Wellingtons, created in partnership with Canada Beef, has been constantly in our top five most viewed pages since we posted it last April. It is a very tasty recipe, and we love the images. There is an investment of time and effort required to prepare them, but they are such a cute presentation, that we think it is worth it.
Also, our Antipasto Skewers have been a shocker. Our Pinterest pin has been driving the traffic to this recipe. It is one of the easiest ‘recipes’ (if you can even call it one) that we have on our website.
What’s your biggest challenge as a blogger?
Not enough time in the day, not enough days in the week! Lol
Seriously, balancing our ongoing commitments to our business partners, while continuing to grow and evolve Zimmy’s Nook is the greatest challenge.
What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned as a blogger?
Take your time to learn as much as you can about standard practices and SEO before starting a blog. We are still trying to update our older posts
What has been your biggest success as a blogger so far?
When we first started on our journey, Elaine just wanted something for free to post about. Today we are proud to say that we are brand ambassadors for Hestan Culinary, Hestan Home, Ooni and we continue to collaborate with many other great brands.
Fun fact: We still have the first free item we received on this journey. It is a burgundy Anyware Non-stick Skillet. It hangs on a wall in our basement, and we think of it as the first “dollar bill” the business earned.
Share a couple of your favourite food blogs to read. Why do you like them?(include URLs).
Saltnpepperhere – Inspiring nutritious meals and tasty Chinese/Asian treats.
The Lemon Apron – Beautiful seasonal recipes with unique German/European twists.
Irene Matys – Local farm-to-table advocate, delicious seasonal recipes, and wonderful family Cypriot dishes.
Just Crumbs – Wonderful cooking and gardening tips, plus an awesome sense of humour.
Rhubarb & Cod – Tasty recipes, highlighted by beautiful, inspiring photography.
Too many others to list!
What are you working on next for your blog?
Holiday will continue to be the focus for the next few months, both new recipes and revamping older ones. As we enter the new year, we intend to focus on growing our mailing list and begin sharing more tips and information through email.
What else should we know about you that may or not be in your “About Me” page?
Although James does not eat sweets often, he does enjoy baking and made two of his brothers wedding cakes (many moons ago). Elaine has a green thumb and enjoys growing heirloom tomatoes. This year she grew 17 varieties and 34 plants.
What makes your blog unique?
Our blog journals the food we love to eat. As a year-round griller, you can expect to see meat and protein, but we are not limited to or defined by grilled meat. We love our vegetables and continue to share more of those recipes.
How do you cultivate a sense of community around your blog?
We have always had the philosophy that social media should be SOCIAL and our online community should feel like a community. We try to culture this through consistent engagement, and by supporting other like-minded accounts.
What part of the FBC site do you find most useful?
We are most often found digging around in the amazing collection of Blogging Resources. But we also enjoy getting inspired by the recipes, weekly meal plans, and reading about the featured foodies.
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