Reading other people’s blogs is a voyeuristic experience. It transports us into the living rooms and lives of people we’ve never met and offers an intimate glance into their daily routines and states of mind.
Even better, reading other people’s food blogs transports us into their kitchens and Sarah Kieffer’s The Vanilla Bean Blog is one I happily get lost in. The self-taught baker, photographer, and muse has captured the hearts of readers near and far with her intimate prose and inviting candor, proven by recently being awarded Saveur‘s Reader’s Choice Best Baking and Desserts Blog award.
“I’m self-taught, and learned (and am still learning!) mostly from playing around with light and angles, and trying to emulate photographers and photos that I like,” Sarah shares. “Photographers I love: Max Wanger, Natalie Orton, Parker Fitzgerald, Kristy Carlson, Valerina Spring, and Katie Quinn Davies, just to name a few.”
Her writings are poetic and bursting with imagery, painting vivid pictures for her readers and offering them a beautiful peek into her life. Peppered with whimsical excerpts from the likes of Walt Whitman and E.E Cummings, gorgeous photos of her children, the couples and families she photographs, and of course, recipes, her blog reads like a dream.
Sarah’s blog was born out of the desire to create a food heritage for her own family, after realizing she grew up without one.She longed to establish a familiar recipe repertoire that would nourish her family and could be passed down through the generations and generously shared her tale and recipes in the first summer issue of FoodieCrush magazine when she created and photographed the recipes below for the article, Herbal Remedies.
Plum Pizza with Chicken, Oregano, and Whole Wheat Cracker Crust, recipe here.
No-Churn Mint Ice Cream, recipe here.
Chocolate Olive Oil Muffins with Rosemary, recipe here.
Lemongrass Basil Soup with Sweet Potatoes and Corn, recipe here.
Sarah is a cook but is a baker first, and she documents temptations like meringues with rhubarb curd and rosehip, pear tarts with honey-bourbon crème fraîche and lilac sugar—among many other unique ingredients that will render you weak in the knees.
I will always associate cocao nibs with Sarah, due to the prolific number of recipes highlighting the caffeine filled little gems, and couldn’t wait to try one of her many recipes. Deciding upon which one to feature along with her interview was a challenge, but with a little help from my babe, we finally hit on her Raspberry Cacao Nib Sugar Buns.
Caramely sugared and flaky on the outside with a sweetly chewy and raspberry sticky on the inside, these sugar buns reminded me of a simpler version of one of my favorite decadent breakfast pastries, the kouign-amann.
Get The Vanilla Bean Blog’s Raspberry Cacao Nib Sugar Buns recipe here.
We’re thrilled to be once again be sharing the talents of Sarah and more details of the behind the scenes of The Vanilla Bean Blog. And thank you Sarah, for being our foodie crush.
1. Describe your blog in 3 words:
A moveable feast (with a nod, of course, to Mr. Hemmingway)
2. If you could be one food blogger other than yourself, who would you be?
3. Which 3 blogs do you follow/are obsessed with/can’t live a day without?
4. What is the one kitchen tool you could never give up?
I use my standing mixer all the time. It would be hard to part with.
5. What dish are you obsessed with mastering that you just can’t get quite right?
There is this cake by Cooks Illustrated that will not turn out for me. I’ve tried it so many times, but it always turns out terribly dry. I’ve tried different brands of flours, different brands of butter, watched my oven like a hawk, emailed their test kitchen, but it just turns out so.dry. each time. I’ve read rave reviews online from others, so I know it’s me. It’s so frustrating. But I’ll try again.
6. What did you have for dinner last night?
Goat cheese pasta. Mmm.
7. What’s one secret talent outside of the kitchen nobody knows about you:
I can do a pretty mean Lucy Pevensie impression from the BBC version of the Chronicles of Narnia.
8. You’re happiest when cooking/eating:
Puff pastry. I love making it, and of course, eating anything it’s made with.
9. You talk about your desire to create your own food heritage through your blog. What are 3 recipes in your repertoire now that have become regular family favorites?
Sausage and Peach Pizza with Basil – this cracker crust pizza has been a life saver; it’s so easy to put together, and the crust can be made in minutes.
Skillet Roasted Chicken – I love this recipe; it’s the easiest roast chicken I’ve ever made.
Whole Wheat Pancakes – my kids beg for pancakes almost every night. We love breakfast for dinner.
10. The one secret ingredient to your success is:
There are really three things that have gotten me anywhere.
One is working hard. I’m a firm believer that one should not feel above doing the hard work, the scrub-the-toilets-in-the-coffeehouse-type work, in order to learn and move forward.
Two is having good support. My husband has always respected what I do, whether it was a job or a hobby, and has supported me everything. His faith in me has encouraged me not to give up, and to pursue what I love.
And three, various people throughout my life invested in me when they didn’t need to. All my small steps forward were because someone gave me a job when I didn’t have enough experience, or spent time teaching and helping me when they had better things to do. It has taught me that I need to do the same, to help others, however I can.
Reporting thanks to Hayley of Tip Toes in the Kitchen.
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