I truly enjoy interviewing food bloggers, especially when they’re as entertaining and honest as Tracy is. If you visit her “About” page on Baking Mischief, you’ll find that Tracy began a food blog to “…save my non-foodie friends and family from having to listen to one more fallen cupcake sob story or to look at a million pictures of my latest weekend baking project.” I love this kind of writing because, finally, someone is saying what the rest of us feel.
I’d say Tracy has come a long way since the end of 2013 when she had some bad luck in the kitchen (read about her cronuts below), if her photos are any indication. From what I’m seeing, she’s on her way to quickly achieving what others take years to achieve. She writes extremely well and her posts and recipes are quite captivating. In the past week, I’ve read more than my fair share from top to bottom. They’re that good.
1. Can you please tell our readers a bit about yourself?
I’m the chief writer, photographer, baker, and taste tester behind BakingMischief.com. When I’m not cooking or working on the blog, I can be found obsessing over pop culture or running off a cookie.
2. Where do you call home?
I live in beautiful, drought-ridden southern California.
3. I see that cooking is a new passion for you. What was is that sparked your interest?
When I first started cooking, it was because I wanted to eat healthier. I realized that there’s a real ceiling to how healthfully you can eat if you aren’t cooking for yourself regularly, so I just went on Pinterest, started looking for healthy recipes and tried them out.
I didn’t start baking until about a year later, when I kept seeing a ton of Buzzfeed posts with these amazing desserts that food bloggers were coming up with. I can be really competitive and I had this knee-jerk reaction like, hey, if other people can do that, so can I! Um, I couldn’t, at least not at that point. The first recipe I tackled was cronuts, which were really popular at the time, and it was an absolute failure. I spent hours making the perfect croissant dough from scratch and then burnt the hell out of it in thirty seconds trying to deep fry it. But even that failure was so strangely satisfying that suddenly I was baking all the time.
4. Have you had any formal training in the kitchen or are you self taught?
No formal training. I was so lucky to have a mother who always welcomed us in the kitchen and let us help. We weren’t a particularly adventurous family when it came to cooking, but we did cook regularly. I have very vivid memories of holding a knife at five years old, slicing mushrooms while my mom stood over me and watched nervously. In my adult life, honestly, food blogs have been so wonderful for filling in some of the many, many gaps in my culinary education.
5. So far, what’s been your favorite part about cooking and posting your adventures online?
I love being able to share easy recipes and cooking tips with people who maybe aren’t very experienced in the kitchen. I’m very deliberate about writing the site I wish I had had when I started cooking, because there are so many little things that we take for granted everyone knows, but if you’ve never been taught, you just won’t! For example, until I started baking regularly, I had no idea there was a correct way to measure flour. It was such a shock to me, because you’re using a MEASURING cup! Why wouldn’t that be accurate?
6. Is there something that’s been particularly challenging in the kitchen? Something you haven’t begun to master?
Sea food in general. It’s my great white whale (I refuse to acknowledge that pun). I like the idea of sea food. I just don’t have much experience preparing it, so it terrifies me. But it’s on to-learn list.
7. What’s it been like operating your website so far? Have there been any ups and downs? If so, can you share some of them?
So far, it’s been great but definitely more work than I could have possibly imagined. I had no idea that I would have a list of things to do that would literally never get any shorter. There’s always a new way to improve SEO, a social media platform to try, a photography technique to read up on. It is mind boggling!
My biggest up was probably being accepted into Foodgawker for the first time. I have zero background in photography, and I was very concerned about that when I started the blog. Getting accepted early on was like a little encouraging pat on the back saying, you can do this!
8. What kind of feedback have you received regarding your cooking? How do you personally feel about your progress?
All the feedback has been very positive. This is partially because I don’t let the failures leave my kitchen, so I’m the only one that knows about them! And also because I have wonderfully supportive friends and family, so even if something isn’t to their taste, they’re gentle about it.
It’s tougher on a personal level, because as a food blogger, you spend all day staring at pictures of other people’s AMAZING looking food and you can’t help but compare yourself to them. But then I remember that just a couple of years ago I was literally setting food on fire because I didn’t understand how a broiler worked and I feel better about my progress.
9. From visiting your website, I see that you have some fairly active comment sections. Have visitors been generally supportive of you and your blog?
Absolutely! Most of the commenters on my blog have been fellow food bloggers, and they’re a wonderful group of people.
10. Are there some recipes that you’ve shared on your website that have been more popular than others? Which ones do visitors seem to like the most?
The recipe that drives the most traffic to my blog is my Star Wars BB-8 Cupcakes. They were so much fun to make and I think people click over to see them because they really do look like little edible versions of their favorite droid.
But I hear the most positive feedback from people who have tried the Snickerdoodle Cookie Sandwiches with Eggnog Buttercream Filling, which is gratifying because they were one of my very first recipes posted, and I was so terrified that people were going to think it was a weird combination.
11. What do you look forward to the most when planning a recipe?
My favorite part, hands down is feeding the finished product to other people. I have a horrible, pathological need to feed people delicious things, so when I see them enjoy something I’ve made, it makes all the long hours in the kitchen worth it!
12. I see that you are quite active with posting new content to your blog. What inspires you to write so frequently?
It’s not so much inspiration as it is my editorial calendar (which I keep in Trello). I’ve found that blogging is just like any sort of writing. If I wait for inspiration, nothing ever gets done, at least not on a regular basis. So I live by the rule that if it’s on the calendar, I do it, whether I feel like it or not.
13. Let’s say that someone asked you how they could follow in your footsteps in regards to learning more about how to cook and how to start a blog. What advice could you offer them?
On cooking, I would say, just find a recipe that looks good and try it. That, and there are no stupid questions when it comes to Google. Google has answered more cooking questions for me than I care to mention.
Starting a blog, number one, find your people. Blogging can be really lonely if you just hit publish and just wait for people to find you. Join blogging groups. Comment on other blogs. Make friends on Twitter. It makes you feel like you are not in this alone!
14. Can you share some of your favorite cooking related websites? Which ones do you regularly visit?
Sure! I’m a food blog junkie. I love Skinnytaste because the recipes are consistently healthy and delicious. Sally’s Baking Addiction and Averie Cooks were my dessert gateway drugs when I first started baking. Half Baked Harvest has the most beautiful photography. And I’m obsessed with Fiction Food Cafe, which makes recipes solely based on popular culture. Also, it’s not specifically a cooking site, but Food Blogger Central is such a great resource for food bloggers. I heartily recommend it.
15. What do you think the future holds for you in regards to the cooking and blogging world? Where would you like to see yourself in the near term?
Two years ago, I never would have thought I would have a cooking blog, so who knows where I’ll be down the road. I do know that I want Baking Mischief to grow as a place for aspiring home cooks to come and learn in a friendly and fun environment!
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