This week's Site We Love is The Parsley Thief, where mother, wife, caterer, and home cook, Katie Vitucci, shares her favorite family-friendly recipes. Although primarily focused on food, within Katie's blog you will also find weekly posts on the lively going-ons of her kids (accompanied by charming and engaging photographs), information about various foodstuffs and products ranging from makeup to iPad apps, and even a make-shift store where you can buy the equipment Katie uses in her kitchen. Personal yet accessible, the food featured on The Parsley Thief will draw you in, but it is the stories attached to Katie's recipes that will keep you coming back for more. Here's what Katie has to say about her site:
Blog has been live since: April 2008.
Posting rate: I aim for 2 to 3 per week, but that doesn't always happen! Lately, 1 to 2 is more realistic.
Geographic location: South Norwalk, CT.
Why is the site called The Parsley Thief? The idea of starting a blog took time to actually become a reality. First off, I struggled deciding on a name. The Parsley Thief was one of the first names that popped into my head, but I stuck it on the back burner and didn't mention it to anyone. I thought it was too weird, but, it persisted, hanging around in my mind, and I couldn't focus on any other names. Finally, I shared the idea with my husband, and he loved it. That helped give me the confidence to move forward with it. I think the inspiration for the name came from a few places. First, I use parsley as a garnish frequently in my cooking. I discovered years ago that if I sprinkled a little chopped parsley on anything, it looked gorgeous. It made me feel very gourmet. My mother also has an herb garden but doesn't burn through her supply as quickly as I do. I've been known to steal a few snips when I visit.
Secondly, when my younger son was a toddler, he used to walk by the garden and pick a piece of parsley and eat it. He did it every time he saw it, and in any garden that had parsley. He could recognize it anywhere and from a mile away. So, he's also a parsley thief in his own right.
Photo: Angela Kohler
What's been your most popular post? In general, sweet by far outweighs savory, and when it comes to savory, comfort foods are much more popular than healthy ones. But, according to real statistics, my Sticky Balsamic Ribs post has had the most visitors and comments. It really is a delicious recipe, which is why I think it's been so popular. It's also been somewhat controversial, as you can't deem something the "best ever..." and not expect to get some challenges. Especially when it comes to something like ribs!
What's your favorite post? Any post that features my boys is a favorite. But, food related, I would say my Chicken Soup. It wasn't my first post, but it was my first recipe post. Even though my boys are only 7 and 9 years old, and our family history has been relatively short so far, that chicken soup holds a firm place in it. I am confident that it's been etched in my children's memories...and because of that, it's important. Making that soup is one way I can share love.
What's something great that you've learned or that's happened to you since starting your blog? Wow, there are just way too many to count. When I look back not even 4 years ago and see how much I have grown and developed, it's shocking to me, not only in terms of becoming a better and more confident cook, but also in developing my food photography and writing style. I took photography classes in college and grew up with a mother who turned our laundry room into a photography dark room when I was a child, so photography has always had a place in my life. When it comes to being a writer, it's never been something I would label myself, but with every post I write, I'm realizing I've become one.
Photo: Katie Vitucci
What's the usual process for developing one of your posts? I lead a very busy life and can't always drop everything and start cooking whenever the urge strikes. Because of this, I keep a list where I jot down my ideas. I usually plan my family's meals around whatever it is I plan on blogging about that week. I write the recipes as I cook. Frequently, I use recipes I've adapted from other sources, but usually I use them simply as a rough guideline and change things as I go along. If I don't write as I go, I'm likely to forget what I did! I like to include photos of the process in all my posts as a guide for readers who may not be as comfortable or knowledgeable in the kitchen as others. I can't assume every one of my readers knows what a chiffonade is. I want my blog to be a learning tool for people who want to cook but might not know where to start. All those photos mean I have to take frequent breaks while cooking to take them. The average post might include 100 or more photos, which I will weed through looking for the best. Finally, most of my photos get some type of post production work before they end up on my blog...whether it be cropping, sharpening, color correcting, etc.
What are your favorite ingredients and tools? I love Italian cooking, so some things you'll always find in my kitchen are good olive oil, Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, roasted peppers, fresh mozzarella, artichokes, ricotta, San Marzano canned tomatoes, the best Italian bread, garlic, and pasta. In everyday cooking, I love Diamond Crystal kosher salt or Maldon sea salt flakes. I believe one detail that no home cook should overlook is how to properly season their food. I am also a big fan of using fresh herbs in my cooking. You will commonly find fresh basil, thyme, mint, oregano, rosemary, and Italian flat-leaf parsley growing at my house. I am very selective when it comes to kitchen tools and will only buy things that I know I will use on a regular basis. I also won't skimp on the quality. If it's going to be something I use very frequently, I spend the money necessary to have the very best. Because of this, my collection of favorite kitchen tools has grown slowly over time.
I couldn't function without a good chef's knife. There are many companies out there that make great ones, and I've had many of them over the years. When it comes to a knife, it's more about how it feels when I hold it or use it versus who makes it. I invested in one that was comfortable for me, and I keep it sharp. I also use my utility knife very often. The long, slim blade makes easy work of paring or thinly slicing fruits and vegetables or filleting meat. I find I have much more control when using a utility knife, so I use it for the detailed tasks. What I cut on is a large Boos wooden chopping block. I love it because it's heavy, so it doesn't move when I'm chopping, and it's large, so I can have my "mise en place" arranged on the outside edges and still have chopping space. For prep work, I love my Cuisinart food processor and Kitchenaid stand mixer. My favorite pots and pans are a good quality saute pan, a Le Creuset enameled cast iron French oven, and a well-seasoned cast iron skillet.
Photo: Katie Vitucci
What are your favorite food and cooking resources? I am just as selective with my cookbooks as I am with kitchen tools, but if I find a chef who has consistently fabulous recipes, I will buy every cookbook they ever wrote. In my experience, you can always count on recipes written by Ina Garten, Marcella Hazan, or Lydia Bastianich. For healthy vegetarian cooking, I've always been a fan of Mollie Katzen, and for everyday basics, I love How to Cook Everything by Mark Bittman. I also have subscriptions to many food magazines.
What photography equipment do you use? I have a Nikon D90 digital SLR camera and a basic 18-105mm lens. I would love to own a fancier lens, but nice camera equipment is quite expensive. I never use a flash, therefore most of my food photography is shot using natural light.
Where else can we find your work? Currently, my lifestyle does not permit me to do much freelancing, but at the moment, I'm doing monthly contributions at the website Babble in a series called Food Blogger Bites. I am also a regular contributor to a local food website I love called CTBites.
What food blogs do you follow? It seems that I discover a new and exciting food blog daily. When I first started out, I only knew of a handful, and back then, my regular reads were Orangette and Bitchin' Camero. Since then, the list has grown by a mile. If only I had the time to read them all! Some of my recent favorites are Umami Girl, I Made That!, and Sprouted Kitchen. All three have amazing photography. When it comes to food blogs I really look forward to reading, it's Devil & Egg and Dinner: A Love Story. Both blogs are very well written, and I can relate to the women who write them because we are in similar phases in our lives as far as raising children. I can appreciate their stories around the dinner table or in the kitchen with their kids. I find myself reading along and thinking, oh yeah, I've been there.
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