Sites We Love: Turntable Kitchen

Gorgeous photos? Check. Engaging writing? Check. Seriously inspiring recipes, tips, and culinary curiosity? Check, check, and check. The best food blogs all seem to have a lot in common — but what separates them out are the strong personalities behind them. In our Sites We Love series, we sit down with some of our favorite bloggers to find out how they do it — and why it's as much fun for them as it is for us.

Turntable Kitchen Grits

Kasey Hickey

This week's Site We Love is Turntable Kitchen, a clever site where husband-and-wife blogger team Kasey and Matthew Hickey bridge their dual interests of music and cooking. Kasey writes about food, and each of her creative (and great-looking) recipes features a music pairing devised by Matt. (They also post album reviews, mixtapes, and interviews with artists they appreciate.) This is one blog that makes us want to drag our speakers into the kitchen. Here's what Kasey and Matthew have to say about their blog:

Blog Name: Turntable Kitchen

Proprietors: Kasey & Matthew Hickey (I write about food and my husband Matt does all of the accompanying Musical Pairings)

Geographic Location: San Francisco, CA

Live since: November 2010

Why is the site called Turntable Kitchen? When we were trying to decide on a name for our new site (before 2010, we were blogging on two separate sites called eating/sf and Musical Pairings) we really wanted the name to reflect the equal attention we'd be devoting to both food and music. We have a turntable in our apartment and a vast vinyl record collection. Most nights, we throw a record on and listen to it while we're cooking dinner; often, it's what inspires our Musical Pairings.

Turntable Kitchen Writers

Kasey Hickey

Photo: Kasey Hickey

What's been your most popular post? On the food side, one of our most popular posts was our Wild Mushroom and Crescenza Pizza, as well as Multi-Grain Pumpkin Donuts with Spiced Sugar. I think people love comfort food and pretty looking sweets. On the music side, Matt's monthly mixtapes are always extremely popular.

What's your favorite post? One of my favorite posts is actually a City Guide that I wrote after coming back from a trip to Colombia this summer. I remember reading something Molly from Orangette wrote about traveling just being an excuse to eat more and I feel like eating is definitely the best way to experience a place. In many ways, I'm happiest when I'm traveling, exploring new places, and tasting new things. When I come back to writing, I'm able to flex my creative muscles in a completely new way.

Turntable Kitchen doughnuts

Kasey Hickey

Photo: Kasey Hickey

I also love this ode I wrote to an alarm clock I bought at a Chinese store in Italy.

What's something great that you've learned or that's happened to you since starting the site? This might sound strange, because a lot of the food that I cook is actually on the healthier side, but, I've learned to fry in the last year. I'm not really a fan of fried food, but when I've fried at home (wearing a pair of ski goggles, armed with an apron and two potholders, mind you), I've found that fried food can actually be pretty tasty - and easy to make. On the other hand, I've also discovered a whole new world of baking with whole grains, thanks in no small part to people like Kim Boyce, Heidi Swanson and Sara Forte. I think, more than anything, I've learned that good food is all about doing what feels right, and eating everything in moderation.

What's the usual process of developing one of your posts? Recipe inspiration comes to me much in the same way as writing inspiration. It often falls from the sky all at once, when I'm not expecting it, and I have to feverishly write down as many details as I can to capture the moment. Often, I'll become obsessed with an idea - after seeing something in a cookbook, a magazine, a blog, a restaurant - and from there, I'll try to recreate it piece by piece. Most of my posts begin with a story, often about our life, my family, childhood experiences, etc., the stuff that bridges the connection to the food we eat today.

Turntable Kitchen Trout

Kasey Hickey

Photo: Kasey Hickey

What are your favorite ingredients and tools? I have a killer sweet tooth, so I'm always finding myself stocking up on a ridiculous amount of baking ware. My KitchenAid Stand Mixer and Pasta Attachment are by far my favorite tools to use because I know I'm working on something fun when they're in play. I also couldn't live without my Microplane Zester...there's a lot of cheese that gets consumed in our house. Lastly, my yogurt maker. I've become really infatuated with making my own yogurt- it always has the perfect amount of tang to it and just the right texture.

What are your favorite food and cooking resources? (Books, stores, shops, websites - anywhere you go for information, inspiration, tools, ingredients, etc.) I absolutely adore Omnivore Books, a little cookbook shop in San Francisco that makes me feel like I'm in a Hugh Grant movie. I make a lot of recipes from Saveur (and I mean A LOT). Kim Boyce's Good to the Grain: Baking with Whole-Grain Flours is possibly my favorite baking book ever, and I find myself coming back to the Canal House Series time and time again. Whether I'm making something special, or utterly simple, those ladies know how to deliver.

turntable Kitchen Banana Cake

Kasey Hickey

Photo: Kasey Hickey

What photography equipment do you use? I have a Nikon D90. No special lenses for it (yet). I also wish I had more opportunities to photograph in daylight, but truth be told, we don't usually start cooking until it gets dark (we both have day jobs) so the food we capture is the food we eat. I have a Lowell light to help create a more even light and decrease shadows. Surprisingly, some of my best photos have actually been shot in a dark corner on my living room floor. If you love writing and photography but you can't shoot until after dark, you just have to roll with it. Don't stop doing what you love because you don't have the 'perfect' environment.

Where else can we find your work? The site keeps us pretty busy and we recently launched an offline product—The Turntable Kitchen Pairings Box--so most of our extra energy goes into creating our monthly, hand-curated boxes. Each one comes with a limited edition 7" vinyl record (we're working directly with artists on exclusive tracks), 3 original themed recipes, 1-2 premium dried ingredients, and a digital mixtape — everything you need to create your own Musical Pairing at home.

What food blogs do you follow? So many! My favorite blogs have one very important thing in common: great writing. A few favorites include: A Sweet Spoonful, Beyond the Plate, Sprouted Kitchen, The Year in Food, Happyolks, Joy the Baker, Spoon Fork Bacon, Shutterbean, and Orangette. You can find my regularly updated list of must-reads on the site.