Tara Austen Weaver is a gifted storyteller who writes the beautiful, honest and inspirational blog Tea & Cookies. Her book The Butcher and the Vegetarian is a fascinating account of introducing meat into her diet after growing up in a vegetarian household. We simply love what she does, and we wanted to get to know her a little better as well as introduce her to those of you who haven’t had the pleasure of meeting her yet.
Sweet or Savoury?
Mostly savory, with dashes of sweet. I will always love salt more than sugar, will always love vinegar and lemon juice. That doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy sweets now and again. I love fruit sorbets, chocolate chip cookies, and confess an affection for black jelly beans (I know) and Ritter Sport Bars.
What was the last thing you ate?
Least Favorite Food(s)?
Liver, most types of fish, and anything super slimy.
What is your first kitchen memory?
My first memories of the kitchen aren’t cooking memories. I grew up in an old house in the country and the kitchen,with its wood stove, was the warmest place in the house. I remember rolling balls across the slightly sloped floor, and sitting at the table with my brother and sculpting our breakfast cereal into towers and spires with moats made of milk. Life happened in the kitchen, that’s what I remember.
What was the first food blog you ever read?
Food Musings, by Catherine Shattuck (now defunct). I read through the entire archives before jumping over to Gluten-free Girl and Orangette. What’s lovely is that, over the past five years, all these people have become friends of mine.
What is the first place you look when seeking inspiration?
I’m always on the lookout for inspiration, it’s part of being a creative. Sometimes it’s a photograph, a blog post, a novel I’m reading, a film or documentary, even just an unusual spice I don’t know how to use. I like exploring ethnic shops, wandering down back alleys, getting lost. Maybe this comes from having traveled and lived in foreign countries, but I always want to be learning, creating, expanding my horizons. Everything good that’s happened to me has come from following my own curiosity.
If you were unable to cook and had to eat food made by only one person for the rest of your life, who would it be and why?
This is an impossible question! I can’t even imagine, but I will try to answer. One of my favorite restaurants here in Seattle is Nettletown. The chef and owner Christina Choi draws on her family heritage–Swiss mother and Chinese father–and uses lots of local, seasonal ingredients. Her food is both Western and Asian and the flavors are new and inventive yet taste comforting. Also, she makes the best salads. I love good salads, and so few people make them well.
What is the most recent addition to your list of must-read websites?
There are so many blogs out there now, it’s truly overwhelming. Here are a few:
I always love http://kissmyspatula.com/ for its visual feast.
Molly’s writing on http://remedialeating.com/ makes me happy. Her photos make me happier.
I just stumbled upon http://www.makegrowgather.com/, so I’ve got some catching up to do there.
My interest in gardening recently led me to British garden writer http://elspeththompson.wordpress.com. Sadly she died last year, but I am working my way through her old posts and wishing I had found her sooner.
What recipe idea has been bumping around in your head, that you can’t wait to make?
I saw a salad with grapefruit, blood orange, fennel, pickled onions and avocado. Because it’s February and grey in Seattle, I can’t stop thinking about it. It looked like spring.
What is your favourite food scene in a movie or television show?
In the Dutch film Antonia’s Line (which I love), the family has a big luncheon every Sunday. As time goes by, more and more friends join, new children are born, and the table gets longer and longer. They keep having to add extra planks. I love the idea of people gathering together around food, of strangers becoming friends and friends becoming family. I like making food taste good, but community is the real reason I cook.
What ingredient is never missing in your pantry or fridge?
Pickles. A full half shelf is dedicated to the refrigerator dill pickles I make each summer. If they run out before the next cucumber season, I am very sad.
Three words. Go.
Find your passion.
Also: don’t forget salt!
Thank you so much Tara for taking the time to talk to us! It was truly a pleasure.
All photos courtesy of Tara Austen Weaver.