Today we're drooling over Sara Lenton, the 24-year-old blogger and illustrator behind Cake Over Steak. If you can't stop yourself obsessively scrolling through Instagram for your next hit of food porn, Sara's blog will blow you away. Each of her posts is accompanied by an intricate, whimsical illustration of the dish. You can own a print of her illustrtions yourself by picking one up at her Etsy store. If photorealistic isn't enough for you, don't worry. Sara's fiance, Robert, shoots great photos for the posts, too.
Read on to get to know Sara!
What is your all-time favorite book?
Beauty by Robin McKinley. It's a beautiful retelling of Beauty and the Beast and I love it so much; I'm a sucker for "retold fairy tales." The author also rewrote the book in a slightly different fashion twenty years later, and that one is called Rose Daughter, a close second for me.
What meal do you love to cook?
I love to cook pizza, partly because I love to eat pizza. In the relatively short amount of time I've been cooking for myself, pizza is one of the recipes I've kind of perfected. I can make it without a recipe, and I love cleaning out the fridge by making a pizza with leftover odds and ends. Also — chocolate chip cookies and brownies, even though those aren't technically meals.
What is your favorite food scene from a book?
In Beauty, the "Belle" character in the story enjoys these little breakfasts in her room at the castle of hot chocolate and buttered toast. The magic of the scene makes me want to be there — the breakfast is there in the morning, awakening her with its scent, and everything gets cleaned up and whisked away right in front of her by the magical, invisible servants.
Coffee or tea?
Both. I love coffee, but it doesn't exactly love me, so I have it on occasion as a treat. I try to drink green tea every day for the health benefits, but my new favorite thing is starting the morning with a mug of warm lemon water.
What is the last book you abandoned?
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. Books and movies always imbed themselves in my brain with a particular color palette, and I'm kind of emotionally sensitive to it. (This sounds so artsy-fartsy, but I guess it's the curse of being a visual person.) I had just finished Bright's Passage by Josh Ritter, which I loved, but in my brain it had a very neutral color palette. The Book Thief was black and white in my brain, and I realized I was in the mood for a book that had lots of bright colors, and it was kind of depressing me, so I stopped. I probably sound crazy now.
Author you'd most like to meet for dinner, and your order?
I'd love to meet Meg Cabot. I fell in love with her books in middle school, and I occasionally re-read them. I think her writing is hilarious, so I'm sure I'd enjoy eating dinner with her. We would probably order pizza, pad thai and Chinese food. With a side of french fries.
Where do you go to find new recipes?
I read food blogs like it's my job and I read cookbooks like they are novels. The amount of creativity I find out there, especially on blogs, is mind-boggling. They inspire me every day, both to cook and to continue with my own blog. I also love Food52 and Bon Appetit as larger resources. Podcasts are great, too — I love The Splendid Table for recipe inspiration.
Where do you go to find new reads?
I often browse Amazon or hear about books through other blogs, podcasts and the radio, etc. Most of what I read these days are cookbooks, but I enjoy "reading" a novel via audiobook sometimes at work. I worked my way through the Hunger Games and Girl with a Dragon Tattoo series that way.
Tell us about your blog — the inspiration for it, why you blog and what your favorite aspects are.
I could go on and on about this. I started cooking more and, as a result, obsessing over food blogs in college. The more I read them, the more I realized, "I want to do that." I was also looking for a way to create some personal artwork outside of my day job after I graduated. As an illustration major, I prefer to have a "project" when it comes to making art. I realized that combining those two desires in an illustrated food blog was the perfect solution, and having illustrations on my blog would make my blog a little different than all the other ones out there. My main goal is to have fun with it and to connect with other bloggers. That was another reason I wanted to start one — I was witnessing the community of food bloggers from the outside and how they all interacted and were supportive of one another. I think it's an amazing group of people and I wanted to be a part of it. I guess I'm succeeding with my goals so far — I've already made a few "blog friends," and I've been enjoying the process of making personal artwork again while writing about food. It also feels nice to enjoy writing (which can be hard sometimes), and to share my life with friends and strangers through the marvelous thing that is the Internet.
What are your favorite blogs, and why?
Oh, goodness — I follow so many blogs it's a little embarrassing. I'll tell you some of my current top favorites: Food52 has a knack for showing me recipes that include items I already have in my kitchen, and therefore has solved more than a few dinner crises. A Cozy Kitchen, How Sweet It Is, Joy the Baker, Smitten Kitchen, Wit and Vinegar and Top With Cinnamon are always great, both for their recipes and because I enjoy their writing. I could love Cookie and Kate for her strawberry basil pizza alone. I think I've made almost every waffle recipe from Minimalist Baker, and they're a fantastic resource for new bloggers. Some recently new-to-me favorites are Dolly and Oatmeal, My Name is Yeh and I am a Food Blog; I love the photography on these ones and I wish Molly Yeh and I lived near each other so we could watch Gilmore Girls and eat waffles together. Lastly, I think Love and Lemons and Sprouted Kitchen are two of the most gorgeous spaces on the Internet.