At The Table With...Amanda Paa of Heartbeet Kitchen
Today we're killing time with Amanda Paa, whose lovely blog I discovered through Twitter. I'd be lying if I said the punny site name, Heartbeet Kitchen, wasn't the first indicated that I'd be a fan of Amanda's. Beyond that, Heartbeet Kitchen is a treasure trove of colorful, seasonal recipes notable for their accessibility and how much they make my mouth water. Recently, I was drooling over her gluten-free ravioli with meat and ricotta in a lemon-dill sauce. I mean, yum.
Read on to get to know Amanda!
What is your all-time favorite book?
Millions of Cats by Wanda Gag was one of the first books I learned to read and still to this day one of my favorites. I was so intrigued not only because the story was about having millions of cats (my perfect world!) but because Wanda Gag lived her life in New Ulm, MN, during the early 1920sm which is where I grew up. Her whimsical, German style of illustrating and writing is super unique. I was able to go inside her childhood home several times and it almost felt like I knew her. To Kill a Mockingbird was also a game changer for me when it was assigned for one of my high school classes, and really opened my eyes to racial inequality as well as other difficult issues that continually occur in our society.
What meal do you love to cook?
I like to take whatever was fresh and beautiful at the market and create. A few dishes that can easily adapt to seasons and creativity like risotto, polenta with roasted vegetables, frittatas, and hash are some of my favorites. And they nearly always include a poached egg.
What is your favorite food scene from a book?
I love some of the food scenes from several Laura Ingalls Wilder books. After reading this piece in Farmer Boy, it was as if I could almost envision myself sitting right there with them all for breakfast. Such descriptive, beautiful writing. I can just taste those crisp pancake edges with real maple sugar!
"The big blue platter on the stove's hearth was full of plump sausage cakes; Eliza Jane was cutting apple pies and Alice was dishing up the oatmeal, as usual. But the little blue platter stood on the back of the stove, and ten stacks of pancakes rose in tall towers on it. Ten pancakes cooked on the smoking griddle, and as fast as they were done Mother added another cake to each stack and buttered it lavishly and covered it with maple sugar. Butter and sugar melted together and soaked the fluffy pancakes and dripped all down their crisp edges."
Coffee or tea?
Coffee with steamed soy. Loving my new Hario Buono Kettle for making pour over at home.
What is the last book you abandoned?
Lit, by Mary Karr — I forgot it in the hotel room when we left Aruba!
Author you'd most like to meet for dinner, and your order?
Deborah Madison, author of many great vegetarian books including her newest, Vegetable Literacy, which I am enthralled with. I would love to her more about her earlier days as one of the pioneers of Slow Food, and also all the different places she has visited and what she has learned about the cuisine. I would probably hope that she and I could cook at her home, from her garden, and create something off the cuff that was absolutely delicious, just like the recipes she creates for her books.
Where do you go to find new recipes?
My favorite blogs, mentioned below, are continually sources of inspiration for my cooking, but I also love tearing out the pages of great magazines like Bon Appetitand Saveur and then making the recipes. Oh, and when I'm at a restaurant and really enjoy a dish, I often take mental notes and will later try to recreate it in my home.
Where do you go to find new reads?
I mostly rely on my friends, but occasionally will use Goodreads to check out some of the popular books in the genres I enjoy.
Tell us about your blog — the inspiration for it, why you blog, and what your favorite aspects are.
I started writing my blog three years ago because I had recently moved to the Minneapolis area and was amazed at the farm to table focus and abundance of farmers markets which such intriguing food and people... Experimenting and letting my creativity flow with no judgement and no expectations allowed me to break from some of the perfectionism that had kept me from realizing some of the joys in life. My heart truly "beets" around food, especially vegetables :) This is how my bookSmitten with Squash came to be. It's set to be published this July and I'm so excited to share my passion for summer and winter squash with everyone, as well as give people more confidence cooking with some of the more unique types.
Around the same time that I moved to the Twin Cities I also found out I had a gluten intolerance, and the blog was and is a way for me to show others that "gluten-free" does not have to be difficult; in fact, most of the food I make is just naturally gluten-free...Knowing the story behind my food is very important, and its one of the most special connections I think we can make, which is another thing I enjoy writing about. And I'd be lying if I said I didn't like sweet treats, so you'll find a few of those on my blog too. Because life is just better with cake, right?!
What are your favorite blogs, and why?
Vanilla Bean Blog [ATTW link] — amazing writing, beautiful photography and baked goods that make you want to jump up and grab a bag of flour immediately and pop something in the oven. The Bojon Gourmet — wonderful gluten-free cooking & baking with raw, honest writing. Smitten Kitchen — her creativity is amazing! Yet she can bring simple dishes to a whole new level with a different technique or one unique ingredient. London Bakes — you can just tell from Kathryn's writing that she is sweet, kind, and wholesome. Her recipes are inspiring and her photography beautiful. Healthy Green Kitchen — I love Winnie's take on overall health & happiness, honest opinions, and delicious food. Dolly & Oatmeal [ATTW link] — her food photography is killer, I nearly lick the screen every time I see a new post. Also, Zoe Bakes, Sprouted Kitchen and My New Roots. And so many more in this talented blogging world!