Today we're hanging out with Renee Shuman, the 24-year-old blogger behind Will Frolic For Food. In addition to blogging, Renee is — get this — a small-batch chocolate maker! I can't explain how impressed I am by that. Reading Renee's blog makes me feel so good, like recipes that look beautiful and artistic are actually within reach. Like, pistachio chocolate chunk scones? Sure, I can do that. Check out Will Frolic For Food so you can learn to do that, too.
Read on to get to know Renee!
What is your all-time favorite book?
The fourth Harry Potter book, Goblet of Fire. I think I identify with Hermione a little too strongly, honestly. Ha!
What meal do you love to cook?
It's hard to beat a slice of good gluten free toast spread with ghee, topped with sliced avocado and a poached egg with sea salt. And paired with a cup of good quality coffee. Throw some sauteed oyster mushrooms in there and I go into bliss mode. The fattiness of the egg, avocado, and ghee paired with crispy toast (my comfort food) is really satisfying and feels quite luxurious.
What is your favorite food scene from a book?
The scene first describing Honeyduke in Hogsmeade, in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban:
"There were shelves upon shelves of the most succulent-looking sweets imaginable. Creamy chunks of nougat, shimmering pink squares of coconut ice, fat, honey-coloured toffees; hundreds of different kinds of chocolate in neat rows; there was a large barrel of Every Flavour Beans, and another of Fizzing Whizzbees, the levitating sherbet balls that Ron had mentioned; along yet another wall were ‘Special Effects’ sweets: Drooble’s Best Blowing Gum (which filled a room with bluebell-coloured bubbles that refused to pop for days), the strange, splintery Toothflossing Stringmints, tiny black Pepper Imps (‘breathe fire for your friends!’), Ice Mice (‘hear your teeth chatter and squeak!’), peppermint creams shaped like toads (‘hop realistically in the stomach!’) , fragile sugar-spun quills and exploding bonbons."
Harry Potter is very nostalgic for me, and the sweets are immensely wild and creative. I really wanted to live in that world when I was a girl (I was expecting a letter from Hogwarts welcoming me to the school when I was 11).
Coffee or tea?
Coffee. I'm totally addicted. My fiancee and I have become such snobs about it, it's ridiculous. We actually drove half an hour out of our way on vacation to find "decent" coffee in Virginia Beach. Yes, really.
What is the last book you abandoned?
Tender at the Bone by Ruth Reichl. I bought it to read on a train ride, and it was a great distraction. But then I started reading Heat by Bill Buford. I've been cycling through about 5 books at a time recently. And they're all laying around my room in different states of crumpliness, or stacked underneath of notebooks and photographs and metal tea jars filled with change.
Author you'd most like to meet for dinner, and your order?
Annie Dillard. We would meet for a quiet dinner in the woods and cook hobo meals (root veg w olive oil and spices in aluminum foil packs), break bread, and drink red wine. Then we would chat quietly and go for a walk along the banks of solitary river, wine in hand, watching as the bugs float of flourish along the water.
Where do you go to find new recipes?
I almost always look through my ever-growing blog roll via Feedly for inspiration. That's usually about 100 new recipes right there. I consult a couple of different cook books for trusty guidance — Babycakes NYC books for gluten free baking, The Art of Simple Food by Alice Waters for basics. Though, honestly, I would use Mollie Katzen's cookbooks every day if I owned any of them.
Where do you go to find new reads?
Used book stores. I like discovering new reads by chance, exploring and seeing what I can find wherever I am. Usually I find pretty good options, especially in bigger cities.
Tell us about your blog — the inspiration for it, why you blog, and what your favorite aspects are.
Clean eating is something I care deeply about. I've been a vegetarian for six years, but it took me the first four years of that eating journey to learn how to eat a balanced, nutritious diet that makes me feel happy and healthy. I've been cooking since I was a teenager, and I started experimenting with gluten free baking when I found out I had an intolerance to wheat two years ago. I was already thinking, talking, and exploring food and diet in my day to day life.
And then I moved to Charlottesville. It's a small city with a big local food culture. I started spending a lot of time at the local markets, poring over striped tomatoes, eggplant in swirls of white and purple, and squishy sweet figs. Cooking seasonally developed naturally as a result. So my love of clean eating got hitched with my new interest in eating with the seasons. And Will Frolic for Food was born out of that. Blogging has been a really fun ride, so far. I love sharing new recipes and collaborating with other bloggers on projects. I push myself to try things I never would have thought to try otherwise. Honestly, one of my favorite things about food blogging is the community. It's weird and awesome to tweet something about how you're making jam with maple syrup and then get to have a conversation about it with like-minded folks. And I've discovered a love for photography through my blog. That's one of the more surprising things, for me, as I've always considered myself more of a writer than a visual artist.
What are your favorite blogs, and why?
Don't even get me started. My Feedly is totally overwhelming, haha! Favorites: Green Kitchen Stories, Local Milk, My Name is Yeh [ATTW], Sprouted Kitchen, Dolly and Oatmeal [ATTW], My New Roots, Vegetarian Ventures, Food Loves Writing [ATTW], Oh, Ladycakes, The Tart Tart, Edible Perspective, Happyolks, and Top with Cinnamon. Some of those blogs I follow simply for inspiration as I can't eat a lot of what they post. The rest I follow for good feels, creative recipe development, and photography ogling. The fact that most post veg, gluten free food I can make (and love) is a big plus. And I just started following Hortus Natural Cooking and Adventures in Cooking — they're brilliant as well!