At The Table With... Batya Stepelman of Sparrows + Spatulas
Today we're lounging with Batya Stepelman, the Denver-by-way-of-NYC blogger behind Sparrows + Spatulas. Do you ever read blogs and think, I'd like to spend a week in that person's life? That's how I feel about Batya. Unlike so many bloggers whose lives seem impossibly perfect, Batya's just seems lovely in such an approachable way. She shares recipes, like different kids of gazpacho, scenes from her life and travels and so many wonderful, lush images from around Colorado. You guys know I'm a plant lady. When i read Batya's blog or scroll through her Instagram, I wish I were a plant lady in Denver.
Read on to get to know Batya!
What is your all-time favorite book?
Oh that’s hard, there are so many good ones…
The Road by Cormac McCarthy is a beautiful book despite its very dark tone. At its core this book is a love story between a father and his son as they try to survive their circumstances and navigate through a post-apocalyptical world.
Little Failure: A Memoir by Gary Shteyngart is what I’m reading now and I just love it. The book is Shteyngart’s memoir. It chronicles, in a very funny way, the author’s experiences as he departs his native Russia and his impressions of life in America.
What meal do you love to cook?
I love cooking brunch. Shakshukah, a North African (Tunisian) dish of baked eggs in a spicy tomato sauce, is one of my favorite meals. Though brunch isn’t quite as leisurely as it once was (we have two little boys running around the house and they’re full of energy in the morning), I enjoy it…especially when friends come over on Sunday and eat with us.
What is your favorite food scene from a book?
I like good cookbook writing — where descriptions of food scenes are written so well that you actually feel like you’re eating the food and sitting around the table even though you’re just devouring words!
Coffee or tea?
Coffee. I like it strong and I like it often.
What is the last book you abandoned?
The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen. It’s such an incredible book, but some of the storyline (the decline of the father’s health) hit a bit too close to home, so I stopped reading it. I think in a few months, or maybe a year, I’ll pick it up again. He’s an excellent writer.
Author you'd most like to meet for dinner, and your order?
I’d love to dine with David Sedaris. We’d definitely order cocktails, maybe a cheese plate.
Where do you go to find new recipes?
The usual suspects are my monthly food subscriptions (Bon Appetit, Food & Wine, Saveur), my favorite food blogs, and my go-to cookbooks. I also pull recipes from newspapers like The Guardian (Ottolenghi’s column), the LA Times, and the NY Times. NPR has a good recipe section too.
Where do you go to find new reads?
I grew up in NYC, so I used to notice what others were reading on the subway. But now I turn to NPR (when Terry Gross interviews writers, for example), the New Yorker, blogs and even Facebook. I spend a lot more time than I previously did reading reviews. Between work and motherhood there aren’t a lot of spare hours, so I want to be fairly certain that I’ll enjoy the books I start to read.
Tell us about your blog — the inspiration for it, why you blog, and your favorite aspects.
I started my blog as a little project when I left an unfulfilling job on Wall Street at the same time as I became a mother to our first son, Otis. I had always wanted to learn about food: how it's grown, how it's prepared and how to make it taste good. So I poured over recipes and began to dabble in cooking while trying to incorporate a lot of our CSA bounty into the dishes.
Over the past 4 years the blog has evolved. Today it’s about the food we cook and the life we’ve made in Colorado, which means lots of hiking-related posts and city exploration. Our new garden (the result of 7 hours of jack-hammering, assembling elevated garden beds, and diligent watering) has started to make an appearance too. I’ve added a weekly round-up called Friday Favorites where I pick inspired design, small-batch food products, and kitchen accessories. It’s a lot of fun!
The best things to emerge from my blogging efforts have been my job (at DLD PR) and the community that I’ve created here in Denver through Instagram, which began as an extension of my blog. When I moved here I knew only a handful of people. I was a stay-at-home mom and ultimately I began to work from home. It could have been isolating and lonely, but instead I used social media and my blog to help me cultivate relationships with women who are around my age, love cooking, film, hiking, gardening, farmers markets, design and art. It’s been incredible!
What are your favorite blogs, and why?
Brooklyn Supper, Oh, Ladycakes, Sprouted Kitchen, Blogging Over Thyme, Cookie and Kate, Holly & Flora, Lottie + Doof, Green Kitchen Stories, The Yellow House, and 101 Cookbooks. Though they are all different, they share the common thread of sincere writing, beautiful photography and recipes I like to make.
Door Sixteen, Manhattan Nest, and Design*Sponge are my favorite design blogs. They feature DIY projects that I might actually be able to tackle, or at the very least be inspired by.