Hungry Girl por Vida
Cindy is many things, a home cook, a baker, an avid doodler, and new mom. And on Hungry Girl por Vida, she shares all the things that she loves with her readers. Her work has also been featured in magazines all over the world.
I’m so psyched to have Cindy Ensley of Hungry Girl por Vida on the show today.
On Starting Her Blog:
I was in college when I started reading food blogs, and I graduated and spent a year actually working the same job that I was at during college, and just being bored and uninspired. I thought, maybe I should brush up my cooking skills. I was engaged and going to get married in a couple of years from then, so I just decided to document it and see where it went.
It started out really small and casual with a point-and-shoot and has grown from there. And that started in 2008, so it’s been a while.
On Her Passion for Food:
I come from a family of really great home cooks. And actually my aunt and my mom have a catering business, so food’s central in our family gatherings. I just grew up around it and have always loved to eat, so cooking goes hand-in-hand with that.
I always wanted to help, but I was more of an observer. I was too slow and not skilled enough to be helping very much, so I just observed and went from there.
They don’t do as much home cooking now that, you know, I’m older and my cousins and my brother are all older. None of us are at home anymore, so what inspired me to start cooking for myself was because I had to.
But, I mean, seeing them in the kitchen, I used to help with some of the dinners that they would put on. I always thought it was super fun and my aunt would let me decorate the dessert plates, which I thought was the coolest thing ever. I think just being around it definitely inspired me.
For Christmas this year my parents were here and my brother and his kids and stuff, so I got to cook for them and that was really fun.
On Cooking Being Where Practical Meets the Creative and Pretty:
Personally, I like to eat things that are very visually appealing, so I mean, even if it’s as simple as scattering some fresh herbs across a dish at dinner with just me and my husband. I’ll do that because I feel like it’s more enticing and it feels a little more special. And, obviously, cooking is a very basic, practical skill to have. I like that you can get as creative as you want to be, and also make something that looks nice every day.
I don’t broadcast that many of my fails, just because usually I get pretty upset about it and trash them or let them die in the back of the refrigerator.
On Cooking As a Parent:
I used to like to spend a weekend day on an ambitious project or something, or even just cooking something that takes a lot of prep. And now, I try to get things done as quickly as possible just because my son is almost six months old and he needs a lot of attention. I like to spend a lot of time with him. So the easier the better, but I still try to make the effort.
I’m really into bowls, so like a burrito bowl or, I’m half Korean, so we do a lot of bibimbap.
I can have things kind of pre-prepped for anything like that, you know, rice or quinoa or whatever. And then whatever protein we want and then, you know, add fresh vegetables, or whatever we have on hand.
They say to sleep when your baby sleeps, but that’s nearly impossible. I think, personally, I can’t fall asleep if I have a million things running through my mind, so get what you can, done. I think that having a base grain ready to go in the refrigerator is a great thing. I’ve been cooking quinoa or rice or whatever in batches and keeping them in the refrigerator. And also, proteins like chicken breast or even a roasted chicken, and breaking that down and having that ready to go for the week, is really nice and a great time saver.
We’re trying right now to implement a schedule with our son, Casper, so we want bath time to happen at a certain time, but we also want to have dinner. And also now I’m starting to feed him solids, so it’s a juggling act. We’re just trying to keep on a schedule because it seems to work better for him, his moods and his naps.
Having things ready to go is key. And we don’t want to resort to take out all the time.
On How to Make Cooking More Fun:
Some days you just have to get dinner on the table, so it’s more about what recipes you have in your arsenal. But if you can throw something new in there every week, maybe, or even every couple of weeks, I think that makes it fun.
Or use a new ingredient.
A couple of years ago, my husband and I weren’t really big fans of fennel, so we started implementing it into our meals and now we love it. So I think that trying a new ingredient, trying a new recipe, but not going overboard and trying to do it every night of the week, ’cause that gets daunting.
Even shaved raw fennel in the summer with bibimbap or some sort of salad would be great too. I mean, there’s lots of different ways you can use ingredients and just trying them out a couple different ways, I think is also key.
The Pressure Cooker:
Which food shows or cooking shows do you watch?
What are some food blogs or websites that we have to know about?
I really love Food 52 and there are probably too many blogs to even name.
I have a really close friend, Megan from Take a Megabite, so I would mention her. I know her in person as well as through her blog.
She’s a pretty cool gal, and so I always think of her.
Who do you follow on Pinterest, Instagram or Twitter that make you happy?
I follow so many people on all of those websites. But I guess one of my other favorite blogs is Half Baked Harvest. Her name’s Tieghan, and I love her blog because her recipes are so creative, and they’re totally not things that I would do on a normal basis, but I find it inspiring.
What is something all home cooks should have in their pantry?
If you have a soup that tastes kind of dull, those are great to add to punch up the flavor.
Name one ingredient you cannot live without?
I cannot live without eggs. I think they’re so versatile and they’re, I mean, in a pinch they’re a great source of protein, but they also are very transformative. You can bake with them, you can do so much, so definitely eggs.
What are a few cookbooks that make your life better?
I refer to that pancake book often on the weekends.
I make the chocolate chip ones a lot because my husband is a chocolate fiend. And then the regular buttermilk ones, and then also the apple pie ones. I think they’re called apple pie.
What song or album just makes you want to cook?
Probably Cherry Bomb by Spoon. It’s one of my favorite songs to like sing to, and my husband really likes it, so it’s kind of a fun one to have on when we’re cooking.