A Thousand Threads
On her blog, A Thousand Threads, Laicie writes about more than just food and recipes. She shares a lot about herself, from her wedding, travels and everyday adventures, she really puts herself out there for her readers.
I am so happy to have Laicie Heeley of A Thousand Threads here on the show today.
On Her Blog:
I actually started my blog because I had a day job that was fulfilling, but not entirely. I was writing, but I was writing about a lot of technical subjects and didn’t have the chance to write about the more creative things or do the more creative things that I enjoy doing. And so, around the time…my husband and I had been together for probably around five years at that point. When he proposed to me, I decided that it was an excuse to write about something on the Internet.
I started writing about the process of planning our wedding and of our lives at the time. It evolved in that way, eventually, to really be a representation of our lives together, and ultimately that all came back to food, because, for us, it does totally come back to food, with everything.
The relationships that I’ve built on the Internet, because I’ve been open and been willing to have those conversations with people and go back and forth, I’ve made so many good friends. It’s really been a great experience, so I’m glad that I wasn’t overthinking it at first and it allowed me to open up and keep it that way.
When I was putting it out there on the Internet and there weren’t any faces to go along with it, there weren’t any reactions. And honestly, the people that I found on the Internet, when they did appear, were so supportive and so great that it was really a good experience for me from the beginning, that I was able to make those friends, who I almost felt more open with, in many ways.
On Her Interest in Cooking:
I’m a 4-H kid from way back in the day. I grew up in Oregon, and I was in 4-H, I rode horses, that was the biggest part of my 4-H. But from the time I was very young, I actually did the cooking side as well and competed in the cooking contests in front of a judge, and it was all a very fun thing for me. It was always made fun for me, I think, particularly by my mom, who was really always interested in cooking, especially in baking. And she makes these incredibly amazing desserts that are just nuts.
She taught me how to make those things, and she taught me and brought me through that whole process of, the terrifying process of cooking in front of a judge when you’re 12 years old. It is crazy but it’s awesome, and I think it really fostered my love of cooking. I had a family of cooks, my grandmother was constantly baking pies.
And in Oregon, we all had big gardens. The fruit that my grandmother always baked the pies with always came from her garden, that was something that was crazy, that you just don’t experience that as much over here, quite as much as I did there and growing up. And it made me love food very much, having all those people around me who also loved food.
Some places have 4-H, some places have FFA, it’s a country kid thing. Some kids raise cows, and then they sell them at the auction at the county fair. It’s a thing that essentially all leads to the county fair, which is where you exhibit your work that you work on throughout the year. It’s kind of like Girl Scouts, but with a very country lean to it.
On Her Cooking Influences:
I think that my mom is hands down my greatest cooking influence. My love for baking, in particular, is completely shaped by my mother. And also my love for gathering people, I think, was shaped by my mother. Just a week ago, she had this huge event at her house for all of the women from her graduating class from high school. I don’t even know if I could track down the people from my graduating class from high school.
I’m really impressed by her. She had all the women from her graduating class over and had this beautiful, beautiful brunch party out on her patio and cooked everything and made this huge spread of desserts. My mom’s cheesecake is the craziest cheesecake that you’ve ever had.
Chocolate éclairs are something that she had always made and always brought. She was always this amazing home cook, but also one who never shied away from something that was tougher, like a chocolate éclair. She would make these fantastic cakes for my birthdays and just things that were just amazing. And I always really respected that, and still do.
On Working With Her Husband on the Blog:
We manage it quite well, actually. We both are really busy all the time, we have a lot going on. I have a nine year old stepson as well, and so we have all these things happening. And I think that ultimately, the blog and our various projects, because we’re both so passionate about them, they bring us back together in this way that we’re creating something together.
There’s nothing like creating, being able to create something with your spouse and really be excited about the outcome of it and just geek out over whatever this thing is. We both cook for the blog as well, and we shoot things back and forth.
He’ll have an idea, and I’ll add to it, and it’ll go back and forth and become this thing that’s really incredible. Even with the photography, I’ll style it, and then he’ll take the picture, and then I do the editing. So we have this very collaborative relationship that goes back and forth, and it makes us stronger in every way.
On Being Oregonian at Heart:
It’s not hard for me to live on the East Coast, but I’m certainly sad not to live on the West Coast still. I grew up in Oregon, I truly think that it’s the most beautiful place in the world. My parents are there, I love it there, I love the people, I love the food. The food scene in Portland, it’s always been amazing, but over the last 10 years, it’s really gone crazy. I go back there, and I just feel so completely close to home. I grew up on the coast, near the ocean, and there’s things about that that I miss. The East Coast is very different, it’s got a very different ethos, it’s got a very different approach to food.
But also, I’ve learned a lot, I actually live just outside of D.C., in the country, and one thing that I love about that is that we visit a lot of farms in the area, constantly. We get our eggs from the farm, we get our milk from the farm, we get everything that we can as locally as possible. And that’s really, really a cool aspect of this particular part of the area, that I didn’t necessarily have in my coastal town in Oregon, that I really appreciate here.
On the Difference in Food Culture Between Washington, DC and Oregon:
I was a vegetarian for many years, and that will make the difference very stark for you if you go from the West Coast to the East Coast, in general. It’s much harder to find good vegetarian food on the East Coast than it is on the West, because there’s a real love for meat here. And I respect that too, because I’m no longer a vegetarian, and there’s a reason, because it’s delicious. That’s one really big thing.
It used to be more so that there was a real love for local food that was easier to find on the West Coast than it is on the East Coast. I think a lot’s changed in the last few years, definitely, the restaurants have changed completely in the way that they approach things, and everyone is starting to appreciate that sort of thing more. And that’s really refreshing, that changes a lot. It’s amazing how much food can impact your love of living in a place, because it’s so much a part of your daily life. I really missed that when I first moved here about 10 years ago. Now, I would say it’s very different.
The Pressure Cooker:
Which food shows or cooking shows do you watch?
I watch whatever’s on the Cooking Channel. Obviously, I watch Anthony Bourdain, anything that he does. I watch him on CNN now, because I love his travel show and what he does. I also love Ina Garten, she’s amazing. The things that she does, it’s really wonderful.
Mind of a Chef will always be the most amazing…Netflix, just binge on Mind of a Chef, I could do it over and over and over because it’s so awesome.
I’ve had a lot of really amazing food inspiration on Netflix, Jiro Dreams of Sushi and all the good ones that are on there that are just incredible.
What are some food blogs or food websites we have to know about?
There’s so many great people making good food. I love all the big ones, I love Joy the Baker, I love Not Without Salt. I love Smitten Kitchen, she’s just incredible. I don’t even know how she does it, but every single recipe that she makes on Smitten Kitchen is just out of this world good..
I feel like there are always awesome ones that I’m discovering too, like Lady and Pups is really a cool one that does some awesome things. And I love My Name Is Yeh and all awesome newer people as well. Not totally new but just doing crazy, amazing things. I’m blown away by the blogosphere and all the great cooking being done.
Who do you follow on Pinterest, Instagram, or Facebook that make you happy?
On Pinterest and Instagram, I’m on there all the time. My friend A Daily Something is really awesome. Her children are the cutest. What she does on her Instagram blows me away. And so many great photographers, like With Hearts, who really are so inspiring and also are often in the Pacific Northwest and remind me of home and are so incredible.
On Pinterest, there are so many people who are awesome as well, and so prolific. Local Milk, obviously, I follow her on Instagram, she’s amazing on Instagram. But she’s also really prolific on Pinterest and has this awesome Pinterest account that is constantly making me discover new, awesome things that are really, really cool.
What is the most unusual or treasured item in your kitchen?
I love picking up vintage things, I love bringing vintage things home, and you don’t always use them. Sometimes, they just sit around and they’re props or whatever they might be, and I’ve stolen every little weird vintage thermometer and various things from my grandma’s kitchen and have them in my drawers.
But one that we have is a juicer that we use constantly, which is actually vintage. Every time I use it, I think it’s gonna fall apart because it’s so old. But it’s also so effective and fantastic, and it really just has a handle, and you can squeeze down the handle, and juice. It’s a very, very good vintage juicer that we probably don’t need in our kitchen, but I like having it.
Name one ingredient you used to dislike but now you love.
Corn. I love it if it’s made a certain way. I eat a lot of foods, I’m really pretty open to almost…put anchovies on something, I’m totally fine. I like all olives and things. I taunt my husband with olives because he hates olives, and I love them. But I never really liked corn, which is a pretty basic food that I think that growing up, I just never had it cooked in a way that I really liked it.
As I’ve grown up, I have found that the fresher the corn the better. And there are definitely awesome things that you can do to corn, like chili lime seasoning or things that are really good that make it a much more awesome dish. I wouldn’t necessarily say that I love it now, but I like it a lot more than I did when I was younger.
What are a few cookbooks that make your life better?
Sugar Rush is a fairly new cookbook that I’m so impressed by, because the level of detail in the cooking and in the breaking down the processes that make for a good pastry kitchen are really broken down in a way that’s just so awesome. Also, I’ve always had my Better Homes and Gardens cookbook and the ones that I’ve had sitting around forever that my mom got me when I first moved out of the house and will always be on my shelf. Those are some that I return to the most often, because they’re really those staples that you have in the kitchen, and they have these recipes that you can take, and you can run with them as far as you wanna run with them and make them crazy. And that’s something I always love doing.
What song or album just makes you want to cook?
The song or album right now that makes me want to do all of the things and get up and jump around is Shakey Graves’s new album, who is pretty awesome, and every song on there is really good. We saw him last year in this tiny little venue. We love going up to Newport Folk Fest in Newport, Rhode Island, and he was there and really knocked our socks off. So lately, when I’m in the kitchen, that’s what’s been playing on my speakers.
On Keeping Posted with Laicie: