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Remedy Quarterly, The Best Remedy
Kelly is the publisher, editor and designer for Remedy Quarterly an independent magazine about food memories and the recipes that inspire them. She also has a blog called The Best Remedy where she shares seasonal food and cocktail recipes and classic comfort food.
Blogging since 2007, Kelly’s work has also included a column called Drinking in Season on Serious Eats.
I am so thrilled to have Kelly Carámbula of Remedy Quarterly Magazine here on the show today.
On Why She Started Documenting Her Food Adventures:
My family cannot believe that I’m in food because when I was growing up I was the quintessential picky kid, like butter and noodles, chicken fingers. I eventually got up to spaghetti sauce on my noodles.
I was just really, really picky.
When I was in college I studied design. For my senior thesis I created a cookbook for people who didn’t know how to cook basically, I think that’s even what it was called. So that got me going on cooking. Then after graduation I moved to New York and realized that while I can cook spaghetti for myself and warm up some chicken, when we went out to eat there weren’t a whole lot of options for me. It got to the point when, who was my then boyfriend and now husband, and I would go out with friends, it was embarrassing for me. There wasn’t anything that I would like to eat.
It got to this tipping point where I was like, “Okay. We’re living in New York City. There are amazing options to eat and I’m going to a sushi restaurant and I can’t find anything.” There’s nothing that I’ll try.
It just got to the point where I decided to start trying things. Eat, Make, Read initially started as, my thought was a restaurant blog where I would document new places that I went and it would give me a reason to go out and try things, I had to be held accountable.
I also started cooking, too. I would go to the farmer’s markets, get something new that I hadn’t tried before and just share it with people.
The restaurant thing fell by the wayside. We still went out a lot but the cooking thing really took off. From there I just started cooking, sharing and I found it really inspiring and energizing to go to the farmer’s market, meet people, meet farmers, meet other people shopping for their food.
Food is a topic that anyone can talk about. I found that was really inspiring to me and really helped me meet people too in a huge city. It just grew from there.
My husband was fantastic and when we would go out, he would order a safe dish and I would order a daring dish and if I didn’t like the daring dish he would take it. So, I always knew I would have a fall back and so that also inspired me to try and if I found something that I liked out at a restaurant, I would try and make it at home and post it on the blog. That’s kind of how things came to be.
On Her Magazine, Remedy Quarterly:
I see Eat, Make, Read as this little seed that was planted and out of that grew basically everything that I do now.
Remedy Quarterly is a magazine about food memories and the recipes that inspired them. Before I even did that, my senior project that I mentioned, my senior thesis, my mom had given me a recipe book. It was spiral bound, it was filled with recipes from our family and she wrote little notes about, “this is Kelly’s favorite, this is my favorite.”
My mom passed away and that’s just a real treasure to me and I feel like everyone carries around these treasures with them. Whether it’s from their childhood, from someone who’s passed away, from new adventures that you go out on vacation and you have this amazing drink and you just want to share it with everyone. I wanted a place for people to share those stories and the recipes. That’s what Remedy Quarterly is. It’s different from my blog, where my blog is what I’m interested in right now.
Sometimes I share things on my blog that are familiar to me that I made during my childhood, that my mom made. But really they’re more like what I’m interested in right now, now that I feel especially I’m more capable of cooking. I have years of experience under my belt. Remedy Quarterly is digging into the past or sharing recipes that are really special and tried and true.
What I love about Remedy Quarterly is that it makes people slow down and it makes them take some time for themselves, sit down and just get lost in these stories, think about when they’re going to make this or how this person felt.
I think our world, and I love our world, is just really fast-paced and can be overwhelming. What I aim to create with Remedy Quarterly is a place for people to feel good about taking a break and really indulge through reading and hopefully take that indulgence into the kitchen and try to make it, and then in turn make their own memories.
One of the things I love about Remedy Quarterly is I test all the recipes, so when I’m making them and when I sit down to the table I tell my husband about the story behind the recipe that we’re eating. It’s really cool, it sounds cheesy, but I love that when I’m eating something I know the story behind it and it makes it feel really special and intentional.
On Introducing New Foods to Non-Adventurous Eaters:
One thing I like to do is introduce new things with very comfortable things. Don’t try to cook a whole meal that seems super scary or unfamiliar. Introduce a side . . . I remember when I first tried mushrooms, which was embarrassingly late in life, I ordered it out at a restaurant but it was mushroom fundido which is basically mushrooms and a whole lot of cheese. I’m not saying put cheese on everything. But, it was in the context of all these other things that I really liked and then there was the mushrooms and it turned out mushrooms are awesome.
I just roasted carrots for the first time the other day, I like carrots, I don’t crave carrots but I roasted them like I do sweet potatoes to make sweet potato fries. They were so awesome and I made them the next night again and then three days later because I was just like, “Wow.”
Ingredients can surprise you and the way they’re prepared too is really huge. I grew up in the 80’s and my mom and babysitters liked canned vegetables – I think that’s a big reason why I was so picky because canned vegetables . . . and we’re talking the kind you buy in the store not the kind your grandma puts up in the cellar. They’re just totally unappetizing. They’re kind of grey, at least they were when I was little. I understand why I was picky because if I presented my daughter with some grey green beans, I wouldn’t expect her to eat them either. I think presentation is big and freshness and flavor are really king.
On the Gateway Cuisine that got Her into More Adventurous Foods:
That was Thai food. I think Thai food has really comfortable things like noodles but it’s prepared in a way that’s very different from anything my mid-western family ever ate.
We love Thai food so much. We went to Thailand on our honeymoon and took a cooking class there that was vegetarian. It was life changing in that I didn’t know vegetables could taste that amazing.
I think the way that different cultures use herbs and spices and just different vegetables in general, it was really eye opening and inspiring to know that flavor can be incredible by changing what you pair it with.
On Pairing Cocktails with Dishes:
When I started toying with cocktails, just to be clear I have no formal bartending skills, I just liked drinks and I liked fresh food. I basically started using ingredients that I found at the farmers market.
If strawberries and basil are good in a tart then they’d probably be good in a drink, so I’d use flavor pairings that I saw in food and use them in a cocktail and that really took off on my blog and was super inspiring to me because it’s easy.
It doesn’t take a huge time commitment and you can muddle together some berries and herbs, toss in some gin, add a little seltzer. A little squeeze of lemon or lime or citrus and you’ve got yourself this awesome cocktail. Once you do that once, it’s like, “Oh, what can I do next? And what can I do after that?”
One thing that I found is that it doesn’t necessarily have to be alcoholic.
I love my cocktails and I kind of built a career making these yummy, delicious cocktails and then having a drink, and then when I got pregnant I couldn’t do that and I would go out with friends to a bar. Everyone would want to serve me a ginger ale and I was like, “This is so boring. You guys get amazing drinks and I get ginger ale? No. Be creative.”
Fortunately my tastebuds were kind of low and so were my energy levels when I was pregnant. I did make a few fresh . . . I hate the work mock-tails, I don’t know what you want to call it, drinks to drink while I was pregnant. They were super flavorful drinks. They were delicious whether they had alcohol or not.
I also think that it’s important when you’re throwing a party to have delicious drinks for people who don’t want to drink.
On Virgin Cocktails:
Not every cocktail can be made into a virgin cocktail because some cocktails like a Manhattan are strictly alcohol so you would just be left with a cherry maybe.
I think most bartenders, or if you go to a nice restaurant that has a very curated cocktail menu, the type of alcohol that you use is a part of the flavor component of that drink. However, I think that a lot of drinks if they’re thoughtfully made and have a lot of elements in them, the alcohol can be taken out and it’s still a lovely drink.
If it’s a good bartender, they’ll know what to add to what the alcohol was bringing into it.
Vodka doesn’t have a whole lot of flavor so it’s not adding a whole lot. Gin adds more herbal flavor, whiskey of course adds a whole other component.
The Pressure Cooker:
Which food shows or cooking shows do you watch?
I don’t really watch much TV. If I do watch a cooking show, it’s the PBS America’s Test Kitchen. That’s the closest thing I get to watching T.V.
What are some food blogs or food websites we have to know about?
The one that I’ve been looking at a lot lately is my friend’s website called Yummy Toddler Food because I’m trying to find new things to make for my two year old and you can only do so many sweet potatoes and tortellini, you just want to find something new. So yeah, Yummy Toddler Food, myself I always go to Smitten Kitchen and or The Kitchn to find new recipes.
Who do you follow on Pinterest, Instagram, or Facebook that make you happy?
Well, Kimberly Hasselbrink on Instagram, her photos are just incredible and she just came out with a cookbook last year that’s super dreamy. She has a carnitas recipe and that cookbook is so good with an apple salsa, it’s awesome.
The people that I mentioned already, the Yummy Toddler Food and Deb from Smitten Kitchen.
What is the most unusual or treasured item in your kitchen?
The treasured is my mom’s cookbook, for sure.
Name one ingredient you used to dislike but now you love.
I wouldn’t say that I love it now but I use it fairly often, mayo totally grossed me out for the first 28 years of my life. It’s white and jiggly and the texture, but now I can totally appreciate what it adds to a sandwich.
What are a few cookbooks that make your life better?
There’s one called Simply Organic that goes through the seasons. It’s just really flavorful food that definitely makes me happy. Everything I’ve made from it is delicious and impressive.
Kimberly Hasselbrink’s Vibrant Food and Dinner, A Love Story.
What song or album just makes you want to cook?
When I cook I listen to Jay-Z or Kanye. I like a lot of energy in the kitchen or Dolly.
They both are upbeat and have something that’s like, “I can do this!” Otherwise, I’ll just be like, “Oh I want to go sit down.”
On Keeping Posted on Kelly:
Instagram, my handle is Kelly Carámbula.