The Pig & Quill
Emily started The Pig & Quill in 2012, and most recipes on her blog are heavy on the plants and low on refined sugars and starches though she is a firm believer in moderation. She is also a new mom.
I am so happy to have Emily Stoffel of The Pig & Quill joining me here on the show today.
(*All photos below are Emily’s.)
On Cooking as a New Parent:
It’s definitely driven a little bit more by convenience. I used to just cook whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted, and now, a lot of what we are doing in the house is meals, particularly dinners, where you can prep a lot of things in advance a little bit here and there throughout the day. I can prep a little bit during the first nap. I can prep a little bit during the second nap. And then by the time she goes to sleep, and we’re having dinner at night, there’s very little that’s required to bring it together, and we can still eat at a reasonable hour.
A lot of that is relying on things like a slow cooker, or, I use my rice cooker for everything. I’m cooking a lot of things in the broiler. I didn’t used to do that a bunch, but it’s such a fast way to cook protein. So that’s changed my game a little.
And my husband’s a great sport about the fact that we eat the same three or four meals in rotation, which we did not used to do. It used to be something different every night. We just have go-to’s that we know we can pull off in a moment’s notice. So there’s a lot of that, but still trying to keep things interesting.
I wasn’t such a really big proponent of the slow cooker actually before I had Lana. I know a lot of people are super hardcore slow cooker fans. I guess I just didn’t really give it a chance. I thought, “Oh, it’s for everything. Let it go…Whatever. I can do the same thing on my stove,” but it is really nice to be able to start something in the morning and then be able to leave the house and run errands or whatever and come back. I use my rice cooker for oatmeal which makes breakfast a no-brainer. So one of us can get up in the morning and start the oatmeal.
When we first had Lana, when she was a newborn, one of us would sneak out of bed before she would wake up in the morning, because she sleeps in our room, and put out all the oatmeal toppings and the ingredients and everything and set it. And then by the time she was up, it was ready to go. So we wouldn’t have to worry about making breakfast for ourselves. So yeah, I use that. I even hard-boil eggs in my rice cooker.
It’s pretty incredible. If you have a steamer insert, you just throw the eggs on top while you cook the rice. The time the rice is done, your eggs are done, and it’s perfect. If you want soft-boiled eggs, you can do it when you cook your white rice. And if you want hardboiled eggs, you do it when you cook your brown rice.
On Putting a Meal Together Quickly:
I mentioned that I like to use the broiler a lot. So I marinate a protein throughout the day. And then I can just pop it in the broiler when Lana’s napping or goes down for the night. And it usually just takes ten minutes to cook a protein that way.
I have a couple recipes on my blog. One is the shoyu chicken, and that’s super easy. It’s just chicken thighs that you marinate, and broil, and serve it with white rice or whatever side you want. And then the other one is a pumpkin curry which takes a little bit longer to do, but again, it’s something where I can do different elements throughout the day. And then it’s topped with a crispy, spice crusted tofu, and that is done completely under the broiler.
And even if you just look at the recipe for the tofu element, we put that tofu on salads. Sometimes, I just have it in a bowl with roasted veggies. So even if you’re not into curry or you’re not doing the pumpkin curry part of it, the tofu is super clutch. We do that all the time.
On How to Make Cooking Fun:
This is a cop out, but when we had Lana at first, we did a lot of the grocery meal delivery kits that are popular right now. I know that there’s Sun Basket, and there’s HelloFresh. And I know a lot of different ones that folks do. Some are organic, some are not. And that’s something that I probably never would have considered doing before I had kids. But it’s fun because they have the instructions written out so clearly step-by-step with those meal kits that it’s super easy for two people to tag team a recipe. You can just say, “Here’s where I started,” or “I left off at this step.”
Unlike some recipes, traditional recipes, including the ones that I write, a lot of times, the items that you have to prepare are called out in a different color or something like that, so you can see exactly what you need to do to this fruit or to this vegetable before it goes to the cooking stage. And you can break up the responsibilities that way.
We found those actually really helpful because it was a fast way to still be cooking together in the kitchen, something that was homemade. But A, you don’t have to go to the grocery store and B, just the way that the recipe is written, it’s really easy to do it on your own. But if you’re moving around the kitchen with multiple folks or something like that, it’s easy to make that come together.
The other thing that’s fun is we don’t go out a lot for dinner anymore. So when we’re feeling not super inspired, we’ll invite people over to just have hors d’ oeuvres here or something like that. And that’s a good way to get engaged about cooking again. You don’t feel like, “Oh my gosh, I’m just making dinner for myself to get by.” You feel like you’re entertaining which is a refreshing way to feel when you don’t get a lot of fun evening time. So that’s something that’s invigorated my time in the kitchen.
On Her Food Heroes:
Well, aside from my family, so my mom first and foremost, I learned so much from her just growing up in the kitchen, and her dad like I mentioned, just having exposure to that at a young age, and my dad as well.
In terms of people that inspired me, I guess if you think about the Nigella’s or Ina Garten, those types of folks even before Food Network was anywhere near where it is today, those were the types of folks where I just really admire. They’re cooking super un-fussy food that’s just delicious. It just tastes good. They don’t necessarily have a hook or a theme. They just make food that’s accessible and super tasty. And they deliver it in such a seductive and enticing way without really trying.
And I know that now, they’re these big brands, and they’ve got marketing up the wahoo. But back in the day of Yan Can Cook or The Frugal Gourmet, I used to watch those folks on PBS, and those were just people that cooked food that they knew they would enjoy. There wasn’t really any big spin to it.
Those are the types of folks that I think I learned the most from, just seeing their passion and seeing how that can translate into something that’s educational and entertaining. I also had a really unabashed girl crush on Giada when I was in college to the point where I would have dreams that we were best friends hanging out in Santa Monica. It was super creepy.
On Her Blog:
I had sat down with one of my good friends, and we were doing this life mapping of everything that we wanted to do in the next several years. And I told her that starting a blog was something that I really wanted to do, and I started The Pig & Quill without doing a lot of research, without coming up with a big plan for a brand or an image or even an idea of how the site would look.
It was just like I told her, “This is what I want to do.” We brainstormed a bunch of names. I bought the domain name, and then I sat on it for six months. And then it was bugging me that I had spent $13 to register this domain name and hadn’t done anything with it.
So Labor Day weekend of 2012, we actually stayed home that weekend, it was a stay-cation, and I was like, “Okay, this is the weekend that I’m going to start the blog,” and I launched it without a lot of research or anything. The images were awful, but it was exactly what I wanted it to be. It was just me talking about the food that I liked but also talking about how food fit into my life and adding a personal storyline to each post.
So yeah, it wasn’t really like, “Oh my gosh. I have this vision that I’m going to be a food blogger.” It was just something that I did spontaneously, and I’ve had to learn the ropes as I’ve gone along. Fortunately, there’s a ton of inspiration out there these days to help me grow, but it’s a crazy space, food blogging, because there’s so much opportunity and so many different angles and approaches that you can take with your blog. And I went into it with, like I said, with a really unclear vision. I was just like, “I’m going to get this up today.” And hindsight being 20-20, I would have mapped out my look and my voice a little more before I started, but finding my way has been part of the fun.
The Pressure Cooker:
Which food shows or cooking shows do you watch?
I watch Master Chef Jr. When I’m over at my in-laws or my mom’s house, I watch Chopped. That’s always fun. Sometimes, we pause it and say what we would do with the ingredients if we were given the basket. I don’t watch a lot food TV anymore these days.
What are some food blogs or food websites we have to know about?
Oh, wow. There are a lot. I really love i am a food blog. Everything that Stephanie makes I want to eat it immediately. Two Red Bowls, the photography is ridiculous, Fix Feast Flair, Kale & Caramel. I’ve only been reading Kale & Caramel in the last, probably, six months, but her voice is…I feel like I just want to be friends with Lily in real life. She cracks me up, and she does a really good job of doing what I really like doing in food blogs, which is pairing a little bit more of personal anecdotes with recipes. She does a lot of that.
Bev Cooks was one of the first food blogs that I read back in the day. She is hilarious. And she has two kiddos. They’re twins, and they’re the most adorable people ever. Her Instagram is just ridiculous. Wit & Vinegar, Billy’s really funny. I think his aesthetic is really different from anything that anyone else is doing.
I really like reading Dessert for Two because Christina’s got a little one that is Lana’s age. So it’s been fun reading her blog and seeing her daughter at the same stage that Lana’s at. We were pregnant at the same time. We’re not BFF’s or anything, but I stalked her throughout our pregnancies, and that was really fun.
Chocolate and Marrow, I really like Chocolate and Marrow. Brooke just does crazy, creative stuff, really, really delicious things, really indulgent and just beautiful stuff.
Who do you follow on Pinterest, Instagram, or Facebook or Snapchat that make you happy?
Snapchat, I just haven’t really gotten into yet. I would say of those things, I probably use Instagram the most. Violet Tinder, she’s really great. She has just a super rainbow-hued, really fun Instagram. And she does a lot of candy-colored things and water colors, and everything is just super poppy, neon bright. Miss New Foodie is really funny. She has some pretty funny captions for all of her indulgent eats.
What is the most unusual or treasured item in your kitchen?
The thing that’s most treasured in my current kitchen is not even mine because I rent, but it’s our stove. We have a vintage Wedgewood stove in this kitchen that’s incredible. It’s really petite. The oven portion is really petite, but it heats up super-fast and evenly. It’s got a legit broiler which I mentioned earlier that really gets the job done.
In terms of an appliance, I have a garlic press, the same garlic press that I mentioned earlier where I think it’s called the Garlic Twist. It’s like this big piece of acrylic. And rather than crushing garlic through it, you put the garlic in, and you twist it. And because it’s one piece of plastic, it rinses out super easily. I use it probably every day. It’s not like the garlic presses where there’s all the little holes that you have to get all the stuff out of.
Name one ingredient you used to dislike but now you love.
I don’t really love mustard or I didn’t really love mustard, particularly yellow mustard, but I didn’t really use any mustard. And now, maybe because my husband is a huge mustard aficionado, I’ve come around on mustard. I actually really like hot horseradish-y mustards more so than a yellow mustard. But I used to really not be a fan of yellow mustard. I can at least tolerate it now.
What are a few cookbooks that make your life better?
I’m an awful baker, so I have to rely on cookbooks for baking or at least for measurements that I can gain inspiration from, so The Williams-Sonoma baking cookbook is really great. It’s got tons of cool recipes. But it’s also just good for if I need a jumping off point for an idea that I have.
I mentioned i am a food blog earlier, and her book Easy Gourmet is great. I’ve given it to a bunch of people because it’s just exactly what it says, easy gourmet. It’s really accessible. Anything by America’s Test Kitchen is good for the same reason as the Williams-Sonoma baking book. You just know that everything is really thoroughly tested, and it’s a good jumping off point. I still have a subscription to Bon Appétit and Gourmet. I know that that’s not a book, but those are good for keeping me aware of food trends and things like that.
What song or album just makes you want to cook?
Well, I always have this vision that if I ever quit my day job and I got to just spend all day cooking in my kitchen, that I would do it listening to Carole King or Adele on the record player. So I guess I’d say both of those ladies. Then for something maybe a little more poppy, I’ll dance in the kitchen to Britney Spears or Nelly Furtado, early 2000’s Nelly Furtado. The Who, it’s really fun.