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Joanne has a deep molecular interest in food. On her blog, and YouTube channel, she not only shares recipes using whole foods and natural ingredients, Joanne focuses on explaining the how’s and why’s of cooking and tries to encourage us to cook from scratch.
I am so happy to have Joanne Ozug of Fifteen Spatulas joining me here on the show today.
(*All images below are Joanne’s.)
On Her Blog:
It was about five years ago. I had a background in finance and business and economics, and I just hit this wall where I was like, “I am not liking this at all.” I just was really unhappy, and I really wanted to do something in food. I loved food probably since I was in the womb. I love food. And at the time I was living rural Georgia. My husband is in the Navy, and he was stationed in this really rural part in southern Georgia, like an hour from Honey Boo Boo, just to give you an idea of how rural it was. So there wasn’t a lot of food opportunity down there. So I decided to start the blog as something that could serve as an online resume or like some body of work where I could pour my recipes and stuff into while we were stationed down there, because we moved around a lot. I knew it was going to be somewhat temporary but just something for me to do. I had no idea what it would turn into but that’s how I started.
On Her YouTube Channel:
Since the beginning of Fifteen Spatulas, I’ve always done step-by-step photos, because when I started there wasn’t a lot of that and you’d see a picture of a recipe and it’s like, “That’s great, but how does it look in the middle?” So I focused on step-by-step photos and then there were some recipes where the photos, it almost wasn’t enough. It would have been better explained if I could do it in a video. So I started dabbling a little bit in video, and it’s interesting because when I first started on YouTube, it was just kind of a hosting platform to post videos on my blog. But I discovered that there was a separate different community on YouTube, so again, like the story of how I started, is a little bit different from how it is now and how it evolved. Originally, I just wanted to give people a little bit more information visually on how to make the recipes.
On Her Process for Her Videos:
It’s interesting because even YouTube and my blog, they like different foods. I’m still making food from scratch on both places, but they like different kinds of recipes. So for my YouTube, again I have that list where I write out some ideas and then I’ll refine them further, and I’ll start story boarding them and planning them out. Most of the stuff now I try to storyboard and script. I didn’t use to but it helps to do that. And so from there I’ll go ahead and I’ll film all the close-ups and then the wide shots and then edit, and then put it up. It’s not too bad actually. I’ve got it down to the steps to get me to the end.
The thing that’s tough for me about the blog is the writing part. I will bang out the photos, the recipe, everything will already be set to go, and the last part that I leave for the end is always the writing. It’s the hardest part for me. For a video, you kind of script a little bit but it’s not fully scripted, you’re just talking. So I feel like that’s not as hard for me.
Video requires a lot more work but you have that writing part always like, “What do I say? How do I be witty on the Internet?”
On Her Curiosity Around Cooking:
That definitely started later. I think early on from a young age, you’re like food is delicious! I love food. But you start making it, I remember I think some time in middle school, I started watching Food Network, and I feel like that’s really where my curiosity for the how’s and why’s of food really started. Because there’s some really amazing people on there. Like Alton Brown is one of my favorite people in food ever, and he’s the god of cooking technique and how-to’s. So that’s kind of where it started.
I feel like if you know certain concepts, then you can stray away from recipes. And just cook based on what you find at the grocery store that’s interesting. There’s just a freedom that comes with knowing those basic things, where you can truly become a cook on your own instead of making recipes. There’s nothing wrong with that to start, of course, but that’s why I love it so much, is you can just play around a lot more when you know the rules of the road.
On Cooking From Scratch with Whole Foods and Natural Ingredients:
I ate so much junky processed foods when I was younger. The turning point for me was my freshman year in college. I was so sick. I was throwing up every night, going to the hospital, sometimes I had to have an endoscopy and seeing these GI doctors, and they couldn’t figure out what was wrong and why I was throwing up every day. I was not bulimic or any of that stuff, it was uncontrolled, I just felt so sick. And my GI doctor thought that maybe I should try making my own food. So he wrote me a letter to get out of the school meal plan.
It was just so processed and gross, so I started cooking just in my college dorm room from scratch, just with wholesome real ingredients, real food, and I wasn’t sick anymore. The thing that’s crazy about that is there have been times where I’ve gone to potlucks where I knew there was processed food, like when people are saying, “I made three boxes of mashed potatoes.” I’m like, “Boxes of mashed potatoes? Mashed potatoes don’t come in boxes.” My husband and I both would get sick after we eat that.
So it’s just a reminder of that at least for my body, and I won’t speak for everyone, but for my body, I need to eat food where I know what’s in it and it’s wholesome real food.
It’s so funny because I think cooking from scratch can be laborious, if you make, beef bourguignon or something. But there are so many recipes from scratch that are quick and easy, and totally delicious. I feel like it’s just totally a stigma that exists for whatever reason for some people until they find out or, they’re shown by someone that, “Hey, that’s actually not hard at all.”
I’m not trying to knock on some of these products, but the pre-packaged pancake mix, for instance. I’d see someone make that and think, “You still have to add the eggs and the milk!” I have a great pancake recipe on my website called, 100% whole wheat pancakes, and I think it’s like five ingredients. People go absolutely crazy for them. They’re so easy.
On Some Resources For Learning to Cook from Scratch:
One publication I love that people probably already know about, but I really love America’s Test Kitchen and Cooks Illustrated. I love that they test things, like they’re science heavy behind the food, but they try to keep it relatively simple.
Probably my favorite YouTube channel right now is my friend, Gemma. Her channel is called, Gemma’s Bigger Bolder Baking. She’s a pastry chef from Ireland. She lives in California now. But she just has the most extravagant, ridiculous desserts, like totally out of control, but that’s how I think it should be. They’re just outrageous, but everyone can make them. They’re from scratch. They’re just gorgeous. My friend Alyssia from Mind Over Munch does a kind of healthier spin on some everyday foods, I really like that. I mean there’s so many, like SORTEDfood even. It’s four English guys and they just make food. It’s tons of banter and good eats and it’s a lot of fun.
The Pressure Cooker:
Which food shows or cooking shows do you watch?
I love Barefoot Contessa, and I love The Pioneer Woman show, Good Eats even though I don’t know if that’s on.
I love The Best Thing I Ever Ate, I love that show. Oh my gosh, I’ve gone to so many of those places they recommend to get what they love. I love Chopped too, even though it’s terrifying.
What are some food blogs or food websites we have to know about?
Some of my favorites are thelittlekitchen.net, Love and Olive Oil, that one is awesome. It’s my friend Lindsay. A farmgirl’s dabbles. I love Serious Eats, it’s not really a blog but a site, I love them.
Who do you follow on Pinterest, Instagram, or Facebook that make you happy?
I’m not on Pinterest much to be totally honest. I’m not a Pinterest person. I’m not having food people coming to mind, because Instagram I love following fashion people like Wendy’s Lookbook. Yeah, Wendy’s Lookbook comes to mind instantly.
What is the most unusual or treasured item in your kitchen?
I have this amazing, beautiful bowl that my best friend’s parents got for my wedding. It’s just a fruit bowl and I put onions, or bananas, whatever in there. And it just feels special because it’s for our wedding and I keep it out all the time, it’s really personal.
Name one ingredient you used to dislike but now you love.
Cilantro. Oh, my gosh. I don’t know what on earth happened. I hated cilantro for so long. Now, I want it in everything.
I think I ate out at a couple of places and I’m like, “This has cilantro in it, but you know I feel like it’s doing some good here.” And it just kind of crept its way into my heart.
What are a few cookbooks that make your life better?
Okay, this is not really a cookbook. It’s more of a reference, but the Flavor Bible is the best cooking related book ever. You just go in and you’re like, “Hmm, I have some mangoes. Let’s see what pairs well with mangoes.” And it will tell you all the flavor affinities. What else do I love? I love Thomas Keller’s books too, I have a bunch of his.
What song or album just makes you want to cook?
Arctic Monkeys band, they have a lot of albums.
On Keeping Posted with Joanne:
I would say my Instagram or my Facebook. Those are my two favorites, so I tend to be on them a lot.