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On Dula Notes, Nicole shares her love of fresh, seasonal produce, her recipes, and an insider’s view on her home state of Michigan.
I am so happy to have Nicole Dula from Dula Notes here on the show today.
Consistency is so important if you want to have an audience.
I try to do at least one post a week and so far I’ve been doing really good at sticking to that even on vacations and stuff. I try to have a couple ready. So it’s been fun.
I’m still passionate about food, and trying new things, which I think keeps motivating me. But everything that I do for the blog is a habit.
Because I have a full time job, so I have to sneak it in where I can.
I do my photography usually on Saturday mornings when I have good natural light. So it does have to be pretty regimented how I sneak it into my life. That part is a little bit habitual but there’s definitely still passion behind it.
There’s so much creativity going on right now that anything you want to try is going on right now, and that’s why it’s so exciting.
There are breweries down there where you can just get a pizza. Part of that Hither and Tither feature I talked about La Feria, which is tapas, authentic Spanish tapas. There’s a new ramen place which is excellent. There’s a little French cafe.
It’s just anything you want, you can have right now, and it’s so exciting. It’s just super creative and just really exciting right now.
Detroit just came out of bankruptcy actually a lot sooner than everyone thought. And I really feel like the food culture and all the creativity and the food business has really helped with bringing Detroit back.
I’m not a native Detroiter so I’m sure there are some hole in the wall places that are primo, but as a tourist, or even for myself, I love to go to Midtown, because it’s really bubbling up. That’s where La Feria is.
Corktown is really cool. You can have BBQ, there’s a new place that just opened, it’s called Gold Cash Gold and it used to be a building that sold gold and he turned it into a restaurant. I haven’t been yet, but the inside is gorgeous.
So Corktown’s really fun, it’s a really old neighborhood and it’s super cool. So I guess I would say start in Corktown.
On Community Supported Agriculture and Produce:
A CSA is where you basically partner with a local farmer and you and whoever else is supporting that farm, ahead of the season, you purchase your CSA. It usually comes in half shares or full shares depending on how many people are eating from it.
My husband and I get a half share. So you pay ahead of time for the whole season, and then the farmer takes your money and uses it to plant things for the season. Then once your CSA starts, it depends.
I’ve been a part of a couple different CSAs.
One I picked up at somebody’s house, so sometimes members will have the shares there on their back porch and that’s where you pick up your share.
My current share I pick up on Saturday mornings at the farmer’s market.
So I believe it starts in June and then it ends in early October. Every week I have a box and they send me an email a couple days ahead of time telling me what’s going to be in my box, which is helpful because then I can kind of have some grocery trips around it to see like, “Okay, I’m getting cabbage or I’m getting this.”
And it’s very inspiring because sometimes they’re things I would never pick up at the grocery store. So when I see them in my box I’m like, “Wow, I get to try this!” And then I’ll think of another recipe I tried with a different squash, and I’m like, “Maybe I can try it with this.”
So it’s really inspiring and then the food is so fresh. It’s the best produce you’ll ever have because it’s what’s in season. It was picked usually the day before or that morning so it’s really a wonderful thing.
Produce always inspires me.
I’m pretty good about what’s seasonal, but I don’t know some of that hyper seasonal stuff, like ramps. I don’t know exactly when it’s coming, but when I see it in a CSA box or I see it at the grocery store, I’m like, “Oh, it’s ramp season, now I’ve got to get some of that.” So it’s the produce that’s kind of my jumping off point, and then I look for recipes around that.
Well I didn’t really start cooking until I got married. I helped my mom a little bit and my grandmother used to have a lot of dinner parties, so I used to see that a lot. I used to love the whole dance in the kitchen that they did and the end result.
I didn’t really experiment much until I got married because I was going to school and I just didn’t have a lot of time for experimenting. So it just kind of came with practice.
As soon as I started cooking and getting the basics, then, I felt more comfortable playing around with things and saying, “Well this tasted really good with this, I bet this will taste good.” I kind of go with my gut and try to let that lead the way, and it’s worked out well so far.
And it’s trial and error.
It’s so disappointing when you buy all the ingredients and you put all the time into it and then you taste it and you’re like, “Oh, man.” It’s the worst. But it’s those great dishes, especially when you put your own spin on something, it’s so rewarding when you’re like, “I did that.”
The Pressure Cooker:
Which food shows or cooking shows do you watch?
I love PBS cooking shows, so Cook’s Country, America’s Test Kitchen, Lidia Bastianich, those are like my shows.
What are some food blogs or websites that we have to know about?
My favorite food bloggers right now, my friend, she’s in Michigan, she’s not far from Detroit, her blog is Take a Megabite.
She has a wonderful eye for design, wonderful baked goods, she’s a doll. We have ramen together, she’s like the best brunch buddy you’ll ever have. We do brunch appetizers and then we have brunch.
My other favorites are Hungry Girl por Vida. She was in Michigan for a time. She’s living in Portland now, beautiful photography, beautiful recipes, My Name is Yeh, Molly, she’s phenomenal, creative, love her writing, so funny.
Then my other favorite is Bon Appétempt, Amelia Morris. She does these wonderful videos. Just hilarious, her videos are, every time I see one I crack up.
Who do you follow on Pinterest, Instagram or Twitter that make you happy?
Well back to my friend Take a Megabite, her on Instagram, it’s like a ray of sunshine, so I definitely follow her on Instagram.
I follow so many people on Pinterest it’s insane. I definitely have curated my Pinterest sites so I’m seeing exactly the kind of stuff I want to see. Like Kate from Wit & Delight, she has beautiful things.
What is something all home cooks should have in their pantry?
I think grey sea salt. I love the minerality to it. It has a nice flavor whether you sprinkle it onto a dessert or you add it into your food. I really love it.
Name one ingredient you cannot live without.
I know this is going to sound kind of lame, but maybe pepper. I love pepper on everything.
What are a few cookbooks that make your life better?
Well, it’s kind of funny, this probably makes me a bad blogger, or maybe it makes me a really good blogger. I’m not a big cookbook person. I’m more of a blog person.
But I do have a few cookbooks I do like. I do like Donna Hay’s cookbooks, they’re gorgeous, I have one that’s so beautiful and pretty and it’s really inspiring for food photography. I’m ashamed to say I haven’t cooked anything out of it. But it’s just the most beautiful thing. And, I also like Jamie Oliver’s cookbooks, I have made things out of his cookbooks that are delicious, and his books are beautiful too.
What song or album just makes you want to cook?
You know what I find really fun is Huey Lewis and the News.
Like “Power of Love” and all those great ones.
Sometimes at night when you come home and you maybe don’t feel like cooking so much, you put that on and it just gives you an extra boost to get cooking.
Keep Posted on Nicole:
If you go to my blog, dulanotes.com, I have a little connect area, so I’ve linked to my Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and you can just click there and find me.
I’m very active on Pinterest, love Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. So you can keep up with me. I take a lot of food pictures, so if you like food, I’m your girl.