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Climbing Grier Mountain
Lauren is a foodie, recipe developer, adventure seeker, photography lover, and world traveler. She started her blog, Climbing Grier Mountain, in 2010 to stay connected with family and since then, it has become her passion. It’s where she shares her shenanigans and most authentic self.
I am so excited to have Lauren Grier of Climbing Grier Mountain joining me here on the show today.
(*All images below are Lauren’s.)
On Being Such an Open Book:
Starting off, I grew up in a small town in Kansas. My husband and I met in college and we graduated and went right to the big city of Chicago. So I think that’s where my adventurous side was born. Chicago is… they throw you right in and you just have to start swimming and figure it out. From there, I just really opened up and figured out, you know what? There’s more to me than I think. I started writing my own story, just really being curious about why are things the way they are when it comes to cooking or travel or whatever it is.
It was definitely a cultural awakening, coming from a small town in Kansas to me just being around people that were challenging you every day in terms of growth. It was a great experience. I miss that city. I don’t miss the weather but it was definitely a great city to start my adventure.
On Starting Her Blog in 2010:
In general, there were no manuals for blogging. Today, you’ll see ‘how to start a blog 101’. Back then, it was like the Wild West in terms of like you’re still using Blogger as a platform and it was just a very quiet space. People were trying to figure out photography and just how to share in general on the Internet because all these platforms were starting to pop up. So that was the biggest challenge. I had to do a lot more research, a lot more trial and errors. I feel like today, it’s a lot easier for bloggers to start up because there is a manual out there. There is ‘how to improve your photography’, ‘how to write recipes’ and those kind of things, and how to really actually start the blog from the ground up. Whereas, I feel like in 2010, it was not the case at all.
I mean, most people never say they dreamed about making money back in the day, but now, people literally start blogging to make money and it’s amazing to me. I think it’s fantastic, it’s just a different perspective now. I think this industry is growing and changing constantly. So it’ll be interesting to see where it’s at in two years.
On Her Interest Around Food:
I hated cooking and when I got married, I didn’t even know how to boil water. It was that bad. I took on the concept and when we moved from Chicago to Denver, I was working in the financial industry. I still am today but at the time, when the market crashed, I lost my job and between looking for jobs and interviews, I watched the Food Network during the day and I was like, “You know what, I’m a newlywed. I probably should learn how to brown meat or do something functional so we can eat and not eat out all the time.” So from there, I just literally, with the blog, I was like, “You know what? If I can teach myself how to cook, maybe I can teach others,” and it slowly progressed. So no, my love for cooking didn’t form probably until about 10 years ago. So it’s kind of funny.
It was actually kind of a funny story. So, it was a Giada recipe and it was for a swordfish bake sandwich with some arugula and lemon aioli, which was basically like Mandarin to me at the time because I had no idea what aioli was. I remember going to the store and getting all of the ingredients and I came home and you know, I put some oil in a pan. Well, I threw a solid chunk of swordfish into a frying pan. Can you imagine this? This is literally almost burning down the house. My husband walks in. He’s like, “What are you doing?” I’m like, “What? This is normal, right? You just throw in a frozen solid piece of fish into a hot skillet.” And he’s like, “No, you don’t.” I’m like, “Oh my God.” So it was a huge learning curve right there but we ended up saving the fish and it actually ended up being a really, really good sandwich and it was fantastic and I’ve been obsessed with lemon aioli and arugula and swordfish ever since.
It’s a funny story now. At the time, it was a little close to call in terms of almost burning down the house but yeah.
On Her Go-To Sources for Inspiration:
I have a couple. I mean, you have your standards like Food & Wine and Bon Appétit, they’re kind of always my go-to to make sure I’m staying with the industry and what’s going on and what’s relevant. I do look for other bloggers as inspiration. Jessica from How Sweet It Is is great. Joy the Baker is a nice kind of contrast because I’m not a baker so it’s nice to get like, “Oh, that’s what people do when they bake.” But I’m also inspired a lot by Heidi from FoodieCrush. She’s probably one of my favorite blogs to look at for inspiration because she does things so simple but they’re also creative as well.
On Deciding on What to Make for Dinner or Her Blog:
It’s interesting. I feel like it’s a simple process but it’s also like an easy process in terms of my cooking during the week is your basic chicken, potatoes, broccoli, rice. I just keep it simple because, to me, when I do stuff for the blog, it’s more adventurous. When I decide what I want to do for the blog, I always look at those simple meals that I make during the week and then I’m like, “How can we tweak this? How can we take a simple meal and then just take it to another level, like take a Middle Eastern twist on it or an Asian twist on it?” I think people get stuck in a rut, like I do, too. Just take the extra couple of minutes to figure out where else you can go with it.
On the Difference in Food Culture Between Denver and Chicago:
Denver is geared towards healthy lifestyle. Everything is outdoors, versus Chicago, I mean, Chicago is healthy, it’s just it’s more like heartier foods. So to me, when I moved here, my palette definitely changed. I still kind of keep things more towards a lighter side in cooking, whether it’s more fresh ingredients, local, those kinds of things just because Colorado has such a different dynamic. Like I was talking earlier, Colorado’s very centered around brunch. If you don’t have a good brunch at a restaurant, you can kiss your tuckus goodbye because you’re not going to be around. Or happy hour, those things. So my food is definitely geared around kind of those…you can eat it for breakfast, lunch and dinner types of food versus like your three standard meals like in Chicago.
The Pressure Cooker:
Which food shows or cooking shows do you watch?
I watch Restaurant Impossible. I love Robert, probably because we own restaurants and so when people go in there, I’m like, “Oh my God, they have no idea.”
I love Top Chef. I mean, I watch that. Quickfire Challenge, you name it, I would love to do it.
I probably would cry crocodile tears while I’m doing it but it would be the most fun ever. Plus I would love to meet Tom Colicchio.
What are some food blogs or food websites we have to know about?
Definitely Real Food by Dad. Matt is amazing. He kind of is similar to the way I cook. His recipes are simple but also you’re like, “Damn, that is such a great idea.” And also, My Name is Yeh. She’s addicting. She has the best smile. Her recipes are just so fun. And also, Heidi at FoodieCrush. She’s a mentor. She’s good at what she does. She has a great editorial background and I think people could really learn a lot from her.
Who do you follow on Pinterest, Instagram, or Facebook or Snapchat that make you happy?
Instagram is probably my most go-to as most people probably say. Ashlae from Oh, Ladycakes, her Instagram is this beautiful portfolio. She travels and creates beautiful food and to me, she makes it just look effortless. So to me, I appreciate that even though I know there’s some background to it. She’s just a really nice person in general too.
What is the most unusual or treasured item in your kitchen?
My onion goggles, no joke. I hate cutting onions and my husband got a gag gift one year, like someone gave him a pair of onion goggles. I was like, “This is ridiculous.” I tried them on. I’m telling you, they are lifesavers and no more tears. I look like a total dork but I swear, they’re my most treasured thing in the kitchen.
Name one ingredient you used to dislike but now you love.
Tabasco, which is funny because I literally just this past week, I did a whole week series with Tabasco. My husband loves Tabasco and so till I married him, I learned to love Tabasco. I love it now more than anything. It’s the best condiment ever.
What are a few cookbooks that make your life better?
I always keep Jacques Pepin’s Essentials cookbook. The man is a genius and he’s been around forever and he knows so I pull that constantly just to remember how to make an aioli from scratch. To me, it’s a brilliant cookbook in terms of like, he’ll give you recipes but he’ll also break down what you need to know in a very simplified manner. It’s not over the top. It’s straightforward. I can’t recommend that book enough. It literally is a lifesaver.
What song or album just makes you want to cook?
Like I mentioned earlier, Jason Isbell, his album, Southeastern. Me and my husband actually saw him in New York City live. He is probably one of the best artists to listen to because he’s a great storyteller and I feel like that is a basic way of when you’re cooking and you’re photographing and sharing this, it’s the perfect way just to set the tone of what you’re doing. He’s extremely talented and a wonderful singer and I highly recommend you check him out. He’s great.
On Keeping Posted with Lauren:
Definitely Instagram, Snapchat, and just checking out the blog because I am out there and constantly just trying to create recipes. I’m always there if you need me. So always check out the blog.