Writer and photographer Erin Scott has just published her first book, titled Yummy Supper, which offers 100 “fresh, luscious and honest recipes from a (gluten-free) omnivore.” The book grew from Scott’s popular blog of the same name. We asked the Berkeley resident to spill the beans on her inspirations, what the deal is with gluten free, and where she likes to source her food locally.
The new book is gorgeous. What did you set out to achieve when you wrote/photographed it?
Thank you! I wanted to make a book full of recipes that are fresh, delicious, and accessible to a wide range of home cooks. I looked at photography as a powerful way to draw people into the kitchen and encourage them to cook –a well-written recipe can be enticing, of course, but photography is an unbeatable tool to whet someone’s appetite.
The book stemmed from your Yummy Supper blog. When and why did you start writing that?
I accidentally fell into blogging back in the summer of 2009. At that point, I didn’t even know how blogs worked and I’d always been a bit suspicious of technology, but I was looking for a friendly forum to share recipes with other food-loving friends and a blog seemed like a good vehicle.
I’d been diagnosed with Celiac Disease in 2008 and at first felt very isolated in this food-obsessed town of ours. I started Yummy Supper because I was looking to reconnect with folks around the joy of cooking simple, seasonal foods, to look beyond my dietary limitation and create a delicious common ground for sharing recipes with other food lovers, gluten-free or not.
What led you to start cooking?
I’ve cooked as long as I can remember. Both of my parents were passionate home cooks and they welcomed me into the kitchen from the beginning. At first I played with the pots and pans at my mom’s feet when she made supper, then as soon as I could stand on a stool, I cooked alongside her. I’ve always loved to eat, and having this connection with my parents in the kitchen was comforting and deeply impactful on my life.
By the time I was a teenager I could easily make the family meal all by myself if I needed to, and most nights mom and I made dinner together. When I met my husband, Paul, he and I also bonded over a love of cooking. Now, most nights Paul and I cook together and we try to bring our own kids into the mix as much as possible. I want Otis and Lilah to feel empowered and happy in the kitchen too.
What about photography? You have a professional background there too. How did you start and where did it lead you?
Before I started my blog, photography had been a lifelong personal interest of mine, but a very casual one. My cooking is so inspired by the simply beauty of raw ingredients – be it a bunch of rainbow chard, a pile of pluots, or juicy ripe tomatoes – that I wanted to share this visual experience with my blog readers through photography. For me, as a visual person with a previous career in fashion and design, it was essential that Yummy Supper have a compelling aesthetic component.
At first, my photos were terrible and I was completely frustrated by the fact that my images weren’t reflecting the natural beauty that my eyes so clearly saw. Through trial and error and years of taking countless photos, I taught myself how to shoot food and have in turn discovered a new and unexpected career. I’m still learning of course, but I’ve gotten to that point where I can use my camera to consistently express the story I envision.
Over the past few years, I’ve been shooting food, portrait and lifestyle photography professionally and I love it. Shooting my own recipes still gets me jazzed every time I pick up the camera, and having the opportunity to photograph someone else’s product, book, recipe or shop is deeply satisfying work.
Why do you think so many more people are eating gluten-free these days?
Gluten-free is such a heated topic these days, and I feel like the media coverage has been (for the most part) polarizing and really disconnected from the reality of most people who’ve chosen to eat less gluten. Yes, there are folks who are just jumping onto a trend and don’t even know what gluten is, and then there are those of us at the extreme end of the gluten-sensitive spectrum with Celiac Disease. But I also see a huge swath of people who are eating less gluten and feeling better in all sorts of ways.
Sadly, the food industry had capitalized on GF trend by stocking supermarket aisles full of GF dreck – compelling the public think to that these weird packaged foods are the only way to eat gluten free. I actually fell into that trap myself when I was first told to remove gluten from our kitchen.
If we could only remember that the majority of whole foods are naturally gluten-free and enjoyable for everyone to eat, I think much of the hoopla would die down. It’s my hope that we can get over the politicizing, and look beyond our special diets, to find an joyous way to sit down at the table together, where we eat real foods that feel good to our bodies and delicious to our mouths.
Do you have a food philosophy or mantra?
Simple. Seasonal. Real foods.
Do you grow your own food?
Yes, our tiny backyard is packed with edibles: seven little fruit trees and an ever-changing, eclectic mix of herbs and veggies. We don’t grow enough food to sustain our family, but the garden is a constant source of inspiration in my cooking.
Where do you like to shop for ingredients in the East Bay?
Monterey Market is my favorite place to shop – the produce there is staggeringly good and super well priced! I adore the Berkeley and El Cerrito Natural Groceries, such thoughtful and friendly markets. Café Rouge Meat Market, The Local Butcher Shop, Monterey Fish, and Oaktown Spice… these great shops are in my shopping orbit too. And of course the amazing Berkeley Farmers’ Markets!
Any recipes in your book you are particularly fond of, and why?
It’s so hard to choose…these recipes are my babies! I guess my favorites change with the seasons. Right now, at the peak tomato time, I can’t get enough Candied Tomatoes, Baked Eggs on a Bed of Cherry Tomatoes, and Sunshine Soup. As the weather cools, I know I’ll crave a Cozy Winter Stew, Parmesan Polenta with Garlicky Rapini and Black Olives, and Lilah’s Little Apple Galettes. Then there are those perennial favorites like my Simple Almond Torte or Millet Crêpes. Okay, I’m getting hungry now…
Berkeley food blogger serves up gluten-free food for all (09.14.12)
Erin Scott is holding a launch party and book signing at the Edible Schoolyard Garden in Berkeley on Sunday Sept. 7, 2-4 p.m. Co-hosted by Omnivore Books, the event is open to the public and kids are welcome. Free blueberry fro-yo popsicles will be served, until they run out! The Edible Schoolyard, King Middle School, 1781 Rose St. Berkeley. Visit YummySupper.com for details of other book tour events, and to buy the book.
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