Tuesday, October 4, 2011

My First Interview

When I started thinking up ideas for my month of firsts for MoFo, one of the first ideas I had was to do an interview and right off the bat I knew who I wanted to interview. Celine Steen was pretty integral in my easy transition to veganism back in spring 2010. I had slowly given up meat and dairy and eggs went out together in one fell swoop. Problem was, I wasn't really sure what to make for supper now! I learned that vegan blogs were a great resource for recipes and product information and somehow I stumbled upon Celine's blog, Have Cake, Will Travel. It was full of beautiful photographs of delicious food and even better Celine was sharing recipes. Then one day, for the first time ever I might add, I commented on her post about recipe testing. I wasn't thinking anything would ever come of it and a little later I on I got an email from Celine extending an offer to test for Hearty Vegan. I swear I was literally jumping up and down I was so excited. I never even thought that would happen and I couldn't believe that I would be some how involved in the making of a cookbook. I quickly accepted and entered the test site and was in awe. This food was amazing! It was closer to what I was eating before I went vegan except it was all perfectly vegan. I couldn't have asked for a better intro into vegan cooking. I think if it had been any other book, it wouldn't have worked like it did. At the time, I was scared of new things and didn't know what to expect from vegan food. It looked like what I was used to and tasted like what I was used to so it was less scary I guess. I needed that in order to go from my previous diet to this one. I definitely have opened up since then but this was what I needed to get here. I still swear that it helped ease Ryan into becoming vegan as well. All it took was a little Irish Nachos and Ryan was convinced. I remember at the time thinking it was all magic...Vegan Magic that is! That experience alone would make a special place in your heart for someone but Celine also extended her friendship to me. She has been so supportive of me and encouraging of me starting up this blog. She really is an amazing person as well as a super talented photographer and cookbook author. I really could go on and on about her but instead I would like to share my first interview with you all so you can get to know a little bit more about Celine with me!

1. Can you tell me a bit about your first MoFo? I think I first MoFo'd when the very first MoFo ever took place. It wasn't as huge or well-structured as it is now of course, but it was fun! I probably had no idea what I was doing. I'm not sure I do now either.

2. What first inspired you to start blogging? Is Have Cake, Will Travel your first blog? Jess (http://www.getsconedpdx.com/) is actually the one who inspired me to start a veg blog back in 2005. We knew each other from LiveJournal, so when I became vegan and saw how great her blog was, I just went for it. The first blog I had was actually called, wait for it: celineyum. It is now defunct. Not that it was necessarily bad, but I don't know what I was thinking when I picked the name.
3. How did you come to write your first cookbook? The people of Fair Winds Press got in touch to see if I was interested in writing a book. I most definitely didn't start blogging with the idea of a cookbook lurking in the back of my mind, but seeing that I was blogging recipes constantly at the time, it felt right to do it.

4. Do you remember the first recipe you created? I believe that would the pumpkin brownie cake. I just threw stuff together in a bowl, hoped for the best and voila.

5. You were the first person to extend their friendship to me in the vegan world and really helped me transition to being a confident vegan cook. Who was your first? I think it's a whole plethora of my favorite authors that made me more kitchen-confident. Ellen Abraham, Laura Matthias, Sarah Kramer, Isa Moskowitz...But the person who inspired me to go vegan and cheered me on when I took the plunge was someone else I knew from LiveJournal, Julie S. from Ohio.

6. When and how did you first start photographing food? I started taking pictures as soon as I started blogging, so that would be back in 2005. I had never used a camera before then, so it was a bit of a challenge.

7. What was the first camera you owned? Do you have any pictures you took with it that you could share? It was a small Olympus Stylus. Celine sent me a few pictures or me to show that she took with it. And she sent me the link to the recipe for the cookie (first picture with the green icing), saying she adores them! http://vegweb.com/index.php?topic=6711.0
8. What was the first recipe that really challenged you when you were trying to veganize it or create it? To this day, I would have to say vegan cream cheese. I still haven't mastered the perfect replica to the awesomeness that is Tofutti.

9. What was the first vegan cookbook you owned? Do you still use it or did it inspire you to start your own collection of recipes? I believe it was How It All Vegan. I never get to cook from cookbooks anymore, and that's a shame. I wouldn't necessarily credit books for inspiring me to start writing my own recipes, but rather the vegan blogging community.
10. What's the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the word "Vegan"? Scott Pilgram ruined me. "Chicken isn't vegan?" is the first thing that comes to mind these days. But really, the most important word association to me is: For the animals.
11. What was the first holiday you celebrated as a vegan and how did it go? I don't really celebrate holidays. My middle name might very well be Scrooge.
12. Who was your first vegan crush? (I mean you adore them for their work or ideals of course) Laura Matthias, I'd say. I don't see her cookbook mentioned as much as it should be, but if I had to save one and only one cookbook from my collection, I believe it would be hers. (I'd still cry a lot for leaving the other ones behind, though.)

13. Who do you go to first with your new ideas and recipes? Occasionally my mom, or Tami/Joni if we are busy writing a book together. I love getting feedback from all these ladies, because I know they won't hold back and tell me if my ideas blow.

14. What was your first recipe testing experience like? I think the first recipes I ever tested for someone else were for Joanna's zine. I have a hard time sticking to rules and accuracy is clearly vital when you're a tester, so while I remained faithful to the instructions and got amazing results because Joanna's recipes are gold, I just think I have an easier time creating recipes than I am at testing them for other folks.

Thanks again Celine for taking time out of your busy day to share this with me and my blog! I appreciate it since I know how busy you are right now and I truly appreciate and cherish your friendship! Show Celine some love now and go buy one (or all) of her awesome books!


  1. What a great interview! I just bought a copy of Hearty Vegan and I can tell that it's going to be used a lot.

  2. Nice interview! Well chosen person to interview as well!