Melanie describes herself as “30-ish, married, mother to two small, tasty-smelling children” – a former “muckety-muck” currently staying home and enjoying “every excruciating second.” All true, but she forgot a few alter egos: food photographer, funny writer and proprietor of BeanPaste, a blog that chronicles, well, every excruciating second. BeanPaste doesn’t just host Melanie’s lovely images and commentary – it also acts as fan site for the two cutest kids in the Northwest (including Ellie, whose fearsome cuteness won a Grey Gardens contest). Sweet kids and eye candy, healthy doses of attitude – is that a recipe for a great blog, or what?
How often do you think about eating?
More than is probably advisable. I think about food a lot: ingredients, colors, aromas, flavors, what’s in the pantry that can be whipped into a dinner. I love to read cookbooks and food blogs, love food photography, and most of my celebrity fantasies involve chefs.
Again: more than is advisable. I’ll have a venti iced non-fat latte, please, and I love a nice cup of black coffee with dessert (or a half a box of Junior Mints.)
Favorite hometown food?
Well, I’m originally from a small town by the name of Caldwell, Idaho, home to a Simplot potato processing plant, so I really should be a good Idahoan and say french fries. My actual favorite is tacos from a little family-run joint named Imelda’s. Imelda makes her own soft flour tortillas and hot sauce and you choose your fillings. The barbacoa is ridiculously good, but I’m also a fan of a simple rice, bean, and cheese with hot sauce. In my part of southwest Idaho, we have a large population of Mexican and Central American farm workers and, as a result, some seriously good taco places.
Ever been served breakfast in bed?
A few times, but I’m not a huge fan. I hate bread crumbs in the sheets.
Your absolutely reliable, go-to food for entertaining is:
Beef brisket. Or a big pot of soup or curry. Or chicken pot pie. I like to serve comfort food for a sit-down dinner because the low, slow home-cooking is so easy to prepare ahead of time, requires very little last-minute fussing, and holds well if guests are late or the conversation is too good to miss. Plus, everyone loves comfort food, right? I want people to eat in my home and feel like they’ve been hugged. Or very, very lightly groped, but that usually involves champagne.
Food that makes you gag?
Not many. I’m not a huge fan of clams, which makes me feel like a bit of a culinary loser. Sardines. Tongue. Canned green beans.
Worst kitchen disaster:
Several years ago, when I was pregnant and nauseous and a bit of a wreck, I decided to make this really over-the-top Black Forest cake for my husband’s birthday party. There were three layers of chocolate, Kirsch-soaked cake and a cherry filling and a mocha buttercream filling and, long story short, the whole thing ended up exploded across the hardwood floors when the legs of my wire cooling rack went out. Lesson learned: collapsible cooling racks will occasionally, unpredictably collapse and are not to be trusted, amen.
Three things in your refrigerator right now:
Leftover green chicken curry, ten kinds of mustard, and champagne that I’m saving for election night.
Your idea of a romantic meal is:
Anywhere with my husband, just the two of us, footloose and baby-free. Any meal that doesn’t require involve wet wipes is pretty sexy.
Secret snack of shame?
Frosting. Final answer.
Most ambitious thing you’ve ever done in the kitchen?
My culinary ambition tends to get me in trouble, and most of that trouble has stemmed from one Martha Stewart. Once, my mom and I made this ridiculous Peter Rabbit cake for Easter that involved molding dozens of wee marizpan cabbages and carrots and lettuces and constructing a tiny marzipan picket fence. It honestly took hours and hours, hours we will never get back, Martha.
I also love putting on a good party spread, particularly for wedding or baby showers, and will make all kinds of petite, fussy little things that find me piping scalloped ribbons of wasabi cream cheese onto crudite (or some similar, Martha-sanctioned insanity) at two in the morning. Really, the whole thing is like an abusive relationship.
Best restaurant if you’re not paying?
If I’m not paying, I would like nothing better than to visit The French Laundry and experience the chef’s tasting menu. It’s on my list of 40 things before 40, so wish me luck.
If you were a cocktail, what would you be, and why?
This is such a telling question, right? The pressure. I think I aspire to be something like Scotch on the rocks or maybe elegant and minimal like a Greyhound, but I am probably more like a giant, fruity, coconut-y, blended drink served to tourists on the beach in a commemorative glass. But just you watch: one of these days I’m totally going to be a Greyhound.
Extra Credit: Where is the world’s best pizza?
I love extra credit! And, I’m sorry, but I have to say New York. Thin crust or death, baby. Though I must take this opportunity to plug a local independent joint by the name of Flying Pie Pizza. They have a cult following around here and my favorite pie is the Zambini: sourdough crust, pesto sauce, jalapeños, provolone, tomato slices, and fresh Italian sausage. It’s crunchy and chewy and salty and spicy and very slightly sweet aaaaand I think I know what’s for dinner.