Meet featured blogger Jessie Cross (The Hungry Mouse) and get a tasty tutorial from her blog.
Jessie Cross has an insatiable appetite for writing and food and loves inviting novice cooks and seasoned chefs into her virtual kitchen. She lives in Massachusetts with her husband—and when she’s not baking pies or shopping for cheese, she’s busy with her blog, The Hungry Mouse (thehungrymouse.com)
CW: How did your passion for food develop?
Jessie: I’ve loved to cook since I was little. When I moved to Boston at age 18 to attend school, I found myself living in a studio apartment with a kitchen the size of a coat closet. My budget was super limited, so I’d buy whatever was on sale at the market, then figure out what to do with it. Every day was an adventure and a learning experience. I was hooked.
CW: What is your background in cooking?
Jessie: I’m a self-taught home cook with way too many cookbooks. I learned a lot of the ins and outs of the food industry while working for a small cafe and caterer years ago. I also reviewed restaurants for a handful of years.
CW: Why did you decide to start blogging about food?
Jessie: My friends have always called me for advice about cooking. I started my blog, The Hungry Mouse, in 2008 as a way to share what I know about food. At the time, I had no idea it would turn into a business. I just wanted to help my friends learn how to cook, and the Internet was a great vehicle for that.
CW: What challenges, surprises or rewards has your blog brought you?
I feel really blessed to have a large, loyal following. (I get a quarter of a million visitors each month. Holy cow!) My site has led to a cookbook deal, and my recipes and food photography have been featured online and in national publications. I’m really honored that folks have taken an interest in my kitchen antics.
CW: What kind of relationship do you have with your followers, and what posts are most popular with them?
Jessie: My readers are awesome—and I’m blown away by their thoughtfulness. Hands down, my roast duck post is my most popular. It has more than 400 comments, many of them from people thanking me for giving them the courage to attempt a duck at home. My deli-style roast beef recipe is another reader favorite.
CW: Why did you decide to make step-by-step photo recipes the foundation of your blog?
Jessie: As a professional writer, it’s kind of funny that I’m doing a visual guide to cooking. I rely more on pictures than words to demonstrate a recipe. What does “cook until brown” really mean? What color brown? Showing a picture of each step eliminates a lot of the guesswork, puts people at ease, and gives them the confidence to try their hand at even the most complicated recipes.
CW: How do you balance blogging with your family and career life?
Jessie: It can be a challenge. I’m constantly readjusting my routine to help maintain balance. Blogging gives me a very different creative outlet from what I do every day at work as an advertising copywriter.
CW: Is it hard coming up with new recipes and kitchen projects to keep your blog fresh?
Jessie: Cooking definitely gives me a lot of room to be creative. There’s a great misconception that food has to be all super serious and French culinary school. With a little imagination, not only can anyone cook, but you can have a ton of fun while you do it. Cooking shouldn’t stress you out.
For more information about Jessie and her blog, visit her at The Hungry Mouse.
Photos by Jessie Cross of The Hungry Mouse.