I grew up with some of the best home cooks anyone could ask for and I began cooking beside my mom when I was just 3 years old—learning the tricks and techniques that would give me a love for cooking. Today, I’m a New York Times bestselling food photographer and home cook who loves a challenge, but I also know that time is a luxury. I’ve built a blog that centers on creating the dishes that bring high praise to busy moms and dads without having to spend hours in the kitchen to get it done.
What inspired you to start blogging about food? My life is so nuts! We live on a farm in Kentucky and I started the blog to share dinnertime favorites for busy families and crazy stories about farm life—like the time I delivered a calf in my socks or when my whole family was attacked by a swarm of hornets.
Top 3 Kitchen Must-Haves
- Well made sheet pans. Cheap ones warp and create hot spots that can ruin a dish. A half sheet pan is my favorite because your food has plenty of room to spread out and cook evenly.
- Cast iron skillets. These workhorses take a beating and go on forever. Oven to table, they are an essential for lots of recipes because they heat evenly and make a great crust on cornbread and mac and cheese. When seasoned properly, they are non-stick too!
- Lightweight mixing bowls. Trying to pick up a heavy bowl filled with food and scrape it into a baking dish is hard to do with one hand! I gave up heavy ceramic bowls a couple of years ago in favor of some ultra light ones and it was a great decision.
A Kitchen Catastrophe
A couple of years ago I thought I’d make croissants. The recipe I chose took 26 hours to complete and when it was time to bake them I got impatient with the last rise and put them in a “warm” oven. Well, the butter all leached out of the dough (and there’s a LOT of butter in croissants) and I’d put them on a baking pan with no sides so all the butter ran off the pan and into my oven where it started to burn and smoke but after 26 hours I refused to turn the oven off. I was going to cook them one way or another! I had every window and door open and smoke was billowing out of the house but there I stood—baking those things. They tasted like smoke and because the butter melted out, I basically made crescent rolls. I haven’t tried again either!
To learn more about Rachel Ballard, you can check her out on The Country Contessa Blog.