Amelia Morris is far from shy in the kitchen. She’s been sharing her cooking adventures (don’t miss her videos) on her blog Bon Appétempt since January 2009 when she decided to share her misadventures in trying to recreate the cake from the December 2009 cover of Bon Appétit. Since then (and a few awards later) the writer and enthusiastic cook has been cooking, entertaining and blogging from her Los Angeles kitchen.
Bon Appétempt started as a way for you to share your experience with recipes — notably the Bon Appetit December 2008 cover Devil’s Food Layer Cake with Peppermint Frosting. Your blog has evolved to showcase many different types of recipes and cooking techniques — how would you describe your passions and how do you stay inspired to blog?
I’ve always been passionate about writing, and cooking kind of snuck in there as a consequence.
1. Most writers don’t make a lot of money, and cooking is less expensive than eating out.
2. After three hours spent typing, it’s time to get up and do something with more tangible results.
Nothing makes me happier than ending a good day of writing by making a great dinner for my husband and myself. As for staying inspired, if I ever feel uninspired, I like to remind myself: Hey, Dingus — this is your blog! In this space, you are free to make or do whatever you want!
You seem fearless in the kitchen — you’ve attempted shucking oysters, Crepe Suzettes and everything from preparing salt cod to elaborate desserts. Does the blog make you more determined to share your failings and successes? Or is it more pressure to perform?
Thanks! I don’t think of myself like that, but I will say that for my recent birthday, my friend made me a really cute card with a drawing of a “No Fear” t-shirt with the words written over the backdrop of a kitchen scene. The blog has always been my place to share the recipes I’ve tried, whether they worked out or not. I always aim for a success, but the failures are sometimes even better.
How would you describe the Bon Appétempt cooking style?
Lots of inspiration and anywhere from terrible to fantastic results!
What do you consider your most successful recipe published on Bon Appétempt? What about the biggest failure?
I would have to say that the most successful recipe was my grandma’s lady locks. They took four days to make, but I learned so much in the process.
As for the biggest failure, I made a vol-cake-no (part cake, part volcano!) with a friend for her son’s birthday party. We didn’t account for many things and certainly not transporting it in 95-degree weather. The icing melted away and the cake slid off its cardboard platter on the car ride to the party. Total disaster, but I’m pretty sure the kid loved every minute!
What are your favorite tools for cooking?
My iPod — the kitchen wouldn’t be half as fun without music and podcasts.
What are your favorite tools for blogging?
My new camera! A sweet Canon 7D, which my husband mostly handles—particularly when it comes to the blog’s video content.
Could you give an example of a Bon Appétempt post that surprised you — either by being crazy-popular, crazy polarizing or surprisingly lame?
The response to my video attempt of Robyn’s music video for “Call Your Girlfriend” was huge and surprisingly, of all 99 comments, not one of them made fun of my floral leggings. Not a one!
One of the exciting things about blogging is getting reader feedback in the form of comments and email — do you have a favorite example of some of the feedback you receive?
You’re absolutely right! Positive reader feedback is the best, and I really, really appreciate it – both comments and emails. You know who else loves comments? Grandmas. It’s true. I printed out the blog post on making cookies with my grandma and sent it to her. When Grandma wrote me back a few weeks later, about three paragraphs into the letter, she finally mentioned the post. She wrote: “I enjoyed the Blog. I would be interested in the response the readers had.”
So then, I printed out all of the comments and sent them to her. Thus, my 92-year old grandma read blog comments on a piece of paper I sent to her in the mail. (Pretty cool.)
What are your favorite sources of inspiration? Blogs, books, artists, etc.
I have so many! Here are a few of my current ones:
In music: Youth Lagoon, First Aid Kit, Wilco’s new album, and anything from Sweden.
In books: Tender by Nigel Slater; An Extravagant Hunger: The Passionate Years of MFK Fisher by Anne Zimmerman; and the new essay collection Pulphead by John Jeremiah Sullivan.
In food blogs: Lottie and Doof, The Year in Food, and The Wednesday Chef.
In TV/video: My So Called Life, Dr. Steve Brule, Julia and Jacques Cooking at Home.
Dream Project: Is there a cooking project or recipe you want to attempt but continue to put off?
I am dying to host a secret supper, though have yet to summon the courage.
You can see updates from Amelia on BonAppetempt.
Images: Amelia Morris