At the end of my conversation with Aimée from Under the High Chair, I asked her to nominate the next person I would invite to talk to me about their food blog. She chose Emily of Sugar Plum, describing her as a young blogger with a sense of humour, a ‘who cares’ attitude and big dreams for the future.
I hadn’t come across Emily’s blog, Sugar Plum before, so I was keen to explore. I discovered an incredible number of highly original and extremely tempting recipes, all created by Emily herself and presented in a charmingly quirky style. And that’s from someone who is still in her early twenties and hasn’t yet had any formal culinary training!
Fortunately, Emily was happy to take part in Edible Lives and we began to exchange emails discussing her experiences of food blogging.
Here, then, is the story of Sugar Plum …
I love the post on your blog where you reveal your notebooks of handwritten recipes, all created and tested by you. You say that you started writing recipes when you were around seventeen years old. When and how did you get the idea to present them to the world in a blog?
I had been writing recipes for a year-or-so, for cooking contests. I had never heard of a food blog until I stumbled across Cookie Madness, which is a blog about cookies and desserts. I fell in love with it instantly, and it’s my favorite blog to read to this day. I loved baking and cooking, and I knew I had a lot of recipes to share with the world, so I decided to start my own food blog. Now it’s almost like a journal for me, where I can share the things I create and cook, and also get to talk about what’s going on in my life.
Aimée described you as having “big dreams for the future”. What part does your blog play in those dreams?
I hope someday maybe I could write my own cookbook full of dessert recipes. That’s basically what I’m doing with this blog; creating a virtual cookbook. I think having a baking blog with recipes is a great platform in achieving a book deal. I know it might take some time, but I hope one day it will happen.
So, how did everything start – how did you organise your thoughts, design your blog and choose which recipes to present first?
Well, let me see. I knew I wanted it to be a baking blog, featuring all kinds of desserts – anything from gourmet, to classic, to comforting. I wanted to create all of the recipes myself, and add interesting twists to them. The writing and humor kind of came along after. Now I have to add some humor and quirkiness to each post, because that’s me! This blog reeks of me. I put my heart and soul into it.
I designed the blog myself, and it took me months to get it the way I wanted. ‘Sugar Plum’ is just a cute name I came up with to go along with my sweets theme. The name makes me think of ‘The Night Before Christmas’ and ‘The Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairies’ and it gets me in a Christmassy mood. I like the purple color scheme, and I also like the clean look. I don’t like a lot of clutter on the sidebar of blogs, because it distracts from the posts.
I don’t plan out what I’m going to make very well. It depends on the day, the week, and what I feel like baking. My favorite thing to bake is probably pie. I LOVE making pie dough! It can be so soothing, kneading butter into flour using your fingertips. Pie can be challenging, gourmet, but still comforting.
As you say, your blog reeks of you! It carries your personality, your thoughts and your dreams. Are there any boundaries – did you ever make a conscious decision about how much of your personal life you would disclose?
I don’t think there are any boundaries. As time goes on, my blog posts seem to get more and more personal. I’ve never made a decision about certain things I won’t share with my readers. I like to write about whatever I feel like writing at that time, and I don’t care what people think or say.
It’s what Aimée described as your “who cares” attitude – and your readers obviously love your approach! Your posts regularly collect a large number of comments from people keen to support you in reaching your goals. How have you noticed this blog community building up since the early days of Sugar Plum?
After my appearance on Food Network, my readership grew significantly. I had a little bit of a following before the show aired, but then it really took off.
The post where I announced I was going to be on the show was Ultimate Recipe Showdown. 105 comments! That’s the most I’ve ever received. I would say after that post was when my readership increased.
I think people are interested to see what the future holds for me in the culinary industry, and if I achieve my dream of attending culinary school in New York.
How close are you now to achieving that dream?
I’m not close to achieving my dream of culinary school. If I won the $25,000 on Ultimate Recipe Showdown I was going to go to culinary school in New York City, but I lost. I have money I’ve been saving since high school, but it’s scary to blow it all at once. At this point I’m not able to afford tuition and the expenses of living in New York. I’m not giving up my dream though; it’ll just be a few years before I can achieve it. I’ll be old and crippled from waiting tables, trying to earn money, but it’ll be worth it.
What’s your own favourite recipe and what’s your most popular post?
My favorite recipe is Kitchen Sink Bundt Cake and it’s a cake I created for a birthday celebration that I’ve made several times since. It’s a chocolate cake with chocolate chips, peanut butter chips and toffee chips in the batter. Chocolate ganache is poured over the top followed by bits of Oreo cookie pieces, peanut butter pretzels, peanuts and caramel sauce. It’s the richest cake you’ll ever eat, but it’s so good! My sister and I ate almost an entire cake ourselves!
My most popular post is the one announcing I was going to be on Ultimate Recipe Showdown on Food Network. 105 comments! People who usually don’t comment, commented, and I love that. I love hearing from closeted readers.
Wow, that’s some cake! And finally, who do you nominate to be the next person I invite to talk to me about their food blog, and why?
I invite Sue of Food Network Musings. She’s my very first blogging buddy and truly an inspiration. She graduated from London Cordon Bleu and has eaten and cooked all around the world. I have learned so much from her blog and it’s one of my favorites. She’s witty and hilarious when it comes to reviewing cooking shows, but she also teaches and gives you information about food and cooking.
That’s another blog I haven’t come across before! Thank you ever so much for participating, Emily – and I wish you the best of luck in attaining your dream. I’m sure you have a glorious future ahead of you.