Badass Women in Bed: Food Blogger Valentina Kenney Wein
Calling all food lovers! Today we interview Valentina Kenney, the badass mommy-chef from Cooking on the Weekends.
Aside from her delicious original recipes and cooking tips, Valentina is well-known for her enthusiasm and intoxicating zest for life, so we were ecstatic to get a chance to see what makes her tick!
What inspired you to start blogging?
A few years ago while doing some recipe development work for a couple of websites, my mind always seemed to be overflowing with recipe ideas. I realized that I should also be sharing my ideas on my own site, and develop my own audience. So I started saving my "extra special" recipes for my blog to be. My husband is a tech wiz and within a few weeks, he created a beautiful site for me, and I've shared my work there ever since. My husband is now known as "Tech Services" in our house. (Very romantic, I know.)
What drives you - not only on your blog, but in life?
I'm driven by my kids -- who they are, who they're becoming, and their amazingly free imaginations.
My creativity is always driving me -- I can't seem to contain it, and it's led me to some fantastic opportunities in the culinary world.
You mention on your blog that your inspiration for recipes comes from “anywhere and everywhere,” what was your strangest point on inspiration? How did it turn out?
I was looking at an Everything Bagel through the display case at Noah's Bagels. I love Everything Bagels -- they're soft and chewy on the inside while the outside is salty and full of crunchy seeds. It suddenly occurred to me that it might just be delicious combined with something sweet, like chocolate. And from that, The Everything Cookie was born.
Usually I'm pretty confident as I pull things out of the oven, but I admit to being skeptical this time. When I had the first bite I was thrilled -- beyond thrilled. These cookies were amazing! I loved them immediately and brought them to a food blogger party the same day -- I was delighted that my fellow bloggers loved them, too.
Rumor has is sea urchin and okra are out.. any bad experiences there that you’re willing to share?
After culinary school, and a few of years catering and teaching cooking classes, I fancied myself to be someone who'd tried and loved almost every food out there. Almost! One night a couple of other chefs and I went out to dinner at a fancy-schmancy restaurant. The first few courses were out of this world, each one better than the last. And then the sea urchin arrived. It was beautifully presented, I must admit -- the raw, yellow sea creature was served on ice in its own shell. I've always been an adventurous eater so I didn't hesitate to try it. Let's just say both the texture and flavor took me back to when I was a kid, in the scariest ocean wave I'd ever been in, where I was roughly thrown around and was extremely relieved to find myself alive on the shore.
As for the okra, it's just so slimy!
What is your favorite season in terms of fresh fruits and veggies in California and a favorite dish to prepare with the goods?
I love fall because I love roasting and caramelizing vegetables -- especially root vegetables and cauliflower. These goodies can transform into the perfect combination of sweet, crispy and creamy.
And I absolutely adore winter citrus. Adore! From blood oranges and grapefruit, to Meyer lemons and Key limes, I love it all! At the moment, I'm borderline obsessed with Cara Cara oranges. (Cara Caras are stunning, with rosy pink flesh and bright orange skin. They're a variety of seedless Naval oranges that are low in acid and super sweet.)
What is your food weakness?
Sugar! If we don't have chocolate in the house -- which would be extremely unlikely -- I'll have a spoonful of fruit preserves, or hey, even a spoonful of straight up brown sugar.
What are your secrets for balancing life, love, and work?
I haven't quite figured that one out. It's especially hard with kids are in the mix. My kids always come first, and everything else is second. There's never enough time in the day, and my "to do" list is never ending. If I had to say my secret, it's being a night owl and getting work done after everyone's sleeping.
What did you say to yourself that helped push you through the tougher times/moments of struggle/breakdown moments?
In all honesty, it's not what I say to myself, so much as what my husband says to me. He's incredibly supportive and is much more mellow and go-with-the-flow than I am -- he always says something that makes me feel like it'll all be okay. (That is, if it's before 9 PM, when he's not tired -- otherwise, he won't even speak to me until the morning.) I also always remind myself of other tough times I've pulled through -- it encourages me that I'll do the same again.
Who inspires you?
Other than family, I'm inspired by some of my colleagues who've done amazing things.
I'm not a pushy or gutsy person when it comes to getting work, so it's been hard for me to really put myself out there. I often wait for the jobs to come to me. I have one food blogger friend (Christina of Christina's Cucina), who has a stunning blog and always says, "just ask!" She's had some incredible job opportunities come her way from doing just that. I always think of her when there's someone I want to work with, and it pushes me to make the call. Another food blogger friend (Dorothy of Shockingly Delicious) is so prolific and her work always seems flawless. I often find myself looking at her site to see how she's tackled projects before trying it myself.
What is your “must have” for a good night’s sleep?
Everything must be unbelievably soft -- what I'm wearing, what my husband's wearing, the sheets, the blanket, the pillow case, our adorable dog Maple, etc. Also, a little chocolate can't hurt. ;)
Coffee or tea?
Thanks to Valentina for sharing a slice of her life with us! We love her energy and look forward to sharing more of her amazing recipes in the future.
Stay tuned for more words of wisdom from our future Badass Women in Bed.
Photos courtesy of Valentina Kenney Wein.