If you’re a follower of the blog, you might have noticed my relative silence during the past month or so. There’s a reason for that, and it’s because Crumb Kitchen is going to be changing . . . drastically.
Before I talk about the changes, I want to give some background that I hope will help you understand why the blog in its current form will be undergoing a makeover. It’ll be a long read, so grab your reading specs and settle in, folks.
Long before I started Crumb Kitchen, and arguably since I was a little girl, I’ve had a complex relationship with food. While I was never dangerously overweight, my youthful energy and metabolism helped hide an unhealthy lifestyle, one that many people—my parents included—didn’t realize was impacting their health and that of their children.
Like many 90s kids in white, middle-class households, I was fed a steady diet of Shake n’ Bake chicken drumsticks, microwavable Uncle Ben’s rice and a can of baked beans. If someone asked me what was the absolute defining dinner of my childhood—and let’s face it, my teenage years too—I would honestly say the above.
If we wanted something ‘healthy’ as an accompaniment, we were offered a handful of bagged baby carrots or a caesar salad made from bottled dressing and crunchy bagged croutons.
And of course, you could never end a meal on that note. Dessert was a multiple-times-per-day occurrence and usually consisted of at least one full chocolate bar, though oftentimes more. And that was just after dinner. I usually ate a chocolate bar for a snack in the afternoon, perhaps another one, a huge bowl of ice cream or a Costco double chocolate muffin as a late-night snack, or if I was craving salt, half a bag of barbecue Crispers. (And to clarify, I don’t blame my parents. It was all they knew at the time. It was all most people knew.)
This was all fine and dandy until the later years of my undergrad, when my (astoundingly great for what I was eating) metabolism gave out. It coincided with meeting my current partner, which probably didn’t help as relationship weight is definitely a real thing. I steadily gained weight until the end of 2016, culminating in my highest weight ever, which, when I inputted it into an online BMI calculator, told me I had crossed into the ‘overweight’ range.
I realized ruefully that my luck—and great metabolism—had run out. I could no longer eat dessert for breakfast, lunch and dinner and get away with it. And weight aside, that just wasn’t a healthy lifestyle choice. So I joined Weight Watchers.
This popular lifestyle—not diet—is something I still subscribe to and believe in, on a community support and portion control level. I knew that even myself, a clueless small-town girl turned city slicker, could figure out that I had to cut out most dessert from my life, especially the packaged varieties. I’ve begun eating less processed food in general and more foods with one ingredient—after all, a tomato doesn’t have unpronounceable ingredients in it, it’s exactly what it says it is. I haven’t bought into the Weight Watchers trend of eating gross 95%-less fat foods and demonizing carbs, thankfully, but rather have been building my diet around plant-based recipes, lean meats and healthy proteins like eggs and lentils. It just so happens that I don’t have much room for an abundance of white pasta, doughnuts or microwavable packages of congealed rice—though I do indulgence sometimes.
While eating better, I’ve been flipped through books from my local library detailing the benefits of being aware of the food you eat and choosing local-ish, or at the very least, making food from scratch: a range of Michael Pollan’s manifestos, The 100-Mile Diet and From the Ground Up: A Food Grower’s Education in Life, Love, and the Movement That’s Changing the Nation.
It slowly dawned on me that I had to make some changes.
As I stood in my local grocery superstore a few weeks back, holding a mealy-looking Roma tomato in my hand while chattering Westboro yuppies kept running into my damn shopping cart, I thought: How do you grow a tomato in Ottawa in the middle of January? I looked up at the label. Oh. Florida, that’s how.
Let me be clear—I still buy those tomatoes, sometimes. The convenience is great. I am not a saint or have gone 100 per cent crunchy granola. But every weekend when I venture to the grocery store, I try my best to get in-season produce supplemented by dried legumes that I reconstitute, organic frozen fruit, local maple syrup and eggs, and more. They’re small changes, but at least to me, important ones. Leaving aside the unpronounceable ingredients in some processed foods, think about how far your morning grapefruit travelled to get from the farm to your kitchen table. All the exhaust burned and time spent ripening unnaturally in a gigantic crate on a shaky transport truck. Just for one grapefruit.
All of this to say that while I love and cherish my blog in its let’s-go-crazy-and-eat-dessert form, it can’t continue to be like that all the time. The reality of the behind the scenes of food blogging on the weekends—when I do my work—is that I have four or more huge recipes of dessert that take up an entire table, plus two full days with nothing to do but to eat it. Freezing it? Nope, I just reach into the freezer and eat it. Giving it away? Well, that requires bringing it into mine and my partner’s respective workplaces, but that isn’t until Monday morning; plenty of eating time in between. Plus, some dessert just doesn’t travel well. I simply don’t have the willpower or desire to keep so much dessert around the house.
And on that note, while niches are great for for-profit business blogging, they’re hard for everyday life. Especially when your niche is desserts. What you don’t see are the hours upon hours every week that I gleefully use to make my own bread, butter, granola, crackers, from-scratch dinners and more. I love doing those things; getting more connected to the food I’m eating by creating it from scratch. The science geek inside me cheers every time we get to create the perfect dutch oven bread, full of soft airy pockets and crackly sandy brown crust. With my current blog format, I can’t show that.
That’s why I’m getting out of the blog “rat race.” I’m no longer blogging for pageviews or ‘reach’ or paycheques. I won’t have to wake up at 4 a.m. every morning to painfully schedule social media posts on all the hottest platforms even though I despise every second of it. And I won’t have to wear myself down by keeping up a crazy blogging schedule just because “everyone else is doing it.”
So where does that leave us? In a nutshell, Crumb Kitchen will still be Crumb Kitchen. (Though the tagline bake. save. repeat. has changed to starting from scratch.) I will still create desserts from time to time, though they’ll be simple, completely from scratch, and will represent the things I actually eat versus the things a blogger wants you to think they eat.
I will blog about from-scratch foods, including how to make things you might ordinarily buy like butter or bread. From there, I’ll create simple recipes that incorporate these building block ingredients. I’ll tend towards seasonal recipes with more fruits and veggies (you heard that right, I’m branching out into savoury food too) and things that are tried and true in my kitchen. I won’t be aiming for hitting all the buzzwords and trends; I’ll blog about what I know and love.
Many of my posts will be more musing- and resource-like than straight recipes, as I want my readers to come along with me as I show how to make my favourite foods while experimenting in the kitchen and beyond. This may include in-progress posts about trying something new and thoughts from a beginner—after all, myself and my blog aren’t perfect and I’d like to show some of the less polished things that happen in my kitchen and out in my beautiful community. It might mean that some posts aren’t about food at all. If you’re here for just recipes and no personality, you’ll be disappointed.
My love of local eating and local businesses will manifest itself in features on various workshops (stay tuned for a fermentation workshop overview!), local organizations and producers that I love, and will always include photos—though they might not be as fancy as you’ve come to expect. I might discuss my thoughts on health and fitness, including my passions for cycling, walking and a car-free lifestyle, as those things are important to me. While the goal of the blog is to help others learn, I want to maintain an outlet for myself, one in which to share, heal and grow—and that means doing things differently.
The budget aspect of Crumb Kitchen as it is now will not disappear entirely, though the ‘Budget Breakdown’ and ‘Recipe Cost’ sections won’t be present. The assumption is that making your own simple foods will save you money, and I will continue to discuss that theme throughout my posts. After all, I am an early 20-something woman living in an expensive city’s downtown; saving money is important.
I won’t have a set posting schedule, though I’ll try to post at least twice per month. And SEO will not rule my posts anymore. Stress was a sizeable factor in this re-formatting, and I want to get back to making blogging fun rather than a chore that I had to slog through.
You may have already seen some design changes on the site to become more simple, less fussy. That will continue, and while I build up my new bank of recipes and resources, please mind the blog mess while I try to create a new design based on this new vision.
In short, I’d love to start a whole new blog and get a fresh start. But the logistics are tiring, and I’d much rather use what I already have here.
If this isn’t your jam, I get it. There’s an unsubscribe button in your email if you receive these posts by email, or you can simply not click back to CrumbKitchen.com. I understand that what you signed up for is not what you’ll be getting soon, and some people don’t appreciate that. That’s okay. (But hey, it would be cool if you stuck around.)
In the truly life-changing book From the Ground Up: A Food Grower’s Education in Life, Love, and the Movement That’s Changing the Nation by Jeanne Nolan, Alice Waters writes in the foreword that this book is at once a memoir, a manual–well, she says a “how-to” but that was definitely a missed alliteration opportunity–and a manifesto.
That is what I want the re-imagined Crumb Kitchen to be. A memoir, sharing my triumphs, failures and experimentation with food and health; a manual, for learning about homemade food that you might have thought you could never make yourself; and a manifesto, for championing the sheer beauty and simplicity of creating the food and products that you put in your body.
Stay tuned, folks.