Cooking the Books: Eating Local by Sur La Table

Cooking the Books

There’s something quite magical about a cookbook that speaks right to your soul, particularly when it’s gifted.

Enter: Sur La Table’s Eating Local. I love this cookbook for many reasons, but mainly because my mom gave it to me when I needed it most in college. I was (very) new to the kitchen, surviving off of eggs, sandwiches, cookies, and coffee. Convenience tipped the scale since time was short. As it happened, I discovered the farmer’s market shortly after the book arrived, and the rest is history.

While I’ve made a handful of delicious recipes from Eating Local, I mostly pull it out for inspiration. If you’re like me, and you’re big on sustainability, supporting your local farmers, and eating seasonally, then this cookbook is for you. I shop at the farmer’s market during the summer months, and subscribe to our local CSA in the winter. Sometimes, though, I draw a blank when our box arrives. Soup? Chili? Gratin? Thankfully, this cookbook never disappoints.

Eating Local also provides year-round tips for storing, preparing, and preserving the best of each season, motivating me to waste as little food as possible. I’m focused on the book’s root veggie dishes right now. Bring it on, fall.

What’s Cooking: October

It’s hard to let go of the Summer season but we’re trying to embrace it with some delicious summer-into-fall dishes. Here’s a few recipes we’ll be cooking up this month.

tomato salad

Since I’m representing the West Coast side of the #cookitcrew, I’m still all about tomatoes. That said, I know the end is near. This is one heck of a way to celebrate that hard fact. Laurie, CEO + Founder

cinnamon rolls

As soon as the weather changes from Summer to Fall, I start craving warm spices like cinnamon and oh, lots of butter. And when I think about those two things, I instantly think of these sweet and fluffy cinnamon rollsNetanya, Social Media Manager

Now that it’s officially October, I’m welcoming all-things pumpkin spice with open arms. This pumpkin pie cookie dough looks insanely delicious, but I’m also eyeing a slice of Natalie’s vegan pumpkin cake. One can never have too many pumpkin desserts, right? Edie, Account Manager

I’ve never met a squash I didn’t like, but I’m particularly fond of delicata squash (you don’t have to peel it!!). Now that it’s at the market, I’ll be making this recipe from Athena Calderone’s Eye Swoon. It’s simple, but the flavor combination packs a punch. Renae, Senior Brand Strategist

With the cooler weather sweeping through Denver, we’ve been craving a good ol’ bowl of chili! I found a recipe from one of our very own influencers— Oh, Sweet Basil — and it was delicious! The bacon is everything. Jackie, Senior Account Manager

Lately, I’ve been incorporating meatless meals into our weekly rotation, and I’ve honestly felt a lot more energized. I feel like my body is a fan. I try to vary up the recipes, but I’m really fond of this Caramelized Onion Mushroom and Spinach Pizza recipe, even if it is pizza!  Anna, Brand Strategist

Brand Biz: Are You Ready for an Influencer Manager or Agency?

food blogger

If you Google “How to work with brands,” there are over 932 million search results that show up. When you consider the amount of new influencers that pop up on a daily basis, the number of search results isn’t shocking at all. So as an influencer, you’re probably feeling the pressure to compete with your fellow influencers for sponsored content. You’re probably also searching for the answer as to why brands aren’t answering your pitches.

We get it.

It can be extremely frustrating not hearing back from a brand or not receiving any feedback as to why you weren’t selected. You may have heard an influencer manager or agency will solve all your pitching problems, and that they’ll magically provide you with ALL the sponsored posts. But not every influencer is ready to take that step.

What do you need to know and do in order to be ready? Here’s our tip sheet:

You know that an influencer manager or agency isn’t a quick-fix solution.

Many influencers will seek out someone to pitch brands on their behalf for a few different reasons. The reasons can range from a not liking pitching to not having the time or the right contacts. Usually, the expectation is that sponsored opportunities will begin to roll in regularly. For influencers who’ve grown their audience, consistently produce high-quality content, and are engaging that audience, this can be true. For others, they may need to put in the effort behind-the-scenes to build their brand.

You have a clear strategy for your brand.

Before you start your search for an influencer manager or agency, ask yourself if you actually know your brand story and how it differentiates you from everyone else. Also ask yourself if you think you’re creating the best content possible, with a content strategy based on your brand story. Brands see numerous pitches from influencers, so your first impression counts.

Want to identify your unique opportunity in the marketplace? Drop us a line!

You’ve worked with brands previously.

When you have a few brand partnerships under your belt, you’re telling an influencer manager or agency some important things about you: You’re willing to work hard; you get good results; and you’re most likely reliable. Having these past partnerships in place will only help your influencer manager or agency pitch you to more brands and land you more partnerships.

You’re ready to go beyond influencer networks.

Ask yourself this: Who is an influencer network’s client? Is it you, the influencer or the brand? It’s the brand. So opportunities provided for influencers are going to skew in favor of the brand. Plus, you don’t have someone in your corner who’s working specifically for you. That leads to our next point…

You want someone to be on your team and advocate for you.

How many times have you felt like it’s difficult to negotiate with a brand with your rates? It’s pretty common, especially if you’re using influencer networks. Having an influencer manager or agency puts someone on your team. They’re looking out for you and you’re their #1—not the brand.

5 Things You Didn’t Know About…

Our #CookItCrew is made up of some amazing and talented brands & influencers, and today we’re chatting with Yumna of Feel Good Foodie. Her passion for the food industry and clean eating inspired her journey into blogging, and we’re so glad to learn five things we didn’t know about her today!

  1. I was born in Zaire (now the Republic of Congo) and grew up in Sierra Leone on the west coast of Africa until I was 11 years old. We left in 1993 when a civil war broke out, and we came to Dearborn, Michigan, where some of my dad’s relatives lived. 
  2. I’m obsessed with dark chocolate and have a piece every single day after dinner.
  3. My brother and I have the same name, but his name (Aiman) is the masculine version of my name (Yumna). My name means the right side, and I tell my husband it means I’m right and he’s wrong haha!
  4. I broke my left arm when I was 2 years old and became double jointed because of it.
  5. I was the Female Athlete of the Year in my graduating class of 400. I think it was mostly because all the best athletes just didn’t have the minimum 2.5 GPA to qualify for the award 😉

Road Food: Where We’re Eating

Being that our team is all over the country, we’re constantly sharing new restaurant recommendations with each other.  Here are some of the places we’ve been enjoying eating at lately.

Almost without fail, we do two things on Sunday mornings: Hit the Hollywood Farmers’ Market, and grab breakfast there at The Walrus and the Hedgehog. They get most all of their ingredients at the market, from bread to tomatoes, greens to eggs, which makes their food truly farm fresh and delicious! Laurie, CEO+ Founder

My husband and I recently spent the weekend in Aspen, Colorado. While every meal was memorable (and the backdrop equally impressive), my favorite lunch was at Spring Café. This bright, airy, and eco-friendly joint serves up feel good food: nutrient-dense smoothies, nourishing salads, hearty breakfast wraps, and the best dirty chai latte. Edie, Account Manager 

Since fall has finally arrived here in New York, I’ve had an urge to spend my weekends at farmers markets scouring all of the wonderful fall produce and in doing so, have discovered my new favorite bakery, She Wolf Bakery. Their rye bread is next level and their polenta loaf toasted with salted butter is my new treat and I don’t think it’s one I’m willing to share… Netanya, Social Media Manager

If you accuse me of rarely leaving the UES of NYC, then you’re not wrong. There’s almost everything you need in terms of cuisine from Italian to Szechuan to Indian. Which is why I was thrilled to find Blake Lane, the perfect healthy lunch spot that wasn’t Sweetgreen. Try the Poke or the Bibimbap. Anna, Brand Strategist

Last Sunday, we decided to drive out to Lookout Mountain to catch the sunset over the Rockies. It was beautiful— but as we took in the view, my stomach began to growl. I said— “Let’s get Thai!” When that cool air that swept through, that’s all I wanted— a hot bowl of Panang Curry at US Thai.  Jackie, Senior Account Manager

 

Photos: Walrus and the Hedgehog/ Spring Cafe / She Wolf Bakery/Blake Lane

 

 

Cooking the Books: Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat by Samin Nosrat

salt, fat, acid, heat bookbook

I’m sure you’d think I was kidding if I told you that I found the best cookbook of all time, but it’s true! I just purchased Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat: Mastering the Elements of Good Cooking by Samin Nosrat and it’s by far the best and most comprehensive cookbook out there. I can’t put it down.

It’s more like a textbook really, because it goes deep into the science behind cooking. Want to know the importance of salting your meat before you cook it? Or how to make the perfect scrambled eggs? (The secret is a little lemon juice by the way.) Or how to not break a mayonnaise? This book tells you how while showcasing the four main pillars of cooking every good cook should know. The fun and amusing illustrations and charts, don’t hurt either. There’s als a glossary of delicious recipes you’ll want to try time and time again.

Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat cookbook

I’m taking my time getting through it because I really want to soak it all in, but I highly recommend it for everyone, amateur or advanced cook alike.

Oh, and even better, the book is becoming a Netflix original series, so all the more reason to get in on the action!

What’s Cooking: September

corn salad

We’re making use of all the leftover summer produce we have laying around in our kitchens before we start dreaming of soups, stews and braised dishes. Here are our last-of-the-summer dishes we’ve been loving the last couple weeks.

I swear corn tastes sweeter when you know it’s signing off for the season soon. It’s also one of those ingredients that everyone (including the vegans, the vegetarians, the picky eaters and the meat eaters) in my family loves. So I’ve been on a mission to find the perfect raw corn salad. To date, this is the winner. Tonight, I’m trying this one. I’d love it if you sent me yours! Laurie, CEO + Founder

lemon curd

It’s not lemon season right now, but I do love a good lemon curd. I made this one and added it to yogurt, granola, and fresh berries. It’s the best breakfast treat! Netanya, Social Media Manager

pesto

By some miracle, my basil plant is still thriving indoor herbs and filtered sunlight for the win! Until I start craving all-things pumpkin spice, you can bet I’ll be adding basil to most of our dishes. Recently, I’ve been using our organic basil in this pesto spaghetti squash. As far as weeknight dinners are concerned, it’s a winner. Plus, I swear the ‘pasta’ tastes even better the next day. Edie, Account Manager

I’ve just learned the trick to a perfectly-seared salmon fillet—don’t take it out of the pan too early! If you can trust that it’s not burning and allow it to get that deep, golden-brown color, then you can look forward to a truly great meal. I’m obsessed. Obviously, we’ve been eating a lot of salmon lately, mostly paired with roasted cherry tomatoes and a drizzle of basil oil. It feels just right for the end of summer. Renae, Senior Brand Strategist

frittat
This past month has been a whirlwind with loads of travel. Which means I’m constantly cleaning out the fridge and throwing things together for meals. Something easy that I like to do is just throw together a frittata using up random ingredients. They’re also delish for any meal. It’s a win-win. Anna, Brand Strategist

Road Food: Where We’re Eating

milkflower pizza queens

Here at CookIt, we love discovering new restaurants and thought it would be fun to share a few of our favorite spots we’re loving right now!

Tucked behind Melrose Place in the heart of L.A., Croft Alley is a rundown-chic little spot that I love for lunch. If it’s sunny, grab one of the rickety tables on the alley; otherwise, settle in at the communal table in the indoor patio. First, order the turmeric lemonade. From there, you really can’t go wrong with anything on the innovative menu, but I have a soft spot for the risotto and the vermicelli (which are entirely unlike their more familiar renditions). Their most ‘grammed dish is the cauliflower grilled cheese, which hinges on a classic, indulgent bechamel sauce. Laurie, CEO+ Founder

I’m going to go out on a limb here and jump straight to the good stuff: Sweet Cooie’s. This place is unlike any other ice cream parlor I’ve ever been to. With patio lights and an old-timey feel, this quaint Denver establishment is where sweet tooth lovers rejoice. They serve delicious frozen treats (including horchata vegan ice cream!), homemade truffles, and the most insane ice cream sandwiches. The dog days of summer never tasted so sweet. Edie, Account Manager 

There’s one small spot in NYC that I go back to again and again, Cotenna. It’s a dark, intimate spot great for a wine lunch or dinner. You can’t go wrong with anything you pick here, though I swear by the grilled lamb chops, beef meatballs or any of the pasta dishes. Bring your friends, family or SO. It’s the best spot for everything, and tops my list of NYC restaurant recs. My only regret is that I don’t live down the street anymore. Anna, Brand Strategist

When I just want to dive into a big bowl of pasta without the to-do of dressing up or making a reservation, I go to Maccheroni Republic. It’s a casual, no-nonsense spot that does all the classic fresh pastas you could want and does them well. I’m partial to the boar ragu and the pumpkin ravioli. They do indeed have a full menu with appetizers and entrees. Sometimes I will get the octopus or the panzanella, which are both great. But I’m usually inclined to get right to the point: the pasta. Renae, Senior Brand Strategist

Whenever friends come to visit me in Queens, Milkflower is always on the itinerary. This wood-fired pizza joint was transformed from a former laundromat into a classic spot, complete with white-tiled counters and an Italian-built pizza oven. Pies are made with housemade mozzarella, alongside a plethora of classic and innovative toppings. One of my favorites is the St. The Ghost, made with coastal cheddar, mozzarella, parmigiano reggiano, and burnt honey. Nothing beats indulging in a slice and washing it down with a glass of beer. Netanya, Social Media Manager

 

 

 

 

Brand Biz: What to Know Now About IGTV

Are you posting content on IGTV yet? Are you watching IGTV? Is IGTV important to your content strategy?

For answers to these and many other questions, we went to lifestyle personality, successful YouTube brand and video authority, Theodore Leaf.

Q: Should influencers be in a hurry to start posting on IGTV if they aren’t there yet?

A: I would recommend only posting content that makes sense versus just putting things up to “be there first”. People say all the time that they are “too late” to a specific social channel. But we’ve all seen newcomers from out of nowhere come in and amass a loyal following in a social instant.

Q: What’s the trick to thinking in a vertical format vs. horizontal?

A: Make sure the journey you take the viewer on is all about that “phone” perspective-—more casual.  Vertical can be more rough around the edges, and that is part of what makes it work. Try a mix of “produced” content and more “on the fly” type things.

Q: Can we edit existing video content?

A: Editing existing content is a great idea, just make sure the edits are clean and the subject remains inside the vertical frame. I’ve  been seeing some poorly repurposed content that leaves the viewer frustrated because things are missing or “off.”

Q: Can we repost content from our channel or IG Stories to IGTV?

A: You can certainly edit Stories content and post it to IGTV; however, I think the better move is more about true long form versus the jumpy short cuts we expect from Stories.

Q: Other than length, what’s the main difference between IG Stories and IGTV video?

A: The difference between Stories and IGTV is really more about watch time than anything else. With Stories you go in expecting to see several snippets that bring movement to the day, everything from behind the scenes to entire dinners being made. The IGTV platform gives you the opportunity to create longer content that has more of a service intention than simply entertainment. For example, as a viewer, would you really want to learn how to make a macaroon on IG Stories with so many cuts and back and forth? Or would you prefer one smooth 10-minute segment?

Q: How do we know how long our videos should be?

A: Time will tell how long viewers want IGTV content to be. My rule of thumb is keep a steady pace in your videos and don’t obsess over the length.

Q: How do you see IGTV changing the video landscape?

A: IGTV will change the video landscape by pushing creators who were not doing any video to finally jump in. YouTube as a platform is not the easiest to understand, so with Instagram creating this platform, it has broken down a lot of the barriers to entry for video.

Q: Any tips on how to lure our followers to our IGTV channel?

A: Promoting your IGTV channel via Stories is a great way to bring viewers over—think of Stories as a trailer to the feature that is housed on IGTV. Also something I am thinking about is creating regular series that the audience can count on seeing every week.

Q: Is it true that 78% of all mobile traffic will be video in less than 3 years?

A: I am unsure of the likelihood of those numbers being accurate but I can say that video in all of its forms is a highly engaging way to communicate your message, and has the potential to build you an incredibly loyal audience.

5 Things You Didn’t Know About…

Anna

We work with amazing people everyday from brands to influencers and everything in between. We lovingly call them our #CookItCrew and today were checking in with our Brand Strategist, Anna Fatlowitz. We asked and she told us 5 things we didn’t know about her!

  1. I was born in Thailand and lived there until I was two. I’ve been lucky enough to go back a few times, and experience things outside of a tourist lense. I’m finally going back as an adult later this year and can’t wait!
  2. Because I grew up eating a ton of authentic Isaan (northeast region) Thai food, I am seriously so picky. Pad Thai is actually one of my least favorite dishes, and there are about two places in NYC I actually approve of: Somtum Der and Jaiya.
  3. For some reason I’ve never liked sweets, so I always skip dessert unless other people want it. I’ve even asked to replace the dessert course on prix fixe menus!
  4. My favorite cuisine is Japanese, from sushi to soba to kaiseki and everything in between. I think I started eating sushi around age five. My first omakase definitely changed my life.
  5. I’m obsessed with dogs and getting a dog. I probably follow 100+ dog accounts on Instagram.