Julia Child offers this advice in her book My Life in France: “Learn how to cook—try new recipes, learn from your mistakes, be fearless, and above all have fun!” Many people create resolutions at the beginning of the new year—often of a fitness or diet-related nature. But cooking is more than merely a means to a slimmer persona. At its finest, cooking is art, and—as Child put it—it’s fun.
One of modern technology’s greatest benefits lies in its educational capability. For the aspiring cook, these learning possibilities are nearly endless. While one can easily learn tricks of the trade from admirable sources like Bon Appétit, Cooks Illustrated, and other cooking magazines, we also have a new source of inspiration in food bloggers: a group of people whose chronicles and recipes are more personal than magazine articles, and offer us a variety we can’t get elsewhere.
After following a plethora of interesting food bloggers over the course of 2013, I have created a list of my ten favorites. Hopefully these writers and recipes will inspire some this year: to cook (or bake) something new, to host a dinner party, perhaps even to try an ingredient long banished from your shelf. Most of all, I hope they inspire you to enjoy your kitchen throughout the year.
#1. Food52 Blog
In all honesty, Food52 is more than just a food blog. The website, replete with cooking resources and recipes, is more of a meeting place for amateur and professional cooks alike. Their blog features a variety of guest bloggers and writers, and their columns add spice and wisdom to excellent recipes. It’s an invaluable resource, and the blog is updated daily (often multiple times). Some favorite recipes tried recently: cardamom snickerdoodles, maple chipotle sweet potatoes, and their pumpkin cinnamon rolls.
#2. Smitten Kitchen
Deb Perlman is a cook with very diverse and useful recipes. Whether looking for a classic gingerbread recipe or chili inspiration, she often has what I need. Her writing style is also fun and humorous. I love her fig, olive oil, and sea salt challah (perfect for Easter dinner) and her dry-rub oven chicken.
#3. Local Milk
Beth Kirby is a locavore, photographer, and storyteller (as well as an excellent cook). Her recipes take Tennessee cooking—with all its lard and okra—and gives it a modern twist. Some of my favorite recipes include her hand pies (muscadine rose and blueberry, basil, and goat cheese) and sweet potato gnocchi.
#4. David Lebovitz
Lebovitz’s blog is an essential resource for the inquisitive cook. He has written six cooking books, and blogs from Paris, often sharing insights into its restaurants, cooking, and atmosphere. This whole wheat croissant recipe is on my to-make list for the month—and you have to try his shakshuka.
#5. Love and Lemons
For those who desire a more health-focused blog, this is a great resource. Bloggers Jack and Jeanine share mouthwatering, “veggie-centric” foods (though neither of them avoid meats entirely). Their recipes are fresh and colorful, and make healthy eating inspiring. Their salads are wonderful.
There are countless other worthy blogs I could mention. Those with a passion for baking must visit Joy the Baker‘s blog. But at some point, we must stop looking at the pictures and recipes, stop saying, “I wish I could make something like that,” and pull out the flour and spices. Many of these food bloggers are not professional cooks. Many are mothers, writers, and food-lovers who simply decided to try something new. This is, perhaps, the reason they can inspire us most.