How I Find Inspiration For My Recipes
One of the questions I most frequently get asked about the recipes on Hummingbird High is this: how do you come up with your recipes? Where do you find inspiration for them all?
Truthfully, I get inspiration for my recipes from a variety of sources: other food blogs like mine, cooking and travel shows and magazines, and, of course, cookbooks. But cookbooks are by far my favorite and most trusted resource for recipes.
As a cookbook author myself, I know how much work, time, and effort it takes to create just one cookbook! It took me just over 2 years to develop and photograph the recipes for my book, Weeknight Baking. And as a result, I truly believe that a good cookbook contains everything you need to become a better cook and/or baker. I’ve read many from cover-to-cover, and, along the way, have learned many amazing recipes, tips, techniques, and more.
Using My Cookbook Collection For Inspiration
So when brainstorming recipes for Hummingbird High, my first stop is my cookbook collection. I have an extensive collection of over 500 (yep, you read that right—over 500!) cookbooks. I’m not going to lie—my collection takes up a LOT of space. Before I organized it all, there were stacks of colorful books in every corner of the house.
So when I moved into my new house last year, I really prioritized finding a way to show off my extensive and colorful collection of cookbooks. And as a visual person, I knew I wanted to organize my books by color. I’m personally terrible with names—I can never remember who wrote which book! But I’m great at telling you which book is what color, and which one has, say, a cute illustration of a lemon on its front cover or a delectable looking layer cake. It’s weird, I know, but it works for me.
Ultimately, I thought it was best to group the cookbook spines by color, and arrange them like a rainbow. And to make the rainbow really pop, I displayed the cookbooks on the Slim bookcase from Room & Board. The bookcase is sleek, modern, and minimal—perfect for showing off the cookbooks’ various colors! The best part? The bookcase comes in a range of different colors. I went with the Slim bookcase in White since that’s what I thought would make the books pop, but I’m also obsessed with other colors like Sage and Saffron.
I’m not going to lie to you—I spend a LOT of time just standing and sitting in front of this bookcase, perusing different titles for recipe ideas. Most recently, I wanted to figure out a three-course menu for a Date-Night-In with my fiance, Erlend.
I ended up making a varied menu from a ton of sources, pulling mains, sides, and dessert recipes from four different books! Specifically: a little gem salad with lemon cream, spring onion, radish and mint from local Portland chef Joshua McFadden’s Six Seasons: A New Way With Vegetables; a herb-and-lemon marinated steak recipe from famed New York Times food columnist Melissa Clark’s cookbook, Dinner: Changing The Game; smashed new potato salad from celebrity chef Yotam Ottolenghi’s Ottolenghi Simple: A Cookbook, and a summer fruit layer cake made with the recipes from my own cookbook!
A Date-Night-In Menu: From Inspiration To Reality
To make things extra special, I set the full meal for me and Erlend in our dining room. We usually eat most of our meals at our kitchen island, but I like to switch things up for date nights and other special occasions—especially since I’m OBSESSED with our new dining table. It’s the Pren table from Room & Board; I just love, love, LOVE its Cambria Brittanicca quartz top SO MUCH.
If you’re unfamiliar with quartz and a big home cook, you’re in for a treat! Quartz is one of the materials most commonly used to create kitchen countertops. Why? It has the pretty veining and patterning of marble, but none of its fuss. Quartz is both stain and heat resistant in a way that marble is not. Cambria is one of the leading manufacturers of quartz countertops—in fact, they made the countertop and backsplash in my new kitchen! I was beyond stoked to see that they had partnered with Room & Board to create furniture like this bar cabinet (which is currently on my wish list to replace my bar cart!), this storage cabinet, and of course, my Pren table.
So not only is the Pren tabletop durable and practical, but it’s also absolutely beautiful, too. It makes my dishes really pop! Sometimes, I even shoot my recipes for Hummingbird High on this very table to take advantage of its pretty tabletop.
I paired the Pren table with these Evan dining chairs. I love their mid century modern look, and how their White Oak finish matches the oak floors of my dining room. That being said, you can customize the chairs to your space, picking from different wood and fabric finishes. For my seats, I went with the neutral Gino Oatmeal twill fabric. The twill adds texture to my dining room, but doesn’t contrast with its distinctive wallpaper. And the best part? Not only are the chairs stylish, but they’re incredibly comfortable, too. Whenever we have dinner at the dining table, we spend hours lingering over our meal, making the conversation last as long as we can before we go back to our normal routine. It’s the sign of every successful Date-Night-In!
A big thank you to my sponsor Room & Board for providing the furniture pieces you see in this post. Be sure to grab the links for everything below:
- Slim Bookcase (I have the 42-inch wide bookcase, in the White color!)
- Pren Table (I have the 72-inch wide table, with the Cambria Brittanicca Quartz tabletop and White Oak legs!)
- Evan Chairs with Fabric Seats (I have six Evan Chairs with White Oak leg finishes and Gino Oatmeal fabric seats!)
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NO TIME TO BAKE?!
Over the past several years of running Hummingbird High, I kept a crucial aspect of my life hidden from my readers: I had a full-time, extremely demanding job in the tech world. In my debut cookbook, Weeknight Baking, I finally reveal the secrets to baking delicious desserts on a tight schedule.