“Colorful writing, delicious food”
It’s always so fun to do a little “take out” and explore what others in the food blogging community are posting and eating. One of my favorite blogs to look at is Buried Carrots. We’re not vegetarians but we try to minimize our meat, and Karen is so wonderful at illustrating the delicious meat-free food options that abound!
I love Karen’s writing and photographs! They’re so inviting, comfortable, and inspiriting. Her writing style makes me feel like were curled up at a coffee shop chatting the day away. Her food photography always makes me hungry. Stopping by her blog always brightens my day! She eats well, lives well and inspires others to do the same! With great pleasure and joy, I give you….KAREN!!!!
My Bio: I’m a freelance Photographer and Writer with a passion for vegetarian and vegan cooking. Currently my work can be viewed online at my three blogs: Buried Carrots is devoted to colorful writing and delicious vegetarian and vegan food; Composing Kitchen focuses on my efforts, together with my partner, to follow our passions and design our lives; and Karen Milling Photography features my work as a portrait, headshot, wedding and food photographer.
What inspired you to start blogging?
I don’t really make New Year’s resolutions in the classic sense, but when each new year rolls around, I take some time to evaluate where I am in my life: what I’m happy with and what things I’d like to change. I try to set the tone for the coming year. (As a side note, I do the same thing on my birthday every year.) When I started my blog in January of 2011, my intention for the year was productivity. I wanted to try new things, to grow as a writer and photographer. I wanted to increase my self-confidence, be courageous and take risks. I already loved cooking and taking photos, but I had not been writing for a long time and wanted to start again. Creating Buried Carrots was a great way to bring all those things together.
This year my intention is expansion. I’m working very hard on growing my photography business as well as continuing to improve my skills and techniques. I’ve worked with several portrait and headshot clients and I shot my first wedding. I’ve got a long way to go, but I’m building confidence and opportunity at every turn.
My original tagline was: “Uncovering the very best vegetarian and vegan food.” However, most of the feedback I received about the blog was that the food and photos were good, but the writing was great. So, in an effort to build on that strength, I changed the tagline to “Colorful writing, delicious food.”
My partner Carla says I have a gift for creating what she calls a “hook,” where I bring stories back around to whatever theme or image I began with. When I lived in Seattle I performed with Jet City Improv for a while. We often talked about reincorporation, in which an idea presented early on in an improvised scene is reincorporated later. It makes the audience feel so connected to what is going on because they are familiar with it. What perhaps didn’t stand out the first time around becomes delightful when recognized a second time. It works in writing too and in music, for that matter.
One last thing I’ll say about writing is that having a great editor is essential for me. I have the good fortune of having married a technical writer and editor (now composer and sound designer). She taught me to start by saying what I want to say when writing, and worry about the grammar and artfulness of it later. It is freeing to let go of trying to write the “perfect” thing and just write what I’m thinking and feeling without judgment. Then, with the help of an editor, I can go back and make things sound and look better. I would advise anyone struggling with writing to find someone they trust to read their work and give them advice and edits.
Have you always been vegan and vegetarian? What inspired this?
I have been a vegetarian since my 20s, so for about 15+ years. I never really liked meat as a child and gravitated toward chicken and turkey rather than red meat when I had a choice. Once I was older and able to cook for myself, I became a vegetarian, or “vegetarian lite.” I became the kind of vegetarian who still ate a BLT from time to time. But gradually as I learned more about food, cooking and nutrition, meat faded from my diet completely.
Ididn’t become a vegetarian for animal rights reasons, but I would say that now I feel quite strongly that animals shouldn’t be eaten or abused for their products. The eggs I eat come from the community garden where the chickens eat well, have plenty of space, and are well cared for (loved, that is). I try to buy the most responsibly produced diary products available: organic, from pasture-raised animals not treated with hormones. I don’t eat a lot of dairy, but I loooooooooove some cheese, so I do my best to make compassionate choices.
What would you say to those that are looking at becoming either vegan or vegetarian?
It doesn’t mean that you’ll eat salad all the time. The most frequent question I get from people curious about being vegetarian is, “What do you eat?” (Always asked with some level of exasperation.) And the answer is, everything — except meat. For example, right now, the leftovers in my fridge consist of polenta with grilled veggies, tomato sauce, and vegetarian sausage; a rice salad with peanuts, sesame seeds, chopped fresh vegetables and pineapple in a gingery soy dressing; quinoa and sweet potato chili; and white chocolate cherry scones. All vegetarian. The options are endless, wonderful, healthful and filling. Spending some time online or looking through some vegetarian cookbooks is a great way to get started, and a great way to get excited.
All of them are so fun to read and the pictures are lovely, but do you have a favorite of your blog posts?
I’m pretty fond of the first Valentine’s Day post I wrote about our cat Clementine. It’s a little clinical, but also lovely in its way. She has this extraordinary sweetness about her coupled with a sort of perpetual bewilderment that just melts your heart.
Do you do all of your own food photography? (How did you get started in photography?)
I do. I’ve always enjoyed photography. When I was a child and my mom got a new camera, I was the recipient of her old one and started taking pictures. I did take one semester of photography in college, but basically I’m self-taught. These days, the Internet is a great place to learn, and taking photos for the blog means I’m constantly honing my skills by practicing and practicing.
What superpower do you have? Party tricks count!
Napping. I know it doesn’t accomplish much for the good of humankind, but I love to nap, and I’m REALLY good at it.
Items could you not live without OR What are 5 items you never leave home without are…
- My iPhone. I hate to say it, but it’s true. It means I have a camera and editing tool with me all the time. It means that I can be creative at any given moment. With an iPhone, I don’t get lazy about making and editing photos — I have no excuse not to be creative with such a powerful tool in the palm of my hand. I take photos every day to keep that part of my mind sharp. I’m always composing photos, thinking about photos.
- Lip Balm. I live in New Mexico, what can I say?
- Water Bottle. See above. Between the altitude and the dry dry dryness, it’s essential.
- My running shoes. Running is my way of meditating. Physical and mental stresses just melt away when I run. I feel stronger and more clear-minded after running.
- A pen and paper (also read: my iPhone). I’m a list maker. I make lists of ideas and goals, lists of things I need to do, lists of places I want to go. Sometimes I’ll get just a snippet of a blog post in my mind. I write it down and refer back to it later.
Favorite food to eat?
- Roasted green chile. In New Mexico we’re good at putting chile on almost anything. I love the sweet, smoky, spicy flavor of roasted green chile. In the late summer and early fall, truckloads of New Mexico chiles are roasted on the side of the road. It’s the most incredible fragrance I’ve experienced. The flavor matches that.
- Coffee. I have to stick to decaf so I don’t ruin my superpower, but I love a good cup of coffee. I don’t get fancy that often with lattes or cappuccinos, but I love a dark, robust flavorful Americano.
- Chocolate. Need I say more?
- Strawberries. Strawberries are, hands down, my favorite fruit. I have them in a smoothie almost every day of the week.
- Goat Cheese. I love it in salads, I love it on slices of crusty rustic bread, I love it paired with sweet things like figs, I love it.
- Pizza. We’ve been on a mission over the last few years to perfect our pizza cooking — both in the oven and on the grill. We’re constantly striving for the perfectly thin, balanced, crispy/chewy pizza crust. And we love getting creative with sauces and toppings. Pizza can be so sophisticated one day and so comforting the next.
- Breakfast. Sometimes it’s pancakes or French toast. Sometimes it’s eggs. But we pretty regularly make breakfast together or for each other, and I love the time we spend doing it.
- Ice cream and Sorbet. I recently got an ice cream maker and have really been enjoying creating some interesting sorbet and ice cream flavors.
- Bread. In the fall and winter months I really like making breads. I enjoy the slow process and the warm comforting smell of freshly baked bread.
- Soups and stews. These are the staples in our busy lives. Rarely is there a week without an interesting flavorful soup or stew ready to eat.
Someone’s having a rough day…what would you say?
I keep a fortune from a fortune cookie taped to my computer screen. It says, “Nothing is impossible to a willing heart.”
You get to choose your attitude. You may not always be happy with your situation and you may not always be able to change your situation right away, but you get to control how you react to it. You get to choose what kind of person you want to be and what kind of moment/day/life you’re going to have. So try to choose joy and compassion and love — for others, but just as importantly for yourself.