Vanesther Rees is the Somerset-based blogger behind Bangers & Mash (@bangermashchat), a blog about cooking family meals on a budget. She will be attending #FBC5 this year with her ‘buddy’ Louisa Foti of Chez Foti (@chezfoti).
What are you most looking forward to about #FBC5?
Meeting other food bloggers – particularly those who have been doing it much longer than me – to get inspiration and advice on how to take my own blog ‘to the next level’. I’m really looking forward to the Self Hosting seminar, as well as the Photography and Lighting sessions.
What do you look for in an ideal ‘buddy’?
Someone who’s coming from a ‘similar place’ to me. Louisa and I have both been blogging for just over a year, we like the same kinds of food, and we have young families.
What have you learnt about your new ‘buddy’ that you didn’t know before?
She likes to run – just like me. Although she gets to run in the Pyrennees – lucky thing!
How did you meet your #FBC5 ‘buddy’?
Via Twitter and our blogs – we’ve never met in person. The first time we physically meet will be at FBC5.
What experience at #FBC5 are you most looking forward to sharing with your ‘buddy’?
Eating and talking about food!
What about your ‘buddy’s’ blog inspires you the most?
Her beautiful photography and her constant stream of fresh ideas on how to use seasonal produce in interesting new ways that I know my family will enjoy.
If you could cook one recipe from your own blog for your new ‘buddy’ what would it be?
My slow roast pork neck with mint flatbreads: http://bangermashchat.wordpress.com/2013/01/06/slow-roasted-pork-neck-in-thyme-rosemary-bay-with-mint-flatbreads/
What motivated you to blog about food?
I love writing and I love food so I guess blogging about food was a natural progression. I was talking to a friend just over a year ago about how I’d started meal planning and how this had made a huge difference to how much I spent on food – I’d practically halved our food budget. Also by some simple planning in advance, we were wasting much less food and eating a much more varied, healthy and interesting diet. She was intrigued and was full of questions. By the end of our conversation she’d convinced me to start a blog to share my experiences and dishes with others.
From where do you get inspiration?
I get inspiration from all over place for the food I cook, and then I blog about those dishes that really excite me and are the ones that appeal to my family. My blog is all about good family food that uses interesting seasonal ingredients but that don’t cost a bomb and are easy to make. I get lots of ideas from friends and family to try out, from my large collection of recipe books, and from the food blogging community.
Do you blog full time? What’s your day job?
No – I wish! I work as a freelance PR consultant, sometimes in-house for clients and sometimes working from home. The food blogging is a hobby (that’s turning into an obsession) that I fit in at the evenings and weekends, generally after the kids have gone to bed or early in the morning before everyone else wakes up.
Let us feature your favourite recipe from your own blog, include the link here.
It’s very hard to pick one favourite as the reason any dish makes it onto the blog is because I love it so much! But I know a few people who were inspired to make my Blackberry and Cardamom Pavlova and it seemed to go down well with them, so I’ll go with that. It’s so simple and so very delicious. http://bangermashchat.wordpress.com/2012/09/27/blackberry-and-cardamom-pavlova/
What’s your signature dish?
Other than bangers and mash, a dish I cook again and again is a sausage and chilli pasta – and I can’t believe I haven’t yet featured it on the blog! Must remedy that soon. The dish on my blog that I really think sums up my style of cooking is this Afghan-style Aubergine and Yoghurt: http://bangermashchat.wordpress.com/2012/10/23/afghan-style-aubergine/. People are often surprised I feed my children such spicy food, but they love it – particularly my oldest. I’ve been giving them strong flavours ever since they were quite small. I think they must have first got a taste for spice in the womb!
Who taught you to cook?
I wasn’t really taught to cook as a child; I didn’t get interested in food until my early twenties and I first moved in with my then-boyfriend, later-to-become-husband. He could cook really well and I was so embarrassed about not having a clue what to do in the kitchen, so I forced myself to learn – through cookbooks and TV shows ultimately, and lots of trial and error. I was not a natural foodie but now I couldn’t imagine not being surrounded by cookery books and dreaming up new menu ideas.
Where do you buy your groceries and why?
My weekly shop comes from Ocado and I get a weekly organic vegetable box from Riverford and my meat comes from the local butcher. Online shopping is fantastic. I do a weekly meal plan, which is a great way to keep costs down and avoid food waste, but when it comes to meat and veg I do prefer to pay a bit more for these to know I’m getting a real quality product. And because I’m so careful with the rest of my shop, it means I can afford to pay a bit more for these items.
What would your last meal be?
A beautifully fragrant Thai green curry with a tall glass of ice cold beer.