A Quick Bite With Tara O’Brady

A Quick Bite With Tara O’Brady

I’m not much of a baker, but this year I’m determined to make a cake for my son’s second birthday. When the talented food blogger, Tara O’Brady over at Seven Spoons mentioned the icebox cake (an annual tradition in her home) I was sold. “No baking required, no butter to cream, only 10 minutes or so of building block style assembly.” Sounds like my kind of cake. To be honest, all her recipes sound like heaven on a plate. I’ve followed O’Brady for some time on Instagram but only recently clicked through to her blog. What took me so long? The photography alone makes you want to dive into your screen and spoon everything up with an enormous ladle. I love O’Brady’s writing style – heartfelt and honest. Poetic, even. You can find more of O’Brady’s writing over at UPPERCASE magazine and Kinfolk magazine. She lives with her husband and two little boys, seven and four and a half.

 

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photo by Sean O’Brady

Q: What is your earliest food memory?
A: My mother feeding me soft boiled eggs when I was sick, out of a little cup.

Q: Where does your love of cooking come from?
A: I don’t know if I could pin it down to one specific thing. I come from a family of cooks, and the kitchen was the most-used room in the house, so I hung around because I wanted to be part of the action. I began cooking out of curiosity, and wanting to be a help, and my own greed for my favourite foods.

Q: Is there a family meal that you grew up eating and prepare for your children now?
A: So many. The boys both started on solid foods with kitchari, my husband specifically asks for a certain baked pasta, I believe in the restorative power my mother’s chicken corn soup, we make icebox cakes for my birthday every year, and I’m working on dosas. Truthfully, my family’s influence weasels it’s way into my cooking, whether I mean to let it or not.

Q: Do the kids muck in with prep?
A: They do! I try to get them involved as much as possible, even if it means dirtying extra bowls and spoons so everyone has a task. My younger son takes particular glee in any recipe that involves a mortar and pestle, and my older one is a pancake expert.

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Photo by Tara O’Brady

Q: Is there something you wish your kids would eat but they won’t touch?
A: Mushrooms, maybe? They’ll eat them in recipes, but aren’t hugely enthusiastic about a lunch of sautéed mushrooms on toast. (I love mushrooms on toast.)

Q: Is there something you’d like to ban from the pantry/fridge?
A: Peanut butter. The non-healthy, sugar-filled kind, which I’ll admit I’m a fan of. We keep natural peanut butter in the house as well, and make our own nut butters, but sometimes there is a time and place for a classic peanut butter and jelly sandwich, and only the sweet stuff will do.

Q: What’s your default, throw-together-and-wow-everyone meal?
A: Chicken roasted with lemons, then roasted vegetables, and maybe this rice salad. The oven does the lion’s share of the work, and you can feed a crowd.

Q: How do you handle pickiness in your kids (if it exists)?
A: Overall, they’re good eaters, and as a family we all eat the same meal. That said, kids will have moments of stubbornness and their tastes can seem to change from one day to the next. My husband and I try not to force clean plates, as we want our boys to listen to their bodies for appetite cues, and sometimes they are actually full. The general rule is that there’s at least one bite taken of everything that they’re served; my concession is that if I’m introducing something new or challenging, I make sure it’s alongside a dish that they know and love. And for those new recipes or ingredients, I explain what it is we are eating, and possibly how it’s similar to something they’re already familiar with. I find that when the boys understand what it is in front of them, they’re all the more open to giving it a go.

Q: What do you love about cooking?
A: I love the beginning-and-end to cooking, the start-and-finish of taking ingredients and turning them into something else. I love how there’s always something new to learn. I love cooking as a way of taking care of people, of bringing them together.

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Photo by Tara O’Brady

Q: You’ve turned us on to breakfast cobblers. What else do you love about breakfast?
A: Everything. I often prefer to go out for a really exceptional breakfast than on a dinner date.

Q: Nigella, Martha, Julia…they all feature on your blog. Can you pick a favourite?
A: Nigella. It was her early books that were a tipping point for me in knowing that I wanted to write about food. When you read How to Eat you can’t help but be struck by her intelligence and her deep connection to the subject matter. Her writing was evocative, yet direct, and so specific in it’s viewpoint. It’s still one of my favourite books. I also really like her taste in food; I have a predilection towards English and Italian cooking, and use her recipes often. The first big dessert I made for my husband (then boyfriend) was her raspberry and lemongrass trifle, so she wins on sentimentality too.

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1 Comment

  1. tara
    March 05, 20:03 Reply

    Thanks so much for having me! It was such fun.

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