Food Writer Fridays – Meet Georgia Johnson from The Comfort of Cooking

If any blog really hit home with me based solely on the title it would be Georgia’s blog at The Comfort of Cooking.

I started my blog because I get real joy and comfort from cooking for my family and friends.  It’s wonderful to know that I’m not alone when it comes to loving the time I spend in the kitchen.

Georgia loves to cook and learns best in her own kitchen using cookbooks and trial and error.  That’s her reasoning for her blog’s name because even if the dishes she creates aren’t perfect, cooking in her kitchen gives her comfort.  It’s great that she knows what she wants and goes after it.

We met last year and have been swapping comments and friendship and I really like her blog.  I love the design, her food and her friendliness. She’s also very pretty!

Life started for Georgia on a farm in Maryland, surrounded by chickens, goats and fresh vegetables.  She grew up and headed for the big city in Boston where she met her husband Mark.  They used to eat out a LOT and then realized that if she learned to cook, they’d save heaps of money.  What started out as a necessity turned into a love of cooking and her blog was the natural extension of that love.

Homemade Sandwich Bread by thecomfortofcooking.com

Georgia and Mark have been married for three years and they live happily in Austin, Texas now.  In 2010 she took a trial cooking class that was strict and rushed and that’s not how Georgia likes to cook.  Give her a relaxed atmosphere in her own kitchen and she can make fantastic things for her family and her blog readers.  Homemade sandwich bread was her first attempt and she hasn’t stopped.

When I asked her what she thinks people like the best about her blog and why she thinks it’s so popular and she was quite humble and said that the recipes draw people in but she hopes when they get there that they feel welcome and intrigued by what they see.  She certainly writes in a casual, fun and informative style and her photos keep getting better and better.

She admits that the success of the blog surprises her and is thrilled that she’s able to do food writing full time.  It’s very obvious after just a short visit at The Comfort of Cooking blog that her blog is not only her passion but her business.  Her hard work and dedication are obvious to us all.

Barbecued Baby Back Ribs by Georgia at The Comfort of Cooking

Since Georgia is a selt-taught cook, I asked her how her blog has changed the way she looks at food, ingredients and methods and she’s sure she’s more adventurous since The Comfort of Cooking began.  She experiments with different ingredients and gladly admits that sometimes her creation is a flop.  I think the best cooks come from not being afraid to try anything with the risk that it will get tossed in the bin if it tastes like crap.

Of all the parts of food blogging, Georgia loves the writing most of all.  She’s loved to write since she was a kid and would write in her journal by the hour and now that she’s got a passion for cooking AND writing, she couldn’t be happier.  To make a living this way is just the best.

I said up above that I really like her simple but elegant blog design and asked how much input she had in creating her style.

Working with the talented Shay Bocks was a fantastic experience. I did have a fair amount of input but wasn’t terribly picky. I just asked for simple and sophisticated, with a few feminine touches. Shay makes dreams come true!

Pecan Pie Bars by Georgia at The Comfort of Cooking

Since she lives in Texas, I asked what traditional Texas delights she enjoys preparing.

Barbecued Baby Back Ribs, Mini Peach Tarts and Pecan Pie Bars are Texas inspired favorites which I made before I even set foot on Southern soil, but they’re true to my new home.

Seriously, wouldn’t you travel to Texas for one of those pecan pie bars?  I know if I made them right now I’d eat them all if nobody was looking.  Come on over and we’ll make coffee and then see if we can cook these bars like Georgia can.

I work from home but my work isn’t my blog.  I don’t have the luxury of “cooking for the light” so I can photograph my food with natural light.  By the time I get food on the table, it’s dark.  We don’t even have daylight savings in the summer here.  I was curious about how Georgia gets all that food so well lit.

It’s as simple as, “if you work from home, you can cook to the light” and it’s always perfect.  I’m not sure I could ever do that, to be honest.  I couldn’t get my husband to eat dinner at 9 am when the light is right and he doesn’t do leftovers, so I’m in awe of Georgia’s photography using only natural light.  Her suggestions to me were:

If your only option is to photograph at nighttime, I’d invest in Lowel Ego Lights – blogging friends have used them with great success. However, since I work from home I can catch the light just right and turn out appealing, bright and vibrant photos with a good natural light source and a white board reflector.

I love Georgia’s recipes and wondered whether she likes making sweet things more than savory but it’s the warmth and aroma surrounding savory dishes that wins the day.  The variety of fresh ingredients, flavors and spices allows her greater freedom in cooking and that necessary room for error she relies on for learning.

Crock Pot Chicken Taco Chili

The two most popular posts on her blog are her Crock Pot Chicken Taco Chili and Mini Raspberry Cobblers.  One savory and one sweet and both delicious!

All new food writers/bloggers want to know how the big bloggers get noticed in the food world and I wanted to know too.

Since I started blogging, I’ve had many wonderful opportunities come my way and made strong relationships along the way. Through working with food companies, magazines, fellow bloggers and even my local news, I have gained a fair amount of exposure and had great success!

As for promoting her blog, she says that social media is the only way to get a blog noticed.  Facebook and Twitter make it easy to share photos and links with friends, old and new.  Both of these sites have made a huge impact on the food blog community.  Everyone agrees about the love of food!

Number one food tester in Georgia’s kitchen is her husband and number two is Bob the dog who keeps the floor clean while she cooks.  Yay Bob!

Mini Raspberry Cobblers

The most challenging thing about creating her blog is that time when she’s exhausted and the words just don’t flow off her fingertips.  We’ve all felt that way from time to time and if you’re like me, you’ve made yourself sit there and type.  Georgia gets away, reads a book, sits outside in the sun or anything else she needs to in order to recharge those batteries and get refreshed so she can work for hours.  I need to do that more, that’s for sure.  I’m going to take a page out of her book on this point alone.

I had to laugh at what she’d like as her last meal.  I often say mine would be Thanksgiving dinner but she’d like a crispy roast chicken, mashed potatoes, mac and cheese, steamed vegetable and a piece of fluffy yellow cake for dessert.  That’s pretty Thanksgivingy to me!  We think alike.

When it comes to deciding what to cook, she tends to lean toward comfort food more often but will try different things to stretch her capability and learn new foods and techniques.  She wants to be more knowledgeable cook.

Her favorite vegetable is an avocado.  Someone told me yesterday that I should be eating 1/2 an avocado every single day because it does wonders for stress.  Maybe that’s why Georgia is laid back and cool?  She also loves fresh basil, roasted Saigon cinnamon and fleur de sel.  She enjoys the spicy side with sriracha sauce.

Rustic Pear Tart

Pointers for New Food Bloggers

Do post consistently and offer up a variety of relatable, authentic content to keep readers interested.

Do understand that you’ll have terrible messes and surprising successes in the kitchen. Remember that every other food blogger is still learning, just like you!

Do add elements to your blog that you admire in other blogs. Whether it’s the pretty design or writing style gather inspiration and you’ll develop your own voice over time.

Don’t forget to promote yourself on social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. Updating each regularly about new posts is a great way to keep readers updated.

Don’t worry if you don’t get lots of new readers immediately. Passionate posts with easy-to-read writing and vibrant photos will attract followers.

Don’t clutter your blog with too many categories, advertisements and widgets. Make it easy to navigate and friendly to new readers.

These are all really good points, especially filling  up a new food site with a lot of advertising when a blog has almost no traffic.  What a waste of that space.  A new blogger will get much farther by using that top real estate on their blog by promoting other bloggers who’ll notice the gesture.  In the blogging world, people show appreciation.

Georgia posts to a schedule, every Monday, Wednesday and Friday and meets that schedule most of the time.  She hopes her blog appeals to beginning cooks as well as those who are very experienced in the kitchen whether it’s cooking or baking.  She works hard to keep her blog colorful, fresh and fun and for it to be good enough that people want to keep coming back for more.

Like me, Georgia’s whole family is from the Northeast US, where Christmases are white, celebrated by a minimum of 40 people and they all enjoy Mom’s New England Clam Chowder.  She swears it warms you to the bone during the winter and instantly sends her back to 10 years old the minute the aroma wafts toward her.

New-England-Clam-Chowder from thecomfortofcooking.com

Mom's New England Clam Chowder
 
Thick, creamy and full of fragrant carrots, onions, celery, chunky potatoes and soft clams.
Author:
Cuisine: American
Serves: 8
Ingredients
  • 3 (6.5 ounce) cans minced clams
  • 1 cup minced onion
  • 1 cup diced celery
  • 2 cups cubed red potatoes
  • 1 cup diced carrots
  • ¾ cup butter
  • ¾ cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 quart half-and-half cream
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Instructions
  1. Drain juice from clams into a large, deep skillet over the onions, celery, potatoes and carrots. Add water to cover vegetables, and cook over medium heat until tender, about 30 minutes.
  2. In a large, heavy saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Whisk in flour until smooth. (Essentially, a very large roux.) Whisk in cream and stir constantly until thick and smooth. Heat through, but do not let it boil. Stir in vegetables and liquid.
  3. Stir in clams just a few minutes before serving. If they cook too long they get tough. When clams are heated through, stir in vinegar, and season with salt and pepper. Good idea to make this a day ahead - it will naturally thicken overnight in the refrigerator.
  4. Serve with oyster crackers or crusty bread on the side, or in a sourdough bread bowl.

You’ll find Georgia on  Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest and she’d love it if you’d follow her and visit her blog.

 

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Comments

  1. says

    Once again, another great write-up of an amazing food writer. I’ve already started emailing myself some of her recipes (i.e. to my work email) so that I can print them out at work :)

    • says

      I feel the same way about great food photos. I can close my eyes and smell the aroma and almost taste the food. That’s good photography for me. I know it’s all about positioning and lighting and all that other stuff that defines a great photo. For me, it’s always, “does it make me hungry?” :)

  2. says

    Thank you for your introduction of another fascinating blog and blogger. I look forward to exploring the recipes and posts she has made soon. I knew there was a reason that I stick with my LJ posts. Blogging (at the levels you and your current blogger practice) requires a level of dedication and commitment that I just don’t have the energy for. :)

    May I request a title or further description of the last recipe in the bread bowl. I “think” it’s a clam chowder but am not quite sure. :)

    • says

      It’s Mom’s New England Clam Chowder and the recipe is right under the photo :) At least I hope it shows up that way for you. I have added that link. Both the photo and the Author line in the recipe recipe were linked to the original recipe. All fixed!

  3. says

    That soup looks ridonkulous. I wish my name was Georgia. But then I would be Miss G and that sounds too gangsta.
    Love the comfort of food.

  4. says

    Another great interview! I’ve heard good things about the Lowel Ego Lights, and also about some of the LED lights. The nice thing about these is they are both continuous light sources, so you can see what effect the lights are giving (with flash, you’re sometimes surprised, or at least I am). I love Georgia’s site design – I’m a big fan of simple (my wife would say that’s appropriate!). Fun read- thank you.
    kitchenriffs recently posted..Planter’s Punch

    • says

      I haven’t used these lights either but I’d like to. I use large soft boxes and so far it works. Maybe when I can take photos like yours I’ll need fancy dancy equipment. :)

  5. says

    Hi Maureen,
    Another lovely interview with an extremely talented and creative blogger. I enjoy reading Georgia’s blog. The pecan bars look inviting!

  6. says

    I too have been following Georgia ever since I started blogging some time ago. I think she lived in California, but remember here talking about Boston, which is in my neck of the woods. She is a talented cook, blogger, photographer, and I enjoy checking out her latest creations by subscribing to her blog. She is one of the first people I started following and agree with your article on her wholeheartedly!

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