Hi! I'm Traci - a produce-obsessed recipe developer and food photographer. I'm sharing my wholesome, easy recipes made with simple ingredients, painless instructions, and BIG flavor.
I write recipes with the simple cook in mind (even beginners) be it for Sunday dinner or holiday brunch. Don't be fooled by the occasional elegant appearance of my recipes. That's just me practicing my plating skills ... and nailing it ????
No matter what, I always use simple, everyday ingredients with minimal preparation and cooking steps. Just like you, I'm busy and I like to stretch my grocery dollars far.
Where do your recipes come from?
15 years in specialty foodservice and a few decades of home-cooking have positioned me to create simple, seasonal recipes. They literally fly out of my head!
I try to keep up with what's trending online, but my true inspiration comes from strolling the prepared foods section at specialty grocery stores. So many ideas! I look for dishes that are colorful and are flying off the shelf. I take note, and come up with my own interpretation...usually with a healthy twist.
I'm always deconstructing prepared foods in my head...I simply can't turn it off.
Fun fact: when I'm in my test kitchen, I use voice memos to capture everything I do. I currently have several hundred recipes in cue to publish, so stay tuned!
How do you decide which recipes get published on the blog?
Quite simply, the simple recipes that excite me the most are the ones that make it to the blog!
Feedback from my readers is very important to me, so the communication line is always open for business.
Also, if I can get a healthy recipe past my dude's meat-and-potatoes palate, and he asks for seconds or leftovers...we have a winner!
Dive in to my recipes, ask me questions, share what you love, and tell me what you don't love. I want to hear from you!
When did you become a recipe developer?
In college, I got my commercial kitchen training wheels working 4 years at The Neighborhood Co-op first as bakery staff. I later joined the deli management team to help launch and operate their deli department.
As a complete novice to bread baking, turned out I had quite a knack for it!
On the deli management team, I was entrusted to lead recipe development efforts.
They turned our team loose, with a wall of bulk bin ingredients and produce, to develop their entire line of recipes (snacks, soups, salads, entrees, desserts, etc).
I was in HEAVEN!
I hated to ever leave that job, and am sooo proud of their accomplishments to date, especially as a member-owned organization!
I also didn't stop creating recipes over the years, which is why I'm a recipe blogger now.
Gotta get it outta my system, yo! The Kitchen Girl is my virtual restaurant.
I can't tell you how stoked I am that things like quinoa and nutritional yeast aren't just hippie foods anymore...somebody pinch me!
When did you learn food photography?
It's true I take my own photos in my home kitchen.
Even after 4 years of doing it, every day brings a new challenge. Learning a technical skill is frustrating and rewarding. I push through until I get the results I want. But, sometimes I just go with what I have, which usually works out too.
I definitely did not bring photography skills into food blogging. Quite the opposite has occurred.
Why do you blog about food?
I have way too many recipes to share with others, so, why not do it with a blog?!
Also, I'm crazy about my blogging communities and friends. I love it that we're all contributing reliable content to the internet to make it a better place. Sounds corny, but it’s so true!
Why name yourself "The Kitchen Girl"?
Seemed like an easy name for people to remember when they ask where to find me online.
And I love kitchens. My kitchen, your kitchen, commercial kitchens, camping kitchens, soup kitchens…all kitchens, and all of the things in them!
Fun fact: If I attend your dinner party, I will be all up in your kitchen, helping you, until the last dish is washed...if you let me. What are friends for?!
Ever attend culinary school?
Yep, right here in Sonoma County at the SRJC Culinary Center. I took a line of courses to hone the skills I felt I was missing...and to have fun!
I picked up techniques in food prep, plating, planning, prep, food costing, knife skills, and food safety.
I’d do it all over again if I could! Can't wait to take their baking/pastry and food styling courses someday!
Do you read fiction or Non?
Nonfiction. Gimme ALL the business, tech, and cooking resources. Love business podcasts too!
Don't spend money on stupid crap. Spend it on really useful crap.
Favorite creative hobby?
Music!...playing guitar, flute, singing, and songwriting.
During college, I played AND performed with some seriously talented people at local venues. LOVE being behind the mic, especially in the recording studio.
I cut my own album of original songs, and never released it. It needs some remixing...it's on the list.
Yep, stretched out grad school in Communication Studies as long as humanly possible. Where else was I going to play so much music, and learn ceramics, and travel?
Best job you've ever had?
I think my current job as The Kitchen Girl is my fav! Close second would be my bakery / deli job at The Neighborhood Coop.
Most unique job you've ever had?
Communications instructor (and sailing crew) on an 80’ schooner in the Caribbean for 80 days. Epic? Yep! Challenging? Yep! Hard lessons learned? Yep..and soooo worth it!
Really need to get back to some of those islands!
Coffee...at sunrise. Occasional cold beer or cocktail...at sunset. Sparkling water...every day. And I almost never turn down a glass of bubbles, especially if they're local.
What's one word you'll never stop saying?
Now? Swimming. Back in the day? Rollerblading. The tomboy in me really wants to skateboard into my 50's, but I’m too afraid to fall and break things.
So, I avoid it...and live vicariously through Casey Neistat.
What's your favorite meal?
A gorgeous charcuterie platter with ALL the things, chilled bubbles, and ALL the friends to share it with.
Work ethic and retirement plan?
I love to work! ABC…always be creating. Motivation just comes natural to me, be it with food, tech, or music.
I’m not watching the clock, waiting for retirement. Some of my friends think I work too much...I'm all "omg where'd the time go?!"
Drivers who travel in the passing lane, unaware (or aware) that they have a line of cars behind them.
What's your most proud accomplishment (on-the-job)?
Leaving every place of employment more organized than I found it. It's all about systems and processes.
How do you pay it forward?
People-helper. When it feels right, I do it.
I'm also the total weirdo that asks you if I can take your grocery cart after you've finished loading your car. I mean, I'm going into the store anyway. Why not?
Any volunteer activities?
Not consistently, and not often enough...but when I do, I go BIG!
I participated in disaster response for for two major events 1) Hurricane Katrina in 2005; and 2) Northern CA wildfires in 2017. Still gets me teary-eyed when I recall details...or see footage.
What activities will you never get enough of?
Cooking, dancing like a teenager, camping, traveling, and singing harmony.