Stephanie O'Dea – a New York Times bestselling cookbook author, slow cooking expert, and blogger at StephanieODea.com – talks about her favorite taco soup, supporting stay-at-home moms, and how to make a living as a blogger.
First, tell us a bit about your blog and the topics it covers.
I am best known for A Year of Slow Cooking. It began in 2008 as a New Year's resolution to use my slow cooker every day for a year and write about my results online. I wasn't much of a cook when I got started, but throughout the course of the year I really began to understand which spices worked and with what type of food, and I really began to appreciate just how versatile the slow cooker can be. I learned how to make yogurt, steam fish, make perfect tamales, and even crème brûlée! Now I have a website featuring both A Year of Slow Cooking and the blog for my bookTotally Together.
Tell us about your audience. What kind of traffic do you get on the blog? What posts tend to be most popular?
My audience is primarily women from the US, although I do have quite a few readers from Canada, the UK, and Australia. I am just now, after 6 years of blogging, beginning to see readers from Indonesia and Singapore. The website continuously attracts 20,000 unique visitors in the off-season and peaks at 50,000 unique readers a day in the height of slow cooking season (September through mid December). I worked very hard those first few years to get the site self-sufficient; now that it's ranked quite well with Google, I can now more easily split my time between website stuff, answering reader emails, working on cookbooks, and spending time with my kids.
What initially sparked your interest in slow cooking? Do you have a favorite recipe to cook slowly?
I received my first slow cooker at age 21. I was newly engaged and thought that I should be "more domestic" so I asked for a food dehydrator, pasta machine and slow cooker for my birthday. The dehydrator and pasta machine got freecycled a few years later, but I still have the Crock-Pot that my mom got me.
As for a favorite recipe, I enjoy making up new things each time I cook, but I will say that The Original Taco Soup recipe continues to be my favorite go-to when entertaining a houseful of people, and my kids adore it. If they had their way, I'd make that weekly and then they'd just live off of the leftovers!
In addition to three cookbooks, one of which you promoted on The Rachael Ray Show last fall, you’ve also written Totally Together, a book on helping moms stay organized. Tell us about it.
I actually began writing Totally Together: Shortcuts to an Organized Life back in 2004, when I was pregnant with my second child. I wanted a way for moms to have a daily checklist of all the things they were supposed to do and I thought if I made up a daily planner for moms that was already filled out with checklists for certain household tasks it would make things easier.
Do you have any plans to add new features to your blog or to expand it in any way? What sort of media opportunities can PRs help you with?
I want to help other moms who would like to stay home or who currently stay home learn how to blog for income. I feel insanely fortunate that I am able to stay home with my children in my pajamas and continue to work. That is a dream of mine – to be able to advise and help others who would like to contribute to the family finances while still being the primary caretaker for their kids.