Susan Russo is a freelance food writer, cookbook author and recipe developer. She publishes stories, recipes and photographs on her popular food blog, Food Blogga, which has been named a “Site We Love” by Saveur magazine, “50 Best Food Blogs” by Delish.com and “Blog of the Day” by the “Julie and Julia” website.
Susan is a regular contributor to NPR’s Kitchen Window, where she wrote the two most viewed stories of 2009. Her work also appears in the magazines Cooking Light and Edible San Diego as well as many online sources including The Chicago Sun-Times.
Her first cookbook, Recipes Every Man Should Know, was released in November 2010, and her second book The Encyclopedia of Sandwiches Recipes, History, and Trivia for Everything Between Sliced Bread will be released in the spring of 2011 (Quirk Books).
Susan enjoys hiking, searching for “Mad Men” dress, drinking craft beer and buying purple colored produce at any of the 40+ farmers markets in San Diego.
What inspired you to first start writing your blog?
A memorable trip home to Rhode Island. Actually, it was a memorable encounter with a burly TSA security guard in the RI airport that involved a big block of Reggiano-Parmigiano cheese.
What kinds of posts are your favorite to write? What do your readers seem to like the most?
The posts that involve family stories. Whether it’s a humorous tale involving a 14-pound crustacean or a sentimental remembrance of my grandmother’s Italian frittatas, the stories just flow effortlessly from my memory to the screen. Readers love that they’re honest and relatable and often tell me that they feel a personal and emotional impact upon reading them.
Do you plan a weekly menu? If so, what inspires your menu?
No. I’m definitely a mood eater. If I’m in the mood for something, then I’ll go to the market that day and buy what I need. Plus, I have to admit, I’m a supermarket junkie. I go about five times a week.
Where do most of your recipes come from? (Family favorites, you make them up, magazines, cookbooks, etc.)
I simply make up the vast majority of my recipes. My mother and grandmother never used recipes when they cooked, and I have followed in their footsteps. Since they taught me basic cooking techniques and how to pair foods and balance flavors, I learned to be a confident cook who enjoys experimentation.
What would you eat as your last supper?
What is your favorite part about blogging?
Writing the stories and interacting with readers.
What kind of camera/lens/equipment do you use?
Nikon D80. I don’t use any special equipment. I take photos on my deck using natural light.
Any suggestions or hints to have great food photos?
I keep things really simple. I prefer close-up shots that highlight the dish. I also like texture in my photos. So I might put a simple white ceramic plate on a bamboo placemat or drape a bowl in a textured dish towel. It’s not fussy, but it adds visual interest.
What kind of food did you eat growing up? Do you cook the same kinds of things today?
Italian-American food such as pasta and meatballs, chicken cutlets, sausage and peppers and eggplant parmigiana. I cook those foods only occasionally because they’re not as healthy as I’d like them to be. Having said that, they’re the foods I turn to when I need comforting.
What was the first dish you ever cooked?
Meatballs. I was a toddler when I started making meatballs with my mom. She’d let me stand on a stool so I could reach the countertop, and I’d roll the meatballs with my little hands until my fingers turned blue with cold. I loved it!
When you really want to cheat, what do you eat?
A big bowl of popcorn with melted butter, grated Parmesan cheese and black pepper. OK, that’s not true. I usually eat two bowls.
What is the best thing you’ve ever eaten? The strangest?
The best is my late grandmother’s lentil soup. The strangest was a glutinous pudding similar to tapioca that I ate in Hong Kong when I was a kid. It was like eating lumpy Elmer’s glue.
What is your best tip for saving money on groceries?
Buy seasonal produce which will be marked for sales. You won’t find watermelon on sale in January, but you sure will during August.
What is your best tip to becoming a successful blogger?
Be yourself. Write about what you love, and you’ll create your own unique voice. Readers will sense that you’re genuine and passionate and will keep coming back for more.
A huge thank you to Susan, not only for letting us get to know her a little more, but for her wonderful cookbook! If you want to see more from her, here is where you can find her: