Featured Food Blogger of the Week: Gail Dickinson of Chocolate, Chocolate and More
Gail is a single mom with three kids, Matt, Tim and Becky. She alternates her time between her home in Austin, Texas and Phnom Penh, Cambodia. She teaches science by day and bakes delectable treats at night and on weekends. Their family is a family that loves cooking and good food. Their best memories are times they’ve spent cooking in the kitchen at holidays and family gatherings.
1. Having had visited numerous countries, which one made such a huge impression on you? Which country greatly influenced your cooking style?
I'd say Cambodia has made the biggest impression as I keep going back. Since I run a baking site, European countries such as France and Britain and the US are my biggest baking influences. I love old, traditional recipes because there's often a story that goes with them. I do love the fresh ingredients in Asian foods and try to incorporate some of the fresh Asian spices in my baking.
2. What is the most unexpected truth you've discovered about baking?
You don't have to be a perfectionist. Baking is about ratios so you need to keep dry ingredient/wet ingredient ratios pretty constant but you can make a lot of substitutions that add more flavor if you keep the recipe ratios about the same.
3. Are you still living in Cambodia? Can you tell us a little about your life there?
I left Cambodia for Texas in late August. I had to drop my daughter off for her first year at college and then straight to work for me. I loved living in Cambodia. I was on a Fulbright Fellowship for a year. I taught courses at a university, worked with local teachers and professors on improving their teaching, sang in a community choir and made lots of international friends.
Many things were the same as the US. I went to work every day, met with colleagues, taught similar content and had a similar social life. There were some notable differences in my life there.
I didn't drive while I lived in Cambodia so I had a tuktuk driver who took me anywhere I needed to go or I rode my bike. Grocery shopping is a bit of a trick in Cambodia - especially when shopping for baking supplies.
Virtually everything to do with baking is imported so higher priced and in scarce supply. You could always tell when the ship had come in because the stores would have a lot more variety.
A store might have cream cheese one week and then not have any for the next three. You stock up when you see unique things in the store. My oven also didn't have a thermostat so I used an oven thermometer and had to watch everything I baked carefully.
4. You said you love baking. Does this mean you prefer to bake than to cook savory foods? But do you develop savory recipes?
I do develop savory recipes but so far I've not posted any of my own to the blog. Chocolate, Chocolate, and More readers really want desserts so savory dishes don't do well for us. I do love soup and Italian food. My lasagna is to die for.
5. Finally, can you give us a couple of your recipes that you are proudest of.
- This limoncello Raspberry bundt cake is a huge hit every time I make it
- My sister's ding dong cake is also a favorite
- I recently made a chocolate peppermint patty ice-cream that is just amazing.
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