Interview with Kalyn’s Kitchen

Kalyn Denny is a fourth grade teacher who lives in Salt Lake City, Utah. She has always been a passionate cook, and for more than ten years operated a business where she catered houseboat trips on Utah’s Lake Powell. About 18 months ago Kalyn’s life changed when she went on the South Beach Diet and discovered the lower carb way to cook and eat. She started writing her blog, Kalyn’s Kitchen in April of 2005 simply as a way to share recipes with her friends who asked for them.

Kalyn had never read another blog except the one her brother started for the family when she started writing her own. She was completely unaware that the whole food blog network even existed. Kalyn wants to credit her brother, Rand, for encouraging her to start a blog, and for providing creative and technical assistance for Kalyn’s Kitchen. A lot of what people like about the blog would not have been possible without his help.

As much as she enjoys the process of trying recipes and writing the blog, Kalyn has also come to love the interactions with other food bloggers. She has *met* people from all over the world and learned so much from them. Interacting with other bloggers and regular readers who respond to the blog through comments is one of the most rewarding parts of writing Kalyn’s Kitchen.

And yes, she now reads quite a few blogs about subjects other than food too.

Simon Owens: Over the past few years, we’ve seen a shift from the “no-carb” diet to more of a “low-carb” diet. Why do you think this is? Do you think it unhealthy to get rid of carbs completely?

Kalyn Denny: I don’t actually think there ever was a “no carb” diet, but I think the media portrayed the Atkins diet that way. I never was a fan of Atkins, but I also think it’s too bad that people criticized it without really knowing about it. I agree absolutely that it is not healthy to get rid of carbs completely. I started getting interested in the lower carb way of eating through the South Beach Diet, which advocates eating more “slow carbs” (slower to digest). South Beach calls those kinds of complex carb foods (whole grains, beans brown rice, starchy vegetables) “good carbs”. When I went on the diet I was amazed at how easy it was to stick with it, how much really great tasting food fit the eating plan, and how quickly I lost the weight I wanted to lose. I was also quite amazed at how incredible I felt when I was eating less carbs and the right kind of carbs. My energy fluctuations completely went away; I felt energetic all day long. I do think that way of eating the South Beach Diet advocates, whether you call it slow carb, lower carb, or low-glycemic, is popping up in lots of new diets with different names. I think it’s really just a very healthy way to eat, which also helps people lose weight.

SO: Do you ever get the sense that every recipe has been done before, and now there are just slight variations on already-invented recipes? Are there any chefs who are on the forefront of creating new and unimagined recipes?

KD: I absolutely don’t get the sense that every recipe has been done before, although it’s true that there are infinite variations of recipes that have already been done, and always will be. Instead I think that cooking will always go through a process of evolving as society evolves. As new foods become available or affordable and people try them, they will naturally start to want those foods and cooks will develop recipes for them. For example, ten years ago I had never tasted sushi. When I did start to eat sushi I quickly learned that tuna was one of my favorites. Now I buy tuna and develop recipes for it at home. Every person like me who is passionate about cooking (and there are quite a few of us!) is constantly thinking of new ways to prepare their favorite foods.

I am certainly not an expert on chefs, but I do think there is quite a difference between a truly imaginative chef, and someone who gets famous by looking good on the Food Network and turning out reasonably good tasting food. I don’t want to mention names, but some of those people are not chefs. A chef is someone like Emeril, Bobbie Flay, Mark Bittman, Frances McCullough, Lynne Rosetto Casper, Rick Bayless or even Julia Child who is passionate about combining new flavors.

SO: Do consider cooking to be an art form?

KD: I absolutely consider cooking to be an art form. For one thing, art is subjective. Think of the quote “I don’t know much about art, but I know what I like.” Food is like that. People have widely varying tastes depending on their age, where they live, their life experiences, and there is even some evidence that taste is partly determined by genetic make-up.

I also think cooking is an art form because the skill of the cook is so important to the finished product (not everyone can make a good meal, even if they have the right ingredients and a good recipe) and the look of the food is so much a part of whether people like it or not. Most people who are good cooks enjoy the creative part of it as much as anything. I think the reason I like writing a food blog so much is because it combines my three creative passions, cooking, writing, and photography (although I am quite a novice photographer compared to the other two.)

SO: What are the five blogs everyone should be reading (besides your own)?

KD: I don’t want to mention a lot of specific blogs, because I have so many blog friends and I don’t want to leave people out. However, I do want to mention my brother’s blog which everyone should read simply because my brother is brilliant and his commentary on new technology is completely engaging.

Also, let me say that I do think everyone should be reading blogs, simply because blogs are the new media and the new literature. Our media has become so corporate controlled in this country, everthing from publishing to television and radio stations are sponsor controlled, that I simply don’t think you can understand what is really going on without getting information from the internet, and blogs are the most readable way to get new information.

I would say everyone should read at least one of each of these every day:
1. a political blog
2. a news blog
3. a technology blog
4. a humor blog
5. a cooking blog of course!!

If you allowed me a sixth category I would say if there is anything you are really passionate about that isn’t covered in those categories, find a blog about that subject and read it regularly too.

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