Why I Write About Food 002: Sara Cornelius of Cake Over Steak

Cooking is a form of art, and Sara demonstrates that not only with her artful recipes but also through the masterful photography and graphic illustration of the food she creates. Cake Over Steak is where I go when I need a quick escape from the doldrums of daily life, because over there it's not unusual to find a peanut butter and jelly cupcake recipe inspired by an elephant. 

Tell us about Cake Over Steak. 
My blog is the ultimate collision of a lot of my passions, some of which I didn't even realize I had until I started it. Ultimately, it's a combination of my art skills (through the  illustrations) along with my passion for food and home cooking. Since starting it I've developed a love for food photography and I've realized how much I enjoy writing and talking about food, particularly sharing stories from my life and relating those to my food obsessions. It's become a safe space for me to share openly about my life, about what I'm making in my kitchen, what books I'm reading, and to connect with like-minded people. It fulfills me creatively on a million different levels and I have way more ideas for it than I have time for.

Why do you write about food?
Food is so universaleverybody eats multiple times a day. We associate different foods with celebrations and special moments. There are nostalgic recipes and ones that make us homesick. I'm also just obsessed with food, so I think about it more than most. Writing about food feels so natural to me. I'll never run out of foods to talk about and there's always something to say about it. I also love that posting a recipe, and therefore telling someone else how to make something you've already made, is kind of like inviting the reader to be a part of your life. 

As an artist, do you find yourself cooking visually? 
While I don't think about it in that sense a lot, I do think that my design background informs my cooking in some ways. As an artist, it's just the way my brain works. One of my favorite things to make is a salad, and I often find myself thinking about the colors and textures going into it. If I have too much of one color then I try to add in something that contrasts with everything else, which also naturally leads to a more balanced meal. I'm definitely drawn to foods that are visually pleasing, so I take that into account while cooking. It's part of what I love about food.

Do you have a beloved hand-me-down recipe that you can tell us about?
I have a recipe for hot milk cake, or what I called "golden milk cake" on my blog. It's something my dad's mom used to make, and I grew up with my mom making it for my dad's birthday all the time. His birthday is the day before mine, so sometimes we would make this one as a joint birthday cake, and our birthdays are in June so we would always serve it with fresh strawberries. It's really easy to throw together and it tastes wonderful even plain. So it's a solid recipe but it also means a lot to my family.

What are you currently reading?  
Oh my goodness, I have a handful of cookbooks floating around my apartment right now and a million more on my wish list. Right now I'm particularly enjoying HuckleberryThe Year of CozyWhip It Up and My New Roots. I love cookbooks that give me a glimpse into someone's life. I also just finished the book Skin Cleanse, which is very much about food regarding how our diet affects our skin, and there are a bunch of delicious-sounding recipes for face masks and scrubs that use fresh foods like avocado and papaya. 

What's your favorite recipe on Cake Over Steak?
There are quite a few that are special to me for a lot of reasons. I'll say my fig pizza with goat cheese, pistachios and honey. I posted that in honor of my first wedding anniversary, and it's inspired by a pizza my husband and I ate on our honeymoon in Paris. So it's special to me for that reason, but I also just love pizza and this is my favorite kind of recipe to throw together for dinner. It sounds kind of fancy, but it's a really quick and easy dinner. 

Question from Tina Jui of The Worktop: How do you find inspiration for the recipes you post? (Click here to read Tina's interview)
I get my inspiration from all over the place: cookbooks, other blogs, food podcasts, restaurant meals, family recipes, etc. I usually eat or make something that then sparks an idea for a twist on that recipe or another way to put those flavors together. A lot of the ones I post on my blog also come from recipes I make often at home, tweaking them each time until they turn into something a little different and become more of my own recipe. Ultimately I think the best ideas come from practising and getting your hands dirty in the kitchen. I feel like every time I try a totally new recipe I learn something from it, and somehow from that experience I come up with a new blog post idea. 

Visit Sara's website at www.cakeoversteak.com 
Recommended Recipes: 
Peanut Butter and Jelly Cupcakes

Golden Milk Cake

Fig Pizza with Goat Cheese, Pistachios and Honey 

INTERVIEW BY CHRISTINE LEONG. PHOTOS AND ILLUSTRATION BY CAKE OVER STEAK.

IF YOU'D LIKE TO READ MORE INTERVIEWS, CLICK HERE.