Vicky takes the meaning of kitchen adventures to a new level by maintaining a food blog while traveling the world. From different kitchens in different countries, she shares health-conscious, culturally-savvy recipes. It's a lesson in replacing limitations with possibilities, and turning cravings into opportunities (like her BLT summer rolls). A lesson I'd gladly take from her.
Tell us about Avocado Pesto.
I started Avocado Pesto back in December 2010. It focuses on healthy eating with recipes made from scratch catering to a variety of restrictive diets (including gluten-free, dairy-free and vegan). I want to show how easy and delicious it is to whip up healthy recipes that are good for your body.
How do you manage to run a food blog while traveling the world?
After working in Washington DC for two years, my boyfriend and I decided to ditch the 9-5 jobs and set off to backpack around the world for two years. We got to travel across Asia, Europe and Oceania. Since that wasn't enough for us, we also road-tripped around the US for five months and just recently spent two months house-sitting in Central America. South America is coming up next. Running a food blog while traveling was definitely a challenge. I tried to stock up on recipes before I left, and in Asia sought out cooking schools everywhere we were so that I could share those recipes on my blog. When we could rent apartments I would throw myself into the kitchen and cook up a storm, making enough recipes to share for a full month at a time.
What is it like cooking in different kitchens and getting ingredients in different countries?
It's definitely interesting. You can't always find the ingredients you are looking for and you don't have all the tools and gadgets you have in your home kitchen. You certainly learn to get creative. For months all I had to season my recipes with was salt; I wasn't going to carry around a whole arsenal of spices. I also had to learn how to purchase ingredients in small quantities so that I could prepare a few recipes and go through everything.
It was amazing to shop at local markets and get an understanding of the food culture in every country. Through the cooking classes in Asia I learned a ton about ingredients that weren't as familiar to me before—think Thai curry pastes, kaffir lime leaves and pandan leaves. Those experiences truly inspired me to create more Asian recipes and even years later I find myself implementing the techniques I learned in those classes in Asia.
Why do you write about food?
Anyone who knows me knows that I absolutely love food. Can never get enough of it. My eyes simply light up if I'm talking about food. Since I can't blabber on about food in my real life conversations with everybody all day every day, why not do it online, via a food blog?!
What are you currently reading?
I am in the middle of both Atlas Shrugged and book two of the Game of Thrones series, and cannot wait to get started on The Mountain Shadow (sequel to one of my favorite books of all time, Shantaram). In terms of food blogs, there isn't a specific set that I read daily; I just love to browse around the web and check back on food blogs I know every now and then.
What's your favorite recipe on Avocado Pesto?
It's hard to pick just one but one of my favorites is the vegan Quinoa Black Bean Pumpkin Soup. It's hearty and filling, midway between a soup and a stew, and topped with my all-time favorite cubed avocado. I love this dish for cooler days, it just warms you right up!
Question from Sara of Cake Over Steak: What's something you eat all the time that people might be surprised to know about? (Click here to read Sara's interview)
I eat avocados almost every single day, usually with my eggs for breakfast, or in a salad for lunch, but that shouldn't be a surprise considering the blog's name! In terms of surprising items, I love all sorts of ethnic Russian food. Think red caviar, rye bread, half sour pickles, smoked mackerel, pickled herring, the list goes on. It must be my Russian roots constantly pulling me back into that world of food. Oh and I absolutely love seltzer water. I crave that daily!