I first met Alice Currah at a cocktail party hosted by Ree Drummond, The Pioneer Woman. This party was held at Salon de Ning, the rooftop bar on the 23rd floor of the Peninsula Hotel, here in New York City. It was a breezy, magical summer night. Morrow Cookbooks had just signed up Alice to publish her cookbook, based on her blog Savory Sweet Life. The party’s setting was pure glamor—we were all beautiful, laughing and tinging our champagne flutes, which were as glittery as the city lights. Alice was relaxed and happy, nestled among her sisters of the food blogging world.
Alice’s blog, and her cookbook, stand as an attractive counterpoint to Salon de Ning. In Savory Sweet Life, Alice turns the more domestic types of parties into celebrations as remarkable as a summer night on a Manhattan rooftop. Inspired by childhood memories of meals shared with her parents, dear neighbors, and friends, Alice set about to create dishes that her own family would remember when they looked back on events as important as birthdays and as mundane as game night in front of the TV.
That’s why I think Savory Sweet Life would be a great gift for any mom, because it puts into words and photos what so many of our moms do for us, day in and day out: make the everyday unforgettable. Also, Alice dedicates a whole chapter to describe her perfect Mother’s Day—in which she does nothing, and her husband does all the cooking.
The next time I met Alice, we had brunch in Seattle and I got to know her a little bit better (she’s just as warm, charming and adorable as her bog would lead you to believe). I invite you to get to know Alice, too. Here, Alice answers our cook’s questionnaire, as a great introduction. Be sure to pop over to her blog to read about a special offer for those who preorder her cookbook (and get a special downloadable Mother’s Day card for your mom—or for yourself).
Mission: My desire has always been to love people through cooking meaningful meals. If I can help people gain confidence in the kitchen and take the intimidation out of cooking great home-cooked meals, I’ve done my job.
Experience that changed your life: Motherhood – The first time I held my older daughter in my arms after giving birth wrecked me, forever, in the most beautiful way.
Mantra: Live well; Love much; Laugh often
Favorite food or meal? Recently I was treated to a memorable meal where our party was served lobster tacos and the best sushi I’ve ever had. I still think about that meal.
Most adventurous dish you have ever tried? While living in a rural area in Bolivia for a summer I tried patasca, a stew made from the entire cow’s head. One of my friends actually had the cow’s eyeball in his bowl.
Signature dish? I’m best known for my Chocolate Chip Cookies, which are made with a hint of sea salt. The recipe has become one of the most popular chocolate chip cookie recipes on the internet and is included in my cookbook.
Cooking and food philosophy? Keep things simple, fresh, and approachable – always remembering to be flexible throughout the cooking process.
Best culinary vacation you’ve ever taken? Living in Seattle makes it very convenient to drive north up to Vancouver, B.C. Before having kids my husband and I would drive across the border for a weekend just to explore the culinary scene in downtown Vancouver.
Salty, sweet, sour, or spicy? I’m definitely a salty-sweet kind of girl. A few salty-sweet recipes I love from the cookbook are the Caramel Corn, Red Pepper Relish, and Chocolate Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Cookie Frosting.
What music, if any, do you listen to when you cook? I love listening to the Pandora station “Rhythm of the Night” by DeBarge. The songs keep me dancing while cooking and remind me of my youth. Artists commonly played on this old-school station are The Jackson 5, Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson, Lionel Richie, New Edition, and Whitney Houston.
Favorite movie about eating or food? The Great Chef: Peking Restaurant (1999) – A South Korean film about one man’s quest to revive his father’s friend’s restaurant by trying to perfect the ultimate jjajangmyeon (black bean sauce over thick chewy noodles) dish.
If you could have dinner with 3 people—living or dead, of course—who would they be? My dad – He passed away while I was writing my cookbook. I wish very much to be able to share a meal with him today. Oprah – I grew up watching Oprah regularly, and she’s always come across as someone who appreciates a really good home- cooked meal, whether by a chef or a home cook like me. Jesus.
Something about yourself that would surprise people? I was seriously considering making it my life’s work to do mercy work in a Third World country before I met my husband. After volunteering abroad on four different occasions, I was prepared to dedicate my life to compassion ministries helping the poorest of the poor. While I was figuring out the logistics of this plan, I regularly volunteered at a homeless teen shelter in Seattle, where I met my husband, who was also a volunteer.
Is there any one person (aside from yourself) you think of pleasing with your cooking? My husband – There’s a very traditional part of me that relishes in feeding him good home-cooked meals. He enjoys every single meal I prepare for him, which brings me a lot of joy.
What would you be doing if you weren’t a writer? I’m most happy and at peace when I’m creating something and learning new ways of doing things. Not sure what I would be doing if I wasn’t writing, but I imagine it would involve some type of artistic expression.
Is there a particular ingredient, herb, or spice that’s really inspiring you right now? I’m so fascinated by fresh basil – especially in desserts.
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