Nurse cooks up a drool-worthy blog

Jennifer Hamilton makes Domestic Goddess warm and comforting

January 18, 2007|By Jessica Berthold | Jessica Berthold,The Morning Call

Just as cooking shows succeed or fail based on the personality of the host, a cooking blog prospers only when the writer's voice entices. That's the case with the Domestic Goddess (www.domestic goddess.ca), whose tone is as warm and comforting as the smell of baking bread.

The blog's design is fresh, the food photos are scrumptious, and the dessert-focused recipes are simple to understand. But it's the Goddess' ability to tie any subject from her personal life to food that makes her blog such a treat to read. A rant about inconsiderate new neighbors, for example, becomes an object lesson on the calming power of fudge cookies, complete with accompanying recipe. Reading this blog is like sharing a cup of tea in the kitchen with your good friend - nourishing for the mind and spirit as well as the body.

Starting a food blog was natural for the blog's creator, Jennifer Hamilton, who comes from a family of cooks. The 34-year-old Canadian is a pediatric nurse in Toronto and is expecting her first child.

Were you raised eating any particular cuisine?

My parents were of British descent, so we had a lot of pork chops and that sort of thing. But my mom was excellent at making desserts when I was a kid, which is where I get my love of desserts.

What do you like about making desserts?

I find them more fun. For desserts, there's more of a scientific approach. If there's no yeast to the bread, it won't work. If you melt the chocolate at the wrong temperature, it won't work. You have this base to work from, then you can be imaginative from there.

Is there such a thing as Canadian cuisine?

It's similar to the States in that there are so many different ethnicities that there's not just one kind. There's French Canadian, Irish Canadian, aboriginal, all with their own cuisines. But there are Canadian products. Our wines are quite good and our cheeses are fantastic. We make good honey.

What's your favorite dish?

For desserts, probably apple pie, because I grew up eating it, and my mom was quite good at making it. And maybe barbecue. My family and I spent every summer at a cottage, and we'd eat barbecue outside.

If you had to eat one dish for the rest of your life, what would it be?

My oldest sister's avocado salad. It's so good, and it's nice and fattening.

Which recipe do you cook best?

Peppermint bark is my most popular. People ask me to make that a lot. It's almost embarrassingly easy to make, too.

Is there a recipe you have trouble with?

For the last three or four years, I had trouble making pizza dough. I'd make dough upon dough and it never tasted good. It was edible, but it wasn't like what you'd get at a pizza restaurant. But recently I found a recipe for English muffin dough, and this works really well.

Any foods you dislike?

I'm not a big fan of raw oysters. When they're cooked they're OK, but when they're raw ... there's something wrong there.

Are you an adventurous eater?

I'll eat what's in front of me but I don't seek out adventurous food as much as I'd like. If I traveled more, I'd be more adventurous.

Any countries you'd like to visit, just to try the cuisine?

I've always wanted to go to France and Italy, and recently to the Middle East. My husband is Middle Eastern, and his father-in-law keeps telling me that's where the best food in the world is.

Jessica Berthold writes for The Morning Call of Allentown, Pa.

The details

Address:

domesticgoddess.ca

In a word:

Savory.

E-candy for:

People who listen to cooking shows while making dinner. People who browse cookbooks for fun, even when they've no intention of cooking.

In sum:

Dessert-heavy cooking blog that delivers recipes with memories, stories and thoughts about food.

This blog as a person:

The kindly childhood neighbor or relative who plied you with sweets whenever you came to visit.

Sample topics:

How her feelings about dates, as a fruit and an activity, have changed over time. A family debate over whether tarts can be counted as pie. A Valentine's Day account of the romantic associations of chocolate, bananas and strawberries in various cultures.

Classic post:

(Following an account of childhood mishaps:) `'Most moms give milk and cookies for skinned knees or almost-chopped-off-thumbs. Not mine. My mom makes her famous (in my family anyway) Brown Sugar Sandwiches ... they take your mind off whatever ails you (unless it's a high-heart rate). I can taste them any time I bruise my leg on the coffee table or hit my head on the garage door." (Oct. 12, 2005)

Making it happen:

Jennifer Hamilton, 34, a pediatric nurse in Toronto.

Created:

January 2004.

Updates:

Once or twice a week.

Writing:

Vivid, warm and thoughtful.

Design:

Clean and magazine-like, with gorgeous photos.

Comments allowed?

Yes.

Popularity:

About 70,000 visitors per month.

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