Mama’s High Strung is a remarkably comprehensive cooking blog that offers up tips and advice on everything from the best kitchen gadgets and accessories to meal recipes one can prepare in just 30 minutes. Its creator Christina Chavez is a part-time culinary consultant and as the site’s tagline states, knows a thing or twelve about “cooking…under pressure. ” That makes her someone to whom Flavorful World is honored to have recently gotten a chance to pose some questions. Don’t worry, among those asked is why Mama is high strung, though you’ll have to read the great interview she gave us if you want the answer to that one (and we know you want the answer to that one.) Come on in.
Flavorful World: Why is Mama high-strung?
Christina Chavez: Mama is high strung because she has five kids, a husband, is a part-time culinary consultant and she is trying to keep up with posting (daily?!) to her website… it gets a little nerve wracking!
FW: Create a three-course meal to celebrate summer. What dishes would you select and why?
CC: Summer is about the outdoors and everything that is coming into season, fresh and delicious. We love soups in our family, so I would definitely have a cold soup for the first course… either a cucumber or asparagus soup, gazpacho if it was later in the summer. A cold bean salad would also be on the menu,with broccoli florets and radishes for crunch, tomatoes (if they were perfectly ripe) for color, sheep feta cheese for a little depth of flavor, basil leaves, a drizzle of deliciously nutty olive oil and a splash of dense balsamic vinegar. The third course would be something from the grill… fish, beef or chicken, with a light cilantro chimichurri sauce.
FW: Tell us the best-tasting food you’ve ever had whose preparation utilized the fewest ingredients.
CC: Honestly, the best tasting food I’ve ever eaten was when I was working in Central America as a journalist. We had been with the guerrillas for a month or so and we were starved. We drove to a place called “Selva Negra” in Nicaragua (it still exists!), and had an amazing dinner of lightly breaded jumbo shrimp sautéed in garlic butter with a delicate epazote cream sauce. Six ingredients: breadcrumbs, shrimp, garlic, butter, cream, epazote. I still remember it.
FW: What is the most recent recipe you created that utilizes seasonal fruit?
CC: I made a delicious Rhubarb Pie. I’m not much of a baker (as you can tell by the crust), but the flavor was terrific… and disappeared quickly.
FW: What is your favorite comfort food that is typically served cold, and what makes it your chosen comfort?
CC: My favorite comfort food served cold is chocolate cake… but it has to be really good chocolate layer cake with a delicious chocolate frosting. It is probably my favorite comfort food because my mother (who was not a great cook but was fantastic at so many other things) would make us the most delicious chocolate birthday cakes when we were little. I’m sure the cakes came from a box mix, but they were made by my mother so they were delicious. And really, isn’t that all that really matters, that something is made with love?
FW: By what criteria do you measure your success as a food blogger?
CC: I measure my success as a food blogger by the amount of products and gadgets I receive weekly to test and try out. I suppose someone cares what I think or I wouldn’t receive so many requests for my opinion. I don’t solicit these items, and if someone sends something to me I let them know that if I write about it, it will be my honest opinion. What’s on the horizon for Mama’s High Strung? I am continuing to grow the brand through social media. Every morning it seems like there is yet another place I need to post or another group I need to join in order to get my name and brand out there. I love writing and doing what I do… so it’s all still great fun!
FW: What is your favorite wine, beer, or cocktail for pairing with each of the following, and why? Shellfish, BBQ, Lamb.
CC: Shellfish: A good Sancerre, especially with oysters or softshell crabs, because of the bright, crisp fruit flavors fill the mouth while hints of mineral and flint tease the palate; BBQ: give me a good smooth beer, like a Flat Tire or even a LoneStar Longneck, to quench my thirst and balance out the heat from the sauce. I’m from Texas: I want my meat smoked and my beer cold… this isn’t a balancing act. Lamb: Ah, it depends on how the lamb is prepared! My favorite way is a Frenched rack of lamb, marinated in lemon juice, garlic and black pepper. Then roasted to just barely medium rare and brushed with muddled mint, olive oil and salt just before serving. A Washington State Syrah is perfect because it is dense and smoky enough to handle the earthy lamb flavor, yet isn’t overpowering.
FW: Excluding the name of any of your pre-existing blogs, websites, or print/online personas, tell us what name you would give to your memoir about your culinary exploits?
CC: “Always Hungry”
FW: When you aren’t cooking and/or eating delicious foods, how do you most enjoy spending your time?
CC: I’m fortunate that the beach is walking distance from my home so we spend a lot of time down there enjoying picnic dinners. After making an easy dinner, there’s nothing like sitting back and enjoying a cocktail on the beach!
*Note to readers: Like what you read here? Then continue watching Mama’s strings reach new heights at MamasHighStrung.com, on Facebook and LinkedIn, or pin her at Pinterest. Follow her on Twitter @mamashighstrung to stay in the know about her latest, most fascinating culinary exploits.