Megan Matusky ’13 writes a cooking blog that she began in college as part of an independent study research project. She shares her thoughts on cooking and blogging in this question-and-answer interview.
What’s your favorite dish to cook? To eat?
My favorite dish to cook depends on my mood. If I’m in the mood to try something different and dirty a lot of dishes, I would say Pasta Pescatore. It’s a crowd pleaser, but involves some patience. Most nights, my favorite dish to cook is something simple. My standby is pesto pasta with chicken. It’s easy, but involved enough where you feel like you’re doing something.
My favorite food to eat is a stuffed Mediterranean chicken dish that my mom makes. It is chicken breasts stuffed with feta cheese, tomatoes, and olives served in a lemon sauce. I love it! My favorite food of all time is the Mahi-Mahi fish taco from Jose Garces’ restaurant Distrito. I could eat pounds of them.
Did you get any feedback on your posts?
Yes, I’ve received a lot more feedback than I expected. Originally, it was just from my close friends and family, but the more I’ve posted, the larger my audience has grown. It’s always nice to get comments or likes from other food bloggers. I think the comments that mean the most to me are from acquaintances of mine. People who I don’t talk to frequently, but go out of their way to tell me they like my blog. That really means a lot because I know it’s a pure commitment.
What did you learn about cooking this year?
Cooking is really scary, which is why I think most people avoid it at first. It’s really hard to make yourself dive in and try to create something, when you have no idea where to begin. It causes a lot of self doubt and frustration when you’re triple checking a recipe every 30 seconds. The biggest thing I learned about cooking is that if you have an interest in it, you just have to dive in.
I’ve always been interested in food, but I didn’t start actually cooking until a year ago. Once you get moving and stop worrying about the recipe, it becomes fun and almost relaxing. I use cooking as a way to decompress after practice and before homework. It’s really nice.
Also, not everything will turn out perfect. I typically shoot for edible and if it’s better than that, it was a successful meal (I only post the successes on the blog). The other day I attempted to make garlic bread, which is one of the easiest things in the world to make. Unfortunately, I sat my bread too close to the broiler and it went up in flames. Luckily, I had extra bread, so I tossed that under the broiler. In a matter of minutes, that was scorched as well. Sometimes, things just don’t come out right. That’s just a part of any creative activity.
What surprised you most about the project?
I was surprised by how many recipes I had and how easy it was to come up with more. When I started, I thought that this would be a problem because I tried to write down every recipe and only came up with five. I then had to switch my mindset from what I wanted to make to what I wanted to eat. It was much easier to come up with foods I was craving than foods I wanted to cook. A lot of the time I would make up my own recipes. If I was really stumped, I would search the internet for recipes and combine the ideas I liked. Other times I would rely on the Food Network. Once you start searching the world of food, you start to realize how many options are out there. It’s pretty fun for a food nerd like me.
How did your efforts to expand readership turn out?
I’m still working on increasing my readership and if I had more time in the semester, that is where my project would take me. I’m really interested in internet marketing. Right now, I use Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest to advertise all of my posts. I’ve also been attempting more search engine optimization to get my post pulled higher in Google. It’s interesting because once I changed my focus to SEO-oriented marketing, I saw a lot more people coming to my blog through search engines.
To see the numbers go up is one of the most rewarding things about having a blog. It’s a real confidence boost and keeps me motivated to write. It’s nice to know that my work isn’t only being seen by my mom. Also, it’s amazing to see the hit count for each day. For instance, I had 94 hits the other day for no particular reason. I didn’t have a post up or any marketing, people were just genuinely going to my blog.
Are you going to keep the blog going even though the research project is over?
Yes, but I’m going to have to change my focus a little. I’m moving home and my mom is particular about her kitchen. I’ll have a little less freedom when it comes to what and when to cook, but I’ll keep cooking. I’d love to keep posting, but I’m going to aim for one post a week instead of three. Three posts a week is a lot, but necessary when starting a blog to gain readership and content.
What’s your job situation?
I started working as an associate editor at Gregory FCA (a public relations firm outside Philly) on July 15th. I’m editing and writing for the firm and its clients. I’m doing everything from blog posts to press releases to bylined articles.