Monday, November 2, 2009

An Interview with Hannah Kaminsky

I have taste-tested Hannah's recipes myself, and they are fabulous! Please visit her blog, and check out her cookbook!

Your full name: Hannah Kaminsky
Your age: 20
Your location: Connecticut

You have so many creative recipes! What inspires you to create new things?
-Really, the question should be, what doesn't inspire me!  My family always jokes that I have too many ideas, and even the most mundane tasks can set me off brainstorming new projects and recipes.  Mostly, however, I try to at least focus my inspiration on the current season, in order to utilize the freshest and best ingredients available. 

Do you have formal culinary training?
-Nope, I just learned through trial and (a lot of) error.

Has baking with vegan ingredients been difficult for you?
-Not at all, because I never baked or even cooked before going vegan.  I think that helped me a lot with baking, because I never felt the need to seek out "replacements," as I never knew what the "real" thing was like to begin with.

When did you first become interested in becoming vegan?
-I first became aware of veganism when I entered high school.  A lot of my friends were vegetarian, and I dabbled in that for a bit because it seemed "trendy"... But then I actually did some research about animal rights, and realized how horribly cruel the meat, dairy, egg, etc industries were.  Pretty much overnight, I decided to take the leap and go 100% vegan.  I just love animals too much to let them suffer, especially when there are perfectly viable alternatives.

What message do you hope your blog and recipes will convey?
-The blog wasn't created with a message in mind, but more as a simple platform on which I could share my latest creations.  Now, however, I hope that both vegans and non-vegans alike will take away how easy it is to lead a cruelty-free lifestyle, and that it doesn't need to be about restriction and deprivation, but that it can be genuinely fun.  If nothing else, I want to show the world that we aren't missing out, and on the contrary, we're leading the way in many food-related fields.

What was it like publishing My Sweet Vegan?
-In a word: Unreal! It all happened so fast, I could hardly believe it. It still seems like some far-fetched plot that's entirely dreamed up.

You have published several e-books! How has this been different from publishing My Sweet Vegan, if at all?
-Oh, making the ebooks are completely different than physical cookbooks.  Sure, the process for writing, testing, and photographing the recipes is the same, but on top of all that, I'm completely in charge of formatting and designing the ebooks.  (Trust me, this is a much bigger headache than it sounds like!) The turnaround is infinitely faster, as I can finish an ebook in 1 - 2 weeks if I really buckle down- It also helps that they're much shorter, containing an average of 12 recipes.  Usually I can get them online very quickly, distribute at will, and charge much less than I would for a book, since there are no printing costs.  It's really a win-win for everyone!

How does your cooking affect your work life? Your personal life?
-Without cooking, there is no life, in every sense imaginable.  Cooking to me is about physical nourishment, but also about love, compassion, experimentation, art... Just about everything in my life circles back to food in one way or another.  I cook for a living at a tiny little restuarant in town, then I have an internship as a food photographer, then I go home and write about food, and finally, I wind my days down by cooking some more, just for myself.  I guess you could say I'm pretty thoroughly obsessed, for better or for worse.

I know that you not only bake, but also do your own food photography! Has this created any new difficulties for your in your craft? Has it been a rewarding experience for you?
-I don't see it as creating additional difficulties, but opportunities.  It allows me to portray exactly what I have in mind for a dish, and have better creative control over the final product.  I feel terrible for other cookbook authors who have to deal with photographers who interpret their dishes wrong because they don't share the same vision!  It's been incredibly rewarding for me, and I've already had my work published in a number of other cookbooks, magazines, and websites.  In fact, I'm currently pursuing a degree in photography in hopes of furthering my skills.

Do you have any future cookbooks or cooking-related goals in mind for the future?
-Well I am working on a second cookbook, and I'm currently approaching various publishers with my proposal... It might still be a while, but I'm hoping that I will have something to show for all this work before mid 2010, one way or another...

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