This story appears in the Fall 2013 version of Eidé Magazine. Read it here, or click to read it in the issue below.
What do you think — the chicken or the egg? The omelet? The cacciatore? How about the recipe or the cook: which truly comes first? For Julia Gartland, the food photographer and founder of the beloved blog, “Sassy Kitchen,” one could not exist without the other. It was the need to find new recipes that led her to an obsession with cooking — or wait, was it the other way around? However the love affair began, dietary restrictions were the culprit.
A victim of chronic stomach problems since childhood, Gartland was finally diagnosed with multiple food intolerances (including gluten) in her 20s, and was forced to learn how to eat anew, with dietary restrictions as a guide. “I have always gravitated toward clean, healthy eating habits, but I was never a cook,” Gartland explains. “All these things were taken away from me, and so I had to learn to feed myself again... allergies teach you how to eat, for sure, but they also teach you how to cook. I don’t know if I would have gotten into food if I didn’t have these problems.”
With a background in fine art photography, creating a blog to share her newfound love for food (cooking it and photographing it) was an obvious next step. The inspiration behind each new recipe she shares comes from a garden of considerations. She starts with dietary limitations and combines that with, “what’s local and what’s in season and that kind of curates your flavor.” And the photography? “It’s a styling element.” But what guides Gartland and her site as a whole goes beyond the basic components of food and photo. “I see a lot of blogs that are really beautiful and have really great recipes, but I don’t get a sense of the person. There’s no warmth to them. I hope there is some sort of warmth to my blog,” she says. “I talk about the relationship between food and home a lot. I love cooking for people. Food is so important and ingrained in our sense of home and wellbeing. I hope (readers) can sense that from my site.”
Pomegranate Molasses Barbecue Sauce:
1/3 cup pomegranate molasses 4 cloves garlic, roughly chopped 1 small red onion, diced 1 teaspoon mustard seeds, freshly ground 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce 1/3 cup apple cider vinegar 1-2 dried arbol chile 3/4 cup brown sugar 1/4 cup water
Add all ingredients in a food processor. Pulse until smooth. Add mixture to a medium-sized saucepan. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 30-45 minutes or until reduced and thickened.
Shrimp and Corn:
1 1/2 lb. shrimp, deveined and shelled 4 ears of corn, de-husked 6 oz. thin prosciutto, sliced in strips 1/2 stick butter, soft and salted 1 garlic clove, minced A bundle of fresh chives, minced Fresh ground pepper Sea salt to taste
1. Wash and pat shrimp dry. Add to a medium mixing bowl and let marinate in barbecue sauce for 1 hour in the fridge. In the meantime, get your grill hot and soak some skewers!
2. In a small bowl, whisk together butter, garlic, chives, pepper and sea salt to taste. Slather over ears of corn and season very generously. Wrap each corn in tinfoil. Grill over medium heat for 35-40 minutes or until browned and tender.
3. For the shrimp: Remove shrimp one at a time, wrap in a thin slice of prosciutto, slather more barbecue sauce on and skewer. Use any leftover sauce to brush onto shrimp as they are grilling. Grill over high heat for approximately 5 minutes each side, or until browned and tender (but not overcooked!). Let cool for 5-10 minutes and enjoy!