Mel's Kitchen Cafe


General Recipe and Cooking:
Can you please include nutrition facts on your recipes?
Yes! Coming soon! In fact, you’ll start seeing nutrition facts on recipes gradually rolling out as I go through and update my recipe posts one-by-one.

Can I substitute various ingredients in your recipes?
Please do! That’s the fun of cooking and baking. But I may not be able to respond back to every inquiry as to whether such-and-such will work for a substitution. As a general rule, I try to update the recipe (in the notes section below the recipe title) if I’ve substituted any of the ingredients or varied the recipe in any way so check there first and almost always, the comment thread is a great source of information as to what has worked for other people. Otherwise, go for it and be sure to report back with results!

My bread/rolls/yeast recipe isn’t turning out! Help! What do I do?
While I’m far from a yeast expert, I love to make bread and rolls and here is a great tutorial on working with yeast. And another step-by-step for whole wheat bread. Both of these will help with the majority of questions (especially with subbing in active dry yeast for instant yeast, etc.). Also, I’ve responded to many questions in the comments of all of the yeast bread and roll recipes so you may find useful information there, too.

Can you please tell me your favorite recipes or meals for entertaining?
I have a menu section here with some great weekly menu plans. As for other special entertaining events, the Recipe Index is a great resource for planning. For serving large groups, slow cooker meals are a great help, as well as pasta (like this manicotti or lasagna which can be made in advance).

How do I cut a pineapple, organize my recipes and/or properly measure flour?

I thought you’d never ask! Here’s a list of my oft-used kitchen tips and tutorials.

Equipment and Cookbooks:
What are the kitchen appliances and tools you can’t live without?
How nice of you to ask about my favorite subject (Brian is shooting you a virtual warning glance about getting me started on this scintillating topic). Here they are!

What cookbooks would you recommend?
To be honest, I don’t own hundreds of cookbooks. But I do own a few that I love, love, love. The Cook’s Illustrated Cookbook, The Cook’s Country Cookbook, any of the America’s Test Kitchen books (30-minute Meals, The Best Skillet Recipes, Quick Family Cookbook), The Joy of Cooking, King Arthur Flour’s Baker Companion. Additionally, I subscribe to two cooking magazines: Cook’s Country and Cuisine at Home. Love them both!

What kind of camera/lenses do you use?
Since 2015, I’ve used a Nikon D90 (before that I had a Nikon D90 and before that a used a Sony Cybershot point-and-shoot). I almost always shoot with my 24-70mm lens (i.e. my 6th baby). I am not a professional photographer. I take hundreds of pictures for each recipe I post. Sometimes I laugh at my pictures because they are funny and terrible. Occasionally I get a good one. My advice for food photography is to take a lot of pictures in natural light. There are times, I have to admit, I make my children stand by the window posing as a chocolate chip cookie in order to practice my food photography. You’d be surprised how well they do at this task.

Can I repost one of your recipes on my blog?
Why, yes! Blogging is all about sharing, in my opinion. All I’d ask is that you include a real, live link back to my website. Thanks!

Can I use one of your photos on my blog?
Unfortunately, I run into sites all.the.time (we’re talking daily) that have ripped off my photos, deleted the watermark, and posted them as their own. It makes me kind of angry (like scream-in-my-pillow-angry) so my overall policy is not to allow the reposting of my photos. However, if you have a reputable, non-spamming site and send me a really nice email asking permission beforehand (and a shipment of dark chocolate helps, too), I’ll probably say yes. It’s the outright stealing that causes me to say bad words in my head.

Can I advertise on your site?

Thanks for the inquiry, but I’m not accepting other advertisers at this time.

Can I send you a great, free product and will you post about it on your blog?

No. My preference is to talk the guts out of things I’ve loved and bought for myself – it doesn’t sit well with me to tell other people to pay for a product that I didn’t buy myself. I try really hard to keep this space authentic and unsponsored.

Can I guest post on your site?
Thank you, but no! For the last 11 years I’ve been the sole writer/blogger making this food blog tick, and it is my plan to keep it that way. 

How do you find the time to cook/bake so often? Are your children neglected?
If you consider a child with brownie batter slathered on his/her face neglected, then yes, they are. I do the majority of my cooking with my kids. They love to help (which is a blessing and a curse, as you can imagine) and because I’m naturally cooking meals for my family anyway, food blogging is a perfect hobby-turned-job for me. Of course, as other food blogger’s with children can attest, my kids will probably have issues later in life for all the minutes they had to stare at the food longingly while I take a million pictures before letting them dig in.

Where do you live?
I live in Southwest Idaho after having spent many years with our little family in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Utah. Brian and I both have roots scattered everywhere from Texas to Utah to Oregon to Montana.