Welcome to MetaCookbook!

So, you saw something on Twitter or Pinterest that intrigued you, and you want to know more about me and my web-home? Thanks! I’ll try to keep it informative, but brief.

About Natasha

I currently live in Chicago, but I’ve also lived in Washington, D.C., and its surrounding suburbs; Baltimore, MD (briefly); and all around New Mexico. I regularly contemplate moving to Portland, OR, or back to Baltimore, MD.

I’m in my 30s and discovering how much I am obsessed with food. My obsession is rooted in my undergraduate days, but didn’t really bloom until I landed in Chicago for a Ph.D. program. I have since left that program, and sometimes I very much miss it. Typically, though, I’m pretty sure I did the right thing.

My immediate family consists of my husband, Bill, and our two dogs, Kiki the Corgi and Happy the Papillon1.

Kiki the Corgi and Happy the Papillon. Adopted together on 26 Sept 2014. About 7 years old at the time of this photo, a mere day later.

I grew up surrounded by good cooks (my mother, grandmothers, Uncle L and sister, to name a few) and refused to learn. Not just didn’t put forth any effort – steadfastly refused to get in the kitchen to learn. Threw a fit or two when forced.

My mother gave me “Cooking for Dummies” when I left for college. My family was sure I’d live on Kraft dinner. Instead, I slowly learned how to not starve (turns out that white rice with mixed frozen veggies and cheddar cheese is not as gross as it sounds). One day, I learned of Gary Nabhan through this Discover Magazine article. My life was changed, though I didn’t know it yet. This blog is one of the much-later results of my reading that article.

About MetaCookbook

This blog started in 2010 as a joint blogging project with Bill. We realized we were buying a ton of cookbooks, but not really cooking, and we decided to challenge ourselves to fix that. In essence, we decided not to buy any more cookbooks until we’d cooked about 2,500 recipes out of the ones we currently own. We aren’t very far along, but we’re plugging away.

We haven’t purchased another book since 2010, though we’ve been gifted a few. We’ve also learned the value of letting go of a few. Or, at least one so far. We have our sights on another few. Who knows what may come of our current booklist. For one, I plan to finish updating it someday…

This blog has ended up being a space for me to talk about all things food that interest me, as well as a space to challenge myself to learn to cook. It’s evolving into a space for me to learn about so much more, and I share that learning here. This part is due to ramp up in the next few months.

About @MetaCookbook – It’s my personal Twitter account

This started out as a really boring account. My own best friend wouldn’t follow it. Why? Because it was basically just a place for this blog software to spit out “New post! Check it out!” Not understanding Twitter back then, I didn’t understand why that’s crap. I do now. It’s boring, just wants to sell you on the blog in question, and there’s nothing real to it. There’s no person there.

So, as Bill already had his own twitter account, @MetaCookbook slowly changed to become my personal twitter account. If I’d known what I was getting into, I might have picked my own name, but it is what it is. And now the things you’ll find here are #AllTheThings.

Generally, I tweet about my life. This will involve, as my twitter bio says, “Food. Science. Beer. Blather. The last one is probably most common.” I spend a lot of time at Goose Island’s Clybourn pub. I invite twitterers over for dinner. I do, in fact, occasionally, post photos of my food. I do not, in fact, post photos of everything I eat.

During conferences, I tend to live tweet as a form of pseudo-note-taking. As I am paying attention to the conference I am attending, I don’t tend to read Twitter except for @MetaCookbook replies (and these mostly because they are typically about the conference). Please note, you’ll see a hell of a usage spike during conference times. However, rest assured that these times are few – I only attend about two or three conferences a year.

Who do I follow?

I do not automatically follow someone back. Let’s get that out of the way here. A lot of people do, and they think it’s bad form not to do the same. It obviously works for them, but it doesn’t work for me. For one thing, I find I can’t pay attention to gobs and gobs of tweets. I do, however, check out the feed of every single person who follows me and make a decision from there.

I tend to follow people who wish to follow me if we’ve met in real life. That doesn’t mean I keep following them, as sometimes they violate my other twitter follow rules, but it’s a strong start.

So, what are those other follow rules?

  1. If you’re a spammer, you’re right out.
  2. If I can’t tell if you’re a spammer or not, you’re right out.
  3. That thing I used to do, of blasting out blog posts and not much else? You fall under rule #2. I’m ashamed I did once upon a time.
  4. Are you just tweeting, not engaging? You’re out. I don’t need you to be responding to all the tweets in your feed, but some @replies and some retweets are an encouraging sign you are conversing, not engaging in a monologue.
  5. How corporate is your feed? Very? You’re out. I don’t mind some tweeting about some amount of sponsored blog posts, but one of my life goals is to avoid as much advertising as possible. If your feed is exceptionally full of sponsored tweets, sponsored giveaways, or other things of that nature, I won’t follow you.
  6. Did I follow you and get an auto-DM? You’re out. I have only had this happen twice, and I didn’t immediately unfollow the person in question. However, they both turned out to be violators of other rules, and so now I’m done with anyone who does that. (My best friend’s landing page, linked above, says it perfectly, “You’re making the choice for our first interaction to be a generic automated handshake. This is a lousy first impression for you and your business/services.”)

Man, that’s a bummer of who I don’t follow. Who do I follow? I follow people who seem to have shared interest with me. The major ones are listed in my Twitter bio. I follow friends and friends of friends. I follow a few bloggers I like. I follow a very few chefs and one or two businesses or restaurants. I follow both my parents (so my feed is relatively clean!). I follow a ton of scientists, and the list is growing. Mostly, I follow people who want to have a conversation, especially with me! Obviously, as I follow folks like Neil Gaiman, the “with me” part is not an absolute requirement, but if you’re here then I’m guessing you’re far more likely to be conversing with me.

Thank you for that conversation.

So, all of that didn’t put you off and you want to explore more?

Here’s a few posts to check out.

The blog’s About page. It tells you a bit more about both Bill and I, as well as what this blog was like when we started.

The Rules page. This is currently somewhat inaccurate and will be undergoing a change soon. However, if you’re curious about what we were thinking in when this project started, this is a good place to get it.

A random non-food/non-recipe post. It’s about cows and has a lot of photos.

Thanks for checking out MetaCookbook, folks. I hope you enjoy it.


1 This, when it was written, said, “and our joint desire for a corgi. Hopefully, we’ll have one in the next year or so, but these things take time.” It actually took more than two years. But then we got two dogs, so I guess we got a dog per year of wait. Good thin we didn’t wait any longer!