In the Spotlight: Knead, Bake and Cook On!
This month, we are excited to chat with a fellow mum, who has a vivacious energy and passion for cooking.
Meet the self-taught baker and chef, Diana Gale, the lady behind The Domestic Goddess Wannabe (DGW). This cooking mama recently bagged two awards at this year’s Singapore Blog Awards, organised by OMY.sg. – Best Cooking Blog and Most Popular Cooking Blog!
Diana has two beautiful kids, Jadelyn (5) and Aden (3). And as a mum and husband to her Aussie man, she enjoys cooking for the family almost on a daily basis – how lucky are they!
Let’s find out what she stumbled into getting hot and dirty in the kitchen, finds time to dish out easy-to-follow recipes with instructions and always tempting drools from readers like me! Just so you know, I’ve also attempted some of Diana’s recipes (one of them is the Fish Pot Pie Turnover and yes, I’ve a ton of backlog recipes that have yet to be posted! LOL) and Vera has been giving her stamp of approval too!
Congratulations, Diana, on the big wins at the Singapore Blog Awards 2015 – 2 mighty awards, at that! Tell us how you’re feeling right now?
I am still riding on a high – it is a huge honour to win both awards and winning means a lot to me because it is a confirmation that I am heading in the right direction, and that people are interested in my recipes and trying them out.
We hear you’re a self-taught cook/baker. So, how did this cooking passion all start? Is this something you’ve always wanted to do?
I watched my mother, grandmother and aunts cook when I was growing up and it fascinated me to no ends. When I was 10, I asked my mother to teach me to cook. She said she would teach me but I had to start by learning how to process food bought from the wet market.
So every week, I diligently shelled 2kg of prawns and 2 kg of squid (my Dad’s favourite food).
I did learn to cook, but I also found out much later that my mom hated shelling prawns and cleaning squid.. :)
It looks like you’re in the kitchen most of the time! How often are you cooking or baking in a week?
I cook everyday, except for Saturdays because the kids go to my Mom’s and the husband and I eat out. I bake about 3-4 times a week if I can manage the time. I’d love to bake a lot more, maybe (fingers crossed) during the upcoming year end vacation when I will have more time.
As a parent, how particular are you with Jadelyn and Aden’s meals?
I am particular about what they eat mostly because I have control over what goes into their food. While I don’t mind the occasional Happy Meal, I prefer to cook them their food whenever possible.
Aden is a very picky eater so I cook him what he will eat, and in return he has to finish what is put on his plate. I understand that many kids his age go through a difficult time with food and I prefer to introduce new food slowly because I believe this is something he will get over by himself with time.
What is the most challenging dish you’ve experimented with?
Bread making was daunting for me in the beginning. I had to idea how to knead, for how long to knead, what the differences were between rising and proofing and I didn’t know how to shape the bread dough. To worsen things, there is little information online on how to make Asian-style breads.
When I finally got the hang of (basic) bread-making, I made sure that I posted detailed photos in my blog so readers can refer to them. It was not the results that mattered in this case, more the how-to-get-that-result that was the most important to me.
Where do you see The Domestic Goddess Wannabe in the near future?
More recipes on the blog, for sure – recipes that are quick and easy, yet still tasty because I believe that is the key to getting more people to cook instead of dropping by the hawker centres or food courts on their way home. Cooking and or baking classes will happen – I just have to find the time to organise something!
I hope that DGW will continue to grow and inspire more to pick up the spatula and or the whisk to experiment. I believe that few things give more instant gratification than cooking and baking. When people you love take that first bite of what you have cooked or baked and go “HMMMM!” or “Yummy!”, that feeling of accomplishment one get is just amazing and that encourages one to cook and bake even more!
What do you think are the key elements that have helped The Domestic Goddess Wannabe to be where it is today?
I guess the fact that I have been teaching for over 20 years has helped a lot. When I teach, I break concepts up into smaller, more manageable parts.
When I started DGW, my aim was to teach people that cooking and baking can be easy, so I broke recipes down into manageable steps and I took photos of every step so it was clear what needed to be done, and what the results should look like. This made it much easier for many and in a way, demystifies the entire cooking/ baking process.
What do you do when you’re not spending time in the kitchen?
I read. I am a voracious reader, a geeky book-worm at heart.
How has putting together The Domestic Goddess Wannabe changed you as a person or taught you lessons?
This blog has taught me one can cook anything – seriously! If you break a recipe up into manageable parts you’d be surprised at what you can produce. I have also learnt to simplify recipes so that anyone can follow them.
I hope more people will be inspired to start cooking and/or baking and to have courage to tweak recipes so they end up with something that pleases them!
I’m an uber noob chef. What are some basic ingredients I should always stock in my pantry/fridge?
For Western cooking:
Salt (Kosher or sea salt), Black Pepper, a good olive oil, any combinations of herbs that you like
For Asian cooking:
Light soy sauce, sesame oil, Shaoxing wine, Oyster sauce, white pepper, black bean sauce and corn starch!
There we have it! Insider sneaks on how Diana built her following over time – dedication, plenty of hard work and true love!
If you’re a noob chef or a budding kitchen specialist, we hope you’re inspired by Diana’s story and how the secret ingredients can help achieve what the heart sets out to do!
Personally, I was never the studious Home Economics student, neither am I the domesticated being. But I do enjoy experimenting with cooking, and I loveeeee eating – cooking makes it better knowing what ingredients go into those dishes.
With little Vera in our family, I’m immensely thankful and grateful that she’s a foodie like mama. Now when she knows I’m going to cook, she loves helping me in the kitchen – taking the ikan bilis from the drawer in the fridge, getting a pot and reminding me “rice, rice!” and proceeds to the cabinet to take the rice box. Can’t wait for her to my little kitchen helper!