Everyday From: Kate Wood of The Wood & Spoon
A while back, I had the chance to sit down with the beautiful and talented Kate Wood. When I hung up the call, I had a sudden urge to move to Alabama (it’s true). Over the conversation, we chatted everything from the loving small town she resides in, to her favorite place to eat in the neighborhood: a nearby friends house with Mark’s Mart groceries. I’ve been a fan of Kate’s recipes for some time now (Sam relishes over these Brownie Ice Cream Sandwiches). But it was something about her humble, genuine personality that made me feel like I’ve known her forever.. (did I also mention she’s hilarious?)
For those of you who don’t know- Kate is the face behind the gorgeous blog, Wood & Spoon. A baking blog, making elegant, delicious baked goods. Kate started her website when she was working in a hospital (as a dietician!), and went full-throttle baking as a career not long after. Now, with over 130K followers on Instagram (her captions kill me), Wood & Spoon is one of the most popular baking blogs on the internet.
Kate’s simple approach to food (and life) encourages others that baking can be for everyone- as long as you put your best foot forward. Bourbon Brown Butter Snickerdoodles, Cinnamon Sugar Cake, and Pecan Babka are just a few of her most recent concoctions.. But she also has savory treasures such as Sausage Kale Pinwheels, and yummy Holiday Snack Boards. I’m most excited to see what Kate puts out this holiday season (after baking White Chocolate Peppermint Cookies last year). Scroll on to read my full interview with Kate, and get to know a little more about her life in LA (Lower Alabama..)
Your recipes are so beautiful, and carefully made, yet you make them look incredibly easy. Tell us a little more about that, and the creation process behind it.
I did not grow up in a family of cooks or bakers, but I have a grandmother who was in the kitchen more than average. My recipes started when we were getting married, so I basically started from scratch as an adult. I wanted to approach my food that way. So I always try to bring the mentality that I don’t expect everyone to knows how to brown butter, or make a meringue, etc. The development side just started from learning how to cook other people’s recipes, and I started to learn what worked and what didn’t work. I did have some knowledge of what certain foods would do from my background as a dietician. And my website is of course full of mistakes, but that’s life!
What is your favorite season to bake in? And favorite thing to bake?
Christmas! The holiday season is so good. I do lean more towards fall flavors (i.e. caramel, cinnamon, chocolate). But it’s about so much more than consuming, it’s about creating the moment. I was blessed to grow up creating memories around Christmas time, and now I get to cultivate those moments for my own kids. My favorite thing to bake is a cake, because there are so many elements- sponge, texture, crunch, the layers- you can make them so beautiful. But my favorite to eat: cookies, a classic warm chocolate chip cookie with ice cream.
Going off of your time as a dietician- was this the inspiration behind Wood & Spoon?
Yes- I’m a full-fledged dietician, I have a masters in clinical nutrition and worked in a hospital for about seven years (I did have my blog going for a couple years on the side at that point). When I was in college, I thought about culinary school, but back then the standard was to go on and work in a restaurant. Food media didn’t really exist unless you worked for a magazine. So I realized after some time in the hospital that it was time for a change. I commend those who make healthier desserts, I’ve tried some and they’re amazing! And nutrition is still a big part of our lives. But I find that it’s so fun being the person to show up with the cake and cookies, I love celebrating with these foods.
Your three kids are absolutely adorable, I love when they pop in to the “how to videos” on Instagram. Do they enjoy baking with you? What are their most requested recipes of yours?
Yes! Baby Charlie does not do anything (I stepped away for a minute this morning and found a bottle of cleaner spilled all over the floor). Amy and George are 6 and 4. Amy especially loves baking, she also loves anything feminine, and everything intricately detailed. She’s already asking when we’ll be making Christmas cookies! And they both probably request cookies the most. Having them participate also gets them excited about trying new foods (which helps on the healthier side a lot). They want to try to it in the end because they took part in helping. I will say that I love being in the kitchen with them, and having that quality time, but it’s definitely not easy, I have to be a lot more patient, and it is time consuming.
Did you grow up in Alabama or have you only lived there as an adult? Can you tell us a little more about it? (I’ve never been!)
No, I was born in Kentucky, and spent most of my years in Florida. I went to Stamford University and then decided to stick around. I love the South, the easiness, kindness in southern culture. My husband is from southern Alabama, and we actually moved to his hometown of Selma. For a long time I felt this superiority-complex. From living a big city, it was very humbling, realizing that I was missing out on so much kindness and love that a small town brings. People line up to hug you and join forces with your family. They were just so comfortable with loving people, our small town is amazing.
When I personally think of Wood & Spoon, it’s this picturesque symbol of family, gatherings, elegance, and definitely getting hands on baking from scratch. How do you continuously paint this picture for each of your recipes?
You don’t have to make things harder than it is. I love Ina Garten’s approach, respecting your ingredients- she doesn’t want to make anything fussy, but does want to honor the process. When you make something completely homemade (even the whipped cream) you honor that process doing it by hand. When it comes to baking, if I’m taking the time to turn on the oven, I’m going to honor the process, and honor whoever it is that I’m baking for. A lot of the recipes on my website are not everyday baked goods, a lot of them are desserts you would make on occasion, so it’s all about putting your best foot forward.
How has the world of food blogging changed since you started?
It’s changed a lot, and a lot more saturated. When I began, I thought I was starting late, but that’s just proof it’s never too late to start something new. There’s still people coming up with great ideas. When I started there were a couple people who had been doing it for a while (Joy the Baker, Pioneer Woman). Now there’s people coming out of the woodwork, making huge advances. Everything is a lot more accessible, and it’s a large community of people communicating right out of their backdoor. The rise in influencers does pose a challenge, because of the desire to sell something or others trying to sell themselves. If I could make a living entirely off of ads I would- but it takes away from the true authenticity of having a blog.
Ok, now it’s time for a few “random-get-to-know-you lightning round questions…”
Any shows you’re watching right now? Books you’re reading?
Suits, The Office (always a default), and Nailed It. I just finished reading a book by Bob Goff, I love his books. I had the chance to meet him and he is absolutely the nicest person ever.
Top places to eat around your neighborhood?
My friends house. We gather up groceries and wine from this old grocery store called Mark’s Mart and have a night of cooking. It’s my favorite. We also love Handcock’s BBQ.
What’s the first thing you do every morning?
Quiet time- reading, pouring a cup of coffee. It’s like clockwork, if I don’t do it immediately it won’t happen.
If you had to cook (or bake) one thing for the rest of your life- what would it be? Recipe?
Tara O’Brady’s chocolate chip cookies. (They’re perfect!)
Favorite destination traveled?
Traveling is my life-blood! Blackberry Farm in Walland, Tennessee. We go there just about every year. It’s the most fabulous resort but feels like home. Chicago is my favorite big city, and Austin is my favorite smaller-city.
Favorite places to shop?
Here we only have Walmart. So online would have to be: Hannah Anderson for my kids, I love Madewell and Lululemon. Zara if I don’t feel like spending a million dollars!
BONUS: If readers were to go make ONE recipe on your blog right now, what would you recommend?
Derby Pie Bars. There’s pecans and butter and everything delicious!
Thank you, Kate!