I love reading your emails, and I enjoy responding to your questions. I’ve formed quite the friendship with many of you, solely through email. Because I receive similar questions, I compiled the frequently asked ones here. If your question is not answered here, send me an email at Christina @ Dessert For Two . com (remove spaces before sending), or leave a comment below.
Where do you buy your small pans?
First, I’m so flattered that you’re willing to buy special bakeware just to bake my desserts. My Mom groans when I ask her to buy another pan to test my recipes. (Hi Mom! Love you!)
I covered this issue briefly on my Equipment page, but I decided to link to the pans on Amazon. I created a Dessert For Two bakeware Amazon store that you may browse and shop to your heart’s content. (Full disclosure: I’m an affiliate of Amazon.com and anytime you shop from my store, I receive a very small percentage. So, shop away!)
I made your recipe for _____, but it didn’t turn out right. What’s wrong with your recipe?
First, I want to say loudly and proudly that I test all of my recipes multiple times before posting them. My Mom also tests my recipes in her kitchen. Most of the time, the reason the recipe didn’t work for you is because: you used a different type of chocolate than what was called for in the recipe (bittersweet chocolate is not the same as unsweetened), you did not separate the egg and used the whole gosh darned thing, your baking soda/baking powder is old and expired, or your oven temperature is off. Also, check the comments: if others left comments saying the recipe worked for them, it’s probably your fault. No offense.
Oh, okay. Maybe it is my fault. Will you come to my house and teach me how to bake?
Yes! I recently started hosting dessert for two baking parties. I would love to teach you and your friends how to make miniature romantic desserts for your sweetie on Valentine’s Day or your anniversary. I’ll bring the ingredients, miniature bakeware, recipes, and you provide the margaritas (frozen with salt, please). E-mail me with requests. Please note that I charge for my services, and you will have to cover my travel if I don’t live near you. (I live in
Northern California northeastern Kansas).
Can I double or triple your recipe to increase servings?
Yes, at your own risk. My Mom frequently doubles my cupcake recipes to make a small 6″ cake. This is not a guarantee that it will work for you, however. If you alter a recipe and it turns out great, please let us all know.
What part of Texas are you from?
I love getting this question from fellow Texans. I’m from ‘big D’…Dallas, if you don’t know. I grew up in the country outside of Dallas, and then my parents moved us to the big city when I was 11. I love Dallas, but I also adore Fort Worth.
How old are you?
You must not be from the South, because you never ask a lady her age. Nor do you ever ask someone how many acres they own or how many head of cattle they have. But since I’m nice, I’ll tell you: I’m 28, we own 1/2 an acre, and 0 cows.
What’s the status of you & Mr. Dessert For Two?
Well, here’s the thing. Ever since I shared that wildly personal post about my anti-marriage freak out, I’ve been fretting over it. I’m trying to make my peace with it, but some days, I think about deleting that post altogether. Be that as it may, I’m happy to report that after a year, the man who told me he wanted to marry me on our third date has finally won me over. He asked me to marry him at the end of that long dirt road behind my house in the photo at the beginning of this page. Check out our wedding photos here.
You talk an awful lot about work. Do you work fulltime and blog? How do you do it?
Why yes, thanks, I do. At first, it was really overwhelming. I’ll admit, I’ve had a few breakdowns. Sometimes, I’m so frustrated that I console myself by eating the most photogenic cupcake in the batch.
I noticed that all of my breakdowns were in the winter months when the sun sets at 5pm and I didn’t have enough natural light to finish my shoot after work. So, at the insistence of Bev, I dedicated an entire work space in my house to food photography. I have natural light bulbs, diffusion screens, and white reflector boards. This makes the process of shooting much faster, and therefore, much less frustrating.
My best time management tip: kill your TV.
What do you do for a living?
I feel like I talk about this a lot, but I don’t mind answering it again. I work in agricultural research. I grow crops in the field or greenhouse and support research that aims to increase crop yield, increase resistance to insect and weed pressure, and develop new crop varieties that require less water, less fertilizers, etc. The world population is exponentially increasing and we have a lot of mouths to feed. Plus, resources are becoming more limited daily. The goal of all modern agriculture is to produce more with less inputs. I’m so damn proud to be a part of the effort, and I really, really love my job.
What kind of camera do you use?
Food photography is something I struggle with on a daily basis.
I used to use a point-and-shoot Canon, and I thought I would be fine with it. I thought my delicious recipes and my overly-revealing writing style would speak for themselves and I would be wildly successful without good photos. Boy, was I wrong. So, I finally invested in a Canon EOS Rebel T1i and bought a 50mm f/1.8 mm lens. I’m fond of a New York company that sells new and used camera parts called B&H photo. I bought my t1i body used, and my lens new. Never had a problem. I recently purchased the 18-55mm lens and love it. I also couldn’t live without my tripod for creating sharp photos.
Bad photo, great recipe:
Great photo, great recipe:
It gets easier, and you will improve. The difference in the photos above is 2 years. Hang in there. Photography is frustrating; fun, but frustrating.
I just started a food blog. Any tips?
—Get a handle on food photography before you start blogging. Some of my best recipes are the first ones I posted, but because they lack great quality photos, they are often over-looked. Mini chocolate cream pie, anyone? Iconic red velvet cupcakes for two?
—Be consistent. Do not take long breaks in between posts. When I made the decision to post two recipes per week instead of just one, my hits doubled. Readers like frequent content.
—Don’t accept every free thing that comes your way. I get frequent emails asking if I’d like to review a product or link to it in a post. My favorite emails are the ones asking if I’d like to review a hot dog cooker or quesadilla maker. Um, this is a dessert blog. (If you guys want dessert hot dogs, just say so.) I say no to these idiotic emails 99.9% of the time. You wouldn’t want to give off the impression that you just blog for free stuff, would you? People are drawn to passionate people. Do what you love, and others will notice and take pleasure in it, too.
—When you get emails from companies or websites asking if they can re-publish your content on their site, just say NO. Unless it’s the freaking Food Network, or another enterprise of a similar size that offers you real financial compensation, the answer is always no. The proper way for a company to use your work is to share an excerpt of your work and encourage a click-through to your site. AllFreeCasseroleRecipes does a great job of this; they share my photos (with permission) and encourage their readers to click to my site for the full recipe.
—The above tip does not apply to fellow bloggers! If you want to share one of my recipes on your site, you certainly can! Here are the rules:
*use your own photo, or please ask permission to use mine
*re-write the recipe in your own words. Words are copyrighted
Here’s a great example of a fellow food blogger posting one of my recipes. (Tip: if you follow the rules, I will promote your post in social media).
—Finally, be original. There is no shortage of food blogs. Think about the creative point of view you can bring to the world, and flaunt it. Be yourself. And, if the internet already has hundreds of recipes for kale chips, well, you probably shouldn’t post one too, unless it’s wildly unique and different.
What’s the best way to increase your blog following?
Besides the points above, my best advice is to attend blog conferences. Networking is a big deal in the business world, and blogging is no different. Attend the ones in your area, or save up for the ones that are out-of-town. Besides, if you make blogging your business, conferences can be a tax write-off. Be smart like that: have a financial advisor (see the next question for more on this).
The best part of blogging is friendships. Leave meaningful comments on blogs you like and a friendship will ensue. Stephie and I became friends because she leaves me hilarious comments. After a few months of emails, I just had to meet this girl! One deep dish pizza in Chicago later, and we were fast-friends. Love that girl!
Any other advice?
Frequently, I include lists of wisdom in my posts, and y’all eagerly await more tidbits, don’t you? It’s not that I’m wise; it’s just that I’m a highly opinionated Southern woman with a big mouth. Here goes:
-Get an education and be independent before letting anyone else depend on you.
-Start saving for your retirement in your 20s.
-Hire a financial advisor (or take advantage of free financial planning services).
-Keep your head down and work hard. Every single day.
-Love what you do. Spend the majority of your short life doing the things you enjoy.
-Be charitable. Give anything you can to anyone that needs it. If you ever you need anything from me, just ask.
-Ask advice from your elders.
-Calm down. It’s not the end of the world, ever.
-Cut people slack.
-Never indulge in a pity party for yourself.
-Your parents know best. Yes, really.
The days are long, but the years are short. Live life to the fullest!