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Why do you use sea salt?

Sea salt is more natural and it gives the food a better flavor overall. It also doesn't react as much with your body chemistry, which is especially important in terms of blood pressure and things of that nature, but as always all things in moderation.

Why do you use organic cane sugar instead of regular white sugar?

Organic cane sugar is less processed than basic white sugar and can be used cup for cup in place of white sugar. Plus it has a nice under flavor that gives baked goods a nice punch. Less processed is always better, but once again in moderation.

What is natural brown sugar?

Natural brown sugar is sugar before it has been processed into white sugar. It is what comes naturally from sugar cane. Most commercially produced brown sugars are in fact white sugar that has had maple syrup or molasses added back to it to make it brown, thus making it even more processed. What's the point? Plus it tastes better and natural sugars are better over all, though you still have to keep in mind the whole moderation thing, but you already knew that! ;op

Where do you live?

Obviously I'm not going to give you my street address or even the town I live in, but I will say that I live in the great state of Maryland and leave it at that.

Do you get paid to talk about the products you mention by name on your blog?

No. If I recommend a product it's because I bought it, tried it and liked it, then passed along the information to you. My BlogHer contract prohibits me from accepting free things in exchange for blogging about them and in all honesty I wouldn't blog about something just because someone gave it to me for free if I didn't like it, I'm just strange like that. If I say I like something, I like it, if I don't I wouldn't blog about it to begin with.

Does Alexis really help you in the kitchen?

Oh yes! She'd be crushed if she didn't get to help. She loves to cook!

How old is Alexis?

Alexis is 7.

How long has Alexis been helping you in the kitchen?

Since birth. Seriously. When she was a baby her "witching hour" (i.e. when babies like to scream for no apparent reason) was around the time that dinner needed to be made and she wanted to be held and if she wasn't near me she'd screech in manners that still make my head hurt just thinking about it years later. Obviously cooking and holding a baby don't mesh that well and can be dangerous so I'd put her in her car seat, strap her in, sit her on the counter and I'd tell her what I was doing or sing a little song about what I was doing as I was doing it just like I had my own cooking/theater show. She'd grin and coo, enjoying that she was involved and it made things so much easier. I've got pictures of her around 2 or 3 months old sitting in her seat watching me. When she got to be about six or seven months old I'd let her stir batters and things like that or I'd give her a wooden spoon to wave about. She made a holy mess, but she had a ball and that's what it is all about. She's been my sous chef ever since.

How long have you and Jamison been married?

Thirteen years.

How did you meet Jamison?

We met on a ewtoo telnet talker called "The World" in the late nineties. Yes we met online. Do I think you can find love online? No. Contradicting isn't it? We were friends first and then fell in love after we met in person.

Is Jamison really as picky of an eater as you say?

More so. My culinary skills are completely lost on him...Well for the most part any way. They come in handy coming up with gluten free things he can eat, but it's not a smooth path as he'll readily tell you. In his world it's pretty much a meat, potato, rice, fruit and perhaps a vegetable or two sort of view point. Plain is best and nothing too fancy. I would get bored with what he eats, but hey he seems to do ok, so that's all that matters I suppose.

Is Alexis a picky eater?

No not really. She likes things fresh versus pre-made, but I don't call that picky, I call that smart! ;oP Her favorite foods include raw spinach leaves, tomatoes, strawberries, watermelon and cucumbers. She'd eat that and only that if I let her, but I mix things up a bit for her. She also likes chicken, steak and loves to try new things. She'll see something in the grocery store and ask what it is, I tell her and then she'll ask to try it. She doesn't always like what she tries, but she keeps on asking so that is all I care about. She wanted to try lobster the other day so we got a lobster and brought it home and steamed it (and she ended up liking it)! Her other tries lately have been raspberries (which she didn't like...I guess some things are genetic! ;oP), crabs and shrimp (which she liked) and rutabagas (which she did end up liking as well). I was determined that she was not going to follow in Jamison's footsteps on the picky train and thankfully she hasn't.

You mention your sister a lot. Where does she live?

Obviously I'm not going to give you her street address or town either, but she lives in Maryland too with her husband and my two nephews. We live about 30-40 minutes apart depending on traffic and we try to see each other often, though it doesn't always work out that way when kids are in the mix.

Who is Darlene? You mention her a lot too.

Darlene is my best friend. We met when we were in the 6th grade and got all of our angst out as kids. By the time we reached high school we didn't argue anymore and we became two peas in a pod. We think alike for the most part, yet we balance each other out and we understand when the other one doesn't necessarily think the same way. She still lives in the town I grew up in. We try to see each other as often as we can, but it ends up being more like once a year or so. We do however e-mail each other almost daily and when we do get together it's like no time has passed at all. She is also Alexis' godmother and comments on Dianne's Dishes from time to time.

How can I e-mail you?

diannesdishes at gmail dot com.

What do you hate most about cooking?

Cleaning up. Do they make robots for that? ;oP

What's your favorite food?

Cheesecake, followed closely by goat cheese. Also I love Mexican, sushi, ice cream and Italian. Why do I have to pick just one?

What type of stand mixer do you have?

I have a Kitchen Aide, but it's on its last legs. The motor goes out here and there and usually at the most inopportune times. I will most likely replace it with a new Kitchen Aide, or possibly a Cuisinart because I like the looks of their new stand mixer.

Update: December 2010: My mom gave me an early Christmas present of a Kitchen Aide 6 quart professional mixer when my previous mixer finally went to the big mixer heaven in the sky. I love it!

What type of food processor do you use?

I did have a Cuisinart, but after ten years of hard use it went to the big food processor in the sky. I haven't replaced it yet, but when I do I will most likely replace it with another Cuisinart. I wish they'd come out with a food processor that had a glass or a stainless steel bowl instead of plastic, but so far I've had no luck finding one that was under $1,000. So much for that idea.

Update: December 2009: My mom got me another Cuisinart processor for Christmas. I'm still waiting for one made with glass!

What kind of pots and pans do you use?

Cuisinart (do you see a pattern forming here?) Stainless Professional.

What kind of blender do you use?

Cuisinart...And while we're here let's just say that my waffle iron, hand mixer, ice cream maker and toaster are all Cuisinart...Let's move on shall we? ;oP

Update: December 2010: I blew up the motor on my mixer after years and years of mixed drinks and smoothies. I seem to have a talent for blowing these things up. I now have a Waring Pro Blender. I guess I jumped the Cuisinart ship with this one! ;oP

What kind of camera do you use?

From the beginning of Dianne's Dishes until the end of June 2008 I mainly used a Canon Digital 20 SLR, but sadly it has stopped working and I am still mourning its death. Right now I am using mainly a Sony Mavica CD400, which I curse often. I hope to get another SLR soon, but right now it just is not in the budget! Oh how I miss my D20! I also have a small Canon PowerShot SD750 Digitial Elph that I use to take pictures when I'm out and about and don't want to tote around the larger SLR or now the Mavica, which is kind of bulky too.

Update: August 2008: I'm now using my Canon PowerShot SD750 Digitial Elph exclusively. I hope to purchase another SLR in the future, but it will be a while unless the camera fairy comes to visit! ;op

Update: December 2010: The camera fairy came to visit me this year and I am now the proud owner of a Canon D7. I can't tell you how happy I am to be back in the land of DSLRs!

What are your tips for taking great food photos?

A steady hand, natural light and no flash! If you shoot without the flash and it seems blurry then get a tripod. If you can take the photos during the sunlight hours that is the best way to go, if the sun in not up turn on the lights and still turn off the flash! Even take the food outside if your surroundings are kind of dark. Oh and did I mention turning off the flash? A good photo editing program is always an added bonus. I use Microsoft Digital Image Suite 2006, but on my next computer I want a full fledged version of Adobe PhotoShop.

Are there any foods/drinks that you just don't care for?

Of course...I think we all have things that we do not care for. In the food category capers, cilantro, beets, curry, raspberries, blackberries, liver, baby animal of any sort (and that is more of a freak out factor for me than an actual dislike), etc. On the drink front coffee, beer and wine, though I have been known to cook with both beer and wine, but not coffee. There are things I haven't tried that I don't know if I would like or not, but I would be willing to try them to see. I did like alligator, rattlesnake and shark when I tried them ater all! ;oP

Update: 12/2010: I've developed a taste for wine and beer this year. I prefer red wines that are semi-sweet to sweet and as far as beer goes I really enjoy a Carona with lime. I still don't like the other stuff though. :o)

Do you Twitter?

Yes. You can find me here:

Are you on Facebook?

Yes. I'm Dianne's Dishes on Facebook and there is also a Dianne's Dishes page on FaceBook as well.

How do I find you on Flickr?

You can find me here:

Have a question you don't see listed above then email me at diannesdishes at gmail dot com and I will either add it here or try to answer it for you via e-mail.

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