Falling for Food

Despite everyone’s differences and opinions, the one thing people love and have in common is food. It brings people together, because who doesn’t love food smothered with gooey cheese?


Erin Zieske loves food so much she shares her dishes on Instagram, @honorcontent, and is the author of recipe book Record Recipes: A General-Purpose Cookbook. The majority of her Instagram posts include delectable shots of pasta, colorful vegetables, and more pasta. Her captions exemplify her humor and eccentric personality to her followers. When she isn’t cooking delicious meals or calculating in her head how much it would cost to start making homemade pasta, she works as a graphic designer.

Cooking was something Zieske started doing in grade school while growing up in Lead. Her first job ever was working in a kitchen during high school. But the interest faded towards the end of high school and was nonexistent throughout her first round of college. This was also when she was doing the bulk of her international traveling. Looking back, Zieske wishes she had taken advantage of the international cuisine she had the opportunity to eat as she traveled, but at the time she didn’t really care about it.

“It’s invaluable to have a wooden spoon. You can check the temperature of hot oil, you can take lids off of things, you can push things in and out of the oven, and taste test, obviously.”

The interest was sparked again during her second round of college. Cafeteria food was wearing on her, so she decided to get back in the kitchen and pick up where she left off. She hosted dinner parties for friends, where it wasn’t uncommon for her to make a ridiculous amount of pasta.

She realized it was her ultimate passion and started to document her recipes on Instagram, showing off the meals she made for her followers to salivate over, especially friends who had moved away. These friends kept asking for recipes, which gave her the idea to create a recipe book to share. Record Recipes came to fruition after months of Zieske designing, taking photos, writing, and finally, publishing her first book in November 2015.

“It was nine months labor of love. It’s literally a baby,” said Zieske.

Zieske is able to think of flavor profiles, which she says may sound strange and perhaps snobby, but it’s what makes her successful at creating new spins on recipes. Zieske hopes to create a second volume of recipes in the near future, but is thoroughly enjoying posting online and connecting with her followers.

“Food is the common denominator in being human and showing love,” said Zieske. “It’s 100 percent how I show love. It’s a love language.”

She has found it valuable to use the Instagram story feature so she can show her followers behind-the-scenes footage of her cooking. By sharing her dishes, she hopes that others will be inspired to give cooking a shot, because she believes everybody can cook. She loves to chat with her followers and help them problem solve when they’re in the kitchen.

“If there’s questions about literally anything food-wise, readers can totally hit me up,” affirmed Zieske. “I absolutely love to help in the kitchen.”

Even when things go wrong in the kitchen, Zieske reminds others it’s a learning experience. She knows this lesson first hand as she claims to be unable to make a pie crust despite her best efforts.

“It will end up in the garbage within 15 minutes of me even trying,” laughed Zieske.

Zieske still hosts standing dinners and posts online weekly. She knows having a good attitude going into the kitchen is what will make cooking a fun experience.

“Wooden spoons and positive attitudes,” she encouraged.

Follow Erin Zieske on Instagram @honorcontent. Find Record Recipes on blurb.com.

Food for Thought

Favorite snack?

Pocket Cheese Sticks

Favorite meal?

Steak, Japanese curry rice

Favorite grocery store aisle?

Pasta aisle (obviously)

Favorite cooking tool?

Wooden spoons

Inspired by?

Eddie Huang, Roy Choi,
and Matty Matheson

Moroccan Chickpea Stew

Over Couscous

(“For the accidental vegans in your life”)


1 C Plain couscous

1 C Water

2 T Vegeta* (a Croatian vegetable bullion “worth its weight in kuna”)

1 Big glug of good olive oil

1 Medium zucchini, diced

1 T Pumpkin pie spice

1 T Ground cumin

1 tsp Kosher salt

1 C Shredded carrots

4 Green onions, chopped

2/3 C Golden raisins

1 Can chickpeas (they’re neither chicks nor peas, discuss)

1 Can “fire roasted” tomatoes

1 T Sriracha (serve the bottle up at the table for people who like it even spicier!)

Hummus (homemade “if ya’ feelin’ ambitious”)


Sesame seeds


Heat water and Vegeta in 1-quart saucepan to boiling. Remove from heat; stir in couscous. Cover and let it kick back until the stew is ready.

Then, in a medium sized dutch oven or other high-sided pot, heat olive oil on medium. Add zucchini; cook 6 minutes, stirring. Add in the spices, the carrots, green onions, golden raisins.

Cook 2 minutes, letting those spices coat everything and really open up. Stir in tomatoes, chickpeas, Sriracha, and an additional 1/2 C water.

Simmer 6 minutes or until tender.

Serve stew over couscous with a ridiculous amount of hummus on the side, a drizzle of tahini, and a smattering of sesame seeds on top.

Pita on the side to scoop! (Amen.)

Baking Ideas

Staci Perry specializes in delectable, delicious desserts, specifically cheesecake. Baking for her kids got her started, but Perry’s cheesecakes catapulted her into the baking realm and gave her recognition and a platform to show what she can do.

Her blog, Random Sweetness Baking, showcases these desserts. She grew up on church basement potluck cooking, so there are also home cooked meals featured. Random Sweetness Baking started because Perry got in the habit of making something, but failing to record the recipe for future use. The blog is her online recipe box to catalog her desserts and meals for family, friends, and herself.

“When I make something, rarely do I not give it away,” said Perry. “It’s really the sharing of it that I love.”

Perry lives in Brookings with her two kids, Kalani and Sajen, both in high school. She dabbled in baking as a child, but refined her craft when her own children were younger so she could create special themed cakes, like in the shape of gumball machines, for their birthday parties.

From there, she started getting into making cheesecakes instead of buying them. She made cheesecakes with numerous flavors to share and enjoy with others. She mastered it so well, she has been requested to provide her baking expertise to graduation parties and weddings. One graduation party found her making 17 flavors of cheesecakes, 20 cheesecakes served total – a feat she is extremely proud of.

“It was the most amazing feeling when I left that night. It was like an artist doing an art show and having people comment about how beautiful it was, but people were eating it and talking about how delicious it was,” said Perry.

Creating the blog also reignited her love for writing, something she would eventually like to do full time. Her writing and photography have been featured in Hungry for Truth, Edina Magazine, South Dakota Magazine, foodgawker, and DakotaChic.

She recently turned in a writing project for the Food Network about iconic dishes from each state. Perry found 26 dishes to represent the state of South Dakota. She somehow managed to find time to complete this on top of her full time job in communications and maintaining the blog.

“What food blogging and magazine writing has done for me that I love the most is it has opened up conversations with people about their food stories.”

Perry enjoys interacting with her blog followers through emails and social media. She has even found strangers acknowledging her blog when she has been running errands. She hopes her blog shows others she is a down-to-earth home baker.

“Don’t think I should be making it for you because you can do the same thing,” reassured Perry. “I am not a trained professional.”

The humility Perry shows is a rarity. She didn’t ask for the recognition or fame, she simply wanted to record what she had done and share her creations with others. She points to her faith for keeping her grounded.

“Life looks so perfect online. I’m fighting the same battles as other people are,” she disclosed. “You have to have faith and prayer and family that will be there. Somehow I have this God-given talent, and I’m figuring out how to use it.”

Until that time, Perry will continue to head to her sanctuary, the kitchen, to knead out her thoughts.

“It’s my time, it’s my peace, it’s creating; there’s something about it,” mused Perry.

Subscribe to Perry’s blog at randomsweetnessbaking.com.

Food for Thought


Favorite snack?

Meat, cheese, and crackers

Favorite dessert?


Favorite grocery store aisle?

Artisan cheese aisle

Favorite cooking tool?

Kitchen Aid Stand Mixer

Inspired by?

My grandmother, Ina Garten

Gluten-Free Vanilla Cheesecake

With Fresh Strawberry Sauce

(Makes one 9-inch cheesecake, 10-12 slices)


1-1/4 C. Gluten-free graham cracker crumbs

3 Tbl Sugar

4 Tbl Unsalted butter, melted

Cheesecake Filling

5 Packages (8 oz. each) cream cheese (softened to room temperature)

1 ¾ C Sugar

1 Tbl  Cornstarch

1 ½ T Lemon zest

1/4 T  Salt

1 ½ T Pure vanilla extract

5 Large eggs, room temperature

2 Large egg yolks, room temperature

1/4 C  Heavy cream, room temperature

Strawberry Sauce

1/2 C Sugar

1/4 C Water

2 ½ C Fresh strawberries, quartered

2 C Fresh strawberries, chopped to bite sized pieces

Cheesecake Instructions:

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease bottom and sides of 9-inch springform pan.

In food processor, pulse graham cracker crumbs, melted butter, and sugar until wet sand consistency. Or stir together in a bowl.

Press crust mixture firmly into bottom of greased springform pan. Bake at 350 degree Fahrenheit for 6 minutes. Remove from oven.

Increase oven temperature to 500 degrees.

In large bowl of electric mixer, beat softened cream cheese on medium-high until smooth, no lumps. Add sugar. Beat on medium-high until well blended.

Put cornstarch in tiny bowl and stir in just enough ice cold water to liquefy. Pour into cream cheese. Beat until incorporated.

Drop in lemon zest and salt. Pour in vanilla extract. Beat on low.

Add 5 eggs, one at a time, into batter; beat on low just until incorporated and scrape down sides and bottom of bowl after each addition. DO NOT OVER MIX. Do the same thing with 2 egg yolks.

Add heavy cream. Beat on low just until stirred in. Overbeating will cause the cheesecake to crack.

Transfer batter into prepared springform pan. Tap pan a few times on the counter to get out air bubbles. Place in oven. Bake at 500 degrees 10-12 minutes, just until top of cheesecake starts to brown.

Decrease temperature to 200 degrees. Bake 65-75 minutes, or just until filling sets but is slightly jiggly. Turn off oven. Open oven door slightly and let cool to room temperature or remove cheesecake from oven and let cool to room temperature. After about 30 minutes, run a thin knife between the pan and the cheesecake to be sure it doesn’t stick to the side.

When cooled, cover cheesecake with foil and place in refrigerator 12 hours or overnight.

Remove springform ring from cheesecake. Slice and serve slightly chilled topped with fresh strawberry sauce. Store cheesecake covered in refrigerator up to 7 days or in the freezer up to 3 months.

Strawberry Sauce Instructions:

Place sugar and water in small saucepan. Stir and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer until sugar is dissolved.

Cool completely. (Or store in refrigerator until ready to make the sauce a few days later.)

Place syrup in a blender and add 2 ½ cups quartered strawberries. Puree until smooth. Pour through a fine strainer or sieve into a bowl. Stir remaining 2 cups of berries into puree. Serve over cheesecake or store sealed in refrigerator up to 3 days.

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