10 Q’s With Emily Paster

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  1. Do you write every day?

Not necessarily. I spend a lot of time researching and also developing recipes, which requires me to be in the kitchen. To really write a long piece of text, such as an introduction to a cookbook, as opposed to a recipe headnote which is only a few hundred words, I need big blocks of time and I have to carve those out.

  1. Do you write with or without music?

I cannot write anything when there is music with lyrics on. Sometimes I write with instrumental music, but only if I am at a coffee shop or library and trying to drown out ambient noise. I spend a lot of my time cooking when developing recipes and then I listen to music and a lot of podcasts.

  1. Word that you overuse?

Delicious. Fresh. Healthy.

  1. Any writing rituals? Prayers?

I do like to get out of the house and write at the library whenever I can. I don’t find writing difficult once I have started a section. But beginning a new section is always difficult. I spend a lot of time gearing up.

  1. What are you reading right now? Watching on TV?

I just read Elizabeth Strout’s latest novel, My Name is Lucy Barton, which was very subtle and had a lot of changes in tone that I found problematic. I am in the middle of Everyone Brave is Forgiven by Chris Cleave, who wrote Little Bee, which is about London during the Blitz. I will read anything about WWII, especially in England. I also enjoyed The Summer Before the War by Helen Simonson. I will also read anything about WWI in England.

TV is great right now because “Game of Thrones” and “Outlander” are both on. I also want to watch the new documentary about O.J. Simpson because the director is a high school classmate of mine. My Netflix binge is “Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries.” I actually like the show better than the books it is based on.

  1. Book that you read over and over again.

I find it hard to reread really serious fiction, as much as I love it. Margaret Atwood is my favorite writer and I can read her earlier novels over and over like Lady Oracle because they are so funny. Her newer dystopian stuff is amazing but I don’t want to reread. I also love Laurie Colwyn and can read her novels and her nonfiction writing about food over and over and indeed, we have to because she died so young.

  1. Biggest challenge you face as a woman who writes.

Juggling parental and household responsibilities with my need to have large blocks of time in which to write. Being protective of my writing time when people want to schedule phone calls, meetings or lunch. I have had to learn to say no. When you work from home and for yourself, people don’t think you really work and can just meet them whenever. My mother calls me during the day, which is my precious work time. My husband tells me not to pick up, but I never can do it.

  1. If you weren’t a writer, you’d be …

A teacher of some kind. I view my writing as a form of teaching.

  1. What inspires you?

Travel. Eating in restaurants. The farmers market. Other cooks.

  1. After reading one of your cookbooks, you hope that the readers will…

Make my recipes! It’s an amazing feeling when someone tells you they made a recipe you developed and they loved it.




Part cookbook, part how-to guide, Food Swap features more than 80 recipes for artisanal items that will be coveted at food swaps and adored as gifts, including everything from salted caramel sauce and Meyer lemon curd to green tomato salsa, lavender shortbread, cultured butter, apricot jalapeño jelly, and rum vanilla extract. You’ll also find creative ways to irresistibly package your items, plus perforated gift tags ready for personalization. Finally, author Emily Paster — co-founder of the Chicago Food Swap, one of the biggest in the world — offers guidance on setting up a food swap in your own community, as well as inspiring stories from people who are part of this growing movement.

Is available now on Amazon.com!

I am Emily Paster, an East Coast native now living outside of Chicago – due west of the Loop. I spent years putting together a resume designed to lead to a big legal career… and then I had a family.  After having my second child, I spent several years staying at home and indulging in my love of cooking and DIY kitchen projects. Now, that’s my career!

West of the Loop is a blog about the joy of feeding friends and family.  I love to cook and entertain and I want everyone to feel as at home in the kitchen as I do. I love to explore new foods and ingredients, especially from my local farmers’ markets, and share what I learn. I seek novelty in the kitchen and am always trying to master a new technique or tackle some DIY kitchen project, from bread-baking to home food preservation. You will read all about my culinary adventures here.





Join us as we celebrate the publishing accomplishments of Michelle Cox, Maria  Karamitsos, Iris Waichler, Emily Paster,  and Ruth Kaufman. Evening will include refreshments, meet and greet with the authors, and panel discussion.



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