I’m Tracy Benjamin aka Tracy Shutterbean.
photo credit- Joy Wilson of Joy the Baker
I’m a working mom/wife/photographer based in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Shutterbean is a space where I can be creative and celebrate my love for photography & domestic arts. Ha! I just said domestic arts. Each week, you’ll find a couple of new recipes, snippets of my everyday life, occasional organizing tips, and a few decorating posts (when I’m feeling annoyed with my house!). With each recipe I execute, I break down the steps so you know what you’re in for! My goal is for you to take pride in your work, keep at it, and learn from your mistakes! Life is better with good food. Don’t you agree?
I also have a weekly column called High Straightenence on Homefries where I organize some aspect of my life and share the BEFORE & AFTER.
Oh! I co-host a hilarious podcast with my friend Joy. I think you’ll like it. It’s called the Joy the Baker Podcast.
I should also mention that I love making lists. I make them every Friday.
Here’s one for you:
- I would list going to Target as one of my hobbies.
- I’m a thank you note person. Sometimes I forget to mail them though!
- I love ADORE stripes and ANYTHING Black & White.
- I laugh when people trip.
- I watch a lot of TV & I’m not ashamed to admit it.
- I will order anything that contains banana on a dessert menu.
- I like taking pictures of my feet.
- I have failures in the kitchen, yes I’m human.
- I can’t STAND mayonnaise.
- I love carbs in any form.
- I’m addicted to Pinterest.
- I’d love to meet Bill Murray, Martha Stewart & Oprah. Maybe all at the same time. Life goals.
Once upon a time I did a video for Silk Soymilk! This is me in action:
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
What kind of camera do you use?
I use a Canon 7d with a Tamron 17-35mm. I like using a wide angle lens because it helps me achieve good overview shots without having to stand on a chair. Standing on chairs is dangerous for a klutz like me.
How did your love affair with food begin?
My love affair with food probably began the second I was conceived! I’m half Italian which means I’m always thinking about food. When I’m eating breakfast, I’m thinking about lunch. When I’m eating lunch I’m thinking about dinner…It really never ends! It’s always been like that! So yeah…it’s an affair, and I’m totally hooked. Food and I are best friends. We have matching heart necklaces.
How did you come up with the name SHUTTERBEAN?
When I finished art school in 2004, I wanted to carve out a little place online to post my photography portfolio and current work. My husband (who was my boyfriend back then) set up a website and asked me to create a URL. I took SHUTTER, like the camera shutter, and BEAN, my nickname, and combined the two! There wasn’t much thought put into it because I had no intention for anyone to see it, let alone become a food/craft blog! In 2007 I started posting pictures of the food I was making and things I did around the house on the site, and it suddenly transformed from an online portfolio to a food blog/journal. Now it’s my happy place!
What is your favorite kitchen gadget?
My immersion blender! I get so excited to use it and think of how difficult it would be if I had to transfer soups into a blender to make them smooth! Second to that would be my juicer. It’s a great thing to have when you’ve got friends over. I love converting people into JUICE people.
Where do you find your recipes?
Magazines! The Internet! Cookbooks!
What’s the fastest land animal?
A cheetah. Duh!
Do you plan your menu ahead of time and shop from there?
Every Sunday night, while we are watching TV shows, I take out a stack of recipes I want to accomplish and make a grocery list! I tend to pick out recipes with ingredients that aren’t super exotic or rare because if I don’t end up getting to the recipe, I can find another way to use the ingredients later that week. For example…let’s say I want to make zucchini fritters, but something gets in my way and I can’t make them. I might end up making a quick stir fry and throwing in the zucchini that didn’t become fritters. So usually I go grocery shopping once a week, but there are some weeks where I’m there twice or even three times because I get distracted and forget something. I don’t like when that happens.
How do you fit in cooking, taking photos, blogging, etc. on top of your daily “must-do’s” like taking care of a home and family, working, and finding time for yourself?
Umm. I have no idea! Let’s be honest. There’s no way I could possibly cook & bake every day of the week. During the first year of Cooper’s life, I struggled for balance. I wanted to be creative in the kitchen but I found that I had to be most creative with TIME management! In that year, I learned that the only way I would be able to continue doing what made me happiest was to lower my expectations and sacrifice a few things in the process.I don’t have to do it all, ALL THE TIME. So my laundry is piling up….at least I have these awesome sticky lemon rolls!
I set out to make at least 2 new recipes a week. These recipes are usually simple, totally approachable, and don’t require several trips to the grocery store. With all of the other meals each week, I use trusted recipes that have become part of my rotation….in other words, I can do them in my sleep. Some days we have cereal for dinner and other days it’s quesadillas. But the fact that we have a few new recipes to try each week makes it fun, exciting and new. The best part is that I end up with new recipes to my rotation. Also, my husband helps out a lot. He watches Cooper when I’m working in the kitchen on weekends. And if I’m executing a recipe during the week on the days I’m work from home, I plan something during his nap time or I make something while he’s eating in his highchair.
How does blogging your meals change the way you work in the kitchen?
It changes a lot! You have to be extremely organized and think of everything you have to do before you do it! Because I like to take pictures of the entire process of making a dish, it’s important to take deep breaths and center myself after each step! I usually start with an overview shot of all of my ingredients because it’s a good mental check to see if I am missing an ingredient before I get started. My kitchen turns into a tornado of activity. Messes are made, things are knocked over steps are occasionally made out of order, but somehow I get through it. Some days I’m racing the clock because the sun is going down before my food is finished! My advice to you is to clean up as you go! The process can’t take a lot out of you!