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Cooks We Love: Ashley Rodriguez

Blogging since: 2008 (2010 on Not Without Salt) That's ancient in blogging terms, right?!

Where you call home: Seattle

What’s your earliest cooking memory? This probably is completely inaccurate but right now what's coming to mind is boxed macaroni and cheese. That was probably my first solo cooking adventure. I was always a mac 'n' cheese purist — no little hot dogs for me, please.

How would you characterize or describe your cooking style today? Modern comfort. Sometimes it's ridiculously simple and other times I'm eager for a challenge. My cooking is all about using real ingredients and very seasonally focused.

What’s your favorite thing to cook at home? Why? I love to cook anything at home but the one thing that I make again and again are my salted chocolate chip cookies.

What are three things you have in the pantry at all times? Salt, olive oil and vinegar.

What’s your “There’s Nothing in the Fridge" dinner? The one thing you often whip up with very few ingredients, or perhaps very little inspiration? Some sort of pasta or grain mixed with all the little scraggly vegetable bits that don't quite constitute a meal on their own but together they amount to greatness.

What are some of your kitchen goals — skills you want to improve on or recipes you want to try or master? I want to get more adventurous with interesting kinds of meat. I want to smoke, cure and preserve my own meats. I can roast a chicken to perfection, sear a steak with great ease and braise a pork shoulder like the best of them but I've yet to master a brisket or cure my own pork belly. I think that would be fun.

How has becoming a mother changed your experience as a home cook? It's humbled me, that's for sure. Dinners aren't met with a lot of excitement and as one who likes to please in the kitchen, this can be a challenge. They've also forced me to embrace simplicity. Dinnertime is hectic and as much as I would love to woo with a fancy dinner more often than not, they're happy with more of me and a simple dinner of pasta and roasted vegetables instead.

What are some of your favorite cookbooks and / or food blogs? Nigel Slater is a huge inspiration and I love perusing the pages of Food & Wine, Saveur and Bon Appétit.

Besides other cookbooks or food blogs, where do you draw inspiration for your cooking? Traveling and going out to eat are huge inspirations. I'm so inspired by new flavors and ingredients and nothing feeds that better than traveling to far off countries and sitting at the kitchen tables of the people who live there. Going out to eat also fuels inspiration as I get to taste and experience the passion and creativity of others.

Where else can we find you? I'm super excited for the release of my first book, "Date Night In." It's coming out in December (but it's available for pre-order now). Soon you'll be able to get your hands on my salted chocolate chip cookie mix which I'll be selling on notwithoutsalt.com. I'm also on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.

UP NEXT IN THE SERIES: Kelsey Banfield

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