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Cooks We Love: Cheryl Sternman Rule

While there are seemingly hundreds of new food blogs gracing the internet these days, Cheryl Sternman Rule has a voice, perspective and point of view that is truly unique. We love her for her humor, wit and keen sense of observation — if you haven’t yet come across her blog 5 Second Rule, you’re in for a most refreshing treat. In addition to the storytelling Cheryl does online, she’s a widely published food writer, a two-time cookbook author the and mother of two boys. Her first book, "Ripe: A Fresh, Colorful Approach to Fruits and Vegetables" came out in 2012 — a successful and beautiful collaboration with photographer Paulette Phlipot. Her second book, called "Yogurt Culture," takes an in-depth look at one of the world’s creamiest, most healthful and most versatile foods. Look for it in the spring of 2015.

Name: Cheryl Sternman Rule

Blogging since: Spring 2008. So it’s 6 years old, basically a first-grader.

Website or blog: 5 Second Rule

Where you call home: Silicon Valley, California

What’s your earliest cooking memory? Mastering the open-faced, under-the-broiler cheesy toast was a big milestone for me.

How would you characterize or describe your cooking style today? Clean, color-forward and approachable with a subtle global sensibility, thanks to my far-flung travels.

What’s your favorite thing to cook at home? Why? It may sound like a line, but anything with yogurt. I’m a big dairy eater, so I love the fresh, tangy taste of plain, whole-milk yogurt. I also use it in sauces, soups, dips, drinks, marinades for meat, desserts …

What are three things you have in the pantry at all times? Tuna in olive oil; olives; homemade jam

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? I served in the Peace Corps in my 20s, so I learned quickly how to make fast, hearty meals with few ingredients and limited equipment. When time-pressed, I’ll still make pasta with caramelized onions, oil-packed tuna, capers and a fistful of Italian parsley. Squeeze on some lemon, finish with more olive oil.

What are some of your kitchen goals — i.e., skills you want to improve on or recipes you want to try or master? I’ve recently dipped my toe into canning, and I’d love to get more into it. This summer, I’ve preserved lots of stone fruits (apricots and cherries, in particular), so maybe next summer I’ll wade into canning tomatoes and pickling things. Marisa McClellan’s books ("Food in Jars" and "Preserving by the Pint") and blog Food in Jars have been big inspirations.

How has becoming a mother changed your experience as a home cook? I’ve got two teenage boys who lead very active lives. I pick them up right before dinnertime. Being willing and able to improvise is the key to making evenings relaxed for everyone. Simple meals are my salvation.

What are some of your favorite cookbooks and/or food blogs? I’m loving Erin Scott’s new book "Yummy Supper" (and her blog by the same name); Phyllis Grant’s blog Dash and Bella, Maureen Abood’s blog Rose Water & Orange Blossoms, Alana Chernila’s blog Eating from the Ground Up and her book "The Homemade Pantry." I love Louisa Shafia’s book "The New Persian Kitchen," Tara Mataraza Desmond’s books ("Almost Meatless" and "Choosing Sides") ... I could go on forever. Seriously.

Besides other cookbooks or food blogs, where do you draw inspiration for your cooking? I’m quite color-driven, and my passion for photography — even though I’m not a professional — has me thinking about aesthetics while I’m also playing with flavors. I get tons of inspiration these days from Instagram, from travels and from my wildly talented friends and colleagues. Good ideas come fastest when I step outside my familiar space.

Where else can we find you? On Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest. Happy to connect!

NEXT IN THE SERIES: Annalise Sandberg

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