Todd Porter and Diane Cu are the husband-wife duo behind White On Rice Couple, the stunning food blog featuring snippets from their daily life in Orange County and recipes inspired by their childhood comforts. (Cu was born in Vietnam; Porter grew up on a cattle ranch in Oregon.) They recently finished their first cookbook. "It's like giving birth," they say of the process. "It's a labor of love and one of the hardest, scariest, most gratifying experiences we'll ever go through."
Bountiful is a collection of 100 seasonal recipes inspired by their Costa Mesa backyard, a garden of 38 fruit trees. The book will be released this fall and is available for pre-order now. Here's what the couple had to say about their blog and book-baby.
Tell me about the origin of White on Rice Couple, the blog. We wanted a creative outlet to share our love of food, travel, gardening and photography. Todd worked in restaurant management for almost 15 years and Diane owned a portrait photography company. We worked so many hours and hardly saw each other. We wanted to have an outlet to pursue our love of food together in our hectic work lives. So in 2008, we searched online to see if anyone was talking about food and we stumbled on this incredible community of food bloggers. It looked like such a wonderful way to connect and share recipes and stories, so we immediately wanted to start one. For the name, we didn't really take ourselves seriously and just wanted a fun name to reflect our sense of humor. So the url WhiteOnRiceCouple.com was available for only $15 and we took it! Back then, it seemed like a small investment for a fun creative space, but little did we know where it would eventually take us.
What was your following like in those early months? In the first few months, it was fun to be able to connect with like-minded folks around the world. It was such a shock for us to be able to connect so immediately and authentically with others who loved food just as much as we did. Our following was other food bloggers across all levels. From busy moms, hobbyists to professional chefs, we were completely enamored with the online food community and we all become fast friends.
Why did you decide to write a cookbook? Throughout blogging, we've been approached by publishers and agents to publish a cookbook with us. But it never seemed realistic for us to just write a cookbook without a topic that we were passionate about and that made sense to us. Yes, we love creating recipes, but there are so many talented cookbook authors out there who are putting out incredible work. We didn't feel like we needed to "just write a book" because someone approached us about it. We really wanted to take our time and if it was meant to happen, then we'll just wait for it. Then finally in 2012, we sat in our garden and realized how integral it was to our food story and why we love food so much. As we were planning our next gathering, we talked about how much we loved starting from scratch, growing our food, cooking it and sharing it with others. It was then, that we realized our cookbook was staring at us this whole time. The whole concept of sharing our food story, recipes and what inspires us from the garden was the most authentic way for us to write it all down in a cookbook. It finally made sense to us, but it only took 4 years to get to that point.
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How did you come up with a theme? We grow almost 40 fruiting trees and vines and have so many vegetable plots that it was really easy to be inspired by recipes from the garden. So it wasn't that hard at all.
How is the process of cookbook writing different from blogging? The process of cookbook writing isn't much different at all, other than the fact that we're working with a team of talented folks on the publishing end. Also, we're on their deadlines too. We both really enjoyed the process and took our time. We photographed, styled, cooked and washed every single dish from the cookbook. After we finished the recipes, we sent them off to recipe testers for further testing.
What makes the book special, in your mind? Bountiful is a reflection of why food is so important in our lives. Since we met in 1996, food was always an integral part of our lifestyle and Bountiful is an accumulation of our lives together in the garden and in food. Because we're surrounded by seasonally fresh fruit and vegetables year round, we're able to eat food that truly is bountiful.