Uses This

Interview

What do people use to get stuff done?

Rachel Adams

Photo by Eva Deitch.

Rachel Adams

Writer, recipe developer, co-founder of Dinner was Delicious

Who are you, and what do you do?

I'm a writer, cook, and blogger based in Chicago. I run Dinner was Delicious with my best friend, taking responsibility for recipe development and writing all the words good. Outside of the blog: I write essays about making and eating food for print and online publications, and cook for anyone who will eat it.

What hardware do you use?

I use a MacBook Air on a cat-scratched CB2 outlet chaise and/or the dining room table. I wear Warby Parker glasses (Preston, gimlet tortoise / Durand, woodland tortoise). I barely need them, but they make me look adorable.

Cooking: I split my time between two kitchens -- the one in my apartment and the one in the photography studio of my partner-in-blog, Lucy Hewett.

My personal kitchen is largely for recipe development and feeding my friends. It is my favorite place in the world and contains:

  • A very old, very blue 5qt Kitchen-Aid that has a limp and chipped enamel. There's a charming origin story that I will some day be smart enough to document with a perfect LaMott-esque blend of self deprecation, sentimentality, and soul-slicing insight. I love it forever, will use it until the gears seize, and plan to schlep its corpse from kitchen-to-kitchen for the rest of my life.
  • Duralex Picardie tumblers. They are really just the most goddamned versatile glasses ever, and sturdy as hell. I use them for everything except coffee -- but they are genuinely perfect and unfussy for wine.
  • Cheap vodka for pie crusts and extracts.
  • Hella mismatched coffee mugs, a dirty Chemex, and a Hario hand-crank burr grinder.
  • Giant green-ish industrial cabinet that we found in the basement of my husband's bookstore, Uncharted Books. It's huge, looks slightly (charmingly?) out of place, but holds all of my bake and serveware.
  • Ateco 11 piece Round Cutter Set. Probably my favorite tools of all time.

Lucy's Studio Kitchen is where we do all of the shoots for Dinner was Delicious. It's more pared down but infinitely lovelier, since it's where shit has to look nice. It also has the benefit of Lucy's impeccable taste, to help things look like less of a crazy-person hovel.

  • A beautiful set 8 piece set of vintage, cobalt blue Le Creuset cookware that my sister-in-law's aunt got at a garage sale for $10 and eventually found its way into my life.
  • An actual hoard of mismatched dishes, silverware, cups, saucers, and linens that are stored on white wooden shelves.
  • A dozen 3'x3' drywall squares covered in bright paint samples, and a few sheets of RTD Sheathing stained to look like actual wood.
  • A huge steel prep table that I want to elope with. It looks slick and is so very functional.

Both kitchens contain:

  • Goddamned Dishwashers.
  • At least 4 Aluminum Half Sheet Pans and Silpats. When the Silpats are occupied, I live and die by Reynold's "Cookie Baking Sheets" -- aka, pre-cut parchment. I use pre-cut rounds, too, for my baking. I absofuckinglutely hate cutting parchment. I always cut it wrong.
  • Lots and lots of notebooks and post-its that hold ambition of neatly keeping notes but mostly just collect flour.
  • Liliane dish towels.
  • Lacking formal training, and being taught most things by my maternal grandparents who shared a lone, rusted paring knife between them -- I am not super knife-nerdy. I have all the stuff I'm "supposed" to, but they're far from my babies. I totally put them through the dishwasher, and respect everyone who read that and audibly gasped. Though, I do use Blade Guards instead of a block or magnetic strip and keep them neatly tucked in drawers. Points for that? Looking in that drawer at home, my knives are mostly Wusthofs. I do most everything with my 8" chef's knife and the rare fussy stuff with a 3 ½" paring. Though, recently, I have fallen hard for a 5"... I don't know what to call it. Probably a utility knife. It's a cutie.
  • Charming prints for the walls. Obsessed with my Nourishing Notes quotes and the beef print from Pigeon Editions.
  • Kuhn Rikon Y-shaped vegetable peelers.
  • Lodge Cast Iron Skillets and knock-off Le Creuset Dutch Ovens, all of which were picked up at HomeGoods or TJ Maxx for basically nothing.
  • A Pinterest-load of 24 oz Ball Jars with straight sides, and Kilner and Le Parfait hermetic round canning jars and terrines. I tend to buy in bulk (for cheapness) but, even when I don't, I like to transfer my packaged stuff into clear glass containers. I don't like opening cabinets and seeing brand names. It's distracting and annoying and feels like a commercial, which I resent. Not because I'm too cool for labels, but because I'm fucking stubborn and like to opt out of things for the sheer spite of it. Also: I want to see the food, and how much of it I have at a glance. TL;DR - Glass jars are much tidier and make me feel like less of a crazy pants.
  • Butter. Local, cultured, and salted for toast; Kalona unsalted for baking and sauteing.

And what software?

My needs here are much smaller.

Excel rules legitimately everything around me. If I can't put it in a spreadsheet, it may as well not exist. It does all of my grocery lists, prep lists, inventory management, and ideas for new projects. My magnum opus is a spreadsheet template for party planning. Using too many VLookUps, it compares my list of guests with a list of recipes and then poops out a correctly scaled grocery list with notes on dietary restrictions and allergies. There's also a tab that calculates my prep schedule for the days leading up to a big event. I'm wet just thinking about it.

Beyond Excel, I could not live without Google Drive. Working with another person on the blog means a lot of collaboration. Plus, we're both Capricorns and completely adore archives and copies of copies. Google Drive is where I store most of my personal writing, too.

I sometimes use Pages and Dropbox, but Google Drive is def my preference. The self-loathing period of writing is deeply tied to my "process;" the auto-save-cloud-sync-computer-beep-boop-nonsense that lets me slam my computer shut in self-disgust without losing work is an actual life saver.

What would be your dream setup?

TWO OVENS.

IN THE WALL.

Double Wall Ovens are how I will know I am a successful food person. When they are attained, all of my shitty perfectionism and neuroses will melt away and I will un-fucking-clench. Maybe. Beyond that, it's all gravy. Hopefully in a literal sense.

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