Interview with Mary Yogi - The Food Librarian
Photos reprinted with permission of Mary Yogi
Share a bit about your background - education, employment, etc.
I’m a native Southern Californian who graduated from UCLA with a B.A. in 1993. After 10 years in non-profit accounting, I headed back to UCLA for my Masters in Library & Information Science. What a great choice that has turned out to be! I’ve been lucky to work in public libraries since 2005.
When & Why did you start your blog?
I started The Food Librarian in 2007 for a few reasons: To learn to bake from scratch (no more box mixes...not that there is anything wrong with them if you use them, but I wanted to pick up cookbooks and make all the deliciousness myself) and to learn more web skills. I’ve picked up some web coding and use a lot of social media. I don’t know if I would have picked that up if it wasn’t for the blog.
What's the focus of your blog?
My blog focuses on baking from scratch but I like to toss in some savory dishes (a girl can’t just eat desserts alone...well, maybe one can), restaurant reviews, chronicles of my trips and a few too many photos of my dog. I love to use local ingredients found in my local farmer’s market and am always bringing home cookbooks and magazines from my library to test the recipes.
Share with readers a little bit about your day job as a librarian?
I work for a large public library system in Southern California. It has a great diversity of patrons and staff. Providing second-level reference assistance to our libraries, and email and chat responses to patrons is my focus. Training staff and patron on our downloadable audiobooks, eBooks and music is another part of my job. I’m personally an audiobook addict and always bake while listening to an audiobook - nothing like combining butter and the latest Michael Connelly thriller.
How did you become a baker?
It’s funny because my Japanese American house wasn’t full of sweets or baking. However, I loved to make cakes from a box mix when I was young. A few years ago, I decided to try my hand at baking from scratch. It has been a great adventure! I’ve taken baking classes in Los Angeles and try my best to challenge myself in the kitchen. I’ve been part of a supportive blogging community by joining an online baking group called “Tuesdays with Dorie”. It’s like a book club, but everyone makes the same recipe each week from Dorie Greenspan’s “Baking: From my Home to Yours” cookbook. I’ve made breads, pastries and most important, friends across the world.
What is your favorite thing to bake?
Bundt Cakes. I’m obsessed with the Bundt Cake. See, I don’t like frosting and love cake. The Bundt cake has the absolute perfect cake to frosting ratio. For the past two years, I’ve celebrated the Bundt Cake (and my obsession) with the “I Like Big Bundts” months where I make 30 bundt cakes in 30 days. Everything from chocolate chip, lemon, pumpkin and the interesting Meatloaf Bundt (with tunnel of egg) for Halloween. Last year, over 90 bakers from around the world joined me in making Bundts for National Bundt Day on November 15th.
I also like to make coffee cakes, cupcakes, cookies, Jello desserts and scones. I bake lots of breakfast goods because they often don’t have frosting, and I bring all my goodies into the library…sometimes still warm from the oven! Once, I was introduced to a colleague at a morning meeting, and she said, “Oh, I heard it’s a good thing to have you on a committee because you bring in treats!” I'm not making any guarantees here...but I've found baking to be a great way to get out of taking meeting minutes,
Have you ever been able to combine your baking hobby and being a librarian?
For the past two years, I’ve celebrated National Library Week. I have giveaways and highlight a library thing such as downloadable audiobooks & eBooks, the WorldCat catalog & Interlibrary loans, and programs for the whole family at the library.
I try my best to promote library use and support. Luckily, fellow librarians the world over have given librarians great reputations. Many blog readers have wonderful memories and stories of visiting their libraries they’ve shared with me, and bakers use the library to preview cookbooks before purchasing them for our home collection!
Anything else would you like readers (general public) to know about you, your baking or your library?
I hope my blog inspires everyone to bake something! Start wherever you are and build from there. There is nothing better than receiving a fresh scone. Please visit and support your library – we have lots of cookbooks, magazines and resources for you!
If readers have additional questions, how can they get in touch with you?
Lemon Blueberry Buckle (Featured on I Love Libraries homepage)
Chocolate Chip Espresso Scones
Buttermilk Butternut Squash Bundt with Spiced Vanilla Icing