An interview with Lindsay Strannigan
with photography by Anna Caitlin Harris
When I first met Lindsay, she'd just moved to Portland, Oregon from southern California, and was at the beginning of her food journey. Though she and I no longer live in the same city, it's been a joy to watch her many talents unfold from afar, first through her successful blog Rosemarried, then through her connection with the incredible Portland food scene as the owner of Strannigan & Sons, a social media management and event planning company. Perhaps the most impressive thing about Lindsay is her tenacious commitment to community building. In the midst of her busy schedule as a freelancer and mama, Lindsay has supported organizations such as IRCO (Immigrant and Refugee Community Organization) and the Migrant Education Program. It's such a delight to reconnect with Lindsay and to share a bit of her story with Cordella. In our conversation, we discussed Lindsay's community work, her personal food style, her career path, mom life, and so much more.
Cordella: Your career has taken such an interesting path, from the music industry to food blogging, farmer's markets, freelance social media management, and full-time motherhood. You truly embody the "multi-hyphen career." I'd love to hear about your career journey, and how you were able to create such a meaningful and creative livelihood.
Lindsay: I always knew I wanted to work in music, so I moved to southern California right after high school. I got a degree in public relations, and worked a few odd jobs until landing my dream job at an indie record label. After a few years, I got tired of working 70+ hour weeks for very little pay in a male-dominated industry. I was broke and exhausted and moved in with my parents in Portland, Oregon. I got a really boring (but stable!) day job, which is what I really needed at that time. I started writing my blog as a creative outlet to get me through the doldrums of work. I would come home and I would cook and I would write, and it made me so happy.
I blogged on the side for a couple of years, and at some point I realized that I wanted to have a career in food. I didn’t know how to do that, so I just immersed myself in the industry. I joined the board of my local farmer’s market, and eventually got a job as the marketing director for a large local farmer’s market. I started co-hosting the PDX Food Swap. I met other bloggers and media. I started getting invited to media and blogger dinners. One day, a chef approached me and said that he liked the way I wrote about food and asked if I’d be willing to help his restaurant. I started working with them 5 years ago and they are still a client to this day. In fact, many of my clients are direct referrals from that one restaurant. It started very small and has grown since then.
Cordella: You've called your cooking style "slow food for a fast life." Can you tell us a bit about your cooking style, and how it has evolved through the seasons of your life?
Lindsay: When I say slow food, I don’t mean fussy recipes that take hours to make. I mean real food, that was grown on real farms with sustainable farming practices. Although real food takes time and energy to cook and I don’t always have a ton of extra time or energy, eating real food is really important to me. So I’ve just learned what works for us. For example, I’ll roast a chicken on a Sunday, and I’ll make stock the next day. We’ll usually make some sort of chicken salad and a chicken soup of sorts - and so that one chicken gives us several different meals. It’s a great way to eat healthy and homemade meals without a ton of effort. I’ve also learned how to prioritize what I buy at the store vs. what I make from scratch. For example, I always make my own chicken stock when possible. Sure, it takes some time. But it can just simmer on the stove while I’m doing work or laundry or yoga. On the other hand, I always buy hummus from the store. The store bought stuff always tastes better, and it saves SO much time. (Also: if I am being totally honest, I am not above boxed mac n’ cheese! Life if busy and crazy and we all just have to find a balance. I do my best to make whole and healthy meals with seasonal ingredients, but sometimes life just doesn’t allow for that. And that’s ok.)
Cordella: Your recipes often include unique flavors and elements from other cultures, while still feeling totally approachable and doable to the average home cook. What's your process like when creating these unique recipes and menus? What inspires you?
Lindsay: I find inspiration everywhere I look. I save recipes and photos I see on Instagram, I try to recreate dishes that I’ve had at restaurants, I scour Pinterest and cookbooks. Since I work for a farmer’s market, I’ll often just buy a bunch of fresh produce at the market on a Saturday and I’ll come home and just cook whatever sounds good. Lately, I’ve been really into making cold soba noodle salads with roasted veggies and some sort of sesame-ginger sauce. Tonight, I threw together a ‘Mediterreanean Bowl’ of sorts with grilled chicken, grilled veggies (broccolini, bell peppers, summer squash), brown rice, tzatziki, and roasted red pepper sauce. (Keep in mind that I do have a 3 year old at home and if left to her own devices, she would eat mac & cheese for every meal.)
Cordella: Growing up in a missionary family, you spent a lot of time traveling as a child and moving from place to place. What was this like for you? I imagine you've still got a bit of wander-lust!
Lindsay: We moved a lot when I was a kid. At one point, my parents bought an RV and we just traveled around the US for 6 weeks. It was totally crazy, but it was an unforgettable experience. It wasn’t always easy, making new friends in a new place, but I think it made me the outgoing and adaptable adult that I am. My mom always said that we had to be “missionary eaters” –it would be rude for us to turn down food offered to us – and as a result, I ate a lot of interesting foods growing up. I certainly whined about it then, but now I’ll eat anything put in front of me, and I don’t feel fear in new or unknown situations. And I DEFINITELY have a bad case of wanderlust. It isn’t always feasible on a budget, but we’re really good about getting out of town when we can. I am a big fan of the day trip, I think it’s always nice to have a change of scenery.
Cordella: Your daughter is so adorable, and often appears in your social media posts and freelance work. Can you tell us about your experience as a new mother, creating a work life which could include your daughter? How do you find a balance?
Lindsay: Most of my mom friends were stay-at-home moms, as was my own mother. So, when I found out I was pregnant, I was really terrified of how I was going to pull it off. Unfortunately, there isn’t a book for busy moms who run their own social media management company and work part-time from home. Thankfully, with freelance, I could set my own schedule. I started off small, with my daughter in daycare just two mornings a week. (Let me tell you, I was very effective in those few hours!) I’ve learned how to be really intentional about my time. When she is at daycare, I am laser focused and am using every second of that time. And when she’s home, I do my best to focus on her and ignore work. She’s now in daycare 3 full days a week and it feels like a really nice balance. We can still go to the zoo together on a random Thursday, but I still get a good amount of time to get my work done.
Cordella: I've been watching "The Letdown" on Netflix... it's such an amazing show because it actually shows what real life is like as a new mother, something we see little, if at all, in media today and social media in particular. Your posts are a refreshing take on motherhood, showing the beauty along with the challenges. What's your take on authenticity in social media? Any tips for those of us struggling to share our true stories and voices?
Lindsay: First of all, I LOVED “The Letdown”. What an honest and delightful depiction of motherhood. As a person who spends a lot of their time curating other people’s social media presence, I’ve been really intentional about being honest about my own experiences. I know how frustrated I feel when I scroll through my feed and see perfect pictures of perfect moms in their perfect houses with their perfect children and it makes me feel so inadequate. So, I wanted to push back against the false realities I see on social media. No one’s life is perfect. Life is messy and beautiful and I’m just trying to embrace it and speak my truth.
Cordella: Along with your beautiful blog and freelance career, you've been actively involved with your local community for many years, co-leading the PDX Food Swap and leading Bake America Great Again, a fundraising event for a Portland-based immigrant and refugee support organization. Could you tell us a bit about these events, and why they are important to you?
Lindsay: I remember reading “The Omnivore’s Dilemma” by Michael Pollan nine years ago, and it completely changed the way I thought about food. (If you haven’t read it, you must!) Being the Type-A and proactive person that I am, after reading the book, I started seeking out ways to educate myself and be more involved in the food system. I found out about the PDX Food Swap, and attended their very first meeting. It was so amazing to be in a room full of people who brought their home-canned goods, and we traded and bartered with one another. I left the swap with a bounty of incredible homemade goodies. From that point on, I was hooked, and shortly after I was co-hosting the swap. I’ve been swapping for eight years now, and it’s always such a blast.
A few years ago, I had the idea to throw a holiday bake sale to benefit refugees. This was during the height of the Syrian refugee crisis, and so I partnered with an international refugee aid organization. The following year, Trump was elected and I knew that I needed to do the sale again, and felt passionate about partnering with a local organization doing work in my community, so I chose to partner with IRCO (Immigrant and Refugee Community Organization). I have now planned and hosted two Bake America Great Again fundraiser bake sales for IRCO. It’s such a great way to bring our community together for a great cause. I am currently plotting and planning how to make Bake America Great Again even bigger and better this year.
In our current political climate, I’ve felt compelled to use whatever tools I have to push back and resist. Frankly, at times, my work can feel really shallow. I love that I get paid to post pictures of food on the internet, but there is so much going on in the world, and I can’t just sit back and ignore it. So, I’m doing whatever is in my power to support those who are currently oppressed by our political system.
I recently helped to plan an End-of-Summer-School Party for the Migrant Education Program here in Portland. This is a summer school program for children of migrant workers in our community, and we threw a party for the kiddos and their families to celebrate the end of summer term. (I got the opportunity to help with this event because I was so frustrated and saddened by what is happening at the border, and I posted an Instagram story that asked the question “what do I do?” Someone responded and told me that the Migrant Education Program could use someone with restaurant contacts for food. And here we are! This is why social media is awesome sometimes.) Using my connections in the food industry, I was able to secure food donations for the party. Several local Portland restaurants gladly donated, and we were able to provide food for 300 kiddos and their families. We even had doughnuts and ice cream donated! The night was so special and celebratory, and the kids were beaming from ear to ear. These kids deserve to be celebrated. They work so hard, and I'm so grateful I got to play a small part in this event.
Cordella: What's in the future for Rosemarried?
Lindsay: Rosemarried the blog doesn’t get a lot of love these days, I’ve just been too crazy with business and motherhood. But I keep up my Instagram and share recipes and tidbits of my life there. (I don’t love the term “influencer," but it seems like I’ve transitioned from blogger to influencer. My Rosemarried instagram is very food-focused, and has a pretty good following, and so I still get invited to do a lot of fun things. I feel really lucky that I get to take pictures of food and post them on the internet and people seem to dig it?! (Life is weird and strange and wonderful.)
For my freelance business, I started a company called Strannigan + Sons, which is my social media management company. I currently have an assistant and 10+ clients, and I’m looking to grow my business.
Cordella: How do you see your self-made career developing/expanding in the future?
Lindsay: Things are really busy right now, and I’m trying to figure out how to grow my business without losing my mind! It’s a good problem to have, but I’m still figuring it all out. Ultimately, I’d love to do more overall social and branding strategy, and have a team in place to execute the day-to-day social postings. I also really miss event planning. I used to do a lot more event planning, but I stepped away from it for awhile after my daughter was born. I do contract event work with Feast Portland every year (an amazing and huge food and wine festival here in Portland), and it’s my favorite time of year.
Peach Cornmeal Skillet Cake with Lavender
Lindsay shared a sweet, simple recipe from her blog, Rosemarried, perfect for late summer. Enjoy!
I’ve made this recipe a couple of times now, and finally took the time to stop and snap a couple of photos. That’s the problem with delicious desserts, you see. They disappear far too quickly to take photos.
Truth be told, however, this isn’t the most photogenic of cakes. Granted, this recipe is an adaptation of a Martha Stewart recipe. Of course, her version looks absolutely stunning. The peach slices are arranged with care, each one placed perfectly in line. The cake is baked in a skillet, but then is turned out onto a gorgeous serving board. It’s a Martha masterpiece. But, let’s be honest. Who has the time or the energy for that? I certainly don’t.
You know what I did? I sauteed the peach slices in a lot of butter (and sugar!) and left them in the bottom of the skillet. I didn’t arrange them whatsoever. I poured batter on top of the peaches and baked the cake. Then, I ate the cake straight out of the skillet. And you know what? It was damn near perfect. The cake was buttery and moist, and just bursting with juicy summer peaches. The lavender was subtle, yet present, and added a unique and surprising flavor to the cake. It was fantastic.
Sure, it might not be as pretty as Martha’s version, but that’s fine by me. I want to cook attainable food that tastes good. The reality is that most of us are busy people with jobs, kids, pets, sports, mortgages, and all sorts of other responsibilities. We simply don’t have the time to arrange peach slices in concentric circles. And that’s ok. There’s a time and a place for pretty cakes with pretty peach slices. But there’s also a time for peach cornmeal skillet cakes that are simple, easy, and totally delicious. This is one of those times.
- 1 stick (plus 3 tablespoons) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1 cup light brown sugar
- 3-4 ripe peaches (skins on), sliced into 3/4″ wedges
- 1 cup coarse yellow cornmeal
- 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 2 teaspoons dried lavender
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 3 large eggs
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- In a 9″ or 10″ cast iron skillet, melt 3 tablespoons of butter over medium heat. When butter is bubbling and melted, add in peach slices, nutmeg, and 1/4 cup of the brown sugar, and stir to coat. Reduce heat to low, and allow peaches to cook until most of the juice has boiled off and peaches are beginning to caramelize, about 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from heat.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, lavender, and salt. In another bowl, beat the remaining butter with 3/4 cup of brown sugar on high speed. Beat until fluffy, about 2-3 minutes. Reduce the speed to medium, and add in the eggs, one at a time. Scrape the sides of the bowl occasionally, and add in vanilla and cream.
- Next, pour in the the cornmeal mixture, stirring just to combine. Pour batter over peach slices, using a spatula to spread the batter evenly.
- Bake for 20-22 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Remove skillet from the oven, and allow cake to cool at least slightly before serving. (I highly recommend serving this cake with a heaping dollop of homemade whipped cream. It’s downright dreamy.)
Lindsay is a social media manager and event planner based in Portland, Oregon. She is currently the Marketing Director for the Beaverton Farmers Market and she handles client relations for Merit Badge Co. Lindsay has planned events for Feast Portland, Stumptown Coffee Roasters, Union/Pine, Uncle Nearest Premium Whiskey, Whole Foods, and more. She provides ongoing social media management services for numerous local businesses such as: Bunk Sandwiches, Pizza Jerk, Townshend's Tea, and Fifty Licks Ice Cream. Learn more about her freelance work at Strannigan & Sons, follow her on Instagram, and check out her delicious recipes at Rosemarried.
ANNA CAITLIN HARRIS
Anna lives in one of the most beautiful spots in the world, Oregon, and loves using the built-in overcast lighting and gorgeous green landscape as her photography studio. She is inspired by people and their life stories, and with her little magic box, she loves to help them capture the beautiful and genuine moments in their lives. See more of her work at annacaitlinphotography.com.