Deb Perelman: We’re Smitten With This Kitchen

December 23 - On The Dot
FIRST THOUGHT: Cooking Fearlessly

When my fridge and pantry are at the bare-bones level (In other words, I don’t feel like going to the grocery store.), I usually Google recipes containing the ingredients I have. For instance, what can I make with leftover chicken, one potato and half an orange? I know I’m not the only one who does this! And if you’re like me, you’re bound to do some internet sleuthing to find the perfect dish to bring to this year’s ugly-sweater holiday party.


In our tech-focused world, many of us turn not to Grandma’s hand-me-down recipes, but search for recipe ideas and cooking instruction from that most trusted source: the internet. According to one study, 40 percent of Americans learn about food online, including from apps and blogs. Instead of clipping recipes out of the newspaper or our favorite ladies’ magazines, 50 percent of people turn to Twitter and Facebook to figure out what’s for dinner.

And why not? While some people still rely on family recipes, I think we can all skip making Great-aunt Myrtle’s fruitcake. Am I right? I’ll stick with BuzzFeed’s drool-worthy list of 15 Hanukkah Desserts That Will Make You Verklempt. Be right back. I’ve got to go make these apple-fritter rings!

WOMAN TO WATCH: Deb Perelman, Owner of Smitten Kitchen

One of my go-to foodie websites, and I’m guessing yours to, is Smitten Kitchen. The photography is downright gorgeous, and the recipes are unbeatable. Grab a candy cane and settle in for the story of the woman who created it all.

Deb Perelman was once an art therapist, record-store shift supervisor and a tech reporter. She’s been blogging since the early 2000s, initially sharing the details of her life and dating adventures in New York City. Then, Deb met the man who would become her husband, and, luckily for all of us who crave great online food content, she transitioned her blog into a cooking-focused journal called Smitten Kitchen.

Deb’s New York City kitchen is only 80 square feet. (Yikes! That’s smaller than my closet!) But this half-galley comes complete with a wobbly cart she uses for food prep and a terrace that houses her tomatoes and herbs.

It might surprise you that without any formal culinary training, Deb has become a household name in the cooking world, attracting millions upon millions of views to her Smitten Kitchen website. The magic of Smitten Kitchen comes from Deb’s approachable nature, which translates to her recipes and writing. And Deb makes it clear that she’s no food snob. She shuns fussy foods and pretentious substances like truffle oil and Himalayan pink salt in favor of more accessible, everyday ingredients. And that’s part of why she has so many avid followers.

One of the cool things about being an online cook is that you can get immediate feedback. Deb says the comments section helps her understand what readers have trouble with, which ultimately helps her write improved recipes with her audience in mind. In fact, when Deb published her best-selling cookbook, her editor noted that the book—many of the recipes from which can be found on the Smitten Kitchen website—found success, in part, due to Deb’s close connection with her readers, who consider her a dear friend.

So, what’s the secret to staying organized as a home chef with millions of followers? Glass jars, masking tape and a Sharpie. Deb scrawls an ingredient on a piece of tape, sticks it on the appropriate jar and repeats. And bada bing, bada boom: an organized kitchen is ready to take on the world! Now you know the secret, so get to cookin’!


Food is fuel, but good food can soothe the soul like nothing else. As writer Virginia Woolf said:

“One cannot think well, love well, sleep well if one has not dined well.”

This is Melinda Garvey signing off until next time. Remember, ladies, empowered women empower other women. Share On the Dot so more women can have a voice. Thanks for getting ready with us.

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