Bryn Mooth

I'm an experienced, energetic and creative (if I do say so) writer/editor focused on inspiring people to eat locally, cook simply and enjoy healthy lifestyles. I write the Midwest-based food blog Writes4Food.com, which shares recipes and kitchen wisdom and explores regional foods and producers. You can also find me on Twitter @writes4food.

I come from a long line of cooking enthusiasts. My grandmother, Dorothy Mengering, published a cookbook based on recipes from her family, friends and travels (“Home Cooking with Dave’s Mom,” Atria, 1996), and my parents are both accomplished home cooks. My brother is a graduate of the French Culinary Institute and has taught at cooking schools in Tuscany and Chicago.

My husband, Rob, and I are avid cooks, wine lovers and advocates for the local food community. We’re weekly customers at Findlay Market, and we shop community farmer’s markets around the area. In season, we enjoy produce from our small vegetable garden.

I recently made the huge leap to devote myself to a second career as a food writer. Previously, I spent 20 years writing about design, business and creativity for HOW magazine, a leading publication for the graphic design field. 

These days, I'm all about inspiring people toward cooking simply using fresh and healthy ingredients. I share easy and delicious recipes for everyday living. I write about food, cooking, design and healthy lifestyles, and I help publications, creative agencies and lifestyle brands tell appetizing stories to their readers and customers.

Old-Fashioned One-Bowl Chocolate Cake

To kick off The Clara Project (read more about the project and the vintage recipes that inspired it here), I deliberately chose the first recipe rather than leaving it to a chance draw. I wanted this first post to involve a recipe that I knew you'd enjoy as much as I would.This recipe was not written by Clara Shenefelt, the homemaker whose collection I have, but by a Mrs. Pat Depner of Park Forest, IL. It's written in blue fountain pen on cream parchment paper; my hunch is that Clara may have been part of a group of women who exchanged recipes, pen pal-style. Mrs. Depner wrote at the top of the page:A Favorite Recipe for Coffee Loversno mess, no mussOne Bowl Chocolate Cake This recipe for one-bowl chocolate cake calls for either sour cream or milk, with a note that sweet may be used but that sour is preferred.Hmm. We all know that sour cream and milk are very different in taste and, more important, in weight and texture. How could this old-fashioned chocolate cake recipe call for either thick sour cream OR fluid milk?The word "sweet" is our clue here. "Midwest Sweet Baking History" notes that "soured" milk was a common ingredient in baking, as opposed to "sweet" (or regular) cream or milk. Back in those days, home cooks would allow cream to sit on a counter to ferment, or sour, before churning it into butter. Here's a quick primer on old-fashioned sour milk vs. buttermilk vs. their modern store-bought versions:old-fashioned sour milk or sour cream = milk or cream that has been "soured" by the addition of an acid like lemon juice or a bacteria culture like yogurt [To make sour milk, stir together 1 cup milk and 1 Tbsp. white vinegar or lemon juice; let stand for 5 minutes or until it thickens, and use immediately. This is a fine substitute for buttermilk in baking recipes.]buttermilk = liquid that remains after cream is churned into butter; it's essentially skim milk with bits of butterfat suspended in itcultured buttermilk = liquid that remains after cultured cream (which is "soured" by the addition of an acid like lemon juice or a bacteria culture like yogurt) is churned into butter; it's like regular buttermilk but with a slight tangstore-bought versions of sour cream and buttermilk are typically made with added bacterial cultures, thickeners and preservatives.For this old-fashioned chocolate cake recipe, I wanted to be as true to the original ingredients as I could. So I made sour milk by adding lemon juice to 2% milk and letting it thicken for a few minutes. The sour milk plays an important role: Its acidity combines with the baking soda to activate the leavening action, which gives this cake a tender crumb.I'd categorize this as a snack cake—quick and easy to make, unfussy, chocolate-y like a brownie but less dense. It'd be a nice accompaniment to a cup of tea or glass of milk for an afternoon pick-me-up or after-school treat. It's perfectly delightful, and as comforting as a simple piece of good, old-fashioned chocolate cake can be.old-fashioned one-bowl chocolate cake(makes one 8-inch square cake, about 9 servings)1/2 cup very hot, very strong coffee (or 1/2 cup boiling water mixed with 1 Tbsp. instant espresso powder)2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, broken into pieces1/3 cup milk or half-and-half1 tsp. lemon juice1 cup sifted flour (sift first, then measure)1 cup granulated sugar3/4 tsp. salt1/2 tsp. baking soda1/4 cup vegetable shortening1 eggpowdered sugar for dusting if desiredPreheat oven to 35o degrees. Spray an 8-inch-by-8-inch baking pan with cooking spray, then lay in a piece of parchment paper (two edges should overhang). Spray the parchment, then flour the pan, tapping out the excess.In a glass measuring cup, combine milk (or half-and-half) and lemon juice; stir and let sit for about 5 minutes until it's thickened. Measure out 1/4 cup of soured milk.Place the unsweetened chocolate in a large mixing bowl and pour the hot coffee over it; stir until the chocolate is melted and smooth. In a sifter or sieve, place the flour, sugar, salt and baking soda; sift the dry ingredients into the bowl with the chocolate. Stir until smooth. Cut the shortening into chunks and add to the bowl; stir to combine. Add 1/4 cup soured milk (or half-and-half) and egg; stir gently until the mixture is smooth.Transfer batter to prepared pan. Bake for 35–45 minutes (a glass or ceramic baking pan will take more time than a metal one), until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Remove pan to a cooling rack and let cool. Transfer cake to a plate and dust with powdered sugar....more

The Clara Project: An exploration of vintage recipes

In late summer, on a chance visit to an antique store in Milford, Ohio, I spotted a stack of vintage recipe cards, with a tag that read, Recipe cards $3.95.How could I not? ...more
This is such a cool idea! I'm going to be subscribing to your blog just to see what you come up ...more

Stuffed Basil Appetizers

I love this recipe for basil leaves stuffed with goat cheese and topped with fresh tomato. It’s a fun, finger-food variation on the caprese salad, and it just screams summer.basil leaves stuffed with goat cheesemakes 20 appetizers20 large, unblemished basil leaves4 ounces plain fresh goat cheese, softened at room temperature2 Tbsp. cream or half-and-half1/4 cup finely diced tomato2 Tbsp. pine nuts, skillet-toastedolive oilsalt & pepper...more

Teach kids to cook.

Back-to-school season isn't just a time of buying outfits and supplies; it's a time to think about shaping and growing these little people who share our lives. When you have a toddler, it's almost unfathomable that one day she'll be a grown person with a life of her own.Between now and then, she'll gain all kinds of wisdom and experience. How to engage with other people. How to think for herself. How to love and how to recover from heartbreak. How to find her own motivation for greatness....more

Food Revolution Day: Are You In?

Have you heard that Saturday, May 19, is Food Revolution Day? It was news to me, too. Instigated by the Jamie Oliver Foundation, it's a worldwide event designed to celebrate healthy eating and bring people together at dinner tables and local events. Here's from their mission:...more
No idea it was food revolution day on May 19th.  I'll be at my niece's wedding and I have no ...more

Couponing: A Contrarian View

After reading yet another blog post extolling the virtues of couponing, I’m moved to present a contrarian point of view.To begin, I’ll share several factors in my life that drive my perspective on food marketing, grocery shopping and couponing—and I’ll own the fact that my situation may not be like yours....more

Food Trends & Favorite Recipes for 2012

A fantastic year-end post on the blog 59 North by my dear friend, Stockholm-based travel writer Sandra Carpenter, inspired me to take a thoughtful look back at this year in food, and in writes4food. In that spirit, as we look ahead to 2012, here's a look back at my favorite recipes, food trends and impressions from 2011:...more
I just started canning in the fall, but I'm really loving it and I'm excited to see the trend ...more

How to Make Oven-Dried Tomatoes

I like cooking with sundried tomatoes, adding them to recipes that call for their canned or fresh kin (like this recipe for risotto...more

We're a Fast-Food Nation. But We Need to Slow Down.

We eat in our cars, at our desks, on the go, in front of the TV. We eat drive-through, take-out, delivered, packaged and prepared meals.We need to slow … down.Consumer trends around the globe show that over the past three decades people are purchasing more prepared foods at the grocery and eating out more. It’s projected that we’ll spend a record amount at restaurants in 2011. We’re consuming an increasing number of calories and bigger portions. Simultaneously, we’re getting less healthy....more
This is so true! I really try to plan ahead. Some Sundays during the school year are dedicated ...more

The Importance of Local Food

I recently spent two days, two glorious days, with Julie Kramer, the publisher of Edible Ohio Valley magazine, visiting Snowville Creamery in Southeastern Ohio. The creamery itself is a metal-clad building that occupies a piece of The Brick, the dairy farm whose milk is bottled there....more
I work for my family's organic farm at a local farmer's market and I always get people who can't ...more