If you've been following along with this week's Cook the Book feature, you'll have gotten to know the kinds of foods that cookbook author and longtime food blogger Heidi Swanson loves to make and share with readers. But we wanted to know a little more about her. So she's the subject of this week's Meet & Eat.

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Name: Heidi Swanson
Location: San Francisco
Occupation: Cookbook author, photographer, content producer
URL: 101cookbooks.com or heidiswanson.com

Favorite comfort food?
Beans. I love them - baked, boiled, broiled, sauteed, mashed, you name it. I like all shapes, sizes, colors, and kinds.

Guilty pleasures?
Most (all?) of the coffee shops in my neighborhood aren't using organic milk. It's frustrating because I don't like to start my day with a cappuccino or latte made from milk from cows that have been pumped full of bovine growth hormones--but it happens on occasion. I just try to minimize it or drink tea at home.

Describe your perfect meal.
The perfect meal - good friends in the kitchen cooking and then enjoying that food together. Aside from that, enjoying a San Francisco burrito on a warm night while sitting on the steps beneath Coit Tower is hard to beat.

What food won't you eat?
I'm vegetarian - I don't eat meat (fish, goat, rabbit, cow, chicken, deer, Pig, etc). Beyond that, I'm game for just about anything. I have a theory that if I don't enjoy eating something it is likely because I haven't had it prepared well (by me or someone else)...

What's an unexplored food you'd like to try?
I'd like to further learn about (and experience more) Shojin cooking--Japanese Zen monastery cuisine.

Favorite food person?
There are so many! I'm having a hard time choosing just one. How about a list of a few of the people I admire for not only doing interesting work in the food (or wine) worlds, but also for carving out their own paths--and on top of that, for being genuinely nice/cool people.

When did you first realize you were a serious eater?
I was a picky kid. I think I'm making up for lost time (and meals) now.

What do your family and friends think of your food obsessions?
I think they enjoy being the recipients of my (seemingly endless) recipe testing. Another bonus is that they also get all my pass-along cookbooks.

Favorite food sites or blogs?
This is tough! Picking favorites is never easy for me. A few personal favorites:

  • Food Blog S'cool: A great resource for the growing community of food bloggers.

  • Michael Ruhlman's blog: Never a dull moment here.

  • Rancho Gordo's New World Kitchen: Steve Sando (my favorite bean producer) recently set up a blog. He focuses on new world ingredients which is an area of interest to me. I like to see what he is cooking, where he is traveling, and the various cooking techniques he uses.

  • Ideas in Food: A culinary sketchbook of sorts. I love the way Alex and Aki workshop ideas, the way they attempt to look at ingredients in new ways, and the way they talk through their percieved successes and failures.

  • Nigel Slater on Food

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