2 Eggs, a Pinch of Salt & Hilah Cooking = a YouTube Digital Delicacy [INTERVIEW]

Here is a list of the foods I know how to make:

Peanut butter sandwich
Peanut butter sandwich with jelly
Rice if a rice cooker is available
Peanut butter sandwich with a tortilla instead of bread
A watermelon
A handful of almonds
An apple with peanut butter on it
Peanut butter

As impressive as that list of culinary delicacies is, I am always looking for some new dishes to add to my lineup. Luckily, YouTube, being the endless void of information that it is, always has some knowledge to share. Whether you want a new barbeque recipe or are just trying to find more things to put peanut butter on, cooking channels on YouTube will have what you are looking for.

With so many cooking channels sprouting up on YouTube, finding something truly original can be a bit of a task. Hilah Johnson, host of Hilah Cooking, is the truly original cooking show host you have been searching for. Her bi-weekly YouTube cooking show teaches viewers to simplify their cooking process with a blend of original recipes that can be put together in a snap (insert sassy snapping motion here).

I know what you are thinking: “Doesn’t every cooking channel promise easy and delicious recipes?” To which I say, “When did you become such a cynic, dear reader?” Hilah Cooking offers recipes ranging from Tex-Mex to vegetarian all wrapped up in a well-produced, network cooking show-esque package.

I caught up with Hilah to talk about crafting culinary chefs-d’oeuvre and what it’s like cooking for potlucks (spoiler alert: it sucks).

 What makes Hilah Cooking different from all the other cooking channels on YouTube?

A lot of the comments I have gotten from people reflect that they like that I am a real person, like a real cook, and not necessarily a trained chef type person. I cuss in the kitchen and sometimes screw things up, and we don’t always edit it out. Also, I think that with interacting with the audience, I try really hard to respond to every comment.

How did you start Hilah Cooking on YouTube?

So my boyfriend/business partner/cameraman before we were even dating, we were working on an independent film together that he had written and was directing, and I was starring in. It got canned before we finished shooting. I think we got finished with half of it before we lost funding, and everybody had to quit and go home. So, he was understandably very depressed because he had quit his job to do this movie, so now he was broke and jobless. So, we were hanging out and just kind of came on the idea to do a web show. It was something we could have control of ourselves and wouldn’t cost a lot of money, and we could use the very rudimentary equipment we already had. A cooking show seemed like a pretty easy and cheap thing to do because I was cooking dinner anyway.

I noticed that you have a catalog of vegetarian recipes on Hilah Cooking. Why include vegetarian episodes?

Part of it was that I was vegetarian for eight years in late high school and through college and a little beyond that. So, I have a lot of vegetarian stuff in my normal repertoire anyway. But also, the goal of the channel is to teach people how to cook no matter what they want to eat. I don’t try to impose my personal views on the food or what I think people should eat because it is healthy or the right thing to do. So, we just keep an open mind, I guess, and have a little bit of everything for everybody. I do get a lot of comments from people who are vegetarian but still watch the show, and they just change recipes to vegetarian. So, that is interesting to me that they aren’t turned off by watching someone who will cook meat.

Right. As a vegetarian, people always ask if I get offended when they eat or cook meat around me.

We did an episode on steaming a live lobster, and there were a few pissed off people with that one.

When you have dinner parties or cook for people, how much pressure do you feel to make amazing food?

I really like cooking for people. If I have people over for dinner, I don’t feel pressure about it just because I have been cooking dinner for people much longer than I have been making the show. I kind of hate to bring stuff to potlucks because the stuff I do at home is kind of experimental. I will look at what I have in the fridge and throw some stuff together, and it is usually pretty good. Doing that for a potluck, I feel like there is a lot of pressure with that because people will actually comment and be like, “Oh, I can’t wait to see what you’re going to bring,” and I am just like, “Oh shit, I was just going to pick up some fruit salad” [laughs].

But other people must be embarrassed by their lame dishes.

Yeah, when we go to people’s houses for dinner there is usually some kind of comment like “You probably make it so much better,” and I hate that because I don’t want people to think I am a food snob.

If you were on death row, what would your last meal be?

It would be some kind of tacos for sure, with like a bunch of salsa and pico de gallo. Maybe carnitas tacos; those are always fun to make. People are always like, “Whoa, this is so delicious or amazing,” and they are so easy. It seems like it isn’t, probably because they are delicious, but it just takes time.

I am a terrible cook. What advice can you give me to make palatable food?

Start with a recipe; get a recipe from a reputable source like a friend. Like, if they made you something once that was delicious, ask them if they can write down what they did, and then you can try to recreate that and having tasted it already, you can have something to measure your success against. Also, that is better than picking a recipe out of a random cookbook or from online, because it has already been tested for you.

Don’t be afraid to get a little bit messy with it. That is probably the suckiest part of cooking is cleaning up afterwards, but that is going to happen. It is just part of the job.

Also, lemon juice. I have found if something is bland or doesn’t taste right usually a little lime juice will perk it up.


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