Ragan Brooks is a passionate food blogger, cook, and photographer. As a model for over twenty years and an entertainment industry veteran, she has appeared on both the big and small screens alongside some of Hollywood’s finest. Now, she’s taken her eye for aesthetics and her taste for all things delicious to your computer screens by creating her food blog, Beauty in the Bite. BITB celebrates the beauty of food and features easy, healthy recipes with a gourmet twist. We’re so lucky to have her for an interview and guest recipe on Model Behaviors. Please welcome Ragan, everyone!
MB: Your recipe blog, Beauty in the Bite, has such a cute and clever name! What was your initial inspiration for the blog and how did you come up with the name?
BITB: I love the visual beauty of food! It’s really an art form on its own. I am also a photographer and food is my favorite subject. I just love the colors and textures and mood it can convey. The name originally came from the cookbook I’m developing that incorporates beautiful, inspiring women and the food from their heritage that ties them to their roots. The “beauty” in the bite is meant to be the meaning behind the food we create and the way it brings people together.
MB: What a beautiful way to think about food! Plus, it fits right in with our wellness word of the month—love. We can see how you bring the love to Beauty in the Bite! What does “love” mean to you, and how do you keep it present in both your work and your personal life?
BITB: To me, love means many things. Most of all, love means being compassionate, loyal and honest. Love means going the distance, taking the long road and always having each other’s back. It’s not always pretty and neat. It’s hard at times, it’s messy, it’s frustrating, but it’s never questioned. It’s also simply being there and showing up.
In everyday life, I make an effort to show up fully and embrace what I’m given moment to moment. I try not to take things too personally, always give the benefit of the doubt, and realize that everyone is here on this earth to experience something unique to them. At the end of the day it has nothing to do with me. It’s easier to throw sunshine their way and focus on doing me, the best I can.
MB: That’s such a great way to look at it, and sometimes when someone throws some unexpected sunshine my way, it can totally turn my day around or help me get through a tough situation. What has been one of the biggest challenges you’ve faced so far with Beauty in the Bite?
BITB: Technology! I was determined to build my website form the ground up, all on my own! It took a ton of youtubing and reaching out for help, but I finally succeeded. Shay Bocks, who designed my WordPress theme, and her team were incredibly kind and helpful—of that I am SO thankful! I really didn’t want to have to rely on anyone to make changes or updates to design the site. I am really proud that I did it on my own. It truly feels like my baby!
MB: Sounds like you have a very strong independent streak! Since you’re sharing such a fantastic Independence Day recipe with us, what is your idea of an “independent woman” these days? What does that term mean for you?
BITB: I think an “independent woman” is strong in body and mind. She knows how to take care of herself and others while also knowing how to let someone take care of her, in all ways, especially emotionally. I think people assume that being “independent” means not needing anyone else and doing everything yourself. But, real strength comes in asking for help when you need it, saying “no” when you need to create space, and asking for love when you need extra care.
I’m an only child so doing everything on my own comes naturally! I also frequently take on way more than is good for me. It’s been really healthy learning how to step back, take one thing at a time, and take great care of me—so that I can take care of others in my life.
MB: Easier said than done, right?! I just have one last question for you. When you’re cooking, what’s your favorite go-to ingredient?
BITB: Yes! Definitely LEMON JUICE! It brightens up just about everything. I am lucky to have two Myer lemon trees in my yard. I harvest them about twice and year and collect huge bags each time. I will squeeze them and freeze the juice for use year-round. They are so sweet you could almost eat them like an orange!
Since Independence Day is just around the corner, we wanted to share a recipe from Ragan that takes a classic American tradition—grilling on the Fourth of July—and throws in a classy twist—oysters. Enjoy and have a safe holiday!
The Art of Grilling Oysters
- Fresh schucked oysters! I usually grab 2-3 dozen for a group of 6-8.
- one stick of butter
- 2-3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
For the Pesto:
- 2 handfuls of fresh basil, stems included
- 1 clove garlic
- ½ cup pine nuts
- ¾ cup parmesan cheese
- juice of half a lemon
- sea salt
- black pepper
For My Mignonette, BITB style
- ½ cup red wine vinegar
- 2 tablespoons minced shallots
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped chives
- squeeze of one lemon wedge
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- For Oysters: Place shucked oysters, shell side down, on med-high heated grill. Brush with garlic butter sauce. Watch the meat closely. When it begins to bubble, the butter starts to brown, and the edges of the oyster meat pull away from the shell and change texture a bit, then remove from grill and plate. Now, you're ready to top with your choice of sauce below.
- For Pesto Sauce: Place all ingredients in the bowl of a food processor, pulse until combined and smooth but still has texture. Taste and adjust cheese, lemon, salt, and oil accordingly to your liking.
- For My Mignonette: Combine all ingredients in a bowl and stir. Drizzle over oysters
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If you’d like more delicious and beautiful recipes like this one, please check out Ragan’s website, Beauty in the Bite. You can also follow her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for even more delectable inspiration!