Sitting down with Lane Patten and Holly Berg for an hour over coffee gives clear insight into how their food blog, With Two Spoons, came to be. Between interview questions and answers, conversation slips naturally to recipe inspirations, favorite chefs and food talk. Something they noticed themselves nearly three years ago.
Eden Prairie resident Patten, M.D., and friend and coworker Berg, M.D., would meet for coffee in the mornings when they weren’t working as emergency medicine physicians at a local emergency department. “We realized that every time we got together, we were sharing recipes or passing cookbooks back and forth,” Berg says. “I’d been a big fan of food blogs as an outlet for a while and said, ‘maybe we should start a blog!’”
Patten, the constant researcher, dove right in to make it happen.
The two have differing culinary histories, with Berg coming from a family who regularly cooked together. “Grandma would get recipes published in Taste of Home,” she says. “For me, it’s always been about the comfort of being in my own kitchen,” though she admits having kids changed that dynamic a little. “It was like, oh! I have to feed them!”
On the other side, Patten didn’t cook until her first attending job when an emergency room physician asked what she fed her kids for dinner. Patten’s response—fast food or buttered noodles, “because that’s what they’ll eat.”—knocked the physician off her feet, so she took Patten under her wing, bringing her recipes every shift. “I’m a lifelong learner, so it kind of took off from there,” Patten says.
“Always learning” is a theme for the duo who, although had gone to school for years to become physicians, had to learn a whole new set of skills for blogging. “We had to learn photography, social media … at the beginning, we were YouTube-ing things and reaching out to local bloggers for help,” Patten says. The two even took classes at National Camera to get a better handle on photography. “And we’re still learning,” she says.
But since the beginning, the focus has been on the food. The recipes on the blog are a mix of tried-and-true family favorites and new recipes that go through rounds of testing before making it on the site. “Oftentimes, I’m out somewhere and think, ‘Man that would be really good,’ and I’ll start toying with things. Or I’ll see and ingredient and think, ‘What can I do with that?’” Berg says. But it’s important to remember: “The thing is, we’re home cooks,” she says. “We want things that are accessible, easy and what our friends and family want to eat.”
The research for that kind of food continues in their favorite cookbooks (including local Deb Perelman’s The Smitten Kitchen, Sarah Keiffer’s The Vanilla Bean Baking Book and anything from Ina Garten), which they read like novels.
But even if you don’t read Mastering the Art of French Cooking cover-to-cover, you’ll find yourself in the pages of With Two Spoons. “We are just like you and your friends,” Berg says. “We cook for those we love.”
Rosemary shortbread cookies
As spring settles in, add a fresh touch to your baking repertoire with these lemon, rosemary shortbread cookies from With Two Spoons.
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
¾ cup powdered sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. fresh lemon juice
2 cups all-purpose flour
¼ tsp. kosher salt
3 tsp. lemon zest, divided
1 tsp. minced fresh rosemary
For the Glaze
½ cup powdered sugar
2 Tbsp. lemon juice
1 tsp. turbinado sugar, for topping
1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together the butter and powdered sugar.
2. Add the vanilla and lemon juice and mix until just combined.
3. With the mixer on low, add in the flour, salt, 2 teaspoons of the lemon zest and rosemary, and mix until a dough forms. Do not over-mix.
4. Using your hands, roll the dough into a log shape, approximately 2.5 inches diameter, and cover with plastic wrap.
5. Chill the dough for at least an hour.
6. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
7. Gently slice the chilled dough into ¼ inch-thick cookie rounds.
8. Place the rounds on your prepared cookie sheet, allowing a half inch between cookies.
9. Bake at 350 degrees for approximately 12 minutes or until the edges are just golden brown.
10. While the cookies are baking, prepare the glaze by gently whisking together the powdered sugar and lemon juice.
11. Remove the cookies from the oven, and allow them to cool.
12. When mostly cool, top the cookies with a small amount of the glaze, and sprinkle each cookie with the remaining lemon zest and a small amount of turbinado sugar.
13. Keep in an airtight container for up to a week or freeze.