I’ve said it before and it bears repeating, there are some very wonderful people writing blogs and there are some exceptional people who write food blogs. If I had to choose one blog that I thoroughly enjoy reading out of all the blogs I follow regularly, it would be Hotly Spiced. If you have never visited this blog before, run, don’t walk over there.
Every blog post is a daily peek into the life of a busy wife, mother and author. Her enthusiasm for life makes us all want to be more like her.
The brains behind the blog belong to Charlie Louis who began life in Wellington, New Zealand. I know because it’s in a blog post she wrote last year about why her name really is Charlie Louis. Read this one post and you’ll be hooked. I was. I will admit that I like the quirky name Charlie Louis better than Jean.
Charlie’s family moved permanently to Sydney when she was only 12. After finishing high school she seriously considered becoming a professional cook but that would have meant she lived close enough to college that she could live at home and that would never do for one so ready to explore her world as an adult. She chose a nursing degree instead because that meant moving out on her own.
She’s always loved cooking, even as a young girl she enjoyed making cakes from a box . Her mother always said yes but in the back of her mind she knew her daughter would never clean up properly. I didn’t often get a chance to cook when I was young and I wish I had. I had to learn by watching because my mother knew I’d make a huge mess. (I probably would have but I’d have had a great time.)
If you read the About page on Hotly Spiced, it gives a huge insight into why Charlie started her blog. She’s a writer down to the deepest corners of her soul. Cooking is her therapy and writing her blog is as necessary for her as beating her heart or breathing. It comes through every post.
Over the past ten years she’s written several manuscripts and submitted them to publishers and was told that they couldn’t consider her because she wasn’t popular. How short sighted. I’d buy her book in an instant and then stay up all night reading it – under the covers with a candle if necessary. She often thinks about self-publishing but that’s a huge job to not only write it and publish it but there’s the enormous effort to promote a self-published book. Nobody would want to write a book that only a few people got to read.
In addition to Hotly Spiced which must take a huge amount of time, Charlie is also married to Carl, loves the letter A for her gorgeous children, Archie, Alfie and Arabella, cares for Rosie the dog, looks after the house, has a dance card that’s always filled and still finds time to swim nearly every day and keep up with her friends.
If that’s not enough, she’s also a regular writer for Village Voices, part of the parenting and pregnancy resource site, Kidspot. Her most recent post there is for a mouthwatering meatloaf to help Charlie recover from taking Arabella to the child psychologist to help her deal with her “issues”. Issues being parents, of course.
Honestly, you see these women on TV who do it all and have it all? That’s Charlie. Before you start to hate her (we all hate women who are gorgeous, talented and have it all, don’t we?) the BEST bit is that she shows us in her writing that her life isn’t always perfect, her home isn’t always perfect and her children are not always (but mostly) perfect. Her life is as wacky as all of ours — combined.
Like the time she was walking to the vet and got sprung by an ex-boyfriend (a now well known barrister) while wearing old stretched out jeans and a baggy cardigan. That post earned us lamb shanks with gremolata. You KNOW we want to look like a million dollars when the ex-boyfriend sees us. “See what you missed?” Apparently that didn’t come up at this chance meeting.
When asked how she possibly keeps up with all of it, she admitted that housework, sleep and TV time have all been reduced. I don’t know a food blogger who can’t say the same thing.
I follow her blog by email but just before bed I always take a quick peek to see if there’s a new post up before the mail notice arrives. I think that says it all. She makes me laugh.
As quickly as I write that though, her own favourite post is Remembering a First Kiss that was touching and warm and sad all rolled together. It was a post that affected a lot of people, including me and many people wrote to her privately to tell her they were touched.
All her posts have the most fantastic food. Charlie is a brilliant cook and I’m not surprised that she once considered becoming a chef.
Humour comes right back when I asked her which two posts were the most popular. Recently we lived through Arabella choosing an extremely expensive dress for her formal only to decide that she needed two dresses and could Charlie dash her off to a tailor on the other side of town who would make this gorgeous dress she had imagined in her head. As any mother who could, would, they dashed across town, ate dinner with the tailor, went back for a second fitting, and picked up the dress with about 30 seconds to spare before the formal. We were all cheering for Arabella when she got “the glange”.
The other popular post was Nudity has Its Advantages where Archie, away at boarding school ended up flashing his wedding tackle when the housemaster burst into his room to see why he’d missed the nightly house meeting. Now consider that after a story like that, Charlie needed to segue into a Mediterranean Frittata from organic eggs given to her by fellow blogger Celia of Fig Jam and Lime Cordial.
She and Carl love to eat out but he often dreads her critical eye. She swears it’s just being observant. I can relate to this so much. My husband only notices things that are important to him. So this conversation could be had on a date night at my house too but this was Charlie and Carl:
A fine dining restaurant and the waitress had a tongue piercing. When she talked she opened her mouth really wide so everyone could see the stud in her tongue and she kept running her tongue over her teeth with her mouth open.
Charlie: That’s really putting me off my food.
Carl: What is?
Because Charlie’s blog is so good, I asked her if she had any tips for promoting a blog. Ever humble she said that she’s still trying to get her head around social media so her approach is to write material that people relate to, giving them a reason to come back. No hype, just write a good blog. Expert advice.
Why Hotly Spiced?
I was going to call my blog something completely different and it had a much longer name but I received some advice from a guy with 10 years experience in a real estate blog who told me I needed a name of no more than two or three words that will be easy for people to remember. I wanted a word that related to my stories and a word that related to the food. I thought of ‘Hot and Spicy’ but that had been taken so I went with Hotly Spiced. I made that decision in a nano-second and I think I got lucky.
Any Do’s or Don’ts for new food bloggers or bloggers wanting to improve?
Apart from good content there are a few things that can help fast-track success. Make sure you have a very user friendly site so readers can navigate through it easily and will therefore want to come back.
For those on Blogger make sure you have the URL/Name option in your commenting system. Many WordPress bloggers are unable to comment without that option.
I love sites where I don’t have to endure the captcha word verification process.
I remind myself that no one has come to my site to read something the length of War and Peace. I try to limit the length of the story part of my posts to less than a thousand words with 700 being ideal.
Blogging is not just words, it’s a visual medium so include a few images.
Proof-read three times before hitting publish.
Build and develop relationships by engaging with those who leave comments. It’s good to reply to all comments and visit their blogs. Other bloggers can be your biggest fans.
Don’t leave a comment if you didn’t read the post!
You post every day.
I set a goal at the end of last year to post everyday but I don’t always manage it due to schedules and commitments and the unexpected that take my attention. I think like everyone else I aim high and if I manage to get nearly there I tell myself ‘well done’.
I know she’s right about every one of these, especially that proofread one. This post is terribly guilty of being too long. I apologise but the recipe has a lot of words too and those don’t count, do they? A story about Charlie couldn’t possibly fit in 700 words. You can follow Charlie on Pinterest.
I always end every interview asking about food memories and Charlie shared her mother’s lovely Bacon and Egg Pie. Her mother used to make this pie when Charlie was a kid and then take it to a nearby beach to be eaten warm.
I will admit that before moving to Australia, the closest I’d come to bacon and egg pie was a quiche. This is my husbands favorite pie.
- 1 tbs olive oil
- 4 rashers of rindless bacon, finely sliced
- 1 brown onion, finely sliced
- 4 roma tomatoes
- 10 eggs
- 100ml thickened cream
- ½ bunch parsley finely chopped
- 10 sheets of filo pastry
- 60gms melted butter
- Pre-heat oven to 180C, fan-forced, 200c if not fan-forced.
- In a medium-sized frying pan gently heat olive oil. Add bacon and onion and stir until bacon becomes slightly crisp and the onion softens.
- Fill a medium-sized saucepan with water and bring to the boil. Add tomatoes and remove once skins have begun to split (about 1 minutes). Peel tomatoes and discard skin. Chop tomatoes and add to the bacon mixture and cook until liquid (from tomatoes) has reduced.
- Crack 4 of the eggs into a medium sized bowl. Add the cream, season, then whisk. Add parsley.
- Brush 6 sheets of filo pastry with butter, fold in half and use to line the bottom and sides of a large pie dish. (Mine was 27cm in diameter). Pour in bacon and tomato mixture. Pour egg and cream mixture over the top. Crack remaining six eggs on top of the cream mixture. Seal with remaining sheets of filo pastry brushed with butter.
- Fold over edges of pastry to seal the pie filling.
- Optional: Lightly beat an egg and brush over the top of the pastry. (I like to do this because it makes the pastry go crunchy in texture and golden in colour).
- Place in oven for 40 minutes.
- Serve hot or cold with a salad.
Norma Chang says
I am glad you chose Charlie Louis from HotlySpiced.com for Food Writer Fridays. I too follow her blogs and enjoy her writing, her sense of humor and of course her delicious recipe. Thank you for the opportunity to get to know her a little better.
Hi Norma, I can’t wait to meet Charlie in person one day. It will happen, she’s only 1000 miles away. Not like traveling to visit you. 🙂 Thanks so much for being my friend.
Hotly Spiced says
Hi Maureen, thanks so much for such a great write-up. Even I would like to get to know this person! Thank you for your generous words and above all, your talent for interviewing bloggers. This unique segment on your blog is something I have always looked forward to and I’m truly honoured to be a part of your series. You’ve got my weekend off to a fabulous start xx
I think those of us who love your writing should get together and write to the publishers of Kathy Lette’s books and tell them we found another one just like her! (only better in my opinion)
Nami | Just One Cookbook says
I’m a fan of Hotly Spiced and Charlie, and truly enjoy reading her posts. I don’t have much time to read books anymore but Charlie’s blog is much better than some of the books! Maureen, you wrote very well about Charlie and I also enjoyed this post! And I remember the breakfast pies – I need to make them soon!
Publishers should read your comment and my post, Nami. You’re absolutely right about her writing.
Jackie @Syrup and Biscuits says
Thank you for the introduction to this talented writer. In typical “Maureen” fashion, your finesse and creativity is a shining star in this post.
I love love love Charlie!! Her blog is so aptly named – ‘Hotly Spiced’. For me too she is one of the bloggers I take a peek at without waiting for the mail notification.
You being the other one :))
Maureen, I think you should seriously consider being a biographer. You have a gift. You have put down everything that I ever thought of about Charlie’s blog when I read it. It’s perfect, and every sentence is so about Charlie. Getting to know so much more about her is such a huge pleasure.
About not being allowed in the kitchen, I have a mixed feeling about it. I wasn’t allowed to help in cooking either when I was young, but for a different reason. Maybe I’ll write about it one day. But I do agree it might have helped in some ways.
Minnie, this comment warms my heart. If you saw the real Charlie in my post, I’m thrilled. Thanks a lot.
Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella says
Charlie is fabulous! I am lucky to have met her in real life and she and her family are just as funny and gorgeous in real life. And I hate those captcha things too, I have such problems with them. And re her About page where she explains that that publisher only wanted to publish her if she was famous, I came across the same thing when I asked my agent about putting the book out in the U.S. Pretty much word for word! 🙁
Maybe it’s because not much is selling in the US these days. I’m jealous that you two have met. 🙂
Lizzy (Good Things) says
What a wonderful way to meet my favourite people and Charlie is one of those… love your work, both of you!!!
Choc Chip Uru says
Thank you so much my friend for doing such a fantastic blogger – Charlie is such a favourite of mine! I absolutely love her blog, reading about her life and her recipes are always super fantastic!
She is full of life, and you capture it in this interview 🙂
Choc Chip Uru
Thank you for the introduction. This is definitely going to be one of my go to blogs every day. What a delightfuly fun and warm woman.
I love Charlie Louie and follow her posts regularly. She is the sort of woman I would love to be friends with though we are an ocean apart. I even thought I knew a bit or two about her, but I had no idea she had gone into nursing. Thank you for interviewing her, and sharing the results so eloquently. Take care, Lisa
I love her. She’s gone from being a blog-friend to being a real-life one. By the way, her son thinks I’m gorgeous too. Oh hang on, maybe he was talking about Lorraine.. 😉
Great write-up, Maureen, she’s exactly as you describe her, but even more real, more honest, and more lovely. 🙂
Charlie’s Blog is wonderful, both stories and recipes. I always look forward to reading what happens next and how she weaves in her recipes. I can’t believe some fool told her she wouldn’t get published because she wasn’t popular enough. Lovely feature and interview!
This was really great and I’m happy to meet Charlie. Thank you.
Treat and Trick says
Thanks Maureen for introducing her and your extensive coverage about this fabulous blogger. Love the useful tips for bloggers too. Off to visit her site…..
Laura (Tutti Dolci) says
Thanks for introducing me to Charlie and Hotly Spiced. Heading over to check out the blog now!
Kari @ bite-sized thoughts says
This is a lovely post – I enjoyed every word, so am glad you didn’t cull it! I also enjoy Hotly Spiced so it was nice having the extra insight into it, and Charlie.
Great choice! I love Charlie’s blog!
stop it with the bacon and egg pie. YUM. Love charlie.
Well done Maureen. I too follow Charlie and love how she weaves a little bit of her life (drama) into each post. Her recipes are polished and the photos are excellent. I shall certainly review the advice again and keep it in mind for future. Charlie has certainly made me wish the world was smaller. Much smaller, so it wouldn’t be so daunting and expensive to get on a plane to meet her.
Nice to meet Charlie. There are so many blogs out there. Maureen, you make it so easy to find the good ones to visit!
A Canadian Foodie says
This is some love letter. I will definitely be going to her site. Immediately. What a tribute to Charlie – but, most importantly, this is why we “write” and “blog” and do all we do. The relationship you have developed through your reading – as she has held your attention, so there is definitely a connection, there – is what this is all about. We write to collaborate. To communicate. To teach. To learn. To be heard and to hear. Thank you, Maureen, for being an active writer within this food blogging community.
There are certainly many many more observers that participants… and that is satisfying, in a way, but this read was so moving to me.
I developed a similar love for Heavenly Housewife’s work and writing. She, too, was hilarious – and different. She assumed a “role” in her writing. And then, we developed a personal relationship through our travel experiences by providing one another with great tips.
Suddenly, she stopped writing. She hasn’t answered any messages. I fear something terrible has happened to her and have no way of knowing as I only have her e-mails and not her husband’s , of course. Didn’t mean to be morbid… but, somehow I got here from there. I miss her.
Another amazing blogger featured, Maureen.
Charlie is a great writer/blogger and presenter of recipes. She’s been kind enough to comment on a number of the recipes I’ve shared on my LJ which is very flattering coming from someone who has a very busy personal and blogging life. I wasn’t surprised to see how widely appreciated she is in her various roles.
I enjoyed reading this post on Charlie! I only recently started reading Hotly Spiced and I agree that she’s a very entertaining writer! I love her recipes too and she has great photography skills! Now that you gave some background about her previous posts, I’m intrigued to read even more! Thanks Maureen!
Thanks, Sammie, I’m glad you like her too.
Glamorous Glutton says
I follow Hotly Spiced and love it. There’s great wit and charm in Charlie’s writing. I’m not sure I’ll ever get to post everyday but I’m working my way up to it. GG
I can only hope to one day post every day. As long as I have a time consuming job I won’t be able to consider it until we sell that business. Fingers crossed!
The Café Sucré Farine says
Maureen – such a great post, you have a wonderful way with words yourself!
Aww Chris, that’s so kind of you.
Baker Street says
Another great feature, Maureen! Nice to meet Charlie! The Bacon and Egg Pie sounds incredible! 🙂
I love Charlie, she’s an amazing cook!! how great that you shared this post with us!!!
It’s so good to know that I’m not alone in thinking Charlie is very special.
Judy@Savoring Today says
Love Charlie’s blog and I agree with you, publishers don’t know what they are missing! Great write up and interview, you did a great job capturing what we (those that already know Charlie) adore about her. 🙂
Aww, thanks so much, Judy. I hope everyone likes her work as much as I do. 🙂
What a great writeup! Indeed a great blog. I love it too and I agree, how shortsighted of those publishers.
you are so right. One day they’ll wake up. 🙂
Maureen, don’t you dare limit your interviews to 700 words! In your case, more is definitely better. Super interview. Hotly Spiced is new to me, but I won’t be a stranger – going over to check it out now. Thanks for another terrific post.
Tell us what you think, okay? It would be great to see how a man perceives her blog. 🙂
Kristi Rimkus says
I have to make those breakfast pies – they look like a ton of fun!
Bacon and egg pie is very common here. You’ll find them at every bakery and convenience store in the savoury little pie cabinet. 🙂
Hotly Spiced is a relatively new blog to me, but now I’m dying to pop over there and start at Day 1. Great interview…and such excellent blogging advice from Charlie 🙂 And the Bacon and Egg Pie looks like a crowd pleaser 🙂
You won’t regret it, Liz. I think I’m caught up to day one but I keep hoping I’ve missed a post or two.
Claire @ Claire K Creations says
What a lovely story. I’ve been following Charlie for a while now and love reading her blog. It’s like my daily dose of a TV show. ‘I wonder what Charlie and the family are up to today?’
You are so right. I wasn’t kidding when I said I checked her blog before bed. Remember in the olden days when we had to check icanhascheezburger? like that. 🙂
great post, I’m off to meet Charlie but glad to meet you too!
Tania @ A Perfect Pantry says
Great post and now I found a new blog to follow:) Thanks for sharing the breakfast pie.. hubby will love it.
Reem | Simply Reem says
I really enjoy Charlies Blog!!!
Her writing is so cozy and I feel as if I am with her in her every adventure and moment…
I love love love this series of urs….
Don’t we all feel like a member of her family?
Charlie is one of my favourite bloggers too! I always love reading her blog during my boring evening shifts at my second jobs – they are all parts hilarious, engaging and warm at the same time.
PS. Yes, I hate the bloody captcha rubbish too!
Hi Libby, I couldn’t agree with you more about Charlie! I hope someone offers her a book deal.
Jenny @ Ichigo Shortcake says
I love Charlie’s humour and funny stories! Was JUST on her blog actually. 🙂 I agree on the book Maureen! She can write a whole book on her cool stories and people will love it. 😀
Malou | Skip to Malou says
I read Charlie’s blog and I love it! I love all the stories she shares and she never fails to crack me up post after post. Also it’s funny how, my husband and I talk about her like she’s our neighbor haha!
I love this feature of your blog Maureen. It’s a great way to know the creators behind the blog beyond the words written on the ABOUT section of their blog. Great job!
and oh thanks for connecting with me on FB! I was going to write on your wall but i don’t know what distracted me last night 🙂
Hate, not at all. I admire talented people especially women. Hotly Spiced is a new blog to me but would soon like to see her trough her posts. The bacon and egg pie looks wonderful and so does your write up on tips on blogging.
Karen (Back Road Journal) says
A terrific post Maureen…you showcased Charlie and her blog perfectly. I can’t tell you how often she has started my day with a good laugh. Not only is she a great writer but her recipes make you want to head to the kitchen.
Jenn and Seth (@HomeSkilletCook) says
loved the write-up! and i can’t wait to go off and visit her blog, it sounds wonderful!
All That I'm Eating says
What a lovely post. It’s nice to meet Charlie on your blog before hopping over (as I am about to) to see her blog. I completely agree that several things have been put lower down the priority list due to blogging!
Barbara | Creative Culinary says
What a lovely tribute; I don’t know Charlie but now I want to…thanks so much for the introduction.
Maureen, I hopped over to Charlie’s blog at your earliest recommendation and loved what I saw. You’re right — she’s warm, funny, and real. Thanks for introducing another interesting voice to read! And that bacon and egg pie wrapped in phyllo… oh yes.
Forgot to add… thanks, Charlie, for your excellent tips on blogging!
A lovely post! I am a big fan of hotly spiced and Charlie and this interview was fun.
I love the bacon and egg pie. Looks great!
Thanks for introducing this amazing writer. Reading ‘A First Kiss’ now.
Kitchen Belleicious says
can’t wait to visit her site. she sounds wonderful and her recipes sound delicious! Love that baked egg cups
Elizabeth @Mango_Queen says
Just found this site while looking for tempura sauce, of all things. And I just know I’ve been here before. Love your post about Charlie and publishers not wanting to publish because “not enough people follow her”. Oh well. In this age of quick “ROI”, some of the best things are overlooked. That said, I’m glad to be here. I think I’ll stay a while and browse. You have such lovely stories & great posts. All the best to you!
Wow these recipes look amazing. I can’t wait to try a few 🙂 The pictures are making me hungry!
Christie @ Fig & Cherry says
What a fantastic idea for a series! Love Hotly Spiced, it’s very well written and very funny 🙂
SarahKate (Mi Casa-Su Casa) says
Yay! I love Charlie’s blog. She’s so clever and funny and her food always looks amazing!
This post couldn’t have been written at any better time for me and I truly enjoyed it. I hope to take a few lessons from the best and put them to good use 🙂
the wicked noodle says
What a great article! Everything looks sooo delish!
Katherines Corner says
Wow what a great endorsement I am off to visit. Thank you for sharing her blog. xo P.S> I hope to see you at the hop tomorrow!
Caralyn @ glutenfreehappytummy says
what a great post! all your photos are gorgeous! wow! love your blog:)
InTolerant Chef says
Thanks for the inside story into such a funny and engaging blog! Well done!
Barb @ Profiteroles & Ponytails says
I’ve chuckled countless times while reading Charlie’s blog. Yes, it is definitely good to see that we all have similar challenges and less-than-perfect lives. Nice to learn more about Charlie in your post! I’ll have to read the post about the first kiss!
Mauz she seems fabulous and thanks for helping me disover her site too….I am terrible at sticking to the rules of blogging even with a messy house. x
There are some fantastic Australian bloggers, Kylie. You’ll love Charlie’s blog.
I LOVE Charlie’s posts! They never fail to crack me up.
I couldn’t agree with you more!
your photographs just pop out of the pages, gorgeous 🙂
Charlie is very clever in every aspect of blogging!
Kiran @ KiranTarun.com says
Great series and love Charlie!! Her site is always filled with her personal stories and wit 🙂
She’s nothing short of amazing. No way could I post that often nor could I be that funny. 🙂
I love Charlie’s blog and read it as often as I can … Great job!!!
I think we all feel the same way, CJ!
Jennifer @ Delicieux says
Great series Maureen, it’s always so wonderful to learn more about the person behind the blog. Charlie certainly sounds like a very busy woman. I’m in awe that she finds time to get everything done.
You are too right. Like most writers though, writing is like breathing so they make the time. Just like cooking is for me. 🙂
Yudith @ Blissfully Delicious says
I love her blog – she has the most hilarious stories 😉 Thanks for having her over!