CIHS grads make a food blog with growing success

Cambridge-Isanti High School graduates Bjork Ostrom and Lindsay Ostrom are the minds behind Pinch of Yum. They run the blog out of their New Brighton home.

Cambridge-Isanti High School graduates Bjork Ostrom and Lindsay Ostrom are the minds behind Pinch of Yum. They run the blog out of their New Brighton home.

Bjork Ostrom hand models by grasping a spoon as his wife Lindsay Ostrom snaps pictures of a sweet potato casserole in their New Brighton home.

The couple, who graduated from Cambridge-Isanti High School in 2004, started the food blog Pinch of Yum in April 2010, and in September of this year, the blog had 600,000 unique visitors and made $15,000 for that month alone.

Lindsay Ostrom developed a love for cooking in college, but it wasn’t until she got married that it served more of a purpose. She was always looking for new recipes and would share her meals on Facebook. She jokingly said she should start a blog because her friends were getting annoyed of her posting what she made for dinner.

“I was completely clueless, but Bjork was like ‘you seriously should,’” Lindsay Ostrom said.

Bjork Ostrom got her set up with a free Tumblr account. They blogged together at first, Bjork Ostrom handling the camera and Lindsay Ostrom coming up with recipes and writing. As it grew, Bjork Ostrom took on a more administrative role, handling things like public relations and making money from the blog.

“It’s interesting because when the blog first started out, like with any small business or site, and there’s five people that came (that day), it’s like cause to celebrate,” Bjork Ostrom said.

The first day the Ostroms thought they really made it was after the “Healthy Sweet Potato Skins” post in October 2011. A prominent person on Pinterest pinned it, and it bounced around like crazy, Bjork Ostrom said. Since then, Lindsay Ostrom has written an e-cookbook. They also have a side site that helps beginner bloggers get up and running, and have plans for more e-cookbooks in 2014.

The blog post for the day was a sweet potato casserole.

The blog post for the day was a sweet potato casserole.

The name, Pinch of Yum, was inspired by recipes that ask the cook to add a pinch of something. Instead of having it be specific, the couple wanted a name that was funny and catchy but also broad enough that didn’t pigeon hole them into a specific theme of cooking, like desserts.

Lindsay Ostrom crafts recipes for Pinch of Yum that are practical and approachable for cooks of all levels, she said. She gets ideas from family, friends and the Internet, from slow-cooker chicken and wild rice soup to palitaw – a Filipino rice treat. Her favorite blog post so far has been for red curry lentils, a simple vegetarian dish she originally found on a cooking website and later tweaked.

The Ostroms both balance the blog and day jobs; he works at the nonprofit Youth Frontiers, and she is a teacher in Minneapolis.

It’s been difficult, Lindsay Ostrom said. But while blogging feeds her financial income, teaching feeds her emotional income.

“Teaching gives me something that blogging doesn’t,” she said. “I get to work with kids and I get to work with people that I really enjoy. I think you lose some of that when you’re at home, by yourself. If I were to blog full-time, I wouldn’t really interact with people on a day-to-day basis.”

Besides balancing time, there have been a few kitchen disasters. There was one year at Christmastime when Lindsay Ostrom was making “Christmas crack,” a toffee with a layer of saltines. She had seen it on a few blogs and was determined to make it. She had it in a glass baking dish to boil and bake it. But when she took it out of the oven, she set it back on the stove, which still had the burners on.

“I set the glass pan on top of the red-hot burner, and I turned around to put a dish in the sink and it just shattered, just glass everywhere,” Lindsay Ostrom said. “It just completely exploded. It was so loud, and there was glass in every crevice of the kitchen. That was probably my biggest kitchen accident.”

The couple have a passion for food outside their kitchen, too.

If Lindsay Ostrom were to choose her last meal, she said, it would be from India Palace: cheese naan, aloo palak, chicken shahi korma and mango lassi to drink.

Find their blog at pinchofyum.com.

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