Perfectionism. It’s both a blessing and a curse, motivating us forward to success and growth while also holding us back. Perfectionism is our best friend and our worst enemy.
I’m the oldest of three, a Type A lifelong perfectionist. Always striving (and struggling). Always knowing I can do better, be better.
Perfectionism is like a fire burning hot within us, fueling passion, ambition, and drive. The more we feed that fire, the more it burns, the more it fuels us to press forward, to achieve, to lead, to be in control, to make life fit our very narrow definition of what we consider acceptable.
Blogging made me realize what I feed my fire with. Not ambition, not passion, not some vision of success. I feed my perfectionism fire with “Not good enough.”
I’ve been blogging at Steph in Thyme for almost a full year. A year spent learning and exploring and finding my feet, teaching myself all about food photography, SEO, impactful social media marketing, affiliate marketing, branding, and the technological ins and outs of WordPress and Google Analytics (and much more). All in an attempt to turn this blog into a way of life, a way to turn a passion for food and writing into a self-sustaining, and one day, profitable business.
While my perfectionist nature helps me stay motivated, excited, ambitious, and always striving to learn and improve all aspects of my blog, it also holds me back, especially in one big area. Food photography.
Some may look at the picture of kohlrabi above and say, “What a cool looking vegetable.” I see it differently, thinking to myself, “Dang, I should’ve bought a bulb that still had its stem attached for a REALLY cool photo.” or “Dang, I should’ve used a white tabletop for a brighter photo. This looks so drab.” Those “dang” moments turn into “This isn’t good enough. I’m not posting it.”
And that’s where I get stuck. Not sharing new content. Going back and re-shooting old content. Going back and tweaking old photos in Lightroom. Deleting Pins on Pinterest.
Instead of moving forward, I’m moving backwards, if I move at all. Instead of progress, sabotage. And the worst kind: Self-sabotage.
I was very close to not blogging about this recipe.
Nevermind that it’s positively delicious and one of my favorite recipes to date, but that didn’t seem to matter. Nor did it matter how much I love the sweet and savory flavor profile of this vegetable, which is like biting into a sweet turnip and earthy radish at the same time. It didn’t matter that the beautiful flavor of kohlrabi didn’t need much dressing up to yield delicious home fries, just a touch of olive oil, salt, and pepper. The texture of the baked kohlrabi home fries melt in your mouth, but still have enough bite and structure to pick up and dip into a tangy sauce. Simple, easy, and scrumptious. But that didn’t matter either.
What mattered were the photos and the fault I found with them. They weren’t sharp enough, bright enough, pretty enough. They didn’t have the same crisp, clean look as my recent Stone Fruit Cobbler recipe. The natural lighting is drab and flat. My overhead shot up top isn’t sharp or styled enough.
I should’ve shot at a different time of day. I should’ve used a different window. I should’ve used my tripod to avoid camera shake. I should’ve approached my styling differently so the pictures are more interesting and enticing.
The endless critique of “should’ve” puts me in reverse, or leads to inaction. No post, no new content, and therefore no growth.
I look upon the tzatziki photos a little more kindly, but maybe it’s my bias. I lived in Greece until I was five, and tzatziki is one of my favorite foods in the whole wide world. Tzatziki is a traditional Greek sauce typically served over vegetables or meat, but one I choose to eat with a spoon.
Simple yet so flavorful, brimming with grated cucumber and seasoned simply with garlic, olive oil, and red wine vinegar for a dipping sauce that’s cool, tangy, zesty, and creamy at the same time. I eat it with just about everything, so why not with kohlrabi? Done and done. Recipe tested and deemed deliciously shareworthy.
While the recipe is sound, I kept finding fault with the photos. The tzatziki photos are sharper at least, but the natural light is flat. Tzatziki is full of zing, but the photos are not doing it justice.
No matter how much I played around with photo editing in Lightroom, I just couldn’t get these photos to look the way I wanted them to look. I couldn’t capture my very specific definition of food photography perfection. And because the photos aren’t perfect, the entire post isn’t good enough. Post scratched.
Then I talked with CJ. I mulled over my struggle with perfectionism and how it’s doing me more harm that good. How it’s trapping me into a state of paralysis, preventing me from moving forward. My idea of perfection is starting to become unattainable as I strive for levels of food photography awesomeness from bloggers with years of experience. The comparison game is as self-sabotaging as perfectionism.
I could’ve gone to the store and remade this recipe and photographed again on a different day, but I needed to break myself of the habit of moving in reverse and let go of the comfort I had built over spinning in circles in once place, always re-editing, tweaking, changing.
With that said, I believe going back and re-working or re-shooting a recipe until blog-worthy are certainly necessary at times. I realized I lost sight of when those times are appropriate, my idea of perfection so strict it became stifling, warping my common sense and how I define “necessary” and “appropriate.”
After a long conversation with myself about my perfectionism, I decided to share this delicious recipe for Baked Kohlrabi Fries with Greek Tzatziki. It’s a healthy approach to Game-Day snacking, an alternative to French fries and sweet potato fries that’s still full of flavor and texture. It’s one of my favorite ways to enjoy kohlrabi, and I’m obsessed with Greek tzatziki. That they pair well together is like striking food gold.
And the photos are perfect in their imperfection. Visual proof of how far I’ve come in my food photography, how hard I’m working to make them better, and documentation of my beautiful journey of learning, exploring, and sharing my passion with the world. I could sit on my laptop, spinning in one place, editing and tweaking and spiraling over an idea of perfection that’s becoming harder for me to attain.
Or, I can introduce you to the tasty wonder of kohlrabi fries with a description and photos that hopefully inspire you to make them at home. At the end of the day, that’s really why I’m doing this. Not to be perfect, but just to be me as I am right now, sharing what I find yummy with friends in food.
With all that said, I hope you enjoy this healthy and different approach to home fries and discover kohlrabi if you haven’t encountered the vegetable before.
I would love to hear from you, both about perfectionism and kohlrabi. Please share in the comments or connect with me via the social channels below.
- 1 large bulb kohlrabi, ends removed and sliced into ½" thick home fries
- ½ tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- salt and pepper, to taste
- 1 cup non-fat Greek yogurt
- 1 large English cucumber, grated and excess water squeezed
- 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tsp red wine vinegar
- 2 cloves garlic, crushed
- salt and pepper, to taste
- Rinse the cucumber and pat dry. Trim off both ends then shred cucumber using a grater. Lay cucumber shreds on a paper towel at the bottom of a colander. Set colander in the sink or over a bowl to let the cucumber shreds strain. Let sit for one hour. Take the ends of the paper towel(s) with the cucumber shreds in the center and twist and squeeze tightly to remove any excess moisture.
- In a mixing bowl, combine the Greek yogurt, drained cucumber shreds, olive oil, red wine vinegar, and crushed garlic. Stir to combine. Season to taste with salt and pepper and stir again. Cover and chill for four hours, or ideally overnight.
- Pre-heat oven to 400 F. Rinse the kohlrabi and pat dry. Trim off the tough ends. Slice the bulb in half, then slice each half into ½" size fries.
- Place raw kohlrabi on a large rimmed baking sheet (I lined mine with a silicone mat). Drizzle olive oil over the fries and season generously with salt and pepper. Toss to coat then spread evenly in a single layer across the baking sheet.
- Bake for 15-20 minutes, flipping halfway through, until the fries can be pierced with a fork. Remove from oven and scoop onto a serving platter. Serve warm with tzatziki.