Hi! We’re the Whitten sisters and together we’re the Gravel & Dine team. We grew up at ‘the end of the road’ in Ely, MN, just short of the Canadian border. Although we both live and work in the Twin Cities now, our Northern MN heritage still influences the food we like and the reasons we love to cook. Growing up, meals were a family affair served around 5:30. Meal-time meant the family sat together at the dinner table and talked about our day (there may have been a few rocky nights when we were teenagers).
Dana has loved to cook and bake her entire life, and although Tory was a little slower to gain her enthusiasm, it’s now something we enjoy doing together – whether that is in the kitchen together or just sharing on the phone our latest and greatest recipes (including texting pictures of yummy creations!).
When did we start cooking together?
The first meal we remember making together was a grilled cheese. Dana was home from college and Tory was complaining she was hungry. Well instead of just making her a grilled cheese like our mom would have, Dana decided to teach Tory how to make a grilled cheese and coached her through making one. Later when Tory went to college, she would call Dana from the grocery store with questions such as “I’m in Cub, where do I find the Velveeta cheese”. Later we started playing ‘Chopped’ together. We’d play as teams with our significant others and assign each other ingredients for an appetizer and a dessert and that would be our dinner. Red wine and skittles turned out to be an interesting combination but wings with a blackberry sauce were pretty awesome.
How did Gravel & Dine start?
When Tory bought her first house, Dana made her a cookbook with several family recipes and easy recipes she learned to cook in college. A few years later, Dana started thinking about consolidating all her favorite recipes from Pinterest, several online locations, cookbooks, three-ring binders, and note cards into one cookbook. But how do you decide which recipes to chose? What happens years later when you have more new recipes? How do you get a cookbook that will continue to grow with you? The answer – a food blog! And so the idea was rolling around in Dana’s head to start a food blog. Pretty soon after sharing the idea with Tory – she was on board as well and the Gravel & Dine team was ready to go!
We’re learning the ins and outs of recipe development, food photography, photo editing, writing recipes and posting. I hope you enjoy our journey – while it started as something to do for us, we’re looking forward to sharing it with you.
Why Gravel & Dine?
The hardest part of starting this blog was picking our name. We played around with so many ideas and one night when we were cooking together Tory said she had been listing to this cool song and loved the line “gravel and wine”. “Wouldn’t that be a cool name for our food blog, I mean we grew up down a gravel road – but the blog is about food NOT wine”. But then Dana suggested Gravel & Dine and we knew that was perfect.
Growing up in Ely influenced our cooking in the things we grew up eating and also the things we weren’t exposed to. Typical meals at home centered around meat and potatoes with the occasional casserole thrown in. Mexican was tacos, Italian was spaghetti with meat sauce (where the sauce came out of a can), and Asian was stir-fry made with Campbell’s Tomato Soup. There were also some great ethnic recipes too – perhaps our favorite is potica, and our Grandma was known among all the Slovenian woman in town as making the best pie crust (very high praise from these women). While many of those meals are still comfort foods for us – when we moved to the ‘big city’ after high school we were exposed to so many new foods, and that sparked in each of us a desire to try cooking new dishes as well.
Read more about us each individually:
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