By Vicky McDonald

Penny a.k.a Baking Nana has been an Allrecipes member since 2009, and an Allrecipes Allstar since the program started in 2011. Since joining Allrecipes Penny has formed friendships with other members on the site and they meet up every year at her house to celebrate their love of food. I recently spoke to Penny about Allrecipes, and what the site has meant to her over the years.

AR: "What initially attracted you to Allrecipes.com?"

Baking Nana: "For me it was the reviews! I loved the recipe exchange/ Buzz, and found there were certain people and reviews you could trust. I got to know people through their reviews. They were all real people, and I loved the funny stories, and the writing. It was the sense of community that brought me there, and kept me coming back. I loved reading the latest reviews, and enjoyed all the photos. Even the bad photos are just as telling as the magazine photos, because it's real.

AR: "Tell me about the people you have met through Allrecipes?"

Baking Nana: "On the Buzz, I got talking to people from the site, and I decided that we should meet up in person. In 2011, I invited a group of people from the Buzz to come to my house for a round-up, and have a pot luck. My husband said, "You did, what?", and insisted on staying around when they arrived. The great thing is we all just connected because we already knew each other. We were all getting along so well and laughing so hard that my husband was happy to leave, and go to the cinema.

To this day, a group of us still meet up every year at my house. It's usually just after Thanksgiving. At our last round-up there were 35 people from 6 different states. I decide the theme - like Italian or Mexican, and people bring an appetizer or a dessert, or a bottle of wine if they're coming from out of state. At our first round up we had enough food for an army because nobody could bring just one dish."

Photo provided by Baking Nana

AR: "Why did you become an Allstar, and when?"

Baking Nana: "In the beginning, they asked about 50 people to be become part of the program, and I was tickled pink to be asked. It's a fun program to be part of. We meet up about once a year in person as well, and I always come back from that feeling energized and inspired by all the other cooks."

Photo by

AR: "What are your favorite recipes from the site?"

Baking Nana: "The one that I recommend most often is the Double Tomato Bruschetta. I had a community function to attend, and I had completely forgotten to make something for it. I whipped up this bruschetta with some fresh tomatoes and basil from the garden and it was inhaled. It's a great recipe, and so easy to make.

Photo by Allrecpes Magazine

For birthdays, and Christmas family gatherings, I love the Cream Cheese Penguins. It's a winner with the grandkids, and even the older ones still like making them.

Another recipe is Hot and Sour Soup. This soup is my husband's favorite and I had several failed attempts at making it. I just couldn't get it right. Then I was at an Allrecipes meetup in Seattle, and I met with a Chinese man who lived in Seattle and he shared his family recipe with me. It was such a success, and I've been making it ever since."

AR: "What have been your favorite things about Allrecipes?"

Baking Nana: "The Buzz was one of my favorite things about the site. We discussed food, births, deaths, and everything in between. There was such camaraderie there. It was almost like having pen pals, but it was about food. We were all brought together through food. Allrecipes has been a great place for people to connect."

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