RICEVILLE, Iowa — Food is something that has always been in Kelsey Byrnes’ life.
Byrnes grew up on a hog, corn and soybean farm near Washington, Iowa, and went on to study food science at Iowa State University, eventually getting her master’s degree from Kansas State University. Eventually, she and her husband, Zach, moved back to his family farm in northeast Iowa near Riceville.
There weren’t great opportunities for food science jobs, she said, so she took matters into her own hands and turned her blogging hobby into a full-time job. She got the idea while working out of Des Moines for the Iowa Pork Producers Association.
“I had heard of blogging before and had worked with bloggers in the past,” she said. “I know a thing or two about creating recipes as a food scientist, and I thought why not give it a try.”
She started her blog in December 2018, featuring recipes along with snippets from her life. The name, Dance Around the Kitchen, combines two of her passions — cooking and dance. On the blog, Byrnes describes herself as a “wife, mother and BFF with my KitchenAid mixer.”
Byrnes remembers growing up in the kitchen with her mom, who she said was “just the best cook in the world.” With her grandmother just down the road, good food was not hard to come by, a vibe she wants to bring to her children. Going back to both her and her husband’s rural roots was important with their two daughters, McKinley and Bella, and another baby on the way in January
“I spent a lot of time in the kitchen as a kid and really grew to love it,” Byrnes said. “I always have loved being able to make food for others, whether it was harvest or planting season. It was awesome to be able to make a meal or make some baked goods for them to make their day a little bit better.
“Being around family is really important. I grew up cooking around family and that’s how I was introduced to cooking.”
There aren’t many big grocery stores nearby, so she keeps that in mind with her recipes. Simple ingredients that are accessible for busy cooks are something she tries to keep in mind when putting recipes together.
“A lot of people like simple food,” she said. “My recipes can be very family friendly. They are recipes I would have liked as a kid and most people want to serve to their family.”
Byrnes said she tries to create a balance of family, work and fun in her life, and also incorporates health in that balance. While she enjoys making healthy food, she also said she enjoys making a good dessert to share as well. That led to some of her recipes, such as her “Best Ever Scotcharoos.”