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On Blogs and Bread

Journalism and anthropology grad Stephanie (Green) Wise ’08 has found a niche developing recipes and food-centric content for Betty Crocker, Pillsbury, and her own cooking blog, Girl Versus Dough.

By Monique Kleinhuizen ’08, GS’16, new media strategist

October 30, 2019 | Noon

Food writer and blogger Stephanie (Green) Wise '08 in her kitchen

Food writer and blogger Stephanie (Green) Wise '08/Photo by Liz Berget, Carpe Season Photography

It might be expected for a journalism and anthropology graduate to have a collection of some kind: cultural artifacts or back issues of newspapers, maybe. 

“I have, like, 20 spatulas,” says Stephanie (Green) Wise ’08, matter-of-factly. “And I love all of them equally.” 

Wise has long had a thing for writing, spending time on her high school newspaper staff and dreaming about becoming a professional reporter someday. And from her first Bethel campus visit with her Chicago-based youth group, she also knew she wanted to be a Royal. Those things happily collided when she enrolled and, while she was a student, Bethel officially launched its journalism program. 

While she was a student, Wise studied abroad in India and Amsterdam and started writing for The Clarion student newspaper, all along realizing her deepening passion for the way that words and culture could come together in a meaningful way. She dabbled in layout and managed the newspaper’s Arts and Entertainment section before eventually becoming managing editor, when she had a hand in creating each issue from start to finish.

But when Wise wasn’t proofing stories or taking every anthropology course she could, she was usually baking something. “I really loved bread!” she remembers. 

After graduation, Stephanie married biology major Elliott Wise ’08, and they moved to Illinois. Stephanie recalled her time at Bethel and learning about blogs, short for “web logs,” which were still somewhat rare at the time. When she wasn’t working as a barista or searching for other jobs, she started following a number of food- and baking-related blogs. In 2009, she launched her own, Girl Versus Dough, as a creative outlet and to keep a hand in the world of writing. The couple then moved to Iowa so Elliott could return to school to become a physician assistant. Stephanie became a full-time arts and entertainment reporter for the Iowa City Press-Citizena sister newspaper to the Des Moines Registerand around the same time, signed onto a blogging ad network through General Mills.

“I never thought anything would come of it; it was just for fun at the time. I’d contribute recipes ... some on my blog, some on their websites, very part-time. But it just started growing,” Wise says. “By the time we moved away from Iowa, I was working a full-time job and working a second job as a food blogger.”

Food writer and blogger Stephanie (Green) Wise '08

Photo by Liz Berget, Carpe Season Photography

As she took on more clients, the blogging revenue increased, and she moved away from reporting to focus on her growing side gig. By the time the couple moved back to Minnesota, Wise had solidified her relationship with General Mills and began developing recipes in its test kitchens. Wise learned how recipes are developed, how photography comes together with written content, and how advertising relationships and social media impact decisions. The couple had two daughters and even lived with them in an RV full-time, traveling cross-country for six monthsand all the while, Wise blogged. 

“That was mostly successful,” Wise says, noting that cooking in a tiny kitchen with an inconsistent stove and almost no storage or counter space was harrowing. She grilled and used her slow cooker more than she ever had before, but insisted on making an entire Thanksgiving meal on the road. It was just the four family members, so they settled for paper plates and a two-pound, slow-cooked turkey breast instead of a full bird. But oh, there were side dishes. “And we just learned how to make it work!” Wise says. 

On the road, the family developed a list of favorites, like the Badlands and living simply, without the chaotic schedule they had at home. Their list of non-favorites? Kentucky, where it rained for 10 days straight; stepping on each other’s toes in more ways than one; and the tiny camper stove that burned parts of pizzas while leaving other parts raw. They eventually quit the #RVLife and moved back to Minnesota. Elliott returned to the medical world, and in April, Stephanie became a food editor for MSP Communications and pillsbury.com. There, she's blogged on the Best Ways to Cook Foil PacksLaidback Meal Prep, and Christmas Cookies to Make Now and Freeze for Later.

“My dream would be to have multiple mixers and ovens and fridges. But I have a normal kitchen,” Stephanie says, insisting that the world of bloggers and influencers isn’t all glamorous. “If you’re willing to learn and have a passion for that type of writing, that will come through in your content. People will be interested. Blogging is the hardest work I’ve ever done. I’m my own boss and I’m all the things: developer and photographer and designer and writer, baker, social media strategist. And I’m 'mom'that, too. But it’s also the most rewarding work.”

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Recipes from Girl Versus Dough

Visit Stephanie's blog, girlversusdough.com, for her original recipes.

Stephanie attributes her successin her day job and in bloggingto a few things: her willingness to try new things, her love of food, and to Bethel. 

“My experience at Bethel shaped who I am in terms of my values,” Wise says. “It was one of the best decisions I ever made: not only the journalism program, but also building relationships with the staff and faculty and the friends that I made, who are truly life-long friends. We’re growing old together, with our kids and husbands.”

"Bethel will always be a part of me, and I will always have it to look back on as a great time of growth, not only academically, but as a person."

— Stephanie (Green) Wise ’08

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