When Angela Davis, 34, was unexpectedly laid off from her accounting job while pregnant with her second child in 2013, she didn't panic. Her recipe blog, The Kitchenista Diaries, was just a year old, but she already felt she was onto something special. "I had fallen in love with what I was doing with food, and I was spending all my nights and free time blogging anyway," says Davis. Instead of getting another accounting position in Florida, she moved back home to Virginia and followed her passion full-time. The life-changing decision allowed her to earn a living through book sales, catering and sponsorships.
Since then, Davis, a self-taught cook, has quadrupled her social following to more than 50,000 and garnered a community of devoted foodies who check in weekly to give her latest recipes a test run. "I try to teach when I'm writing," Davis says. "I'm not just publishing a recipe; I'm actually trying to help you learn about a new technique or a new ingredient." Every single recipe she posts is original and inspired by her most loved meals, her surroundings and her evolving taste buds. Readers obsess over her Perfect Buttermilk Biscuits—the secret ingredient is White Lily flour, Davis reveals, which can only be found online or primarily in stores down South. If you can change one thing about the way you cook, Davis recommends using an internal meat thermometer. "Check the meat," she adds. "That's the only way you'll know it's cooked perfectly, and the only way not to overcook something."
This article originally appeared in the April 2016 issue of ESSENCE magazine.