Ele is a 26-year-old fashion industry escapee who is passionate about all things related to design, green issues and food. Originally from Canada, she moved to the UK four years ago and now lives in London where she writes and edits her three blogs. Kitchenist is her personal cooking blog where she shares recipes, Kitchenisms is a design blog covering all things kitchen-related, and Kitchlit is a cookbook review blog. When she’s not blogging, Ele works freelance at everything from food photography and recipe development to graphic design and web editing.
As creative people, we’re constantly searching for people, places and things to inspire us. For me, Etsy is one of the most inspirational places on the web, and I’m always quick to sing its praises when I come across someone who hasn’t yet discovered it (increasingly rare, these days). What I like best about Etsy is that there truly is something for everyone; no matter what your hobby or creative niche may be, you’ll find others here who share your passion. My own story shows that even as your interests change, a community like Etsy can foster creativity and help you along your way.
I’d been working in the fashion industry for about two years when it started to lose its allure; I began to realise that I was far more interested in what I was cooking for dinner that night or my weekly trip to the farmer’s market than I was in who was on the cover of the latest Vogue (usually just Kate Moss again, anyway). Food rather than fashion became my creative outlet, and with it a whole new set of doors opened.
When I started my design blog Kitchenisms in March 2009, I had a vague idea that I’d occasionally feature some products from Etsy alongside the mainstream brands, kitchen design, and photography I had planned. Little did I know that that occasional post would turn into a weekly feature, and one that I had more fun putting together than almost anything else.
I knew about Etsy from my days in fashion, when I used to love browsing the handmade jewelry and wildly creative garments on offer. Now that food was my raison d’être, I was drawn to the screen-printed tea towels and vintage Pyrex dishes. It soon became clear that I have three major Achilles’ heels when it comes to Etsy: food-themed artwork, handmade kitchen products, and classic vintage homeware.
Art is often ignored in the kitchen, which is a shame — why shouldn’t all rooms in the home be equally worthy of adornment? Bridbird’s print of Indian spices graces my own kitchen wall, and never fails to make me smile (or want a curry). Montreal-based shop Atelier Eva Juliet is another favourite of mine, for the fun and feminine work she produces like this Potage aux Carottes. Also shown is the BISCUITS art print by kerrylemon and the Tempest in a Teacup by couragemylove.
I love anything that’s useful, beautiful and one-of-a-kind, and Etsy’s handmade categories are perfect for hunting down the items that deliver on all fronts. I’m obsessed with everything Ninainvorm makes; the way she embellishes vintage crockery with her modern, whimsical illustrations is charming, as shown by this set of plates. With a similar old-meets-new aesthetic, I really like Esther Coombs’s work. If I had a garden, I’d be all over her cute seed markers. Also shown are the pots and pans dish towels by girlscantell and the Pebble Bowl in Blue by kimwestad.
Vintage is probably the most popular tag on my blog, and Etsy’s a huge reason for that. When selling older items, the creativity lies in the selection, styling and photography, so I tend to gravitate toward shops that are beautifully merchandised. Trampoline is a favourite, where you can find this Cast Iron Pop Over Pan, because I feel like each item tells a story. Also shown is Vintage Dansk Kobenstyle Enamel Cookware from blueflowervintage, an Enamel Teapot from claireferrante, and vintage glass canisters from leVintageMaison.
These days, I’m blogging about food and kitchens but pursuing other interests, too. I’ve been learning upholstery and am considering taking some classes to indulge my burgeoning passion for interior design. But wherever my creativity takes me, I know there’ll always be something to pique my interest on Etsy. Who knows — maybe this time next year I’ll be blogging about throw cushions and custom furniture.
Finally, I’d like to share a recipe with you. While savoury broccoli cake might seem bizarre to some, I know that if anyone is going to appreciate this recipe’s quirky character, it’s Etsians. Surprisingly delicious, these mini cakes contain spices, cheese and an individual broccoli floret nestled in each one. Far richer than a muffin, they make great party food, and are also good served as part of a lavish afternoon tea.
Savoury Broccoli Cakes
Makes 12 cakes, adapted from Breakfast, Lunch, Tea by Rose Carrarini
Stand mixer or electric beaters
12-cup muffin tin, greased and floured well (or silicone)
12 trimmed broccoli florets (each one should fit into a muffin cup with room to spare)
275g (1 cup and 2.5 tbsp) butter, softened
50g (1/4 cup) sugar
4 large eggs, at room temperature
300g (1 1/4 cup) flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. turmeric
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp. salt
60g (full 1/4 cup) strong cheddar cheese, grated
- Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F. Bring a pot of water to the boil and blanch the broccoli florets for 3 minutes. Rinse well in cold water to stop the cooking, then dry each floret well with paper towels and set aside.
- Beat the butter until soft and creamy, then add the sugar and continue beating until fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Mix together the flour, baking powder, turmeric, cayenne and salt, and beat this into the wet ingredients as well. Finally, fold in the grated cheese with a spatula.
- Place one heaping tablespoonful of batter in the bottom of each muffin case, then tap the tin against the counter to spread batter out. Stand a single floret in each muffin case, and top with the remaining batter, dividing it evenly between the cases. Spread the batter over the top of each floret roughly, but don’t worry about it looking perfect.
- Bake the cakes for approximately 30 minutes, until golden brown and hard to the touch. While baking, some butter will bubble up around each cake — you can mop this up with paper towels if you like, but don’t worry too much about it. Allow the cakes to cool completely on a wire rack before serving, but do try to eat on the same day.
Do you have a favorite cooking/kitchen design blog? Tell us about it in the comments below!