Blogger and foodie Harriet Smith tells us about her love of plant-based cooking and experimenting with ingredients, and how it inspired her to start her food, art and lifestyle blog.
I first began my blog, Harriet Emily, as a way to delve back into my love of cooking, and explore a new area of interest – plant-based foods. After a holiday away to California in June 2014, I was inspired by all of the inventive, delicious foods I tried during my stay there. On my visit, the majority of the meals I ate were plant-based, and I was amazed by the way people made so many complex and exciting dishes from such minimal, natural ingredients. I have always loved to develop my own recipes, and it was something I initially enjoyed as just a hobby. Nothing would make me happier than coming up with a birthday cake idea for a friend or simply creating a new flavour combination for a batch of cookies.
Shortly before my time there, I took a large break away from cooking, to study for my A levels. So I was amazed by how instantly I became captivated again by the art of creating food. Feeling inspired, I rushed to get out my baking tools as soon as I got home and began to do some reading into plant-based cooking. I love to challenge myself, and when researching this cooking style, I knew that it seemed like a good challenge for me. Taking such simple, basic ingredients and transforming them into a creative dish was something that felt so fun to do, and to eat. Being a huge fan of technology, I then decided to begin documenting my recipes and experiments on my own space, by creating my blog.
Dedicating every hour of my time to learning about cooking, I was quick to expand my blog and focus entirely on it. Since then, I’ve spent most days brainstorming ideas for recipes, creating them and writing about them there. By doing this, I’ve really grown to love the discovery of new ingredients and less conventional ones to cook with. As I began to fill my cupboards with all sorts of different foods, I began to notice the variety of different ingredients we can use for making food. I’ve always loved baking, and before I began to cook more plant-based recipes, cakes were my specialty. So I was definitely excited when I began find new ingredients for baking.
Whether it was a huge tiered cake, or a small batch of muffins, the majority of my recipes I would create were focused on baking. Yet, with all of the different recipes I made, I never really varied their ingredients. When I look at popular recipes now, it amazes me how the majority of them focus around a few staple ingredients. Before, I wouldn’t have thought twice about this, but since making plant-based recipes, I’ve seen so many different alternatives out there, and it’s amazed me how little we change up our cooking. There are so many ways you can reinvent a recipe, with only a few simple modifications. Each day I am inspired by a discovery of a new ingredient I’ve never heard of before, especially when it comes to flours.
When I used to bake, I would always stick to plain or self-raising flour made from wheat. However, on my journey so far I’ve already discovered some of the amazing alternative flours like Coconut or Almond, and grains like Buckwheat and Millet. In awe of all of the recipes I could make with these foods, I really enjoyed creating something different from them, and being able to share something that was so new to me. Asides from the personal joy and creative fun I gained from this, I also found that many of my recipes were naturally gluten-free. So by baking in this way, I found that I was also able to cater for people with particular dietary needs, especially those who are coeliac. Doing this enabled me to make food and recipes that could be shared and enjoyed by many different people, no matter their allergy or intolerance. Knowing this was something that gave me a real sense of pleasure when it came to writing my blog.
As time progresses, and I continue to expand my blog, I’m currently looking forward to a busy year ahead. Aside from creating many more recipes on my site, I’m now using the space to write about food, different ingredients, and sharing my own cooking tips. I’ve now also expanded into my own YouTube channel, showcasing my cooking. My blog has also expanded into areas of my other creative interests, Art and Lifestyle, which I’m looking forward to exploring over the coming months. As well as this, I’ll also be co-hosting an exciting new TV show on a lifestyle network to be launched later this spring. I’m definitely excited about what the rest of this year and my blog will bring.
You can watch Harriet’s recipe tutorial for handmade vegan chocolate in her video below!
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