This time we’re interviewing Elena from HappyKitchen.Rocks. A real globetrotter, originally from Russia, she met her German Husband in Indonesia while studying in the university of Prague! This can only mean lots of great influence and ideas for the various dishes on her blog ☺
What made you start HappyKitchen.Rocks?
I’ve started HappyKitchen.Rocks a bit less than a year ago, although it feels like much longer. I was always interested in food and cooking and I was making dinner for my husband nearly every day since we started to live together. At some point, I’ve started to take pictures of the food I make but I had no idea about how to use my camera, set up the light and make beautiful styling back then.
My husband was always telling me that I should start my own food blog, because people were often asking for recipes and it seemed like a good idea to keep a written record of all my recipes. Besides, I like the idea of helping people to cook delicious and healthy food, sharing helpful tips and tricks I’m using in the kitchen and hopefully inspire others to cook more at home rather than eat out or consume prepared meals, which are unhealthy. My blog is mostly focused on seasonal and healthy food which is also delicious and approachable. I do a lot of healthy recipe makeovers trying to turn well-loved but unhealthy meals into something more nutritious. My Russian heritage has also shaped quite a big part of my blog.
It took me some time to figure out how to start a blog and how to improve my writing and photography but I think I’m a fast learner. Blogging is not easy and takes all my time but it’s so rewarding as it brings me fulfilment, flexibility and freedom and inspires me to follow my dreams.
What do you enjoy most about blogging?
The best thing about blogging for me is the creative process: Developing recipes, doing styling and taking pictures. There is a saying that time passes quickly when you are happy. That’s about me and cooking. I can spend hours and hours in the kitchen without realizing how much time has passed. I also enjoy eating quite a lot ☺
What are some of your favorite recipes on your blog?
I like easy but delicious meals and occasionally they are the ones that perform the best on my blog. The most popular recipe so far is Ratatouille which is also one of my favorites.
Other recipes I like and often cook are Green Shakshuka, Ultimate Russian Pancakes, Ricotta Spinach Quiche. I also like to prepare condiments such as Mojo Verde (Canarian Green Sauce) and Tkemali (Georgian Plum Sauce). Finally, given that I have a sweet tooth and that I’m a passionate chocolate lover, I’ve added recipes such as Chocolate Truffles, Moist Carrot Cake or Russian Syrniki with Strawberry Sauce which make my mouth water!
Which food blogs do you like to follow?
There are so many awesome food blogs out there. I follow big blogs like Pinch of Yum, HalfBakedHarvest and The Minimalist Baker because I like their food photography and I can learn a lot from them. I also enjoy reading smaller blogs like At The Immigrant’s Table, The New Baguette and Just As Delish because I share the same food philosophy with them.
Could you share some tips about food photography?
I most often use natural light for my photos. My biggest tip would be: learn your camera settings. It might be boring but it’s absolutely necessary for great photos. I think most of the famous food bloggers don’t use the auto regime. Another thing is practice. I’m embarrassed by my old pictures but I keep them to track my progress. It was very useful and inspiring for me to go to the earliest posts of some famous bloggers to see from what they’ve started. It’s amazing what practice and constant improvement can do to your skills.
What camera equipment do you use?
I use a Canon EOS 1000D and an EF 50mm f/1.8 STM lens. I used an EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 lens that came together with my camera but since I’ve bought the f/1.8 lens, I don’t use it anymore. I can’t recommend my new lens enough.
Where do you find the inspiration for new recipes?
I’m inspired by other blogs, cookbooks, Pinterest, restaurants and my family. My husband often has great ideas of what recipes I should try to develop. My mother and mother-in-law are both great cooks, so visiting them always gives me inspiration.
What are you up to these days?
I’m currently focusing on connecting closer to my readers and creating a community of people interested in healthy, delicious and approachable food. I’ve written a free e-book called “How To Cook Without a Recipe” to help home cooks to be more creative in the kitchen. Also I’ve started working more in the field of food writing and marketing, so I’m trying to squeeze a lot of things into my schedule.