Little talks #4

Roots & Wings is what comes to my mind when I think of Inês. Roots from the knowledge and wisdom that she acquired with her family while Wings for the strength to make her dreams come true with so much mindfulness and tenacity. Besides saving lives of furry friends she cooks and bakes making everyone have a rumbling belly. Find out more about this Super Lady… 

Meet Inês

Hi Inês! Can you tell us a little about yourself?

Hi Patrícia, first of all thank you so much for having me here, at your lovely home, you are such an inspiration dear.

Let me tell you about me, my name is Inês and I´m 34 years old. I live in Figueira da Foz (my beautiful city) and work as a veterinarian in a small practice. I did a post-graduation on internal medicine in small animals (dogs, cats) I perform surgeries and I´m a cat lover. Since a child I grew up surrounded by nature, trees and lots of animals, I think the passion grew inside me very early, and I feel blessed to have the opportunity to save lives, to take care, to do what I love.

Besides my daily work, I also really love to cook and to bake, and capture those moments in a frame. I´m a food blogger and I love sharing recipes, images and stories in my blog. I’m such a cookie lover, ice cream lover too, and whenever I can I bake a cake for the ones I love.

My most dear treasures are my family and my friends, and my cat Amélie and my grandma´s dog Lua. You can say I´m a dreamer, I believe in dreams, in love, in all the good things that life brings you. 

As a Veterinarian when did you discover that passion for food? Did you have particular moments and memorable meals while growing up?

I think I grew up surrounded with food. I mean food and cooking has always been a part of us, my family and my home, and there´s so many good memories around our table. We always grew vegetables in the garden that turned into soup and salads, we picked fruit from the trees and eat it like that, we collected the eggs from the chickens and I always feel this as a big part of me, of who I am as a person, the respect for nature as my grandparents did too, the learning from them, the growing up outside playing in the sand without shoes on, baking my first mud cakes and planting my little lettuces.

My love for baking started with my grandma and mum, watching them cooking by the stove, big bowls of food for who showed up, family and friends. Baking cakes and dreams at the table. And I just wanted to do the same. There is so much comfort in baking, licking a wooden spoon and eat a big warm slice of cake together. Being together is the most important, to bake and cook, and share the meal. I guess I value all those moments of reunion, with family and true friends at the table, while growing up and now.

And then 5 years ago I created a food blog, to share all that passion for baking, the things that make me smile in my kitchen, the stories behind a simple dish or cake.

Photography has an important role in your blog. How did you get into photography and how has been that experience?

Yes, I love photographing food. Even though I’m not a photographer, I love to learn and to know more about it. Food photography and food styling were not that important when I started blogging, I just wanted to share the recipes you know. But I soon realized that the eyes eat as well, and turning food into beautiful pictures started naturally to become a favorite thing to do. Planning recipes thinking about the mood, the props and the angles is so thrilling and exciting. I just love food photography. So after a couple of years of this adventure I bought a DSLR camera and then a 50mm 1.8 lens, and began to shot, and shot. I made two online food photography courses, which helped a lot to understand more about this subject. I still have to learn so much more, but life is all about that, to keep learning and dreaming, and making and creating. One of my dreams is to make a more specific and deep photography course. And another one is to take a food and styling photography retreat with other creative photographers and food bloggers, and learn from that experience.

Two years ago I was invited to make my first food photography exhibition, I couldn’t even believe it! It was such a great experience. This year I was invited to do my second exhibition and couldn’t be more thrilled and happy and thankful for this. 

Where do you go for inspiration? Are there any other artists or chefs you look up to, or admire?

So much inspires me. We could go a long way just talking about it. I think inspiration lies in everything that surrounds me. The seasons, the fruits and vegetables from each time of the year, I really like to cook through the seasons, and from what I collect in the orchard and garden. There are so many good things to be thankful at the table, when we eat what we grow in our land. Also the inspiration comes from the local markets; we have a big one near my grandma´s house, and it´s so nice to see all the colors and smells in one place, full of goodness to share.

Then there´s books, cookbooks, I love them! In every corner of the house you can find lots of them to inspire. Magazines too; I love the Jamie Magazine and Delicious and Saveurs for example. TV Shows like Masterchef Australia are so interesting to watch, and others with known chefs such as Nigella or Avillez. I have some favorite food blogs too, Portuguese and foreign that inspires me. In Portugal there is Pratos e Travessas, Le Passe Vite, Coco e Baunilha, Gourmets Amadores among others. Then Adventures in Cooking, Call me Cupcake, Cook Republic, Green Kitchen Stories, Top with Cinnamon, Twigg Studio and What Should I Eat for Breakfast Today are some of my favorite.

Chefs that I admire, I can name Donna Hay, Nigella Lawson, Nigel Slater, Jamie Oliver, Rachel Khoo, José Avillez, Henrique Sá Pessoa, La Dolce Rita and I could go on but it´s getting quite extensive and then I would have to talk about Instagram and Pinterest too, with so many beautiful images to inspire.

When do you feel the most creative?

I think I feel most creative during Sundays, my day off at the practice. I have more time to play around with food and photos, and bake for my family and friends. During the week I really like to cook and eat, to treat myself and nourish my body with fuel to keep me energized for the whole working day, but think less about photos and scenarios and prop styling. Yet, during day time I think a lot about food, and recipes I would like to make. Other times I wake up in the middle of a dream, with an idea for a recipe or a photo shoot, it´s so funny!

I try to write down all the ideas in a paper, write the recipe, the ingredients, draw the plate and think about what props go well with it. Other times it´s just no thinking and going along with the inspiration of the moment, it´s the best way for me I guess, to not over think, just make, cook, photograph, and eat afterwards. Sundays are a favorite day for that. I can always have time to bake, choose a new recipe, photograph it, and then enjoy it at the table with my loved ones. 

Are you Team Savory or Team Sweet? Which ingredients you couldn’t live without?

I think you and everyone knows the answer. :) I have a serious case of sweet tooth! Even though I love to plan dinners with my friends that are only about tapas, finger food, cheese boards and small bites, we love that kind of meal, that takes forever at the table, that you gather and eat with your fingers while talking and laughing. Food really brings people together. But I definitely like to cook, bake and eat desserts, sweet delights. There´s nothing better and more relaxing for me than baking a cake,  a batch of cookies, a sweet bread or making a homemade ice cream. It is really comforting.

My favorite ingredients are chocolate (Yes, I couldn´t live without dark chocolate. A small square of chocolate can magically make everything better), blueberries (my favorite fruit), lemons, natural yogurt, spices like cinnamon, oats and dried fruits, fresh herbs like coriander, cheese, olive oil, tomatoes, pasta and rice, and lots of vegetables. And peanut butter, always!

What is your prime comfort food?

There´s so many things that I consider comfort food, for me it´s that food that gives you a warm hug, food that makes you smile. Food made with Love. I would say that Sweet Rice Pudding with cinnamon on top is one of my comfort foods. Not only because it´s dessert and sweet, served warm with cinnamon, it´s a recipe that always makes me think of my grandma and mother, the ones that taught me how to make it, and the ones I love to share it with, while still warm.

Then there´s always cake, a simple rustic cake is always comforting. Like baking a batch of chocolate cookies or even crunchy granola. And ice cream will always be a guilty pleasure.  I won´t even start with the hot chocolate!

A risotto or a pasta dish is comfort food to me. I love a good mushroom risotto, and now in autumn and winter days it’s so cozy to eat it in a bowl that warms your hands.

Soups, a big slow Sunday roast, a bowl of porridge, pancakes and waffles, scones and jam, the scent of spices in food, the warm bread from the wood oven, and fruit crumble or pie, can always warm my heart and stomach.

Are there any favorite recipes in your lovely blog you always tell people about?

There are quite a few recipes that I love to share with my friends and usually when we make a brunch or a small afternoon gathering they always ask me to make certain bakes and treats they love. For me it´s a pleasure to share food and recipes with the ones I love.

A few favorite recipes in my blog that appear now and then at my table or I like to bake and offer to special people are the Blueberry Pancakes, Homemade Orange and Chocolate Granola and Rhubarb Strawberry Jam for breakfasts and brunch, Pesto and Cheese Rolls, Berry Cinnamon Swirl Bread are a few favorite breads, Peanut Butter and Chocolate Cookies, Banana Oat Muffins for afternoon snacks. In Easter or Christmas I like to bake my Toucinho do Céu. There’s also my grandmas favorite ice cream, with Dulce de Leche and Cookies, and for chocolate lovers my Chocolate Peanut Krispies. And cakes, we can’t ever forget the cakes!! There is the Blueberry and Greek Yogurt Bundt Cake, Chocolate Banana Bread, Nutella Cake, Lemon Cake and my childhood Orange Sponge Cake.

What is the most important thing you’ve learnt through blogging?

I think I learned to be more creative. In my personal and daily job, being a Vet, I have to be more scientific, medical, to follow protocols. I know it involves many feelings, I deal with life and death situations, with people and animals, it´s always a roller coaster, but I definitely need to be more practical in most cases. And in blogging I feel I can be more artistic, more creative while still having so much to learn. And I want to learn, just give me time and more free time so I can do it. The blog is now part of who I am. In blogging you have to be yourself, you have to water your blog as if it was a plant, to make it alive and grow. I only post when I’m inspired, I think it flows better this way for me. A blog is not an island; it´s about interactions and community, with my dear readers and fellow bloggers. So I value each opinion, each person who takes a little of their time to stop by my blog, it means a lot to me, and I feel very grateful for everything.

Finally, what do you have in mind for the future? Or something that would like to share.

I live for the present. I don’t think a lot about in a few or more years. Let´s see what the future holds for me and my blog and my life. Maybe there will be surprises, or maybe not. I tend to feel that I have less time now for blogging, but I know I don’t want to stop; I want to bake and cook, and photograph too. And keep it at a healthy rhythm for me, share it with my heart, and value each opportunity, each person that comes across my way.

I have met so many good people, learned so many new recipes, discovered new ingredients, traveled in a plate, fell in love with beautiful props and ceramics, got featured in lovely magazines, I was invited to do two photography exhibitions, and all of this happened without planning. I think I might go this way, freely and authentic, without wanting too much, but expecting good things.

Let´s see what the future brings, I have my heart and arms open for it.

The images on this post belong and are copyrighted by Maria Inês Mendes.

Follow Inês's work on the Web at: Blog, Instagram & Facebook