Sister’s Ana and Elena on sisterhood, blogging and food (lot’s of good food).
When did you started your blog and what motivated you to create it?
Our web arcë started in 2014 but I (Ana) already had a food blog before that. It was a very simple WordPress blog where I published recipes I liked and where I basically told everyday stories. At the end of 2013 we decided that we wanted to do something together, that we also wanted Elena to be involved in it and that is how the current web was born. We knew that we wanted to keep the recipes but we also wanted to introduce some more content. At the beginning we wanted this content to not necessarily be about food but in the end we find that we have gravitated back to food and things related to it.
What does food mean to you? What place does it have in your life?
Food is very important for us. You eat at least three times a day (five in our case) and you are what you eat, so you should try to look for the best ingredients produced in an ethical way, but apart from this we just really enjoy being around food, shopping for ingredients, feeding people and trying new recipes.
You are respectively an aerospace engineer and a lawyer, how do you balance such demanding jobs with running a blog?
We sometimes don’t balance it! It is hard because we want to do so much more than we actually manage to do. We have a lot of ideas, plans and lists but by the end of the week we only manage to cross out a few items. It’s frustrating, but it happens to everyone with their daily life so at the end you have to accept that a hobby is a hobby and that you should do it to enjoy yourself, not as an obligation. We also think that when you do something because you want to, because it feels right, it usually shows in the quality of the product.
“You have to accept that a hobby is a hobby and that you should do it to enjoy yourself, not as an obligation.”
We usually dedicate some time during the weekend to the blog: we cook something, we take some pictures (in our living room, with the window open trying to get as much light as we can) and then write something during the weekend again or during a weekday after work.
Are you planning to grow the blog into a business? If yes how?
We have thought about it quite a lot and there are different options: we could open up a shop, we could try to write a book, but we haven’t been able to make the leap yet. Even though this is our passion we also like our jobs so you have to have a very clear idea of what you want to do before you leave a job to do something new. We don’t want to end up not liking this because it has turned into an obligation, so we still have some work to do in this department.
“You have to have a very clear idea of what you want to do before you leave a job to do something new.”
What are your cooking inspirations? A famous chef, your mom, a cookbook, a blog…?
Our mum is a very good cook so, of course, she is an inspiration. As far as cookbook authors or chefs we love British cookbook authors, such as Nigel Slater and Hugh Fearnley Wittingstall. In terms of baking we are more influenced by Americans such as Kim Boyce who started the whole grain trend that has changed the way we all bake.
How do you come up with the recipes?
We are usually inspired by things we see in books, by things we try in restaurants and then use these things as guides, but we are not very meticulous people so we sometimes get carried away and forget to weigh and note down every ingredient.
How long does it usually take to create an article? From the idea to the moment you hit publish?
It depends, but I guess it takes more time than it looks! You have to shop for the ingredients, cook the dish, take pictures, work on the pictures and write down the text. It may be around 6-8 hours altogether and sometimes a bit more.
How much time do you spend working on your blog (creating the articles, promoting them etc)?
We are not very good at the promotion part so 90% of the time is spent creating. We do have an Instagram account and a facebook page, but posting pictures in Instagram is something we enjoy and posting a recipe in facebook is a chore we have to do.
What other entrepreneur inspire you and why?
We are inspired by any entrepreneur who tries to give value to the product they are selling, the materials used, the person who created it instead of spending too much time and money promoting something that is not very good. You can find that in any field, not just food.
What was the best business and life advice you were ever given and why did it stuck with you?
Less is more. We think it is better to publish less and to try to make it better rather than publish whatever we come up with, whether you like it or not. You have to be proud of what you put forward.
What other food blogs do you follow and why those specifically?
It changes over time, but some favorites are David Lebovitz, The Wednesday Chef, 101 cookbooks, Racheleats.
What are your favorite healthy and quick recipes for when you don’t have much time to cook?
Lately, we have been doing quite a lot of hummus with carrots or as part of a tartine. We also try to make vegetable soups which we can freeze in jars which you can take out and heat up for a quick and healthy supper.
What ingredients would you bring on a desert island with you? You can only pick three
Difficult question! Bread, olive oil and salt! That way we can hopefully make something tasty with whatever we find on the island.
If you could have dinner with three people who would it be, what would you cook and what would you talk about?
Another difficult one! Here we differ in our answers:
Ana: Hugh Fearnley Wittingstall, Veronica Mars and Tyrion Lannister
Elena: Pacey Witter, Don Draper and Gabrielle Hamilton (she could also be in Ana’s list!)
I think we would talk about everything – there is such a mix of people that we couldn’t talk about food only!
As for cooking I would make something decadent and extravagant but simple at the same time – a big roast, some roasted vegetables (supposing we do the dinner in winter), some cheese accompanied by some fruit and a couple of desserts – a chocolate mousse and a pavlova or something like that.