Sites We Love: Flourishing Foodie

Gorgeous photos? Check. Engaging writing? Check. Seriously inspiring recipes, tips, and culinary curiosity? Check, check, and check. The best food blogs all seem to have a lot in common—but what separates them out are the strong personalities behind them. In our Sites We Love series, we sit down with some of our favorite bloggers to find out how they do it—and why it's as much fun for them as it is for us.

Chocolate Cherry Tarts

Chocolate Cherry Tarts

Heather Hands

Seattle blogger Heather Hands is all about balance. Her blog and today's Site We Love, Flourishing Foodie, presents a combination of fresh, healthy takes on globally-inspired meals as well as old-fashioned, deliciously buttery pastries and desserts. The ingredients she chooses, mostly local and as close to their natural state as possible, are matched only in appeal by bright and enticing photographs. Here's what Heather has to say about her site:

**Blog Name: **Flourishing Foodie

**Live Since: **December 2010

**Posting Rate: **Once a week.

**Geographic Location: **Seattle, WA

**Why is the site called Flourishing Foodie? **My life motto is: Give me some good food and booze and I will flourish. The name Flourishing Foodie seemed fitting.

**What's been your most popular post? **Grilled corn, black beans, and quinoa with cilantro lime dressing has been a hit. I think people enjoy this recipe because it's an easy-to-approach vegetarian meal, incorporating some well-liked ingredients—avocado, poblano peppers, and grilled corn.

**What's your favorite post? **Chocolate coconut cherry tarts are pretty high up on the list of favorites, being that they were such a dream to photograph, and contain two of my best-loved ingredients—chocolate and cherries. You really can't go wrong with this combination.

**What's something great that you've learned or that's happened to you since starting your blog? **How to make recipe substitutions. I used to follow recipes to a tee, measuring each ingredient will a great deal of precision and accuracy. I am now much more relaxed about the whole process.

Black Bean, Corn & Quinoa Salad

Black Bean, Corn & Quinoa Salad

Heather Hands

**What's the usual process for developing one of your posts? **Usually, I’ll head to the market and pick up a few ingredients, typically in-season fruits and vegetables. I’ll then look for inspiration from past meals eaten at a favorite restaurant, meals prepared by friends and family, meals that I have experienced while travelling, or images that have stuck with me after procrastinating on pinterest for an hour or so. Seeing as it’s me and my Mr. that eat all the food around here, it’s usually something that he or I have been craving, or something that we’ve eaten, something so amazing, it just needs to be shared.

**What are your favorite ingredients and tools? **A few of my cupboard necessities are Partanna Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Les Pres Sales Butter with Camargue Sea Salt, and Better Than Bouillon Vegetarian, No-Chicken broth. I am pretty committed to my GIR spatula, New West Knifeworks Santoku Chef Knife, Microplane zester/grater, and the most beautiful tool I own, something that I cherish deeply, is a handmade tapered maple rolling pin by Herriott Grace.

**What are your favorite food and cooking resources (books, stores, etc.)? **When it comes to baking, I often find myself consulting Professional Baking by Wayne Gisslen. How to Cook Everything Vegetarian by Mark Bittman is one that I use for general cooking principles and recipe substitutions. I appreciate the careful testing that goes into Cook's Illustrated, and have a great deal of success executing their recipes. The Bread Baker's Apprentice by Peter Reinhart is a book devoted solely to making delicious bread—need I say more? Besides that, I try to keep the amount of cookbooks I own to a minimum, due to lack of space, however, I do spend a great deal of time on sites like Bon Appétit, Food 52, Food Network, Food & Wine, SAVEUR, and Smitten Kitchen.

Heather Hands

Heather Hands

Brent Hands

**What photography equipment do you use? **A Canon 60D dSLR with a Sigma 30mm f/1.4 lens. I use a Manfrotto 055 PRO tripod with a Manfrotto 496RC2 Compact Ball Head, which gives me the flexibility to tweak and adjust my props without gumming up my camera with food. I use Photoshop and Lightroom for editing photos, and up until last month I relied solely on natural light for lighting, but after experiencing a few Seattle winters, I decided to purchase some artificial lights to give me a bit more flexibility.

**Where else can we find your work? **Most of my work can be found on my blog, but I've also contributed a few photos and recipes to Food and Nutrition Magazine, Home Gourmet Magazine, Toffee Magazine, Neet Magazine, and White Magazine.

**What Food Blogs Do You Follow? **This is a very small sample of food blogs that I follow, no doubt, but ones that are continually inspiring me to become a better photographer and writer: Herriott Grace, Hungry Ghost, Lingered Upon, Princess Tofu, The First Mess, Happyolks, Oh, Ladycakes, Orangette, Seven Spoons, Top with Cinnamon, and What Should I Eat for Breakfast Today.

**What is one thing that sets your site apart from others? **A careful balance between big bad salads and sweet indulgent desserts. It’s how I live.

Do you know a blog or blogger who deserves to be featured in this space? Email a nomination—including a link to the site and a few sentences on why they're worthy of love—to__siteswelove@saveur.com.