Sites We Love: {farmette}

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.

Imen McDonnell

Today's site we love is {farmette}, where Imen McDonnell, an American expat living in rural Ireland, shares her culinary adventures through beautiful photos, home-style recipes, and engaging prose. Here's what Imen has to say about her site:

Live since: Autumn 2009

Posting rate: Once a week

Geographic location: Ireland

Why is the site called {farmette}? The name came about after a conversation with my mother-in-law. I recall that we were sitting in the farm kitchen topping and tailing gooseberries, and she referred to herself as a farmerette.The reference struck me. It feels feminine, but strong, like her. I shortened farmerette to {farmette} because I feel like a "mini"farmerette with so much more to learn.

What's been your most popular post?A traditional Irish apple tart, which is baked on a flat plate. It appears to be at the top of Google searches for apple tart recipes; I guess people just love an apple tart! Being American, I thought I knew everything about apple pie, but this recipe places apple pie in such a different light….I like how it's baked flat on a plate. The pastry is really rich and sweet, almost shortbread-y. It's a cherished family recipe.

What's your favorite post? Perhaps the Irish Sandwich Cake…it's a post that doesn't take itself too seriously, and, if you are a lover of bread and fillings, it is terrifically toothsome. A second would be Hay Ice Cream because it was intriguing to make, and we had a lovely picnic that afternoon.

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30/07/12 Food Blogger Imen McDonnell, McDonnell Farms Dunmoylan, Shanagolden, Co. Limerick. Picture: Don Moloney / Press 22Don Moloney

Credit: Imen McDonnell

What's something great that you've learned or that's happened to you since starting your blog? This might sound odd, but learning how to cook really! Before moving to Ireland, starting a family, and my blog, I must confess that most of my food was not made at home. I worked in broadcast production, travelled frequently and mostly dined out. Now that I live on an Irish farm in a very rural setting, I have come to discover the adventure of growing food and cooking and baking nearly everything from scratch. I seem to learn something new every day. Making butter and clotted cream for the first time was pretty extraordinary for a former city girl like me.

What's the usual process for developing one of your posts? I am usually inspired by the season or an activity on our farm that ends up being a perfect little vignette for the blog. For instance, one day I made gooseberry jam doughnuts with our son, and we set up a stand and sold them at the farm gate. It's fun to share more than just the food. The story behind it is far more interesting and entertaining to put together. I also really enjoy the art direction and styling aspect of food blogging—taking time to create a special setting for the food is very fulfilling to me.

What are your favorite ingredients and tools? My recipes are very much ingredient driven… I love to use fresh bits from the garden, orchard or farm. Foraging is one of my favorite follies, so things like sloe berries, elder berries and wild garlic always stir me. Since I make butter, there is always fresh buttermilk on hand, which is absolutely magnificent for baking. I bake all week so my Kitchen-Aid stand mixer is really a staple, especially for kneading bread or pizza dough. Also, couldn't live without an apple corer, cider press and bread stone. All I need now is a wood-fired brick oven…Santa?

What are your favorite food and cooking resources? Any and all of Darina Allen's Irish cookery books are invaluable to me. She is the doyenne of traditional Irish cooking and has been a source of constant inspiration for me since moving to the Irish countryside. Outside of Ireland, anything from Bill Granger, Barefoot Contessa, Martha Stewart, Donna Hay, Trish Deseine, Sweet Paul, Lucky Peach, and Kinfolk inspire. When I travel to the USA, I always come home with buckets of kitchenalia or props from Williams-Sonoma, Fishes Eddy, Bowery Kitchen or Anthropologie.

What photography equipment do you use?

Credit: Imen McDonnell

I shoot with a Canon EOS Rebel T1i, and also sometimes simply use my iPhone4 with the VSCO app.

Where else can we find your work? I write a weekly column for Irish Country Living. My recipes and photography have been featured in the NY Times Diner's Journal, LA Times Daily Dish, and Huffington Post Taste. I am also currently in post-production on my first food film, "Small Green Fields" a short documentary on the renaissance of Irish food.

What food blogs do you follow? Loads! There is so much talent out there! Whisked, Whole Larder Love, Hungry Ghost Food + Travel, La Buena Vida, Faux Martha, Kitchen Vignettes, Donal Skehan, Miss Foodwise, Sweetapolita.

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.