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By Maria Castillo-Stone
Last Friday, I was lucky to spend a lovely afternoon at the home of Jess Voykin, one half of the blog: The Friendly Edit. Little did I know we were neighbours on the same block! (U.K me would say street but I wanted you to get my drift!)
As well as getting a peek at her lovely home, and getting my belly filled with delicious treats (mentioned below), I got to make a new friend. And that’s what I love about this little Citizens of Capitol Hill project - I get to meet all sorts of people in our community and make connections.
What makes Capitol Hill a great place to live?
It’s awesome! There’s such a good mix of people of all ages and stages of life. I believe that’s what makes an asset to our community.
How would you describe the community of Capitol Hill and it’s people to an outsider?
It’s something you have to experience! Before we came to live here, we were invited to the Pub Night by some of our friends that live in the area. It was great seeing kids running around, how safe it was, everyone knowing each other - that has been really special. Our life has been made better by living here. We are always trying to convince our friends to move here by telling them about our experiences here.
We are so lucky, we are so close to everything and it feels like a community.
What inspired your journey to becoming a blogger and starting The Friendly Edit?
My best friend is a registered dietician and I suggested that she should start a blog. After a few glasses of wine at a Wine Festival, she said: “I’ll only do it, if you’ll do it with me” and that’s what started it all.
Since then, I’ve found it to be a passion of mine - food has always been something that we shared within our friendship, and cooking - cooking together. We don’t live in the same place, so this was another way to keep us connected, especially at different points in our life: getting married and kids, it was nice to tie our lives together.
I don’t think I would have done this on my own but because we were doing the blog together, it pushed us forward - you’d do anything for your best friend, despite our own fears.
When driving the blog, what’s your inspiration and influence, when you’re creating a post or cooking a recipe?
I try to think of it as a family recipe. A couple of years ago, my mum and dad brought us a recipe book with all our family recipes for Christmas. It’s those things that are so good - you have to share them with your family or your friends. It’s great when you’ve made something excellent and to be able to share it. It’s not about the fanciest food, it’s about things that everyone has in their house, that’s quick and tasty!. My passion lies in making food accessible to people.
Do you have a favourite family recipe?
It’s less about the recipe and more about the time when we have it. Before Christmas morning, my family does these Overnight Cinnamon Rolls, where you put everything in the Bundt pan the night before - it’s a wife-saver cinnamon roll. It’s super tasty and it’s become a part of the holiday for me. It’s not a fancy recipe but because I have all those Christmas morning memories tied to it, and now I have my family, that’s why that’s my favourite family recipe.
What’s a favourite memory - travel or food related?
I grew up in Medicine Hat, and at the time I grew up, there weren’t a lot of diverse restaurants for example, there wasn’t a sushi restaurant until I was in Middle school. Also, my mum didn’t love cooking - she’ll admit that she needed to cook to serve us something healthy and good. It’s funny because I’m one of three sisters and we love to cook! Food in our household wasn’t a huge emphasis - it was more about bringing people together.
When I went travelling in Middle school, I remember not liking the food, yet when I went back as an adult (just this last year), I went to London and to Austria, I was so passionate about the food!
So the part about bringing people together is part of the force behind your blog…
Yes for sure! The way I show love and care for people is making food and feeding them, which my husband really likes - it’s one of his love languages! But yes, it’s about bringing people together.
I’ve seen a lot of healthy eating recipes on your blog, what’s one healthy eating tip you would dispense?
Full disclosure, I’m not a healthy eating expert - my blog partner is the registered dietician, so she is really good! I’m more of a “cook with butter” girl, but we try to eat less meat - that’s an easy way to cut down on less fat and calories. We did try one month without meat and what I liked about doing that was that it challenged me to try out different recipes. Before I was in a rut: meat, veggie, side. So going meat-free for a month, made me think about food differently, and it therefore expands your palette.
What’s one recommended tool everyone should have in their kitchen?
A good chef’s knife - is really key. We got given one three moves ago by our realtor. When we got it I thought: “This is such a weird gift! Why would he give us a knife?” Yet here it is, the thing that I use every day. You can do things faster and easier - I remember once thinking “This is hard on my wrists, why can’t I chop this yam?” and it was down to a bad knife! I really love Le Creuset’s spatulas and they last forever. I especially like the Spatula Spoon - it has this cut out that makes it handy for cooking.
Tell me 3-5 things you can’t live without?
My iPhone, my Dyson, my car, Borage Seed Oil by The Ordinary - it’s made my skin so much better! And sunglasses. I’m an Optician by trade so that’s something I really value.
Name your Desert Island books and/or music?
The Acoustic Covers playlist on Spotify, it has become the soundtrack of our house. We’ve played it so much, I know every song! I sew - it promotes a busy-hands-clear-mind thing, and so I quilt specifically, so the quilt you’re sitting on, and the pillow - I made those! I also like listening to podcasts: The Stuff You Missed In History Class - that’s up my alley.
Lastly, What, as a community member, would you like to see in the future?
I think the community is heading in totally the right direction. It’s very inclusive and family-focused. The community centre is so awesome! For example on Tuesdays I was going there three times in one day: preschool, Tae kwon do and the dance classes. There are so many things happening at the centre, we’re very lucky, so adding more to the agenda would be great. I’m also excited to check out the Fibre Arts Club. Things like these are good to connect people and get you out of the house.
Now you may be curious (and hungry) about the treats Jess made prior to her interview. Thankfully, I also have the recipes courtesy of Jess and am sure you will find them amazingly tasty (the Blondies lasted two days in our household!).
Again, many thanks to Jess for inviting me in her home! If you would like to be featured in Citizen’s of Capitol Hill, contact me at: firstname.lastname@example.org