I'd be hard pressed to write a better introduction for Ruth Bruten than the one she has as her instagram bio - lover of life, mumma of five, wifey to one, drinker of coffee, cooker of goodness, wearer of clogs, taker of photographs, writer of words. She is all of those things and more.
I first met Ruth on instagram where her feed documents her life and in particular her cooking. I'm always dazzled by the beautiful food Ruth makes from scratch and it was a lovely
surprise to later find her blog Gourmet Girlfriend where each blog post has some thoughts, a recipe for that wonderful food, and some inspirational music. She's very generous with her knowledge and her enthusiasm. I
remember soon after I met her asking what to do with a cucumber glut
and recieving three fantastic suggestions by return comment, each one mouth watering!
Ruth promotes good produce, family, music and making on her blog and talks about the power of simple pleasures, she has five boys and she writes about the ups and downs of family life. She also talks about raising kids and giving them responsibilities and trusting them. I come away inspired to get my kids cooking, to search out great produce and experiment with different meals. I am always
overtaken with a desire to make every recipe, dance to every song and
eat every picture!
So you don't need to be interested in food to take something away from Ruth's blog though that is definitely one of the things I love about it. Her writing is about more than that, its also about nurturing, sharing, teaching, about life. Its about enthusiasm and care, kindness and friendship.
So if you haven't visited her blog I think you should. And when she writes that cookbook I'll be first in line to buy it!
1. Can you give us a short description of your blog/style/work
My blog is all about living life with five young boys and how I believe cooking and sharing good food is a really important part of that, BUT not the only part!!
2. Why blog? How did you start?
I started just over two years ago after several years of friends saying I should be sharing my food knowledge. I really had no idea about ‘blog world’. One of those friends suggested a blog as a means of sharing. When I started to look online I was so excited about this new world that I had not discovered!
The gorgeous and inspiring people who have become my life long friends are without a doubt the best thing to have come out of the blog.
And the stories from my readers who tell me that my blog has changed their life in a positive way.
I have been truly amazed and humbled by the things people have shared with me about how I have influenced them.
I have grown to LOVE writing my blog and cannot imagine ever giving it up now.
It is the connection with people that I love so much.
3. Family taught/Self-taught/Trained?
All my cooking skills are self taught with a lot of help in my childhood years by my mum & dad. I am the youngest of five children. Our mum worked as well as our dad. When I was 10 years old my father went overseas for several months for professional development and as my mother was working she needed us kids to help out with the weekday cooking roster.
It was my responsibility to prepare a meal once a week for the entire family- this included making sure I knew what I was going to cook, the ingredients required & writing a shopping list. Then I had to independently prepare and serve the meal. I think many of us now would not believe that a 10 year old is capable of doing that. We underestimate children’s ability in the kitchen. I think for lots of people the notion of the mess puts them off. It is just as important as a cook to be taught how to manage the mess as it is too do the actual cooking!
Cooking and sharing had always been a happy part of our family life and we were all happy to take on the challenge. Mum and Dad were both adventurous (and very good) cooks and we ate great food from a lot of different cultures. There were always extra people around and often BIG celebrations involving feasting with people we loved. Food and the cooking of it was a happy place for all of us I think. The preparation of food always involved a lot of people, loud music and lots of laughter as did the eating. All my siblings are also fantastic cooks.
I have no doubt that my very happy childhood kitchen experience is what has shaped my cooking today.
4. Workspace - studio or kitchen table?
My workspace is our kitchen bench and dining table. I designed our kitchen space to be the centre of our home. We don’t have a big home and our kitchen includes our kitchen, dining & lounge room. It is impossible to NOT be in our kitchen! My computer is also in this space on a bench. I write standing up mostly. I don’t have time to sit down! Most of the pics of the food are taken at my kitchen bench.
5. Blog/Shop name, where does it come from?
The blog name comes from a friend who used to ring up for cooking advice for her & her friends. She would ask “Is that Gourmet Girlfriend?”….it stuck!
6. Favourite media to work in? Favourite foods, cuisine?
While I don’t have a favourite cuisine I am a savoury girl through and through!
7. Ambitions/future directions/projects you'd like to try?
I am keen to get cooking classes happening to share my knowledge in a more hands on way. My hope is to give people the confidence to enjoy cooking and preparing food rather than see it as a chore.
I would also love to have a cookbook published. It would be a dream come true to have my book on people’s benchtops with food splosh marks all over their favourite recipes of mine!
8. Are you neat and organised or, ahem, creatively messy?
While I am organized in the sense that I know where things are, my home is best described as Creatively Messy. A lack of storage amplifies this problem!
Creatively Messy - I LOVE that term - I will happily use it from now on!
9. Favourite handmade, handcrafted item you own not made by you?
My favourite handcrafted item would have to be my new wedding ring. My husband & I had new rings made to celebrate our 25 years together this month. Both rings were handcrafted to our design by a good friend of ours in Adelaide who specialises in enamelled jewellery- John Richardson (http://www.johnrichardson.com.au/). He is an amazing artist.
My favourite cooking implement would have to be my big 900mm freestanding stove. It is where all the love happens!
Once we finish our homemade Wood Oven- I am sure it will be that!
10. Favourite food/recipe?
I don’t think I can narrow this down to one thing. It changes according to the day, the weather, my cravings, my mood, what I have available.
However the favourite part of food and recipes is always sharing with people. I would be genuinely happy to be eating Baked Beans on toast as long as it was with people I love.
I love to cook pretty much everything- although I am not such a keen cook of baked things. Me and cakes have never been friends. I wrote a post about it recently. It is the perfection required I think. I am an intuitive cook so the whole measurement thing is not my forte.
11. Favourite colour?
12. Star sign?
13. Favourite place, landscape (not necessarily Australian)?
I struggle to answer this question as like the last one it changes. I do think that in general Scandinavia and more particularly Sweden has had a huge influence on my life.
We lived in Sweden for a while when I was young. I still have my first pair of Red patent clogs (from when I was 3) on my mantelpiece. The Marimekko blinds (Finnish not Swedish) that were part of my childhood home now hang in my house as wall hangings. There are little touches of Sweden all over my house; glassware, Dalarna (the Swedish horses) and other knick knackery. This is where my life long love of clogs has come from. But more importantly it is the design aesthetic more generally.
The Swedes celebration of, rather than tolerance of children has also been something that I admire.
14. Any tricks for juggling life/work/family with creative pursuits?
I guess it is about prioritising creativity into your life. I know how important it is to me and FOR me to use my creative side. I don’t worry a lot about some of the stuff that other people might. My house is a home not a showpiece so cleaning and general perfection in terms of tidiness are not a priority. Although that is not to say that I don’t LOVE having a tidy house. But I am happy to let it slide in favour of other things. I think it is VITAL for my children to see me doing the things that give me joy. They need to see that I have things that are good for me outside of being a mum. They need to know that being a mum does not preclude me from doing things for myself as well as for everyone else.
15. Favourite artists, artisans, crafters (cooks, painters, musicians)?
I don’t think I have one favourite cook. There are many that have influenced me. I have a couple of hundred cookbooks and they all offer me something. I guess at the moment the chefs I love to see championed are the ones who help demystify the process of cooking and help people just get in there and give it a go. It’s hard to look past the effervescent Jamie Oliver in this instance I think. In a climate of the celebrity chef he stands out as an advocate for keeping it real. He has helped so many people realise that it isn’t about technique and knowledge that is way beyond most people. It is about using good quality produce and just getting in and doing it.
But on a different level I want to champion the people who live with passion to provide us with incredible produce that is grown with love- the FARMERS. These people are artisans. They don’t get anywhere near the credit they deserve.
I would love to see more people making the effort to buy their food from the Farmer’s markets. It is so amazing for my kids to be meeting the people who delivered their food to us. It is a huge life lesson & one that I feel is very important for all of our children. An understanding of where food comes from is vital. My children love it. It is a part of the week they really look forward to.
16. Your favourite thing you've made/written/done.
I am choosing the favourite thing I have written for this question. I think this post was really important for me. I needed to clarify that what happens in my house isn’t perfect. That just because I am good at cooking & LOVE it doesn’t mean our house is like a restaurant & that my kids ate everything that was served. I felt it was important for my readers to know that the delivery of my philosophy is bigger than what is served on the table.
17. Three words to describe yourself?
I didn’t know how to answer this so I asked my 11year old to answer!
His response was ‘Big Beautiful Mumma”.
That description makes me happy.
18. What do you like to do besides creating? cooking?
I love to sew. I sew most of my own clothes. I also love drawing & photography. I ALWAYS have a camera on me. And of course music. I love to go to see live music and it is a rare thing for there NOT to be music playing in our house. I always post a song at the end of each post. I love to share music as well as food.