Made With Love

Content creator Sierra Carmichael shares with us the story of how during a worldwide pandemic, a love language turned into a passion project.

Photo by Dana Castro / Three Crowns Studio

Q&A:

Tell us your story. Who is Sierra Carmichael? What does she do when not creating delicious recipes?

Even though I spend a lot of time cooking, baking, and creating new recipes, I have many other interests and passions! I am a Project Manager by profession, working for a large CPG food company, so I spend a lot of time working with food! Physical activity is a big part of my life as well. Whether it is lifting weights in the gym, doing an at-home yoga class or taking my Frenchie Carl for a walk, I try to get some exercise every day. I have also been planning my wedding for the last two years; after two postponements, my fiancé Ryan and I are hoping the third time's the charm and will be getting married in May!

What made you create/start @fromthehearty? Why the heart-shaped creations? (FYI, we totally love them!).

I started @fromthehearty as a pandemic passion project! Thanks to lockdowns, I found myself with a lot of extra time on my hands, which I spent trying new recipes and sharing photos on my personal page. I found that many of my connections would reach out asking for the recipe, so I decided to create a page dedicated to my creations. I chose "From The Hearty" as my page name as my cooking style is healthy but a little indulgent and always made with love. It has been a fantastic and fulfilling creative outlet for me, something that I felt like I was missing!

What do food and cooking mean to you?

Food and cooking are a way of sharing love and connection —whether it is making dinner for my fiancé after he's had a long day of work, baking cupcakes for a friend's birthday, or going out for dinner to celebrate just about anything. The time spent making or enjoying that food shows others how much you care.

How are your plant babies in the community garden doing? What made you take up gardening?

Thank you for asking! This was our first year growing a garden, and let me tell you, we learned a lot! My fiancé Ryan grew up on a farm, so he used to love spending his summers planting, picking and tending to the fields and animals. So, knowing how much he missed it, my mom rented him a plot in the community garden near us as a birthday gift. Even though it was a lot of work, it was such a rewarding experience. I can't wait for spring when we can take our learnings from last year and try to make this year's garden even better than the previous one!

What's your favourite season? What do you love eating or creating the most during that time and why?

My favourite season has to be the fall! My birthday is in October, so I have always had a close personal connection to that season. I am definitely a baker over a chef, so I love all of the warm, cozy spice flavours that come with fall baking. There is just something so comforting about baking a pumpkin spice loaf and enjoying it with a hot cup of coffee while taking in all the fall colours!

What's that one dish/recipe that's nostalgic? Whose recipe was it? Share that vivid memory with us.

One of my FAVOURITE meals was my dad's "Orange Sauce Pasta," for which my sister and I would go wild when I was younger. We would get SO excited when we saw that big pot of Orange Sauce simmering on the stove. Contrary to its name, there aren't actually any oranges in this recipe. Orange refers to the colour of the sauce, which is made from canned tomato soup, cream cheese and some spices. He would mix it with thick spiral noodles and ground beef to make the most comforting dish you've ever eaten. Thinking about that orange sauce pasta brings back happy memories of eating dinner with my family after a cold winter night of playing out in the snow.

Assuming food/cooking is numero uno on the list, what are three other things you love to do or are good at?

Travelling is a huge passion of mine, and it is something I have missed over the last few years! Something that my foodie friends may not know about me is that I spent 2.5 years travelling and working abroad after University through Europe, Asia and Australia. I spent a year and nine months of that living and working in Australia, which was an incredible experience. I am also a very active person. I don't feel like myself if I don't do some sort of physical activity every day. During the weeks, I mostly weight train, go for walks or do online yoga/pilates classes, while on the weekends, I love to go for hikes, skate, swim, whatever the weather allows! I also love spending time with my friends; I am so fortunate that I have two very close-knit groups of girlfriends from high school and university. The last several years (and the next several) are jam-packed with engagement parties, showers, bachelorettes, weddings and now baby showers, and I wouldn't have it any other way! It is such an exciting time in our lives, and I love celebrating my friends' milestones by getting together and enjoying good food, drinks and company!

What cuisine or dish would you love to try out when the world's back to "normal"? Why?

I am excited to make more shareable appetizers and potluck-style dishes! Unfortunately, in the last couple of years, we have not been able to get together as frequently with family and friends, so I have not been making as many appetizers or potluck dishes as I used to. However, I love making them as it is a space to be creative with flavours, format, seasonality and appearance, as you always want to impress whoever will be eating it!

What's that one kitchen or pantry essential that's changed your life? A gadget/tool/spice or something you think everybody should own.

I know this is likely a common one – but I don't know what I would do without my Vitamix! I use it for everything, from muffin batter to soups, protein balls or smoothies – I honestly use it every day. It is such a game-changer because it is so powerful, can hold a lot of volume, and it's super easy to clean. I think I cried when I received it as a shower gift from my girlfriends —I was so happy!

Where do you see yourself with @fromthehearty in the next five years? What's your vision?

So far, I am honestly just enjoying the ride! I love the connections I've made, the daily inspiration on my feed and the delicious food I've been making! I hope to continue to grow my page, partner with new brands on exciting content, build a website in the next year, and who knows, maybe a cookbook somewhere down the line!

Lemon Coconut Bars

Ingredients

Crust:

1 cup almond flour 1 tbsp coconut flour 1/4 cup shredded coconut 1/4 teaspoon salt 3 tbsp coconut oil, melted 3 tbsp pure maple syrup Filling: Zest and juice from 1 lemon 1/3 cup pure maple syrup 3 large eggs 1 tbsp coconut flour 1 tbsp shredded coconut

Instructions

Preheat oven to 350F. Line a loaf pan with parchment paper.

  1. First, make the crust: whisk together the almond flour, coconut flour, shredded coconut and salt. Next, stir in the coconut oil and maple syrup until a dough forms.
  2. Press dough evenly into the prepared loaf pan with your hands—bake for 15 minutes.
  3. While your crust bakes, make the filling. In a medium bowl, whisk together the lemon zest, juice, maple syrup, eggs and coconut flour until no egg white remains.
  4. Once the crust is done baking, remove from oven and slowly pour filling over crust.
  5. Lower the oven temperature to 325F and bake the bars for 20-25 minutes or until filling is set.
  6. Remove the bars from the oven and top with extra shredded coconut before allowing them to cool completely.
  7. Once cooled, refrigerate to firm up and set the bars.
  8. Once chilled, slice, serve and enjoy!