Interview with Sense and Serendipity

Fri, Mar 26, 2010


This week we have the pleasure of getting to know Divina of Sense and Serendipity. Sense and Serendipity is a beautiful food blog that talks not only about food, but health and nutrition as well. The recipes included on the site are based on a fresh and holistic approach to health and nutrition by cooking with whole, natural and real foods.

MiK: Anyone that has seen your blog, Sense and Serendipity, can see that you’re passionate about food. What made you want to share your love of food with the world?

Divina: It was actually my friend’s idea when I shared a link of a recipe that became a video at Rouxbe Online Cooking School. Then she encouraged me to start my own food blog to document my kitchen experiments which turned out to be something more. I actually thought that it was my way to inspire people to eat with a new inspiration and perspective through whole foods which is also true but there’s something more.

When I gave up my career to become a full-time caregiver of my father for years, I find it hard to bounce back because somehow, you do forget who you really are; you lose your self-esteem and even your boldness and courage to do great this in life. But I’m only speaking for myself. This blog gave me a purpose in life. By connecting the dots, I noticed a few things throughout the years since my college days: I love browsing through recipes and photos of cookbooks and magazines even if I’m not going to cook them; I spent more time at the bookstore than in a clothes or shoe shop; I love visiting kitchen shop just to look at white plates, bowls and other accessories. I am fascinated by Eric Gower and Donna Hay’s work and dreamed of working for them; I also once thought of becoming a food stylist while still working at the restaurant; I am captivated by the food blogs of Delicious Days and 101 Cookbooks, both became cookbooks, and later on Jaden Hair of Steamy Kitchen. It was a revelation but it took me years to figure it out and regretted not discovering it sooner in life.

My interests now includes food photography, food styling, test kitchen and recipe development which I still need to work on. And I want to have a career in the making of a cookbook or work for a food magazine and do a part time job for an established food blog like Steamy Kitchen. But through this blog alone, I’ve discovered more of myself. It may be a slow progress for me but at least there’s improvement.

Have I discovered what I really, really, really want in life through my blog? Yes and no, and it’s still a progress at work but I’m still glad that it has allowed me to slowly clarify about the other details of my life. And of course, health and nutrition would still be a part of it.

MiK: You’ve recently completed your 28 Day Real food Challenge. For those that don’t know about the challenge, can you explain it?  What have you learned about “real food” by doing this challenge and what advice do you have for the average person who wants to eat more real food?

Divina: The 28 day real food challenge is a challenge of replacing processed and refined foods with unprocessed, unrefined, real and whole foods. It is going back to the basics of food where nutrients are fully available in their whole form. It also involves nourishing tradition practices such as soaking and sprouting of grains, legumes, nuts and seeds, and lacto-fermentation by making your own kefir, yogurt and cheese at home. It also educates you the important of real fats and meats that people try to avoid because of the different diets that we have.

I’ve learned that doing this real food challenge requires patience, persistence and commitment but with determination it can be practiced by every member of the family. Real food is about moderation, balance and flexibility. It will never be perfect.

My advice is to take it one step at a time. You can start by replacing processed and refined foods with real and whole foods. It’s also important to buy locally and seasonally ingredients, and if possible grown your own food and share it with your neighbors. We may not really avoid buying packaged foods but my tip when buying anything that comes in a packaged is to read the ingredients list first before reading the nutritional information.

MiK: On Sense and Serendipity, you’ve said that you have attended both Les Roches and Dubrulle culinary schools as well as a course on Natural Nutrition at the Canadian School of Natural Nutrition. Can you share something that you’ve learned at each school that you found to be the most useful in the kitchen?


Les Roches: Each student was given a knife kit and one of them is a vegetable peeler. That particular vegetable peeler is one of my hated tools to use until someone from my stage introduced me to a Swiss peeler that made my job easier. Using the right tools for the right job is very essential in being an efficient cook.

Dubrulle Culinary Institute: No matter how sharp your memory is, making a mise en place (to do) list is always helpful even at home. It gets things done faster and it trains your brain to think ahead.

Canadian School of Natural Nutrition: Combine equal amounts of softened butter and extra virgin olive oil and refrigerate. From there you add garlic and other flavorings. I always love butter on bread and this is a healthier alternative.

MiK: Since you live in the Philippines, but have traveled to other places with many different foods, how do you think this effect your palate?

Divina: Traveling has taught me to become conscious and aware of what I’m eating. I also think that tasting different foods has created a memory bank in my subconscious mind of what flavors go well with what. The taste also reminds me of where the dish came from and the memories that are attached to it. At the same time it has allowed me to combined flavors based on what I have and what I’ve tasted during my travels. Since my late-father was an adventurous eater, he also encouraged me to try different kinds of food. Actually, my father could almost taste the food itself by just watching a cooking show and it’s brilliant how talented he is when it comes to combining them.

The more aware and conscious I become of the flavor of the food, the more sensitive I become to the different flavors of each ingredient and eventually the dish itself. My palate has adjusted well to different combination of flavors and food from different cuisines. I believe it is important because it trains you to become more responsive to different taste. And when you expand your appetite for different taste, your knowledge of food as well as your cooking improves as well.

MiK: What challenges or projects are you planning on doing in the near future food wise that you’ll be sharing with your readers?

Divina: There are a lot of projects and challenges I would like to do when budget and time permits. One of them is to include more gluten-free recipes most especially for cakes, pastries and breads. But with limited resources and funds, it’s not yet possible. I would also like to include recipes that focus on their healing benefits. Although I’ve done that before, I want to expand more of it. There are some recipes that help certain condition such as sleepless and restlessness, for instance. Or it could be recipes to improve your mood or memory. Another project that I want to include on my blog is maximizing nutrient density of our foods by preparing and consuming them with time-honored tradition such as lacto-fermentation. I also want to include fresh juices and their healing benefits when I have a chance of getting my own masticating juicer. And of course more of my serendipity cooking.

MiK: If you were a dish what would you be? If you were an ingredient what would you be?

Divina: If I were a dish, I would be a Moroccan Tagine. It’s exciting, interesting, charming, sophisticated, striking, daring and sexy. Not really exactly who I am but it’s the life that I want to have. For ingredients, there are two: artichokes and lemon. Artichokes are appealing yet intimidating and complicated to prepare and eat. You have to strip off the outer layers to reveal the heart.  Some people (most especially men) find me intimidating and failed to get to know me better and know the real me. But you don’t actually give up on an artichoke even if you find it daunting. Lemon is associated with sunshine and an ingredient that brings ho-hum dishes back to life. I was once nicknamed sunshine before, they said there’s no difference if I smile or not. I want to be that person again where I brighten up someone’s day.

We here at MiK want to say a big thank you to Divina for taking the time to do this great interview! If you are looking to find out more about  Divina and her serendipitous recipes or just to see the fabulous photos of delicious healthy food, make sure to stop by Sense and Serendipity!

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This post was written by:

Rochelle - who has written 324 posts on Made in Kitchen Blog.

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12 Responses to “Interview with Sense and Serendipity”

  1. Elle (Bromography) Says:

    Great interview! Divina’s passion really show through on her blog. It is nice getting to know more about her.

  2. penny aka jeroxie Says:

    Awesome interview and a great blogger to interview as well. Very passionate. Very dedicated.

  3. Rochelle Says:

    Yes she is! It was great getting to know Divina better :D

  4. Cookin' Canuck Says:

    Fantastic interview with Divina! She is truly one of my favorite bloggers – not just for her recipes and photography, but for her tremendous spirit as well.

  5. Rochelle Says:

    I completely agree with you! Divina has a lot of spirit as well as passion which comes out in everything she does :D

  6. citronetvanille Says:

    Great interview and Divina is so sweet and so dedicated, she makes gorgeous healthy dishes and her pictures are always vibrant, crisp that puts you in appetite for the whole day. I am glad she is getting the attention she deserves!

  7. Divina Says:

    I almost forgot to comment on this. Thank you so much for all your comments. It’s really touching.

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