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Welcome to another profile of Greek women in business, an occasional series where I share the stories of the incredible women I meet during my Zelos journey.
I have to admit that until I started my business I wasn't aware of all the food sites out there, especially the Greek bloggers throughout the world. Mia Kouppa caught my eye because their recipes were so straightforward and I really appreciate that Helen & Billie try to capture and codify the world of Greek home cooking, a world that rarely relied on written recipes. I often send my American friends to their blog for authentic recipes and knew I'd want to profile them on our Zelos blog. These two sisters & soulmates have developed a wonderful website that goes beyond just the recipes to also offer a sense of community, of belonging...I could definitely relate!!
I've loved getting to know Helen & Billie because I know the power of women working together and supporting each other. They know the strength we've gained from growing up surrounded by love and healthy food, with the luxury of home-cooked family dinners. Fun fact: they cheered for the Cincinnati Bengals during the Super Bowl, even though they're Canadian, so how could I not love them!
Enjoy reading about their own Greek cooking adventure and do give their recipes a try!
What's the story behind Mia Kouppa?
Several years ago we got the idea to build a website as a fun way to compile our parents' traditional Greek recipes. Like most people of our parents' generation, they cook by eye, as well as by experience and intuition. As a result, written recipes are foreign to them and so are exact measurements and clear instructions! Asking them for a recipe for their pastitsio for example, didn't lead to anything which would allow us to recreate the meal in our own kitchens. Realizing that they were custodians of a vast array of delicious, culturally significant and classic recipes we knew that we had to make an effort to preserve them, for ourselves but also for our daughters and anyone else who would benefit from them. Our parents are both exceptional cooks, and generous as well. Although they never expected their recipes to reach as far as Australia or South Africa and other far corners of the world, they always shared their recipes and kitchen secrets with an open heart. This website really is a testament to their grace and philotimo.
To actually capture and document these special recipes we began cooking with our parents, following them around the kitchen with measuring cups and spoons, using scales and photography and video to capture every moment. And we took notes. A lot of notes! Then, all of this gets translated into a recipe post that is published on our website for all to access.
What is your philosophy and your goals?
There are thousands of food blogs out there, and hundreds which focus on Greek and Mediterranean cooking. Many of these websites have great recipes. We wanted to offer something different and special with Mia Kouppa. From the very beginning we felt that it was important to create a community, where visitors to our site could see themselves and their families in our stories and in our food. We have always understood that you could get a recipe for yemista (stuffed vegetables) anywhere, so we were intent on making sure that along with a delicious and easy to follow recipe, visitors to our site would feel a sense of belonging, and joy. There is enough difficulty in the world; we want Mia Kouppa to be a small corner of the internet that is about family, pleasure and memories new and old. Finally, we have always said that although we don't take ourselves too seriously (we are not professionally trained chefs, writers or photographers) we do take our blog very seriously. Everything we post we are proud of, and we work incredibly hard at. It is a labour of love and we love that we get to do it!
Regarding our goals, we have many! We want to continue adding to our already vast collection of recipes, we hope to publish a cookbook and to continue working on our YouTube channel. We have a lot of fun cooking together on camera and hope to be able to do more of that in the future. Ultimately, we want to be the go-to, reliable site for anyone looking to learn more about Greek and Mediterranean cooking.
What was/is the biggest challenge as women entrepreneurs?
Definitely juggling all of our responsibilities and taking time to just relax! Both of us are wives and mothers, and our families are our top priorities. We also have full time jobs besides Mia Kouppa. Therefore all the cooking, the writing, the photographing, the social media - all of that happens on weekends and evenings. Still, we wouldn't have it any other way, and we are constantly grateful that there are two of us sharing the work.
What people think of your blog? What’s your most popular recipe? (what people like)
The response to our blog has been overwhelmingly positive, and we are so grateful to everyone who has joined our Mia Kouppa community, and who takes the time to reach out to us. We love hearing from people who have either tried our recipes, or who comment that a particular post reminds them of their own family. We have always said that nostalgia is delicious, and we really believe that people take comfort in our little space on the internet.
People love the classic Greek recipes like avgolemono soup and moussaka, and they seem to adore desserts. We recently shared a recipe for tahini honey cookies and they are doing incredibly well. We also put out meal plans for lent - these have been incredibly appreciated, and we love being able to offer people a tool that can make life a little easier.
That's a tough question! There are so many wonderful Greek recipes and our favourite of the moment depends quite a bit on the season, our mood...but if we had to choose...
One of Helen's favourites is roast chicken with Greek lemon potatoes primarily because it is absolutely delicious! It is also one of the first meals that Helen learned to cook. It is super simple and there's a lot of inactive cooking time. When the chicken and potatoes are cooked you enjoy a remarkable meal. Many people have told us that they are intimidated to cook an entire chicken, so we have written our recipe in a way that is simple, detailed and straightforward.
One of Billie's favourite Greek recipes is yemista, exactly the way our parents make it. Their version is vegan and full of herbs and veggies. A large roasting pan of yemista can serve a crowd, and leftovers are amazing! Each vegetable tastes a little different than the next, so even if you are eating yemista for days it can seem like a totally new meal each time. Favourites include stuffed eggplant and stuffed red pepper. When not fasting, yemista served with a huge hunk of feta is heaven on a plate!
Describe Greece in a sentence (please share with us a photo you have taken from Greece)
Greece is a glorious, complex and surprising place which cradles our hearts and our spirit.
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