“Any smell emanating from the kitchen reminds me of home,” says Janna Bishop as she putters around her own bright kitchen, lightly sautéing red onion and broccoli to mix with French lentils, toasted pumpkin seeds, cherry tomatoes, and feta. It smells like home in here, that’s for sure.
Bishop is the cofounder of Flourist, a Vancouver-based transparent food company hawking dry goods like chickpeas, lentils, and beans. Selling in small batches and telling the stories of its farmers, Flourist celebrates Canadian agriculture and provides consumers with a truly superior product. On top of that, the brand just launched its first in-real-life component: a bakery and flour mill offering delicious treats, toasts, and flours to take home. In just a few short months, Flourist IRL has become a culinary hub for its East Vancouver community, providing nourishment in a beautiful, calming, thoughtful space.
So it’s safe to say Bishop is no stranger to the kitchen, or to figuring out what it takes to make one sing. When it comes to home cooking, she likes to keep it simple, creating wholesome, plant-based meals for herself, her husband, and their young son. For her, the kitchen has always been an important part of the home—a sentiment that stems from her Prairie upbringing.
“I have a lot of memories in the kitchen with my grandma. My mom cooked a lot and so did my dad, actually, but I think it’s the time that grandmas have to spend lingering on details,” Bishop says. “So my most vivid memories are the experiences with my grandma, making cookies or making cake, either in her kitchen or our kitchen.”
Now based in Vancouver, Bishop and her husband live in an apartment complex near the Cambie Village; they actually renovated their kitchen basically by themselves, sourcing minimalist Ikea countertops and cabinets that, notably, don’t look like Ikea. And when it comes to kitchen utensils, Bishop swears by a few key, high-quality staples.
First, her cast-iron pans: “We actually purged all of our pots and pans about a year ago and switched to exclusively cast-iron. Just because it’s more natural, they’re indestructible—really durable—and they’re good for almost everything.” Second, her KitchenAid mixer: “It just made tasks so much easier; I found that I was able to whip up a batch of cookies in the evening and not have to plan so much in advance, and could get things done really quickly. And it cleans so well.” Third, her paring knife: “That paring knife is a Prairie classic. I’ll tell my mom to get one for you,” Bishop says to her Flourist cofounder Shira McDermott, who’s hanging out in the kitchen today and has just commented on the knife’s beauty. “It’s just a grandma knife, I don’t even know where she buys them. The Prairies just have these travelling little trade shows that come around where you can buy things like that. So well-made. It’s my secret weapon. It’s one of those things I’ve always had a version of—growing up we had one, my grandma had one, and then all of a sudden I found myself here and was like, ‘Ah, mom, I need a knife!’”
As for her go-to ingredients, she rattles of a mix of Flourist products (flour for pancakes, fresh bread for toast, chickpeas for added fibre to many meals) and other must-haves (soy sauce, popcorn, Maldon salt, cabbage—both red and green). As the mom of a toddler and as a business owner, cooking at home often involves working with whatever she already has, which she and McDermott refer to as the “fridge forage.” It’s what she’s making right now, simply using what is in her crisper and pantry to create a plant-based meal with cooked lentils, a bit of cheese, and some sauce (Vancouverites, take note: the Green Sauce from the Flourist bakery is quickly becoming the stuff of legend, and it is available for purchase in take-home jars).
“I think just that smell of food—whether it’s bread or cookies or soup or stew—those things are powerful. Very powerful,” Bishop says. “And I think there’s a clean smell that I really like. I think of citrusy smells for sure, and doing the dishes.” As she cooks, a vitruvi Stone Diffuser is dispensing the fresh, juicy, fruity scent of Boost Essential Oil Blend, which will continue to work its magic when she’s cleaning up—something else she takes a lot of pride in.
“My mom was always very specific about our dishwashing routine. I’m sure she would not like to hear this, but definitely my memories of her in the kitchen are surrounding doing dishes—but they’re not negative in any way,” Bishop says with a smile. “She taught me how to do dishes properly. I think about her every time I do the dishes.” The Bishop method? Starting with a sink full of soapy water (and making sure to put the soap in with the water running to maximize the suds). “She never wanted me to waste soap, so it was always: just use the amount that you need for that sink. Do a good rinse, let it dry in the other sink,” she instructs (new to her lineup is Sweet Orange Essential Oil, which can help cut through grease on pots and pans or be added to the dishwater for additional aroma). “And never drain your water without washing your table and your counters.” Simple but effective, in a way it represents the essence of Flourist: take something basic, something everyday—and make it exceptional.