Meet Tiffanie Turner, architect, mom, cook and crepe paper master behind the Corner Blog. This San Francisco blogger caught our eye after we discovered her donut pan project, in which she’s discovered some amazingly creative ways to use a donut pan (61 and counting!) Since then, we’ve been smitten by her seasonal party menus, creative DIYs, and beautiful paper project. Here, we ask Tiffanie all about her creative pursuits, from donuts to dollhouses, and what she’s cooking now.
Tell us about your background and how you got into blogging.
I started the blog after I had my second child, our son Oliver. I had worked hard as an architect for more than fifteen years, so when I was lucky enough to take a break from working and just be with the kids, I still had a lot of creative energy I needed to get out. To be honest, it started as your typical “mom blog,” sharing our fairly slow way of living, but I soon realized this was a place I could showcase things I was making in my kitchen and around our home, and also things I had made in the past that I felt needed to be seen. With blogging, you eventually find yourself thinking forward to what is next, so that creative energy is a constant. I realized the blog was my own personal gallery space, and I take advantage of that as much as I can.
What’s the story behind the name of your blog?
We live in a flat in an old Victorian building here in San Francisco, right near a corner of two major thoroughfares through the city. When I started Corner Blog three years ago it was a take on the name corner store, because we have one on every corner in our neighborhood. It also refers to our proximity to that busy corner, which since I started the blog has become even busier, as more restaurants and shops have opened. The tagline is “Slowing down at one of San Francisco’s busiest corners.” Back then, we were enjoying a very slow lifestyle. Staying home with each other as if we lived in a cottage in the woods was the norm. Since then things have sped up a bit, but we still try to avoid things being too hectic. My recent pursuits are the only reason things get crazy around here, and I’m hoping to slow it back down again very soon.
What’s your favorite recipe on your blog and why?
Aside from my donut pan projects, which are where I spotlight most of my cooking and baking prowess, my favorite might be my “menu” features. They are usually a simple post written after a party or gathering where I post what was served, with links to as many recipes as I can find, along with blurry, in the moment photos of the occasion. For a blogger, I have a surprisingly hard time taking photos of people who are guests in my home at a gathering, so I don’t take many photos until most of the guests (and food) are gone. A few of my favorite “menu” posts are from this vegetarian cookout at our friends’ house in the woods in Mill Valley (including a Bloody Mary salad I could eat every day) and my perfect spring cocktail party post. I made so much food for that party!
Last year I discovered crepe paper. It was a life changer! I have created many crepe paper DIY tutorials since then, and have started teaching classes in different crepe paper techniques around the Bay Area under my business name, papel SF. Here are a few fun DIY projects that I really love:
Tell us about your donut project. What inspired you?
It’s so funny. Some time in 2012 I sent out a silly tweet about being on the cusp of ordering some donut pans. My (now) friend Giselle tweeted back that she had some to give me. As soon as they were in my hands I started thinking “what else can I make with these?” My daughter Stella (then five years old) and I starting riffing on what we could make in the pans on the walk to school every day, and before I knew it, we had a list of forty or so ideas to make in the donut pans. So we got to work!
I love the donut form. I love its portability, how well it photographs, I love everything about it. The shape of a donut is actually called a torus, so of course I have the url “www.thetorist.com” on hold, for the day I have time to really work on a book of the projects. My husband makes an incredible cup of pour-over coffee. He’s obsessed with coffee, actually, so we have dreams of opening a little coffee shop some day. He’ll pour the coffee, I’ll make just one type of featured donut each day. This idea would do so well in San Francisco!
The most important thing about the donut pan projects is that they have a practical reason to have used the donut pan. Either that, or they just have to be wildly fun and outrageous. But mostly, I look for things that need to be molded somehow, or are very clever.
What’s your wildest donut pan creation to date? Any favorites?
We’ve completed 61 projects so far, and this summer we should be able to make a big push to get closer to 101. I have another big project I’m working on until May that has put the donuts on hold for the first time since we started, and I’m excited to get back to it!
I have so many favorites, it’s so hard to choose. Here are a few, and you can see the first sixty all together here.
- sweet tamale donuts
- mexican hot chocolate tablets
- eggs two ways
- donut-shaped twinkies
- donut madeleines
- monkey bread donuts
Non-edible but fun!:
What’s next after donuts?
Right now I am concentrating on papel SF. Along with the workshops I teach, I am preparing for a show of my large scale work, entitled “Heads,” which opens next month at Rare Device here in San Francisco. I have been working nonstop since the beginning of the year on these pieces, and boy, will my whole family be glad when the show is hung and we can be “normal” again. It’s been exhausting.
After that, getting back to more cooking, being outdoors again (I have been cooped up working for almost four months) and more donuts! And a book. I really think there needs to be a donut/torus book. Part of the fun with these donuts is being able to look at them next to each other, they are all so pretty and interesting to me.
What are you favorite projects to do with your kids?
Our projects are mostly seasonal. Lots of holiday things in the fall, winter and spring, then gardening in our gutter garden in the summer. Like most kids, our kids love to build. Blocks, boxes, Legos, setting up miniature food scenarios, etc. I am probably not alone in the enjoyment of setting all these things up as opposed to actually playing with them. My daughter and I built a dollhouse out of scrap material a few years ago that was very cool. They often help with the donut projects, and we do a fair amount of cooking together, too. They are very good at coming up with their own little projects. They have a lot of free time and full access to all the papers and materials in our art closet, so something is always going on!
What inspires you about living in San Francisco?
The VARIETY OF EVERYTHING! A copious variety of people, foods, flowers, everything!
I am also inspired by the fact that San Francisco is a place where “if you build it, they will come” is almost always true, and it’s made it fairly easy for me to gain exposure for my various projects and artistic ventures.
You’re hosting a dinner party tomorrow night. What would you serve?
A great salumi platter, wine. Followed by salt and pepper crab (an amazing concoction of a sauce of matchsticks of ginger, soy sauce, butter, sugar and the tomalley of the crab), crusty bread, and more wine. Some kind of donut for dessert, maybe my eclair donuts. Believe it or not, this is an easy plan.
Who’s your ideal dinner guest?
Dear old friends who have eaten here for years and years, and forgive us for not having a dining table. We eat sidled up at the kitchen peninsula almost always. The day we finally get a dining room will be a dream come true for me, but I will also need to rework how I cook. Right now I’m cooking two feet from where I serve the food, so plating is easy and quick, and tortillas come right off the flame to your plate!
What’s on your dinner playlist?
We love to play bluegrass music (on the radio) while we entertain. There’s a station in West Marin that is often playing bluegrass at the dinner hour. I like my dinner playlist to be somewhat mellow, but my husband has in incredibly obscure record collection and he usually turns it on before I get a chance to pick! If I get in there first, it’ll be Billie Holiday mixed with music from the ’80s. I’m embarrassed.
Can you share some of your best party tips? Planning, DIYs, hosting, other creative ways to make it special?
I have a few friends who love to cook who I have no problem asking to bring an hors d’oeuvre or side dish to a party. I don’t ask everyone, just a few silver bullets, and that takes a little pressure off of me and adds to the variety of the meal. Of course, it’s now an unspoken agreement that when I am invited to their parties, I have to ask “what do you want me to make?”
Also, I love having nice things to eat ready the moment people walk in the door. If there is any lag there, it brings the level of festivity down, for me anyway.
What’s the first blog you look at every day, besides your own?
Most of the blogs I read don’t post on a daily basis, so I keep my eye out for whenever Heidi from 101 Cookbooks writes something. Her recipes are so different, so light and so delicious. She is one of my go-to blogs for dinner party time. I think I served her buttermilk asparagus salad four times last spring. It has hominy in it, and it is so good.
What are you making tonight?
It’s pouring down rain right now and we are cozy inside for the rest of the day. I’m thinking we’re going to order our favorite dishes from Mission Chinese. Kung Pao Pastrami, their market greens, and the Szechuan pepper-loaded chicken wings and tripe. I actually can’t wait until they open so we can call it in!
Last night I made a hot and sour soup with egg, and brown rice on the side. Quick, easy and big payoff. I bake a batch of brown rice a few times a week, so it is served at almost every meal. If you don’t know about baked brown rice, look into it! It is so convenient and perfectly cooked (I use this recipe).