Tyler and I adopted a hubbard squash when we went apple picking, back in September. I say adopted, because the thing is as big as a 1-year-old. Tyler was set on buying a big one, that squash he choose was even too big for the scale at the farm. I had never actually known what a hubbard squash really was until recently, but that’s beside the point. Usually used for decoration, the hubbard squash is a light greenish-bluish color that is speckled in the way that most squash are, and I think it’s very beautiful. Below is a picture of Tyler (right) compared next to an almost identical picture of his dad. I thought it was neat.
Now, when we got this squash, Tyler had big plans.. the thing is pretty huge after all. We opened our doors to any friends wanting to help out or keep us company whilst we processed this beast.
“Cakes have gotten a bad rap. People equate virtue with turning down dessert. There is always one person at the table who holds up her hand when I serve the cake. No, really, I couldn’t she says, and then gives her flat stomach a conspiratorial little pat. Everyone who is pressing a fork into that first tender layer looks at the person who declined the plate, and they all think, That person is better than I am. That person has discipline. But that isn’t a person with discipline; that is a person who has completely lost touch with joy. A slice of cake never made anybody fat. You don’t eat the whole cake. You don’t eat a cake every day of your life. You take the cake when it is offered because the cake is delicious. You have a slice of cake and what it reminds you of is someplace that’s safe, uncomplicated, without stress. A cake is a party, a birthday, a wedding. A cake is what’s served on the happiest days of your life. This is a story of how my life was saved by cake, so, of course, if sides are to be taken, I will always take the side of cake.”—
Visiting/learning/reflecting... And Floral Fridays
When I got my first job as a baker last December, and learned it was totally acceptable to wear stretchie pants all day every day, I decided that Friday, I would break out my stretchie florals, and thus my floral Fridays began. Since then, every Friday at work, I’ve been sporting a flower-patterned something. This was my way of celebrating Friday, even though it wasn’t “my Friday” because I had work on Saturday (see Wellness Wednesdays). Also, when I was a bread baker, the flour delivery was on Fridays, so it was a nod to that too (flower/flour Fridays.. Do you get it yet?). I mostly wore these same pants, that I got a Target yeaaars ago as a last purchase before I gave up shopping for a couple of months (this isn’t a thing anymore) but a few Fridays I sported a Hawaiian shirt and recently purchased a second pair of flower-power pants. Except last Friday. Last Friday I wore my black stretchie pants, and some sort of regular tshirt (and floral socks) because I had a stage and I wasn’t sure if that was the best introduction of myself (Google “stage,” not the theater kind. I don’t feel like explaining it.) It was my first time in the kitchen of a real restaurant (not bakery or cafe), a nice one too, and I’m glad I did it. I was nervous the whole time, but it wasn’t as scary as I thought it would be. The idea of a stage kind of feels like an audition, and I hate auditions, which is part of the reason I stopped performing. But I tried to treat it just as an eye-opening experience. I visited another bakery earlier this week and it was great to see how things run there. Production interests me. Today I’m going to step inside yet another kitchen, this time a more homey restaurant. At this point I’m not sure what it is I want to do right now. I kinda have goals, but am no longer certain I can accept the life that goes along with being a baker (waking up really early, missing out on social engagements, being tired when I’m not working so much that I have motivation to do very little). I left my job yesterday for reasons other than the “life of a baker” stuff and now I need to find the next thing, and I need to figure out if it will be a place for Floral Fridays.
Nobody ever tells you being a 20something can be so rough. Or do they?
There’s heartbreak. There’s losing friends to death and losing friends to marriage. There’s trying to figure out what in the world you’re supposed to be doing. Figuring out bills and loans and health insurance. Doctors appointments for the cat.
First world problems, but still things. I’m in a bit of a rough spot and I can’t pin point it. I’m struggling with work, if I want to continue to pursue this as a profession… I feel lost and stuck. But I have some means for coping, and some things that remind me why I am so excited about food. I’ve been knitting a lot, the above mess of yarn finally turned into a scarf (I started it the last time it was cold, pre-spring). I’ve been reading Lucky Peach, a food-related publication (get into it, for reals) and it’s really motivating and inspiring. I’ve been watching The Mind of a Chef Season 1 (it’s on Netflix) and I think David Chang may be kind of a dink, but the show is interesting, and entertaining, regardless.
This funk I’m in has been weighing me down, but I just have to accept that it’s all part of something, and to do the best I can to be the best me, and understand that this too, shall pass.
I don’t reblog a lot on this thing, but Joy knows what’s up. This is worth the read. It’s short too, so don’t worry about it.
Last night I was going to practice frosting/decorating techniques but then I decided it was too hot. Joy doesn’t talk about cake decorating, but maybe she will another time. Anyway, it’s still too hot and I’m tired. I’m going to finish my beer and fall asleep while watching the first season of The New Girl. Being an adult is hard.
I have been making and baking at home, but I haven’t taken many pictures other than what comes through my instagram. I made a peach pie/crumble and a butterscotch/rum/brown butter cake. Lindsay and I made pizza again. Tyler and I canned a bunch of tomatoes. It’s been really nice baking at home, at my own pace.
It’s September. I know. I don’t feel like summer is over yet, because it’s technically not. And it doesn’t feel like it. In lieu of my family’s annual beach trip (with all of my mom’s whole side of the family) my brother’s and I went camping in New Hampshire, hopefully a new tradition. It was the most vacation I’ve had since my “funemployment" and I’ll take it. Let me make this clear, I’m not complaining. But every 3-day weekend, even some of the 2 day weekends (which are not "normal people weekends") feel like quite a treat!
I used to be on an academic calendar until I quit my teaching job last year.. It’s kind of crazy that it’s been a whole year. I don’t want to say if I’ve made the right decision or not, because it doesn’t matter. This is what I’m doing right now; and as anxious as I often feel, I keep reminding myself of just that. I left teaching to follow this baking bug growing inside of me and I’m doing it. I am a baker. And I know so little. And I need to work smarter. And I’m tired. And it’s hard. Hard in a very different way than teaching was hard. And I don’t know if this is it. Or what is next. And it doesn’t matter. Because this is what I’m doing.
Back when nobody wanted to give a girl with a good teaching resume a chance in a food services, I checked out an internship at a really good bakery/cafe in Boston. Said internship didn’t have space for me at the time, but it was cool to see the back of house, even if only for a couple hours. One thing I took away from my stage (see: Wikipedia) experience there, was that they let very little go to waste, I really liked that.
One such example was that before slicing and juicing their fruit, they zested them first, and froze the zest. They actually had a lot of frozen zest, but I’m sure they go through it. Sometimes I’ll need a lemon just for the juice, so now, when I can remember, I’ll zest it, label it, and pop it in the freezer. This way I always have lemon zest on hand.
The title of this post could also include a semicolon followed by “Clothing Swap,” “Lady Time,” “Weekend with Lena,” or “One of my best friends moved upstairs and it’s the bees knees.” Maybe I don’t even need to say anything else, I’ll just leave you with that… No I won’t.
Lindsay moved upstairs. You’ve seen her here before. We ate hot dogs for a week. I met her at a summer program we both we working at and it was just meant to be. We talk about making a joint blog, or a podcast, but mostly, I think we’re going to spend a lot of time in the kitchen together. She was totally game in working on the challenge of making a vegan snack for the swap party (to accommodate all visitors) and what we a team we were! Lindsay mentioned she had seen her grandma (or did she say grandpa?) grate butter to make a pie crust. I was all about trying new things! (pictured below are Lindsay’s hands shredding Earth Balance into flour).
We loosely followed this recipe, from the Minimalist Baker for the crust. It rolled out really well and we used circle cutters to make tiny shells for tiny tarts. We threw together a mixture of berries, flour, sugar… maybe some other things, for the filling.
Now we should have filled the tiny unbaked crusts with parchment paper and weights, but we didn’t. We just pre-baked them for a little while, they grew a lot, but it was okay. We threw some animal cut-outs on top and experimented a bit with the small amount of extra dough we had.
I forgot to take a picture of a close-up of the finished product, but man-oh-man they were just darling! and super yummy. Vegans and non-vegans agreed! My niece was spending the weekend with me and she shared this photo:
Lena and I also made cookies.. or cakeies. They were an experiment. And Lindsay baked some blueberry doughnuts. We were all about the berries. I want to have a real tea party sometime. Sometimes I am more aware than other times, that my writing is really poor. This is one of those times. I am not apologizing.
The clothing swap was a success, even if just a reason to clean-out our closets, but I made out very well and then donated a whole bunch of collective stuff to Boomerangs (a local thrift store).
I know, it’s the Veinte de Mayo and I’m currently listening to Beyonce and baking a Strawberry Rhubarb Pie, but I couldn’t skip sharing…
I actually just wrote a bunch of stuff and then the internet froze and I lost it and I don’t want to write it again so I’ll try my best to summarize, and share some links. I would totally be cranky about it, but my apartment smells so lovely now and I’ve been so productive today, so I’m not going to let internet loss/tumblr fudge bring me down.
My dear dear friend Shannon and I purchased a kit from this website and put on a Murder Mystery Dinner Party in my apartment.
There were 15 people seated around 2 tables in my kitchen, a tight squeeze, but everybody was friendly about it. There were chips and salsa, plantains, tacos, empanadas, beer, margaritas, and things I probably don’t even remember. Everybody was so committed to their character that people who didn’t know each other before the party, still didn’t know real first names by the end of the party. It was all “Zangelina Jolie this” and “Barry Drewmore did that.” I didn’t make this stuff up, but it was legit.
Shannon provided a majority of the food, Tyler helped too, and I covered desserts. I made a flan which wasn’t super pretty but tasted totally great. I also made a Tres Leches cake, following a recipe from The Pioneer Woman.
That cake wasn’t looking too promising, either, but one of the best things about cake is, you cover the mistakes with frosting. Which I did. And all was well.
Now I want to use sweetened condensed milk all the time.