Tuesday, December 11, 2012
Remember this yummy bread? Well, what I didn't tell you then was that I was really testing an "in a jar" gift recipe. I found the idea originally (via Pinterest, of course) on Sunset magazine's site. The recipe sounded promising, and the idea was a cute one for presents, so I gave it a whirl. I was pleasantly surprised with the resulting loaf, so now I want to show you how you can share this bread without overwhelming your friends and neighbors with perishable sweet stuff.
Thursday, November 29, 2012
Whew. It turns out that a busy bakery turns into chaos during Thanksgiving week. We sold hundreds! thousands! millions! of pies. I couldn't actually believe we would sell all of the ones we had ready, but we did, and we actually sold out of some flavors.
By the end of my shift on Thursday, I was done in. So much so that, for the first time in my life, I brought a cake to dinner that I bought. I was mildly outraged at myself, but so tired that I couldn't sustain it. Also, I justified it by telling myself that it was a cake we make in the bakery, so it's almost kinda-sorta like homemade. Right?
Thursday, November 15, 2012
I've started having dreams about work, which clearly means I'm there a lot (have I mentioned I'm finally full time?) and it's busy. You might have heard that Thanksgiving is next week. And you might see the connection between Thanksgiving and a very busy bakery.
My most recent nocturnal adventure had me worried all night about not having enough stuffing. You see, we make unseasoned bread stuffing from our stale (day old) bread, and apparently last year we sold hundreds and hundreds of pounds of it. It's somewhat time consuming to make, and with so many other things on my Must Make NOW list, turning loaves of bread into sort-of-but-not-really-cubed-shaped-pieces often gets pushed to the end of my shift. Which means I'm rushingrushingrushing and never ever make as much progress on my pile of bread as I'd like to, which seems to lead to bread nightmares. Life is hard.
Saturday, November 10, 2012
Somehow it's Saturday. I'm not totally sure when that happened, except that it must crept up on me while I made cookies and creme brulee and bread stuffing and cookies and bread crumbs and pastry cream and cookies and...you get the idea. It turns out that the weeks leading up to the holiday season at a bakery are busy. I can only imagine the insanity ahead.
Friday, November 2, 2012
So whether you're new here (welcome!) or one of my very first readers (thank you!), here are a few details about how I bake which may help as you navigate cookies or cakes or bread or pies.
Wednesday, October 31, 2012
Happy Halloween! And Happy Birthday, Daddy! It seemed appropriate to use a picture of me in costume (from back in the ballerina days for all you people out in the interwebs), and I've always liked how proud you look in this shot. Sorry I cut you out, Mom, but it's not your birthday (and I knew you wouldn't really mind). Have a great time at dinner! I'm glad the restaurant reopened!
I was wearing my cute new jack-o-lantern tshirt, and I was hoping to get Roomba to cooperate because a black dog is almost the same thing as a black cat, right? Well, she had very little interest in doing what I thought she should do. Basically, she was holding on for dear life. By her claws. In my shoulder.
Anywho, I hope all you east coasters are safe and that Sandy didn't cause too much damage for you. When you get electricity, I recommend making sure your oven works with a batch of cookies.
Friday, October 26, 2012
It's been one of those weeks, you know? I'm not going to get into it, because, frankly, I don't want to, and, really, I doubt most of you want to know. You're here because of the brownies, yes? That's a good choice. Because they're really easy. Not quite as easy as a box, but pretty darn close.
Wednesday, October 17, 2012
It's the middle of our second Indian Summer of the month, and as much as I would like to be sharing a new bread recipe, I just couldn't bring myself to turn on the oven to try it again with another tweak or two. There have been two attempts thus far- one was pretty much a fail, and the second loaf tasted good but was rather more...dense...that I was aiming for.
However, I've had homemade sugar cubes in the back of my mind for a very long while, and it seemed like a good time to get them out in the real world.
Friday, October 5, 2012
So it turns out that sometimes having three days off in a week means that I'm not terribly productive. And by not terribly productive, I mean I caught up on the fall tv season, Netflix, Alex Delaware, & Jack Reacher. I did do about 20 loads of laundry in between, though, so that counts for something, yes?
Also, on the counting-for-something side of the scale, I did extensive (2 episodes worth) research in preparation for Mr Official Taster's birthday and produced these cupcakes. I even managed to photograph them, despite both the oversight and the help I had.
Friday, September 28, 2012
Happy Friday, friends! I hope you have a great weekend ahead of you. I will be working both days at the bakery, and I'm sure Mr Official Taster will sleep in until I get home and give him a poke in the shoulder, but I have high hopes of enjoying the beautiful autumn weather anyway.
I spent some time
Wednesday, September 26, 2012
In happens in all walks of life. That moment, standing on the precipice of an event, in which you can do nothing but wait. to. fall.
Dancers experience it in the sliver of time between clearing the stage and waiting for the curtain to go up and the music to start. Bartenders have a few minutes between when they see the game winning home run on tv and when first a trickle, and then the masses, surge through the door to celebrate or drown their sorrows. Hosts wait, checking and rechecking minute details, sitting and then nervously popping up to check something, anything, until the first guests to their dinner party ring the doorbell.
You know it, too. The calm before the storm. When you've prepared all you can, but now you have got to wait until forces greater than yourself deem the time to be right.
It's how this end of September is feeling to me. Summer is clearly over but the holiday season isn't upon us yet. I'm still working part time in the bakery, waiting for the moves and the shakes that will allow me to be there full time. Nothing I can do. No more peach or raspberry madness for me to cook up in the kitchen, but apples are barely in and I refuse to start with pumpkins and Halloween until October. Nothing I can do. December is around the corner, and I know there will be chaos at work and a (perceived) push here to produce more. More cookies, more ideas, more pictures, more cakes, more inspiration.
Nothing I can do, but wait for the storm.
Monday, September 24, 2012
It seems that my job has made me into a morning person, which is an incredible feat. Friends and family know that I am not one by nature, and may, in fact, be astounded by this pronouncement.
However, this morning, on one of my precious days not governed by an alarm clock, I woke up while it was still dark outside, probly around 6, or a little later. I tossed and sighed and tried to get back to sleep. Mr Official Taster, who has a serious talent for sleep, mumbled "what time do you have to go to work?" and was quickly set straight that it was my day off. He promptly fell back asleep, and I was left wide awake.
Monday, September 17, 2012
It's a funny time of year. The sun is warm but the air is cool. I planted mums this weekend even as my peppers are putting forth a second harvest. In grocery stores, watermelons perch next to pumpkins, and at the farmers' market, tomatoes are in their final, uber-productive throes.
A few of us realize it and also remember that prices always come down in September because so many people, and certainly the farmers, are sick and tired of tomatoes. They feel like the've been overrun and the end is a million
miles bushels away. Good thing for us, eh? It means I bought a giant box and made a big batch (or two) of sauce to squirrel away in the freezer.
Wednesday, September 12, 2012
Thursday, September 6, 2012
Actual conversation with a customer:
Kate: Hi, how can I help you?
Oblivious Lady: I'd like a large fresh fruit tart
Kate starts to box up said tart
Oblivious Lady: [proudly] I'm getting this for my vegan coworker
Kate: Oh, this isn't vegan.
Oblivious Lady: It's not?
Kate: No, there's pastry cream and chocolate under the fruit, plus the tart shell. We do have several vegan cakes
Oblivious Lady: No, this will be fine
Kate: Are you sure?
Oblivious Lady: Yes, I've seen her eating pastries before
Kate: [internal eye roll] ok, have a good day
Seriously people, it happened.
Wednesday, August 29, 2012
While the unofficial end of summer may occur this Labor Day weekend, it still tastes like summer at your local farmers' markets. This is great because it means there's still time to save some for later. This is also a great time to think of holiday gifts. I hate to say it, and I hate seeing Christmas in stores already, but raspberry jam is always welcome on dark December mornings.
Monday, August 27, 2012
Happy Monday! I hope you had a relaxing weekend. I had a rare Saturday off, so obviously I checked out a new farmers' market. I didn't get too much, since I stocked up at my usual spot on Thursday, but it was fun to see a new one.
Hi, my name is Kate, and I'm a farmers' market addict.
Please tell me I'm not alone.
Friday, August 24, 2012
I wanted to get this recipe up earlier this week so that you would set forth and make it immediately. But I had to make a second batch, which totally got in the way of posting about it. On the plus side, it's now Friday evening - ok, night -which means you can hit up the farmers' markets this weekend, stock up on raspberries and make this with the ones you don't eat immediately.
Tuesday, August 21, 2012
Every summer since sometime in high school, I've made this fruit crisp. When I've been asked for my favorite dessert, I've responded with this one. Now, not to knock chocolate cake, but this is so, so, so good partly because there's only a small window each year during peach heyday when it's doable.
Friday, August 17, 2012
Last year at this time, I bought 20 pounds of peaches and then discovered that Mr Official Taster didn't like them. Well, I learned my lesson, and last week at the farmers market I only bought 10 pounds. This week I switched it up and got 10 pounds of nectarines instead.
Wednesday, August 15, 2012
When I was mixing these muffins yesterday, I was positive I wouldn't be sharing the results here with you fine people. The batter was not as wet as I was expecting, and the buckwheat I used gave it an unusual coloring. I double and triple checked the recipe I was using, but when I went down the list of ingredients, I could put a mental check next to each one. I pressed on, popped my tray in the oven, and crossed my fingers that the diced peaches would ooze while they baked and give the muffins the moisture they needed.
Monday, August 13, 2012
Work has been going well, and I'm slowly but surely learning more and getting better at dealing in large quantities. Today's installment about life in a bakery is really just three little vignettes. Enjoy!
Friday, August 10, 2012
Happy Friday! Are you tired of me talking about raspberries yet? If you need a recap, over the last week there've been Oatmeal Raspberry Cookies, Raspberry Jam, and Raspberry Vinegar. Besides the raspberry commonality, what I love especially about the vinegar and today's Sugared Raspberries is the sheer simplicity of the recipes. These two each have only one other ingredient, and just about as few instructions.
Wednesday, August 8, 2012
Are you sensing a theme yet? Yes, I bought a lot of raspberries. Yes, Mr Official Taster and I have eaten a lot. Yes, we still have 1 little basket left. No, none have gotten any mold yet. Thank you fresh-picked-from-the-farmers'-market-berries. You're the best.
Technically, maybe I shouldn't be posting this recipe quite yet, as my vinegar isn't quite finished doing it's thing. curing? pickling? Mom? However, I wanted to get it up now, at the height of summer, so that hopefully you too can make some. The most obvious (to me) use for it is in salad dressing; a burst of raspberry can only help
everything a humdrum winter salad. But as I'm typing this, I remembering I have a cookie recipe saved in my giant binder that uses raspberry vinegar. I've always been too cheap to buy it at the store. Good thing I made this. And remembered about the recipe. I'll let you know when I get my act together and make it.
Monday, August 6, 2012
I mentioned on Friday that I spent much of the day engaged in Domestic Goddess type of chores. One of those accomplishments was making and canning some raspberry jam. (Does anyone know why it's called "canning"? It goes in jars). Since I had a whole flat of raspberries, I figured it was the time. I've made it before, and it's always well-reviewed; I've given mini (4oz) jars as party favors and Christmas presents. This year I made all half-pint (8oz) size jars, and I'm planning on gifting most of them.
Friday, August 3, 2012
Today I'm having a Domesic Goddess kind of day. There's been laundry and dishes and cleaning (well, really just pushing the button on the magic that is our roomba. no, not that Roomba), but there has also been freezing and preserving and whatnot. I hope to share some of those accomplishments in more detail next week. I will tell you I've made a couple batches of pea pesto to freeze, and I've got raspberries on their way to being preserved in a few different ways.
Thursday, August 2, 2012
Today is my Saturday, and I am so glad of it! (In my line of work, no one has Saturday & Sunday off. But I do usually get two days off in a row, and this week it's today and tomorrow.)
Obviously, that means yesterday was my Friday and, let me tell you, my Friday morning was rough. It was early. It was dark. I was tired. I did not want to leave the warm bed. I was grumpy. I didn't want to spend my day being cheerful to either customers or coworkers. I found messiness and annoying projects awaiting me at work. I dropped my lunch (and it was soup, so it wasn't really salvageable). Roomba is back to her throwing up ways (3 or 4 times in the last week and a half). AND I accidentally got her leash in gross stuff (read: poop) on our walk. sigh.
On the plus side, I did get to frost some cupcakes, and I had some of these muffins stashed in the freezer. Out they came to defrost. In the meantime, I watched some tv online and cuddled with the (momentarily healthy) puppy.
Friday, July 27, 2012
Lately, Mr Official Taster has been working late, like really late (12:30am last night), and leaving me to my own devices for dinner. In some ways it's really nice. I can eat exactly what I want when I want it, and no one will make disparaging or skeptical comments about those choices.
On nights when I dine alone, I usually go for super simple, barely cooked meals. In the summer, they tend to be dishes that celebrate the summer like open face avocado sandwiches, or pea pesto on bread, or fried potatoes with eggs and a corn+tomato scramble, and, always, when possible, fresh fruit or a crisp for dessert.
Wednesday, July 25, 2012
knock, knock? uh, hi, it's me, Kate. I, er, guess I needed a blogvation last week.
Sorry about the disappearance, folks. I didn't quite realize it was happening until about Thursday, at which point I figured the week was lost anyway so I should just take advantage and read a book. Believe it or not, not only didn't I stop by to talk with you folks, I barely read the internet. Weird, I know. I guess some weeks are just like that.
Wednesday, July 11, 2012
Last year at this time, I was working at a small startup. I worked closely with my good friend, E; in fact, we shared both an office and desk (it was pretty big. and we like each other) when we were both in the building at the same time. One of E's many accomplishments in life is that she earned a Masters degree in Architecture. Unfortunately, she graduated right about the time the economy tanked. Thus, the startup.
In any case, one morning a coworker stopped by our office for some advice. C is a highly intelligent, highly energetic and excitable person who often stopped by to bounce ideas off of us or hear about our weekend or just take a brain break. But this visit was different. His daughter, I think around age five or six at the time, worried about a male classmate coming over for a playdate. She was worried they didn't have any "boy toys" for him to play with. Well, this plainly surprised C. After further discussion, including pointing out that she had Legos they could play with, his daughter was still worried because the Legos were pink, and furthermore, she adamantly asserted, "Girls don't build things." Well. C was at a loss, both trying to figure out how she got this idea in the first place and how to convince her otherwise.
Monday, July 9, 2012
You may have heard that there was a bit of a hubbub last month regarding a rainbow Oreo illustration that Oreo posted on their Facebook page in support of Pride. If you missed it, here is their original post, and here and here are some articles. Stephen Colbert even got in on the action.
I've talked a bit here and here about my thoughts, but, honestly, I mostly a) wondered how do people have enough free time+energy in their lives to make a hubbub. over a fake oreo. and b) thought, hmmm that looks delicious.
Thursday, July 5, 2012
I hope my fellow Americans had a festive (and hopefully work-free) Independence Day. Mr Official Taster and I both had the day off. Last week I figured out that there would be fireworks
Tuesday, July 3, 2012
Baking isn't for sissies.
I haven't talked much here about my "real," i.e. non-blogging , job. You know, the one that pays some of the bills around Chez Sweets. I haven't talked about it partly because it hasn't been terribly interesting and partly because I like having some separation between work and play. This isn't play exactly, because it takes a good amount of time, thought, and energy, but I certainly wouldn't classify it as "work." Back in the day when ballet was my full-time job, I never called it work. I always said, "I'm going to ballet" or "I'm going to the studio." When I started referring to it as work? Well, that was one of the indications that it was time to retire.
Anyway, for the past few months, I've been working in the "front" of a bakery. By that, I mean I deal with customers and merchandise and whatnot, you know, basic retail. I wasn't working in the "back" where cookies are baked and cakes are decorated. But an opportunity to work in the back presented itself, and I jumped at it. I applied, put together a collection of photos, and interviewed with our boss. I was excited to get the job (yay!), and Friday I finally started learning my way around.
Monday, July 2, 2012
I'm guessing the blogosphere is going to be relatively quiet this week. Since July 4th (happy belated Canada Day to our northern neighbors!) falls on a Wednesday this year, I know some people are just taking the whole week off. Sounds nice, right? I've put together some ideas in case you are looking for some picnic, bbq, and/or patriotic inspiration. You can also check out my Red, White & Blue board on Pinterest.
Vanilla Filled Cupcakes: this recipe is for gluten free & dairy free, but you could just use the technique for any cupcake you like.
Vanilla Filled Cupcakes: this recipe is for gluten free & dairy free, but you could just use the technique for any cupcake you like.
Sparkling Lemon Sandwich Cookies: why not roll them in red, white, and blue sugar? or sprinkles? Or keep the cookies white and change the filling colors?
Friday, June 29, 2012
You totally thought I spelled that title wrong, didn't you? ha.
Earlier this week, I had 3(!!) days off in a row, and I took advantage of the time to complete a little home project I'd been contemplating. Here at Chez Sweets, our back balcony is doing just fine, thankyouverymuch, but I wanted to spruce up our boringly generic front door. The biggest challenge to finding something to grow there is the approximately 20 minutes (seriously) of direct sun that spot gets, at least in the summer. When the giant, shady tree loses its leaves in the fall, there will be significantly more light, and I already have some mums planned. But I digress.
I did a little research, hit the garden center, found nothing on my list, but then saw and remembered about Impatiens. ah ha! I remember these guys! They love the shade. So I picked some in a pretty color, forgetting about the brick red door mat we have, and found some pretty planters at Marshall's (yes, I had a good week).
Wednesday, June 27, 2012
Is there a word for "drop dead gorgeous" that applies to the weather? Because if there is, that's what we've been having here. Mornings have been dawning bright and clear, afternoons celebrate with endless blue skies, and the evenings bring it home with cool breezes.
It didn't take too long for Mr Official Taster and I to readapt to having beautiful weather almost year round (though from what I see on FB and my weekend trip, Seattle is doing much better this year, weather-wise). And as I briefly mentioned, we finally got a grill the other week. We have been grill-less since leaving San Diego, and we're both glad to have one again. I'm glad because on grill nights, I don't do the cooking, Mr OT does, albeit one-handed right now. (He's never lonely out there, don't worry) He's glad because it's manly and gives him (another) excuse to have a beer. I mean, grills might not even work properly without one nearby, right? Plus, it's a nice change for our tastebuds. We even usually remember to close the door to keep the smoke, uh, flavor outside.
Monday, June 25, 2012
I've been on a bit of a kick lately- not a cleaning kick, exactly, but there has been some. Not a purging kick, either, though there has also been some of that. I think it's more of a use-things-up-or-put-them-away-out-of-sight-let's-see-some-order-around-here kind of kick. To clarify, I don't think our place is a mess or is super cluttered. I would just like it to be less so, some days. And some days I'm able to do something about it.
I forget why I bought the bag of hazelnuts in the first place, but it has been waiting, taunting me, and taking up space in my tiny kitchen for months. I think it may have actually made the move with us, so maybe I bought it with the intention of making nutella? or something Christmasy? Whatever the original intention was, I'm sure it was tasty, but time marches on and I want these nuts gone. Pronto.
Saturday, June 23, 2012
Surprise! A weekend post, because I love you. And because this week was somewhat lame, blogging wise.
Last Saturday, for the first time in quite awhile, I was able to go to my current favorite farmers' market. The changes since my last visit (a month ago? maybe 6 weeks?) were pretty astounding. Summer's bounty is certainly upon us. There was a very long line of people waiting to buy the first local corn of the year; lots of stands had tomatoes for sale, not just the one farm with a greenhouse; raspberries and blackberries are in; sweet pea bouquets provided a cheap pick-me-up.
There were also peas for sale. You know, the kind that come in pods, not the frozen section of your grocery store. Growing up, friends and family will attest, I was not a fan of peas. I don't know if I ever refused to eat them (which was rarely an option anyway), but I certainly ate them under duress.
Friday, June 22, 2012
Happy Friday and happy summer! To celebrate, I'm sending you over to Toad's Treasures for some cute jam toppers. These canning labels are perfect because you can use them on anything you preserve since they're non-specific. They even come in a variety of colors. Personalize at will!
Wednesday, June 20, 2012
Awaiting me after my morning shift at work, this actual text from Mr Official Taster:
Hi. I cut part of my thumb off with scissors at work. I'm at the er but ok
After a weekend of working and parent entertaining, and now a missing thumbprint, brownies seemed like the logical dinner choice. Raspberries are on sale around here, and we somehow ended up with 5 clamshells worth (not that I'm complaining). So I made them part of dinner. You know, for nutritional balance.
No recipe today, just some words of (nutritional) wisdom. So whether you go for chewy, fudgey, or box (this is a No Judging Zone), sprinkle some fruit, and maybe some extra chocolate chips on top, pour a tasty beverage and call it a day.
Friday, June 15, 2012
Happy Friday! Do you have any exciting weekend and/or Father's Day plans? I was inspired by this article yesterday, so last night Mr Official Taster and I bought ourselves a mini grill. We haven't had a grill at all for a couple years, and we're both looking forward to having the option to change up dinner. In addition, my parents arrive for a visit today, and I don't thing we could properly celebrate Father's Day without a grill. It just didn't seem right, somehow.
I'm not going to lie; I picked today's printable based solely on the pun. Puns are fun. In any case, if you're interested, head on over to Anything But Perfect for this fun candy bar wrapper.
Have a great weekend!