I'm In Print!

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Happy Sunday everyone. I hope your Sunday is as peaceful and sunny as mine is. There is (almost) nothing like a Sunday after a super busy and dizzying week.

A busy week indeed. And some rather exciting news to boot. My baking workshops were reviewed in the Monterey Herald last week by their new restaurant reviewer, Raul Nava. Check out his food blog too!

There is something about seeing your name in print that just makes you feel a little more legitimate. As I am still just truckin along, doing what feels right to me, its hard to admit that its actually a job.... let alone something worthy of a review. Anywho, thanks so much for the support I have out there. Its so nice!

How To Have a Lovely Day

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I stumbled across this image via Pinterest this morning, trying to find motivation, inspiration for writing, and well.... just trying to create a lovely day.

I think that my idea of a lovely day is pretty close... although I think I might swap reading any old a book for pinning through my favorite cookbook or art book. I might add a bit of sunshine if its available or hot chocolate in front of a fire place if its not. And lets throw in an awesome new music discovery while we're at it. Sometimes I forget to think about the little things that make my day lovely. Thank goodness we can always remind one another.

What makes your day lovely?

On Beauty

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So, I am constantly around food. All. The. Flippin. Time. I worked at a restaurant. I currently bake at a cafe. I love to cook, experiment, shop at farmers markets, and when I'm feeling social: entertain. I grew up in a family where we talked about the next meal while we were enjoying the current one. Dinner parties are my favorite types of parties, other than pajama parties.... with sundaes of course. And for the most part, I feel as though I have (after a long and hard battle) a good relationship with the wonderful stuffs that fuel me. (note: this does not include McDonalds) And lately, I have been wondering how I got to this place. How is it that someone can go from having a completely terrible relationship what with is suppose to nourish them, to actually nourishing their mind, body, and taste buds?

It really turned a corner when I moved to Paris. Ah, Paris. (cue delightfully European Jaques brel melody) Paris, with its supreme hold and expertise on the senses and how to utilize them, taught me to appreciate beauty. And not just beauty in the Louvre or the fantastic lighting that creates the most brilliantly unmistakable back lit Parisian nights. No, it was more than that. Paris taught me to open my eyes and see what was always in front of me, and while living in Paris that was often times a croissant au buerre. Everything that was created, had so much sense of pride, so much focus and attention to detail, that it would have been a crime to not take your time and enjoy every second of every meal. And, well, not just meals! Even a tiny espresso at a cafe made me feel like some royal family member. It was the passion of the people, and it wasn't something to be taken for granted or to be overused. I began to examine the cups and saucers, the people around me, the pastries and their incredible rich flavor.... and most importantly: myself.

I soon began to realize that these breaks in my day left me recharged and my senses restimulated. I stopped grabbing things and eating on the run. I stopped not paying attention to what I was eating. Eating became a social hour, it became the beauty of my day. While it was almost always stunning visually, it was beautifully tasting, feeling, and socializing with others while I did all of this. We talked about flavor, about art, about life and how what we were experiencing was really what many of us were missing in our daily lives. Seeing the beauty in everything we did.

So, I challenge you, take some time for yourself, to make something beautiful. It might be by creating a spot that you love and enjoying a scone all to yourself. It may be by arranging your dinner beautifully on a place and enjoying it with nice silverware while having a nice glass of wine. But in these sometime hectic times, remember to treat yourself by taking time and focusing on everything that is beautiful. It really is wonderful. That's one of many lessons Paris had for me. We all have to eat, so why not love every second of it? C'est tres manifique. Oh la la....

Bake It Girl

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One of the new elements that my new career (yikes! Career? Really?) as a baker has yielded are my baking workshops held monthly at Happy Girl Kitchen in Pacific Grove. When I met Todd and Jordan Champagne, the owners of HGK, they explained their philosophy and love of preserving the harvest by pickling and jamming their favorite foods. I remember my first glimpse of Todd, noting to myself that Ive never seen a twinkle in someone's eye quite like that fellow. A sure sign this couple is doing what gives great meaning and fun to their lives. We immediately knew what a perfect fit we were for each other, appreciating quality food, beautiful food, and challenging people's expectations and norms.

So, after months of baking and a great reception from the locals, I decided to share my passion and love of the homemade by teaching others how they can do the same thing in their own homes. The concept is simple and humble. Whole ingredients and the less tools and more dough on your hands the better. I try and show my students how to utilize their five senses to really gain more from a recipe than just taste. And once you feel how the dough is really suppose to be, the less need you will have for measuring cups and spoons, precision, and limitations that often time a baking recipe leaves us with. We learn how to substitute and trust our intuitive baker, something I believe everyone has deep inside them... some just a little deeper than others. I truly believe that when you learn to trust your intuitiveness in one area, it will inevitably permeate other areas in your life.

So, I just wanted to share with you how wonderful the last workshop went. Both my mom and my old roommate/greatest pal Megan visiting from back east were standing by my side selflessly washing dishes , getting the attendees anything they needed, and most importantly being a quiet and strong sign of support by my side. Although the workshops give and teach me so many things, the strength that my loved ones give me always is a reminder of how I want to live my life and support the causes and people I care most about.

My mom slaved away, creating the most adorable party favors and folders to hold all of our recipes.

The ladies and gentleman had so much fun (or at least that's what they said) and I am constantly surprised by how wonderfully each team always pulls of the recipes. No precision and mostly their own senses to guide them, they always turn out so many wonderful things.

Creating, laughing, feeling, tasting, and smelling it all, the long days work left all of us exhausted, but filled with a great sense of accomplishment.

Alas, finally a quick recipe that we baked over the weekend. A savory scone with rosemary (or other herbs if you like) sun dried tomato, manchego cheese, and a whole lotta lovein.

And thanks so much to the great Megan Moore for visually documenting our fun day. The pics turned out awesome. Megan is amazing in so many different aspects, but you should definitely check out her food narrative over at Foodie Can't Fail.

Sun Dried Tomato & Manchego Scones

They remind me slightly of a pizza scone and go great with salad, soups, or for someone who has a savory tooth in the morn. Feel free to change up the ingredients: swap olives for the sun dried tomatoes, use the cheese you have on hand, and play with all sorts of herbs. Just listen to what feels right. Let me know how it goes.

1 cup all purpose flour

½ cup whole wheat pastry flour

½ cup spelt flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

1 tablespoon sugar

2 teaspoons herbs of choice (we used rosemary)

about 2 teaspoons cracked pepper, more if you like

2 teaspoons salt

1 sticks or 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled

½ cup buttermilk

1 egg or egg substitute (we use a flax egg)

¼ cup sun dried tomatoes, chopped

¼ cup chopped Manchego cheese

Preheat oven to 375 degrees Farenheit. Combine the flours, baking powder, sugar, fresh herbs, and pepper together in a medium sized bowl. Work in the chilled butter with your fingertips so it resembles course meal or oats. The key is not to overwork your butter; you want nice butter pockets in your scones! Stir in cheese and sun dried tomatoes.

In a separate bowl, beat the egg and add the buttermilk. Stir to combine. Add the dry and the wet ingredients together. Don't over mix, just form into a nice ball. If there is some flour leftover, that's ok.

Flour a work surface and form a round disk that is about 2 inches thick. Brush some milk on the top of the disk and sprinkle with a little salt and herbs. Cut into six even triangles and place on a prepared baking sheet. Bake for about 15 to 20 minutes or until golden. Enjoy! Yay.

Music Pairing

"Calvary" by Bon Iver

There isn't any real tie between this recipe and this song other than I adore them both, but I heard it the other day on NPR's All Songs Considered Podcast and have since listened to it about a zillion times. I can't wait for their new album. June 21st. Yay.

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