Since the amicable departure of the Blind Baker, there’s been a dearth of baking posts here at The Feisty Foodie. I certainly don’t feel all that comfortable baking (though I AM getting better!), and the boys don’t seem too interested either. After a long search, I’ve finally found someone to fill that void: please welcome Jenn, of Not Exactly Bento, who is also the wonder behind the site design! I’ll let her tell you a bit more about herself…
When the Feisty Foodie first asked me to bring my baking to her blog, I was really, really nervous. Excited, but nervous. See, I’m a bad cook. Like, a really bad cook. Or at least, I used to be. I’ve spent the last four years on my own blog learning to cook and sharing my ups, downs, and inbetweens with those folks that spend a few minutes with me each day. And I feel sort of bad about that because I am from South Louisiana and am surrounded by amazing cooking. My mother? Awesome cook. My dad? Good cook too. My brother? Egads. The boy can cook. Me? “Pshaw!” as my great-grandmother used to say. I suck.
But as bad as my cooking can sometimes be, I’ve always been a pretty good baker. Measuring, and mixing, and popping a dish into the oven to wait for a glorious result more often comes out right for me than it doesn’t. I love to bake. I like how bread turns from something sticky that makes you want to wash your hands immediately to this organism that pushes back at you and takes on a life of its own. I love the way really good cookies make my house smell, and I can’t wait for a savory treat to come out of the oven for my dinner (hello crawfish cornbread!).
In my life, baking is more science than art as my favorite tool is my kitchen scale and the grams function is the measurement I prefer. I carefully measure my ingredients, mix things together with precision and wonder, set the oven to its agreed upon preheat, and voila. A dish is born. And I dive right in. Good or bad, I like to eat. (Hopefully that means I’ll fit in well around here).
I like to share my successes and my failures. What worked and what didn’t. What I like, and what I would do differently next time. Because while the process of baking to me feels like the science that it is, it is the tweaking the next time, that wee change that is your inspiration, that makes the recipe that you’ve been just dying to try your own.
I hope on Wednesdays at 2:15 p.m., you’ll come by the Feisty Foodie to see what we’re baking up for the week. If you do, I’ll forewarn you about a few things when it comes to my baking self.
- I L.O.V.E. my stand mixer. I can’t live without it. When I received it as a gift a couple years ago, I couldn’t imagine that I would use it all that often, but I really wanted one. Now that I have one, I can’t imagine my kitchen without it. Expect to see its appearance alot. However, a good hand mixer works too…or even a spatula (or whisk) with alot of hearty elbow grease.
- I have a kitchen scale, and I use it…righteously. Most recipes will give you two options: to measure using a scale (which I recommend) or to measure by cups. Scale measurements allow me to increase or decrease a recipe more easily. If it is a recipe that I’m trying to scale way down to a more manageable size for me, I tend to use grams. If it is a straight on recipe, I tend to use ounces. Sometimes if its really loose, it will be just cups and teaspoons.
- I am not a professional baker. In no way do I have any type of training. What I know is what I’ve learned from books, what I’ve read, what I’ve gleaned from other friends and family that also like to bake. My baking article each week will be a journey through what has caught my attention at the moment.
- I cook from books. I don’t tend to be a “throw it together and see what happens” girl. You’ll find I cook from recipes for things I want to try or recipes I want to tweak and change. References and credit will always be given to the starting point.
- I like to bake things that have a memory attached to them. Which means I’m going to most likely tell you a story, like any good native Louisianian does.
- I’m a big believer in using ratios for certain things as my starting point, especially doughs (bread, pie, cookie). Then, I tweak from there. But if I find a good recipe (see #4), I’m not opposed to trying that too.
- I like to take pictures. LOTS of pictures. I apologize now for fairly picture heavy posts.
Please pop back by today at 2:15 p.m. as we make these rolls from my childhood. I haven’t been able to stop thinking about them since I made them. And I feel another batch coming on.
Happy Baking, everyone! ~Jenn of Not Exactly Bento