Sunday, January 2, 2011

Having a lot to say

I have not posted in almost a month, but not for want of things to say, or to show. Actually, there is plenty to show, but first, the blabbing. Please note before you proceed, that sometimes I fail to edit myself very well on the first draft. And this blog: always a first draft.

Why blog?
Well, I am not exactly sure. It started as a way to share what was happening here with friends and family, as well as an outlet for writing, which I very much enjoy. But now, as business has increased, this blog has evolved into a crazy melding of my personal and professional life. When time gets short in life, it tends to lean heavily to the professional, i.e., many pictures of food, not so much of family. I have also been keeping track of the visitors to the blog, and they are increasingly driven by the pictures of cookies and cakes, often found through Google. So do I really want to include personal details? Do I want strangers from various and sundry exotic and not-so-exotic locales knowing my family's business? Hmmmmm.....

Who cares?
Well, someone must, because people are reading, though not so much when I don't post anything new. But potential customers do find me here. And I like to hear myself type, so I am okay with that.

What is my philosphy of baking?
Baking - in fact all food preparation - is love. Or it should be. I do what I do because it makes me happy in every aspect, from developing recipes to baking to decorating to adding finishing touches to feeding people and making them happy. There is a joy in it that I have not found in a great many other pursuits (Close second - getting middle schoolers to read for enjoyment, yes, actual enjoyment. It's a pretty awesome high!). I am not in it for the money, to which my husband will sadly attest, and I don't really care about making it into the big time. I just want to help people enjoy life, be it a Shabbat or holiday, or a simcha, or even helping through a sad time. I am a strong believer in sense memory, especially taste, and very Oprah-ish in my belief that food can comfort. Sometimes it's not even the food. It's the fact that someone took the time to prepare it for you, to think about what you would like, to care for you when you need it. If I am not feeling the joy (for more than a brief interlude), then it's time to walk away. But I am not there yet. There is no anger in my baking (actually, I save that for kneading challah, but that transforms into something kadosh, so it works pretty nicely!). But if the taste of and the experience of eating my food does not reflect the love put into it or the joy I experience, I should not be doing it. And that is why I think I am a good baker. Yeah, there is a little element of showing off, although I am on the record saying it is revolting when people brag about their food and I firmly believe that. If my product is good enough, it speaks for itself, and if it's not, well I should just keep my mouth shut because no words are going to make it taste better. But mostly, it is because I love when people enjoy eating what I have produced. And making someone's simcha better is just icing on the cake...

It's kind of tricky, I will admit. How do you make it about the recipients of the baked goods, and not about yourself? But I work on that every day, with every order.

Second aspect of my philosophy: Stay away from shortcuts. I NEVER, EVER use cake mix. I like my customers too much for that and I can measure ingredients just fine, thank you. I use the best quality ingredients, and I am consistent with them. If a recipe needs graham crackers, I make the graham crackers. If it needs frosting, I make the frosting. If it needs decorations, I make the decorations. My way is not easy, and it is not cheap. But if you can go buy the decors or the components and slap them all together, then you should be doing it yourself! Unless Sandra Lee is giving you advice and foolishly tells you to frost an angel food cake. Then you should just run away and scream. Loudly.

What is my philosophy on life?
Do my best, strive to be the best me I can be, help my family do their best and be the best they can be. Build a life of small moments. Eventually, we will be judged not on the big things, but on everything, so remember that every moment counts. Learn from mistakes. Don't live with regrets, always looking backward. Move forward. Take notes. Don't rest on laurels. don't waste time. And pretty much everything I believe about baking, I believe about life too: Do what brings you joy, put joy in everything you do, and don't take shortcuts. It's not always easy, and it doesn't always work, but I try, as that is the most anyone can do.

Why do I like TV so much?
Is this a trick question? And what does this have to do with anything? Nothing, but it's the holiday season, and new shows are few and far between, so I am missing it. I love narrative, though, (big book lover!!!) so I like scripted TV. Also, I enjoy Top Chef very much, but that is about as far as I venture into reality-land. TV, both broadcast and cable, has much to offer, and like the internet, can be used for good or bad. But outright rejection is foolish, because there is a lot of good. Maybe my babysitters sat me in front of the tube too much when I was young, but I have a great appreciation. Bottom line, TV good, censorship bad. Not all TV, but plenty.

Why do I write so much?
Dunno. Just do. Will reward you with pictures in exchange for patience shortly.

Until next time,

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