Or maybe I should first start off by saying “Hello, again!” This year, I am thankful the little things: the support of family, the love of friends, the comfort of home, and the ability to bake again! Yes, I know, that last one is definitely simplistic. Let me explain.
This past August, I began my 9-month dietetic internship, a continuing education program that allows recent nutrition graduates to become competent in the various areas of dietetics and eventually achieve their Registered Dietitian status. So far it has been an incredible journey; I have gained a whole host of new counseling skills and substantially increased my nutrition knowledge. But, I have to admit, the experience has been tough on my baking! Between forty-hour work weeks at the hospital and assignment-filled weekends, I haven’t had a moment to spare. I am ashamed to say that I haven’t even opened the oven in almost four months! But there was no way that I was going to let my favorite holiday pass without whipping up something new. And after such an extensive baking hiatus, I knew my next creation had to be something impressive. I think this Apple Cream Cheese Bundt Cake definitely fits the bill. Continue reading
Vegetables for dessert. Seems almost like an oxymoron, doesn’t it? But, then again, is zucchini actually a vegetable? Botanically speaking, summer squash such as zucchini is the mature ovary of a flower, including the seeds and protective covering. That makes it a fruit. But under this same definition, tomatoes, cucumbers, even tree nuts are also technically “fruits.”
I think British journalist Miles Kington put it best when he stated, “knowledge is knowing that a tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is knowing that a tomato doesn’t belong in a fruit salad.”
In the culinary world, fruits and vegetables are determined not by their physical characteristics, but rather by their taste and cultural usage. Under the culinary definition, vegetables are savory in taste and are typically featured in main dishes, appetizers, or salads. Fruits, on the other hand, are sweet or tart in taste and are generally used in breakfast foods, beverages, snacks, and desserts. And that, my friends, is why we put tomatoes on top of pasta and not cupcakes. Continue reading
This summer, my family and I have been following the show, “The American Baking Competition” on CBS. Unlike the majority of culinary shows on television, this program features contestants who are not expertly trained. They are neither Cordon Bleu graduates nor are they world-renowned chefs. In fact, not one competitor has a job within food industry. Instead, they are lawyers and firefighters, photographers and grandmothers. People who bake simply for the joy of it. People like you and me. As much as I adore shows such as Top Chef and Chopped, as much as I am in awe of the creativity and skill of these trained professionals, I constantly find it difficult to relate to them. They possess a level of knowledge and expertise that is worlds above my own. “The American Baking Competition,” however, is different. With its untrained, amateur bakers, the show is a testament to the fact that great bakers need not be trained professionals. All you need is passion, patience, and a thirst for learning.
The world of baking is a lot like the world of books– there are so many options available that it is impossible to try absolutely everything in one lifetime. But with such a rich selection at your hands, it would be shame to not even try.
Like the comfort of one’s favorite book, there are a few recipes that I continue to revisit because of the pure nostalgia they induce. But in general, I tend to crave a sense of newness and adventure when I bake. This inclination has been with me since the very beginning. The first recipe I ever chose to make was not chocolate chip cookies or vanilla cupcakes, it was a Boston Cream Pie from The Fannie Farmer Cookbook. I was 10 years old. Of course, being completely inexperienced in the techniques of baking, I required the “help” of my father for this daunting task (although truthfully, I’m pretty sure he made most of the cake and I helped him!). But nevertheless, it was in this first experience that I truly caught the creative baking bug.
In the preceding years, I spent hours pouring over the latest baking books, searching for the most interesting recipes I could make. I tried everything from pineapple upside-down cakes to chocolate-drizzled peppermint shortbread cookies. Despite my desire for adventure, however, I would never diverge from the recipe as it was written. Baking is, after all, a science. If you change around the ingredients and quantities too much, you will completely alter product’s end quality. As with most things in life, you have to learn the rules before you break them. And as a perfectionist and highly organized person, rule-breaking has never been my strong-suit. A diagnosis of celiac disease, however, changed all of that. Continue reading