Wednesday, January 27, 2016

On Books, Kitchen Love, & Pot Pies

Assorted pastries I have made over the last few months:
spelt oatmeal spice cupcakes with vanilla buttercream and coconut almond topping,
blueberry chai cheesecake and a coconut cream pie,
peanut butter mousse tarts with chocolate ganache, and a savory filled croissant.

I've finally began watching The Great British Baking Show and it's causing me to reexamine my baking techniques and commitment to pastry arts, pushing me to lean into more challenging endeavors and dare myself to try that much harder. I'm attempting to carve out my niche: vegan comfort food with a special appreciation for pies. With all the culinary talent out there, I still feel like such a novice when it comes to pastry arts because there is so much I have yet to experience. To know everything about vegan cooking and baking is impossible, but I am determined to continue absorbing as much as I can.

Somehow I found myself walking over seven miles today. I left my apartment before 9am to take advantage of a rain-free Portland day like a child scrambling to turn on Saturday morning cartoons. A good portion of my day included wandering around Powell's Books and discovering new inspiration for my heart and mind. The following are books of interest that I hope to purchase and/or borrow from the library this year...

Vegan & Food-Related Books

  • Plum // I almost ate here when I visited Seattle earlier this month. After stumbling upon their cookbook, I wish I had!
  • Baking With Julia // I love baking & Julia Child. The End.
  • The Everything Vegan Wedding Book // I'm mostly just curious.
  • Food52 Vegan // I'm interested in what Food52 has to contribute to the vegan community.
  • Vegan Eats World & Salad Samurai // I've never bought a cookbook exclusively by Terry Hope Romero & I think I'm overdue.
  • Teff Love // I need to get to one of my local Ethiopian restaurants, and after determining that the food is delicious (it probably will be, let's be honest), I need to get my grubby hands on Kittee's beautiful cookbook.
  • Vegan Richa's Indian Kitchen // Indian recipes by Richa!
  • Afro-Vegan // I've been thinking about this cookbook for months. Bryant Terry was also featured in the Soul Food Junkies documentary.

Women-Centric Books

  • But You Did Not Come Back // A holocaust memoir.
  • Notorious RBG //  You've probably heard of the Ruth Bader Ginsburg cult following.
  • M Train // Patti Smith's latest.
  • Girl in a Band // Kim Gordon's memoir.
  • A Story Lately Told // I've heard that Angelica Houston has fantastic stories to tell.
  • Rocket Girl // The story of America's first female rocket scientist.
  • Zami // I admittedly need more Audre Lorde in my life.
  • The Girls Who Went Away // "The Hidden History of Women Who Surrendered Children for Adoption in the Decades Before Roe v. Wade"
  • Bad Feminist // I haven't gotten around to it yet, but somehow I feel like I 'have to' read this.

I've also been swooning over these Martha Stewart dessert plates that resemble doilies. After much contemplation, I finally think that I'm ready to make the plunge and buy my own 6 quart KitchenAid stand mixer. My partner also bought me this gorgeous copper cooling rack (also pictured below). I feel so spoiled. When I allow myself time to reflect, I realize that life is treating me very well.

I made Spicy Tempeh Pot Pie with a flaky-buttery coconut oil crust for dinner! The filling consisted of marinated tempeh, potatoes, onions, celery, carrots, jalepeƱo, garlic, thyme, dill, rosemary, sage, and a few other ingredients to marry all of the ingredients together. So good! I haven't eaten a pot pie in quite some time so this dinner was a welcome treat. We must savor winter foods while we can, right?

Until next week,
xo Jenny

Friday, January 22, 2016

2016 Update

Sweetpea's outdoor sign when it snowed in Portland a few weeks ago.

I've been working quite a bit this winter and my responsibilities in 2016 will only continue to grow. I began as an intern at Sweetpea Baking Company in October 2014, started a wholesale baker position in February 2015, and then was presented the opportunity to work as a morning retail baker this past September. The holidays were a hailstorm of pies and cookies and aching feet. This month I was offered the wedding cake coordinator position to take on in addition to my retail baker duties and I have accepted this privilege with a full heart. Time and time again, Sweetpea bestows me with opportunities to advance my culinary education and continues to make so many of my vegan-baker-dreams come true.

Savory filled croissant.

That being said, I haven't been writing like I used to and it has definitely influenced my well being. I took a vacation recently and realized how difficult it is for me to be alone with my thoughts - which I acknowledge isn't a healthy state to be in. I'm always trying to keep my hands busy, and therefore my mind busy, with cooking or cleaning or errands or gratuitous Netflix choices. I have a hard time just being and I attribute this to my lack of writing and connecting to myself and others on a more intimate level. If I'm not journaling or asking myself regularly what my goals are, I'm probably not doing great. Work tires me out so most days I just want to come home, shower, eat dinner, stare at the T.V. for awhile, then go to sleep. This routine doesn't nurture my sense of self and thus leaves me feeling hollow. So that's why I'm checking-in with my blog: to care for my ambitions and slowly get back into the rhythm of posting regularly. 

My writing desk.

I may begin to incorporate more personal updates onto the blog and perhaps some reactions to vegan products and local establishments. I want to write and hopefully some people out there in internet-land would like to read what I have to say. Three cheers for self-care, yes?