The short: My name is Jennifer, and I’m a baker. I started this blog in 2011 to share/archive my favorite vegetarian dishes and desserts, and connect with other food-lovers.
The loooong: When I was a teenager, a ridiculously-priced copy of Bo Friberg’s Professional Pastry Chef arrived at the house via some mail order book club. I begged my mom to keep it. I was intrigued by the amazing photographs of ornate pastries and the outlandishly intricate recipes that would send you on a wild goose chase through the book, utilizing at least three other recipes as elements to build your masterpiece. She relented, though I’m sure she questioned her decision when she came into the kitchen to find me preparing my first recipe from the book–Chestnut Puzzle Cake. Ingredients were flung about the entire counter space, flour was all over the floor. I discovered, quite by accident, that a great way to get excess flour off your buttered cake pan is to drop it on the floor upside down. And if you fling the next pan on to the floor, quite on purpose, the stress incurred by subjecting yourself to such a ridiculous recipe is relieved. Somewhat. I still have, and treasure, that cookbook. But I favor much simpler recipes these days. I’m not really into fancy-pants pastries, anyway. They rarely taste as good as they look. That puzzle cake nearly made my teeth fall right out of my mouth.
I attended The University of Georgia for two years, often considering transferring to a pastry school. Instead, I decided to test the waters at a real-live bakery and put in an application at the first place I found. They must have been desperate, because a manager came out, interviewed me, and gave me the job on the spot. I was so grateful to have a job, any job, that I neglected to ask what the position entailed. I came back the next afternoon for my very first shift. I walked into a large, 90-degree room with a wall of deck ovens on one side, an industrial mixer in the corner, manned by the mixer-monkey, and a shaping table in the middle. A group of 20-somethings and an intense-looking middle-aged bread manager were gathered around that long butcher block table, one of them putting 20 pound slabs of dough into a divider, someone putting the pieces through a very loud french baguette roller, a couple of others putting that dough into pans or onto couches and then onto a covered rack for the baker. I distinctly remember thinking “what have I gotten myself into? And WHAT are they doing?” I’d never made bread before! But there I was. It would have been awkward to run screaming out the door, so I sidled up to the table, watched, then shaped my very first (very ugly) loaf of cinnamon swirl bread. Turns out I was working in an artisan wholesale bakery. We would put out over 1,000 pounds worth of bread, plus pastries, on a ‘good’ day. It was exhausting, the shift sometimes lasting into the wee hours of the morning, but my co-workers were mostly entertaining (I married one of ’em!), and up for a stiff drink afterwards. Those were the good ol’ days.
Here I am,
six seven EIGHT NIIIIINE! years later. I’ve learned a lot, making my way from wholesale bread to pastry, detouring for a stint as a prep cook, then diving back into bread-making–though it was much different, much quieter, than it was back in the day. Right now I’m on hiatus as I plot my next move.
When I’m not at work, chained to an oven, you can often find me at home, cooking or baking. Most of my recipes fall into two categories: vegetarian dishes and sweets. I’m not strictly a vegetarian, but my lovely significant other is, and I’d hate to offend him (again!) with the scent of bacon fat. I don’t feel as if I’m missing out by not cooking meat at home–my only true weakness is good barbecue beef brisket, which is best left to the pros. I wanted to become a vegetarian when I was sixteen, but my mom wouldn’t let me. Smart woman, my teenage aversion to most vegetables would have probably led to scurvy. Or something.
Outside of the food realm, there are plenty of things I enjoy doing but rarely get around to: traveling, skiing/swimming/swinging a racquet and running around a court like a madwoman/horsing around, and reading. These days I have the pleasure of hanging out with the world’s cutest baby, making various objects, working on remodeling projects, hatching plans (or just rearranging the furniture for the hundredth time), practicing web design and photography, and enjoying the obscene amount of digital media available in the house afforded by my significant other’s technological obsessions. His name is Eli, by the way. He’s a fabulous bread baker, the genius who coded the original version of this site, and the world’s most patient teacher, guiding me through the redesign process. I’m pretty sure he’s good at everything he tries.
Favorite digital media, you’re dying to know? Amelie, Airplane!, IT Crowd, Parks and Rec, for now.
If you’re still with me, I’m impressed. And grateful.
Have a look around, and feel free to say hello via comments or by using the contact form…I’d love to hear from you!