Saturday, November 28, 2009

Pumpkin pie...the gods are punishing me..

I am a single woman and as such am invited to many thanksgiving dinners, family and friends events alike. This year I couldn't be with family so I opted to attend an "orphans" feast hosted by really great friends. Said friends were two guys, who produced a good turkey, but beyond that there was Stove-top stuffing, mashed potatoes that consisted of boiled potatoes and water, store bought pumpkin get the picture.
So, on Black Friday, rather than being foolish and braving the crowds in stores I stayed put at home. I decided to make a complete Thanksgiving feast in an effort to produce "left overs."
No Thanksgiving can be complete without a good pumpkin pie but I had so much going on I decided to use a frozen pie crust. BIG MISTAKE! While the custard of my pie was absolutely delicious the crust never really cooked so it is still a little mushy and blah. NEVER AGAIN will I cheat. I can make a great pie crust with my eyes closed but I didn't want to deal with another mess. I will redeem myself soon and make another pie with real crust.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

I really want some rain..

The baking season is upon most of the country, but not San Diego. It is sunny and warm here every day as of late and that my friends, is not conducive to making me want to heat up the kitchen and turn out tasty treats. This is the time of year I miss my farm in Montana the most..standing in that farm kitchen with an amazing view of the Bitterroot valley baking and baking for days.
I have big plans for Christmas baking and I need to practice/test some new recipes but I am so uninspired. How do you work through a lake of inspiration?
This week is Halloween...I will be baking cookies for a mock "bakery" that is part of my office halloween decor but they will just be basic peanut butter, oatmeal raisin, chocolate chip, and snickerdoodles (assuming I can garner up the energy to bust them out and don't cop to buying blah cookies at the store.)
Normally the onset of fall has me making this amazing Pumpkin Applesauce bread, the recipe and pictures will be posted when I get around to baking it.
I think I just want to complain about the weather. I so desperately want a rainy weekend. I want to spend some time at my house alone - no roommate..just some down time.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Feel that Chill????

San Diego may not have seasons like the rest of the country but we do have a distinct change from summer to fall/winter and it has started. A chill in the morning; cool enough at night to start a fire in the old hearth, but absolutely perfect for baking.
It's early October and so begins the testing of holiday cookies. Today's option was a "hermit" cookie - there would be a picture but I thought about it (err, was encouraged to think about it) after the fact. This particular hermit had something of a bread quality to it, very cakey texture with cinnamon, walnuts, raisins, brown sugar and nutmeg. When they first emerged from the oven they looked and tasted a little blah.
Think think think.. I had some 60% cacao bars, some heavy cream and some corn sryup...within minutes I had a fabulous ganache to dip the cookies in, low and behold...DELISH! well not earth shattering but good. They were consumed by the end of the day and now I have an empty tin to fill again.
I have been off blog for a while..updates.. I got the job and have been working for 2 months.. the boy..he is once again off..too many issues there..

Friday, June 19, 2009

I want to bake, I want to bake, I want to bake!!!

But I can't.

I have been looking at all kinds of baking blogs and even joined the Daring Bakers website for monthly challenges. All of it has me itching to bake but I really need to find some boys who are willing to take on the caloric responsibility of my baking so that it comes out of my oven and into their bellies not mine.

The search continues!

Friday, June 12, 2009

Okay this isn't about baking..

But the smell eminating from my oven right now is so delicious I had to share it. I spent a good 20 minutes searching the web for something yummy to do with a pork tenderloin..and finally "stumbled upon" what smells to be a winner.

Take your loin, trim it, wash it, pat it dry.

Take 1 cup unseasoned bread crumbs and brown in 1tbsp of olive oil
Remove from heat and in a bowl mix in 4tbsp horseradish, salt and pepper to taste

In a separate bowl mix 3tbsp spicy (or dijon) mustard and 2tbsp mayo (I used light mayo since the flavor will be pretty much masked by the mustard anyway).

Place your loin(s) on a baking sheet (I put parchment on my baking sheet) slather with the Mayo and Mustard combo. Then cover with breadcrumb mixture.

Put in the oven at 450 for 25 minutes. Let rest before cooking.. it smells really good and I had to write about it.

I am still resisting my urge to bake, although I did scour the web today looking for interesting baking blogs and found a bunch that I really liked. I think you can see them on my blog, so by all means venture out and visit some! Once the store gets off the ground I am going to be hosting an entire site with a community area and a favorite links page so that all of my CraftBake customers can have instant access to other CraftBakers from around the globe!

As for the rest of my night.. I just need to figure out what to serve with this pork..and what wine to drink!

Monday, June 8, 2009

Amish Friendship bread is crap!

I babysat this damn bread for 10 days, mashing the bag, adding ingredients, tending to it like a mama bird waiting for an egg to hatch. The day finally came to bake it off, I was hopeful but certainly not expecting a miracle. Which is a blessing because it was awful! I followed the instructions, sugared the pans, mixed the batter in a glass bowl with a wooden spoon, poured it in the pans and baked it as directed for an hour.
It didn't smell great, it certainly didn't look great, and it tasted horrid! Certainly not the success that my spring celebration carrot cake was. Which by the way it was DELICIOUS!

Friday, June 5, 2009

Friday night..

The ritual of friends gathering on a Friday night to share some laughs, eat some food, and drink some libations is not new. My friends are insane and we play ridiculously competitive and raunchy versions of games like Scattegories, Scene It, and Balderdash to name a few.. there is almost always pizza and beer...and I am the dessert bringer.
This Friday I was asked to bring the dessert and an amazing chinese chicken salad (which I won't go into because this is a bakers type blog). I get so excited when I talk about baking and when I think about getting this store off the ground. It will be incredible the day I open the doors and spread the love!
But, alas, today I just bake. A quick search of the net revealed a "Spring Celebration Carrot Cake"..hmm carrot cake sounded good and the recipe looked delicious. So made it I did! I haven't had the chance to taste it yet, but the frosting is yummy and the cake feels super moist. I can't republish the recipe because it is copywritten but I found it at and have included a picture (I made a round version because I didn't have two square pans, go figure!)..

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Confiming my conviction

Last night I attended a Pampered Chef Party, not something I would normally do but it was to raise money for breast cancer and I am all about protecting the future of my boobies. Pampered Chef, just like every other cooking store, tries to cover a little of everything. They have some interesting stone ware baking pieces but other than that I am not impressed by the tools they recommend for bakers and I am not convinced of the quality for the price.
I did buy a couple of pieces and when I get them home I will test them out and let you know how they worked out. But what this party really did was confirm my conviction to open my store. Everyone I talk to "gets it," which has to mean that I am explaining it well and that my passion and love for it translates. I hear the warnings from everyone, the choruses of "you'll work 24/7" and "you won't make any money for years" and the loveliest of them "there is no way to open a mom and pop type store in this economy." I refuse to hear those chants, well maybe I don't refuse to hear them but rather absorb and put in the effort to not let them be my downfall. I don't mind the notion of working 24/7, I grew up in a family business and some of my best memories were working hard all weekend long right next to my parents. I would love that to be the future of my life and my future families.
Today, life is good.
I have an interview, for a company that no longer has a job open for me, on Thursday because the hiring manager was impressed with my resume and with the feedback from the recruiter. And I had a phone interview this past Tuesday that went really well and should be hearing back from them sometime next week. Maybe my future is looking up..remember, getting a job is the sticking point for me getting money to start my store.
Wish me luck!

One last note.. I knew that Pampered Chef and I were not in the same league when they baked a boxed chocolate cake with store bought frosting in the was alright but by no means delicious and certainly not something that I would encourage CraftBakers to do...if you need a cake in 8 minutes, go to your local bakery and support a struggling business...

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

oh the silly heart..

a deleted blog posting..

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

A job????

A new job would mean I am one step closer to this store! Yeah! I think I will have an interview this week. Not the most money in the world but better than no job and no money for sure!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

apple pie filling in puff pastry..

Yeah, that's a good day. I don't like apple pie..but I do love good homemade apple pie filling in some puff pastry, a la turnover..all hot and delicious, swimming in vanilla ice cream.

That's it for today..that's my blog.. life changing, I am sure!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

what are you going to sell?

I have been having more and more conversations about this dream of mine and everytime I talk to guys I get a puzzled look and the following statement "what are you going to sell?"

It might be hard to imagine that this generation is embracing traditional values in a modern way. We aren't closed minded and uninterested in the world but we do want to make personal connections with friends, family, and community at large. We no longer want to "buy" our place in society but rather we want to earn it. We want our families to grow with some tradition that does not involve a quick trip through the drive through. Not everyone can be a Betty Crocker but everyone can bake something and that's what I am going to sell.

So many people think that the world is only going to be online and that everything is going to be bought and sold online exclusively but people like to feel connected and they are willing to pay a little more for some things to cover the expenses of the overhead that come with that connection. A real store, brick and mortar, provides a meeting place, allows you the opportunity to touch and taste and ask questions.

I decided that I really don't want to sell all the small appliances that go with baking (the kitchen aid mixers, the food processors, blendors etc) they can all be bought online or at mass retail outlets and while I will have them in the store and reference them on the website it just doesn't make sense to sell them. I want to see the ingredients and tools used to bake. Cookbooks, interesting tools, chocolate, extracts, flours, sugars, fancy things, basic things, some hardware.. I want to keep the prices reasonable but in reality there will be items in the store at every price point. My goal is to never have anyone leave the store without at least buying something.

But most importantly.. what I am selling is that old fashioned connection with a modern assist. No online store but certainly an online community.

Monday, May 11, 2009

will the frustration ever end

I am so tired of searching for a job that just doesn't seem to exist. My dream is to open a store not to work for some big corporate machine. Does it always have to be part of the game? I suppose if I had kept my life more simple (no animals to support, no mortgages or car credit cards for sure) I might be able to be living my dream right now, but the dream didn't come to me until December, 2008!

I am a smart person with a lot of experience, insight and ability. I should have no problem finding a job even if a tough economy and yet tonight I received another rejection letter. I don't know why life seems to work out this way for me, if love is going well my career is usually going well and vice versa through no fault of my own. Right now..neither is happening and I am so frustrated. I feel like I am failing and flailing to stay afloat. I am hanging in there and things just keep slipping away. I know I am not the only person in this situation but I am so frustrated!!!!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

What's love got to do with it?

This dream to open a store, my store, all started with something and that was a love of baking from the home and heart. I have yet to meet anyone who isn't in love with this idea and while I know that doesn't mean my store will automatically be successful, I am confident that it means I have tapped into something at the right time.

Figuring out where to get the money is hard, I would love to just get this store up and running and dedicate all my time to it while still on unemployment. Trust me, I know that sounds horrible and very much away from my normal conservative roots but sometimes I think that timing is everything.

Since the whole impetus for this venture is my love of baking I thought I would share some recipes and pictures along the way. This weekend my awesome friends had a "Nueve de mayo" party, so I decided to make a tres leches cake. Mind you, I didn't think I would like tres leches (and turns out I was right) but it sounded interested and mexican theme appropriate.

I am a super simple girl sometimes when I am in a time crunch so here is the super secret recipe..

Tres Leches
buy a yellow cake mix, prepare as directed (except use a whisk and just whisk together the batter but not too much..this will keep it from rising too much in the oven and make it a little more like a pound cake)
mix together 1 cup of whole milk, 1 cup sweetened condensed milk, 1 cup evaporated milk and 1/3 cup rum.
While the cake is hot, poke holes (i used a fork) all over the cake, pour the milk mixture over it evenly. Cool the cake on the counter until cool then refrigerate. Before serving, spread coolwhip (or real whipped cream) over the entire cake and sprinkle with cinnamon. Cool whip works well if you aren't going to keep it cold.

you could also put cherries on the cake instead of cinnamon..

Tuesday, May 5, 2009


I have to have a job to get the money to opent he store which of course means I won't have time to really focus ont he store but so goes the traditional catch 22. I am okay with all of that because I know I have it in me to do all of this and make my dream a reality.

But today I am entertaining the thought of working in LA. A place that I have never loved but have always called home. So many people are connected to LA and think its the best place on earth to live but my dream locale is San Diego. It's a modern company based in software and technology so the thought that they might let me work from home part time is ideal..and even better they do have a huge HQ in SD so maybe someday I would be able to get back down here all the time..

But am I ready to live in LA again? I would do anything to get this's too good to pass up...

Monday, May 4, 2009

does talking make a dream come true?

I had a revelation tonight while having a conversation with two great girlfriends. How many of us talk about things we want to accomplish, endlessly talk about things we want to accomplish, annoyingly talk about things we want to accomplish...without any plan of action to actually accomplish the dreams of which we speak.

There have been a million speeches about dreams and accomplishing goals, the people giving the speeches have generally accomplished their dream and are trying desperately to inspire us all. I am inspired, sometimes awed, by the accomplishments of such people but have I ever accomplished a dream I talked about?

So I thought and I thought and then I realized that I went back to college at 21 because I felt like I had not finished a dream I started and I wanted to make it happen. I made it happen, not with the perfection that I had envisioned, far from it actually, but I accomplished it and have the paper to show anyone who wants to see.

I dreamed about being a lawyer, architect, electrician, musician, mom and none of those dreams have come to fruition. I am dreaming about the store, I am dreaming about the modern american dream and I am determined to make it a reality.

My lesson learned from accomplishing school is that accomplishing your dream more often than not looks different at the end than the original dream and that's OKAY, sometimes it is even better.

Live your dream and remember to try to inspire others to do the same. We can all accomplish so much with the support of other people. I am going to support my friends in their dreams and do whatever I can to help..and I know they will do the same!

hiccuping my way to success?

he's back...

I don't know what I think about. I feel like my head exploded this weekend.

Time to get my head back in the game and focus on the real american dream I am trying to live. Wish me luck!

Monday, April 27, 2009

the sign says OCCUPADO

I've been too busy for the last few days to even think about my store let along blog about thinking about my store. It's a dream and it's my dream and I have to remind myself of it every day. But the past few days have been all about surviving..dreaming is a luxury.

On the flip side...I have ascertained that time is a luxury of unemployment and homemade bread is a luxury of time.

The promise to myself for the week is to NOT apologize for things I have no control of, no part in, or should not be apologized for.

Friday, April 24, 2009

found kindness

Today I did not a thing to further my desire to live the american dream. For some reason I decided that I had to fix my best friend this week. I have spent a few days at her house trying to get her to clean it up. An organized home allows for organized thoughts.

My big contribution, beyond being the annoying voice/presence, was laundry. I took 3 loads a day from her house, washed, folded, and returned them; waiting patiently as she put them away as to avoid her usual MO of leaving them in piles for months on end.

I really do believe that your house is a reflection of your mind. This particular friend is someone who buries her head and avoids facing problems head on. She procrastinates and talks about big dreams but rarely takes action necessary to accomplish them unless extremely prodded. I hope that this is enough prodding.

Now, where is my prodder to keep me focused on my dream?

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

One day at a time...

So while my goal is to get this American Dream rolling I realize that patience is a requirement. There are hoops to jump through, people to satisfy, plans to be set. It's a daunting task by any measure so I promise to myself to take it one day at a time and never lose sight.
I would like to say that 1 mini goal will be accomplished every day but it's going to be more like 1 mini goal a week. Originally, the idea was to opening doors in December 2009, but the bigger the gap grows between former job and future employment the further that date gets pushed. Funny that no one wants to loan the unemployed big sums of money for a risky venture, go figure!

The good news? Accepting that the American Dream is the sum of my life not just the ability to open the doors of a store. Yesterday I decided to take control and make a friend of mine claim her best life and start the process of getting her house in order. I will be going back for more today.

Another part of the American Dream is networking, connecting and feeling valued. Yesterday I reconnected with someone I hadn't seen or talked to in probably 8 years but someone that was a big part of my childhood and that felt awesome.

The ex that I thought hated me, but who bought a condo next to mine while we were dating, decided to loan me a pool key to his complex so I could beat the heat. Guess he doesn't hate me, we haven't seen each other yet but one step at a time. I just hope that the 6 months between breaking up and trying to be friends has allowed my broken heart to heal. I really was genuinely in love with this person and my heart was so broken.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009


Having a big dream is a great epiphany but not being able to work out the details to make your dream a reality is frustrating.

In my previous blog I mentioned that the company I had worked for for the last four years left the US and took my job with them. The funny thing is, if I still had that job a bank would be willing to loan me to the money to start my store. If I could find another similar type job the same thing would be true, of course that would mean I would have little time to actually run the store. The irony is that I have all the time in the world to create an amazing store right now. I have the passion, vision, and time just not the money.

The job hunt continues but for today's goal is to visit the local unemployment office and figure out if I can become a Project Management Professional with the help of the State of California....

Monday, April 20, 2009

Homemade Hot Fudge...for PMS..

It's hot as heck in Southern California today but those lovely hormones that bounce around monthly in women have compelled me to make and devour the best hot fudge ever.

When my American dream starts to unfold, I will be hosting an online community that brings together my customers and the world wide web in ways never done before. I also intend to regularly post recipes in the store and offer suggestions to those looking for easy to dos, delicious delights, and impressive treats!

But for today.. I will post my super secret (no more) hot fudge sort of recipe.. good luck with it.. it's really easy, I promise!

2 - 4 ounces of good semisweet dark chocolate (I use Scharfenberger from San Fran)
1/4 - 1/2 cup heavy cream (this one will really be as needed to get a good creamy consistency)
2 tbsp sugar (again this is sort of to taste but start with 2 tbsp, I generally think I end up with 3)

Put this is a small saucepan and heat over low/medium heat until melted and smooth - be patient, this will take time. Stir continuously. It will likely take about 5 minutes to get it totally smooth. Do Not Boil or Simmer - just allow to melt over low-ish heat.

When completely melted and smooth add the following

2 tbsp butter (it's best to use butter here rather than margarine) stir until completely melted

remove from heat and add

1 tsp vanilla

Pour over ice cream, cake, your fingers! It's really oh so very good. Put any left overs in a covered container and refrigerate up to 1 week. To reheat put desired amount and microwave safe container and heat for 30 seconds or less.

I think it is almost better the next day!

If you make it, let me know what you think!

Unemployment runs out..

Ever have that feeling that the world is going to stop spinning any moment? I was a good little American, I listened to the advice of the "financial advisors" and saved money for a rainy day, I just didn't expect a tsunami.

It has been six months, this week, since I first filed for unemployment and today the check came with only 1 weeks worth of benefits. Never have I been so scared. I have managed, for 6 months, to pay my mortgages and all other bills on time. There is supposedly an extension that will be filed automatically on my behalf to continue my benefits for another 22 weeks but the bank account is empty. The cushion that I so carefully set aside has been consumed.

I am lucky that I can maybe get some help from family. It is frustrating to be a qualified and smart professional unable to find a job that would keep me afloat. I'd even take a job at a lower run as long as I can make my minimum income level that I need to make to keep everything paid for.

To those of you in the same situation, hang in there! I'll cross my fingers for all of us!

Dreaming the American Dream

In October, 2008 I was laid off from a great job with a big international company. The company decided it was going to leave the sandbox and take all of its toys to play in China's, and other developing countries, sandboxes.

Can I blame them? Of course not!

The American Dream has amazingly held steadfast through generations. We want to be free, have a roof over our heads, money in the bank, 2.3 children, domesticated animals, loving partners, and the ability to do something for work that we love! Did I love my last job? Love might be too strong, I enjoyed it at times and loathed it at others but overall I was pretty happy.

Losing it has made me look at what my American Dream should look like.

I am not married, at 33, I do not have 2.3 children, but I do have a roof over my head complete with two mortgages, HOA fees, and property taxes, and I have some domesticated (or somewhat) domesticated animals roaming around the joint. I no longer have any money in the bank and I need to remedy that.

So how do I take control of my American Dream? In December I decided that my American Dream should include owning and running a small boutique store in the neighborhood I live in. Exciting dream for sure, something I would be great at, but there are more hurdles than accomplishments to report.

I am starting this blog to talk about my road to Workforce Recovery! The path I have to take to open my store and live my american dream. Who knows, maybe love will find me along the way too!

So hang in there with me. It might be a bumpy road but it will be the story of one woman's desire to find the modern version of the classic American Dream.

PS - In the process I hope to learn more about HTML, and how to make this blog more visually appealing (did I mention I have been in marketing for 10 years?)...

You can follow me on Twitter - @offthecuff76