Thursday, February 10, 2011

First Post - Covering the Basics

So, to start, I suppose I should give you some background. I am currently working in the pastry kitchen of a fine dining restaurant. We make and plate the desserts, as well as produce almost all of the bread served in the restaurant. I also worked in a bakery for about 3 years. There was a time when I was actually working full-time at both places. Such long hours and little time at home meant that I ate a lot of fast food, single-handedly kept Starbucks in business, and ate a LOT of sweets.

Now that I am only working one job, my income has substantially decreased and I have come to the realization that there is NO reason for me to waste money and calories on fast food. I know how to cook, I don't want to waste my limited extra cash on food that isn't filling or nutritious, and most importantly, I really enjoy cooking and baking. So, with the exception of a monthly pizza or trip to Panera, I have made it my goal to cook most of my meals at home.

I live by myself, which means that my freezer is my best friend, and not just because every girl's two favorite people live in it - Ben and Jerry. When I check my mail, the first thing I read is the grocery store ad. When things are on sale, I buy them, and I freeze them. When I can't bring myself to eat another helping of leftovers, into the freezer they go for a day when I do want them. Extra baguette/ciabatta/rolls that have gone stale? Freezer, destined for bread crumbs or bread pudding.

I have also been known to be a bit of a hoarder when it comes to plastic containers. They're great for portioning things before they go in the freezer, excellent for keeping the cookies I mail in good fresh condition, and it keeps them out of the landfills. I also keep a package of blank address labels and a permanent marker in my kitchen drawer to label and date the containers.

Now, as mentioned, I do love to bake. Which can get expensive. It has become a tradition that in place of gifts, my friends and family know that they will be greeted with a cake on their birthdays. And I generally start pestering them about flavors, fillings, and frostings a good month or two before the actual day. And, as my sister will tell you, I will NOT make you a cake from a box. If you demand Funfetti, I will put sprinkles in it. And I will let you complain that "real" Funfetti does not have brown sprinkles mixed in with the bright ones, because it is your birthday. But I will not bake you a cake that isn't made from scratch. Yes, it takes more time. Yes, it's pricier than a box of mix, a few eggs, and some oil. If you're going to take the time to make and ice a cake, you might as well take the extra time to make it a really really good cake that's worth every cent and calorie.

I also ship a lot of cookies overseas. My boyfriend is currently in the middle of a deployment to Afghanistan, and on more than one occasion, he has been ordered by a superior to ask me when the next box of cookies is arriving. Flat rate boxes from the post office are another item I would include in my container hoarding. Thirteen bucks will allow you to mail a large box weighing up to 20 pounds to an APO/FPO address. So I try to account for that in my monthly budget.

And finally, I should mention that I do not have a fancy camera, and I frequently take pictures with my cell phone. So if you are going to be disappointed by a lack of pretty, artistic photos, well, you should probably just stop reading now. If you're looking for exact recipes, you also should probably look elsewhere. I'm not much of a measuring kind of girl when I create or modify a recipe. But if you want good guidelines for cooking for one, or two, or occasionally a small group, without cleaning out your wallet, then I hope you will come back.