You know what’s all the rage? Food blogging. Wait… right?
This week marks the 10th year that I’ve showed up in this humble space as Joy the Baker. Ten full-on years. Can you believe it?
Here’s what I knew in 2008 when I started Joy the Baker: nothing. More accurately, I knew how to teach myself to navigate the kitchen with a recipe, and I knew I wanted to share that with no one / everyone (aka the Internet).
I’ll tell ya what? New Orleans is seeing some slightly warmer days this weekend, it’s the start of Mardi Gras, I’ve just popped a King Cake in the oven, and I’ve already decided which cocktail I’m going to enjoy when I head to dinner tonight. We’re rolling into this year with a city-wide, month long party and I’ve got my glue guns and glitter ready to go costume.
Here’s what I know about pizza.
• It is the best food, the Lord’s work, the most important combination of ingredients that ever was.
• I’ll eat any pizza, good or bad, cooked from frozen, cold and leftover.
• Everyday is a negotiation of when and where I will eat pizza again.
• Pizza is better with friends as long as there is enough pizza for everyone.
• It truly is amazing the things you can turn into pizza.
What a time to be alive.
End end of the year is full of feeling. I find myself looking back at the past few years feeling satisfied and proud, wondering what-if, staring strong at situations I could have been better in. I find myself looking forward with excitement, anticipation, hopeful plans and fingers crossed.
Today we’re in the in-between. It feels like the end is the beginning.
I hope you have the luxury to spend this day doing things that make you feel settled and full.
We all deserve a pat on the back and a clink of the glasses come December 31st. Another year. Another WHOLE year in the books. Can you even believe it? We did it, everyday.
Here are a few things to CHEERS to:
* Cheers to all of you who made the Chocolate Babka Pull Apart Muffins for your holiday morning last week!
* Cheers to all of you who have a copy of Over Easy on your bookshelf.
Hello dear friends! A year ago this week I was in the kitchen at the White House, making holiday cookies with Ashley and Molly and oooohhh just the White House Pastry Chef. Exactly 1 trillion things have happened since that time. Just all the stuff that makes us cheer and cry, scream and wonder, and hopefully act more generously with our empathy and genuine curiosity for one another. Hopefully.
I’ve been in San Francisco visiting my maj (a maj is a best friend, a major) this past week. The skies are bright blue, the air feels easy, we’ve gotten to spend some really sweet and important time together, and as a bonus, I’ve made a post 10pm webmd self diagnosis that I really think I’m right about.
Everyday is a winding road. Sheryl Crow had it right all along.
Here’s some words from this week:
• Medium has a series of essays gathered together as Words That Matter. There are all sorts of important writers and thinkers who have offered essays to the group including Margaret Atwood, Roxane Gay, Hillary Clinton and John McCain.
I feel like we’re far enough past pumpkin spice season to really cozy into gingerbread time. Beyond cookies and breads, we can get gingerbread flavors with a thin battered, fluffy and puffy Dutch Baby pancake. It’s simple and thank goodness for that.
A Dutch Baby is a perfect weekend activity because with minimal kitchen efforts, you can have a warm, doughnut-like pancake to hustle over to the couch to enjoy like the world is your own.
Here’s how we do:
A Dutch baby, this giant, fluffy, oven pancake is really pretty simple to make. We’ll start by making a very thin pancake batter, pour it into a very hot cast iron skillet, and finish my slicing very large pieces onto our plates and into our hearts.
Earlier this year I discovered the wonders of a warmly spiced savory meat dish. It was too long a time coming, but moussaka is in my heart to stay.
This chili, some of you from Cincinnati are no doubt nodding your head with knowing, is a cinnamon + chili + cumin and clove spiced meat dish served two ways, three ways, or FIVE WAYS: over spaghetti pasta topped with diced white onions, grated cheddar cheese, and kidney beans.
I’ve seen some of traditional, Mediterranean spiced Cincinnati Chili recipes that also include dark chocolate but this recipe opts out. I can only go so far where spaghetti and cheddar are involved.
This recipe bring on opinions. It’s not often you combine ground cinnamon and ground beef without ruffling a feather or two. The combination warm and comforting and the spice bring such an unexpected roundness to this hearty chili situation.
As you know, I am not from Cincinnati, but I’ve enjoyed this rendition of their fine chili soI wanted to share it with you. If this chili is home to you – I appreciate your grace.
This recipe is from our girl Ree’s latest cookbook Come and Get It! It’s full of dang comforting home cooking so… so do as the title suggests, ya know?
Ready for this?
Here’s the grocery list, laid right out there.
We’re making a simple chili that’s essentially a spiced meat sauce.
• ground beef and broth
• onions and...
Hello friends! It’s December 3rd and we’re off to the races! Or we’re in the races. That’s more like it… It’s December 3rd and here we are barreling towards the end of the year.
This time of year invariably has me taking stock of the things I’ve done in the last 11 months, in the last few weeks, in the last five minutes. The highlights include: publishing my third cookbook this past spring, launching workshops at my space in New Orleans, and eating cold rice with my fingers out of the pot on the stove. It’s a full life, ya know?
I’m pushing my dreams out and up this coming year, but before all that… let’s get to Christmas.
There is all sorts of news that I simply don’t have the bandwidth for as I write this on Saturday night, but here’s what I do have to offer you. It’s pretty good. I’m ok. You’re ok.
• If you are a person who has big scary dreams for the upcoming year, I want you to read this. Big dreams don’t come true because of Instagram followings and unicorn magic, they come true because we dare, we persevere, and we do a million tiny things towards our goal. A Story of a Big Dream and a Single, Small Step. Repeat.
• Ooohhh this perspective is very thoughtful: The Friend Who Diagnoses Too Much.
There’s not much I won’t put in a tortilla.
This comes with plenty of early training. I think I came home from fourth grade and everyday made a peanut butter and jelly ‘sandwich’ in a cold flour tortilla. It took me a few months to navigate how to keep the precious filling from slipping out the end after biting through the tightly rolled peanut butter burrito. It took me another few weeks to figure out that tortillas don’t work well in a toaster, but do fair well over the flame of the stove burner.
But, we’re here to talk about other tortilla things now that I’ve mastered what to put in a tortilla and how to get it in my face.
Sweet potato and bacon tacos. They could be dinner, they could be lunch, maybe add some scrambled eggs and call them breakfast.
I’ll tell you now that, as a former bakery counter girl at The Cheesecake Factory (heeeelllppp), I know my way around a tiramisu. When I say I know my way around a tiramisu, please know that I mean, I would happily thaw out a tray of their frozen tiramisu and take the first, freshest slice all for myself. No shame in the game. Listen… if you’re going to make me wear those awful white jeans and long white apron… expect that there are consequences by way of me eating all of your desserts at my whim.
This week I’m offering a no-bake take on pumpkin dessert at my Thanksgiving table inspired by my sneaky bites of tiramisu from years past.
Lady finger cookies are soaked to soft in very strong coffee that’s been spiked with bourbon.
Hello sweet friends!
Do you already have your Thanksgiving turkey? Are you making some sort of vegan turducken with eight different kinds of squash? I’ve been looking forward to this holiday moment for months and here I am feeling like it snuck up on me. This might just be anticipatory anxiety and I’m here (shoveling candy corn in my mouth) to tell you this is something we can work through.
I hope this day treats you well.
One of the most satisfying hobbies I’ve taken up this year is making paper flowers. If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll see them speckled throughout my life. I’m playing with everything form dainty tissue paper roses to grand and sculptural magnolia flowers.
Most recently I’m making crepe paper poinsettia flowers to decorate my Christmas tree. Poinsettias naturally come in a surprising array of pinks, creams, and salmons that feel more fresh and have more depth and variation than the traditional red flower.
Together with my personal paper flower guru, Suzonne Stirling, we’ve put together a crepe paper poinsettia tutorial for you.
Here are some things to keep in mind if this is your first dip into the paper flower craft:
• it’s addictive- making something so beautiful from humble paper
• like anything new, paper flower making feels foreign and daunting at times- but anything beautiful is worth working through.
• don’t feel like you have to buy every paper on the list below. One or two colors for the bracts (these are what poinsettia petals are called) and two colors for the center
• get a friend in on this hobby too! It’s great to share supplies and spend time doing something new together!
Here’s how this tutorial goes:
Hello my friends! Happy Sunday!
How are you doing? How are we doing? How many men have told you to smile this week? I’m at 2. Thank you for the feedback, gentlemen. Do me a quick favor and mind your own business FOREVER AND EVER. It has felt like, these past few weeks, the flood gates of sexual misconduct have opened wide. What is there to say? I mean… yea. I feel grateful that the lights are shining on this issue. I feel frustrated that this is even an issue. I feel exhausted by my own experience with this garbage. I see who the President is. And then the whole cycle of emotions starts over with another news revelation.
Maybe that’s why I spend my free brainspace thinking about my upcoming Christmas decorations.
This past week felt like it lasted a year. Here are some of the things that reached me:
• Again. How To Reduce Shootings. It’s not black and white.
I’ll tell you what, there aren’t many problems that can’t be solved with a hearty bowl of warm cheese sauce. At least that’s what I’m telling myself lately.
I made this cheese sauce for a big ol’ pretzel party I held at The Bakehouse a few weeks back. We went through it. I can’t be sure some people didn’t double dip but really, could you blame them?
The pretzels you might recognize from these Sourdough Everything Pretzel. It’s by go-to recipe but that’s mostly because I try to keep a sourdough starter in my fridge. If you want to get at some soft pretzel action, here’s another recipe that doesn’t require a starter.
Whatever you do… cheese sauce. Mmmmkay, let’s play.
Ok here’s what you’ll need:
There’s a certain type of autopilot I have to go on in the grocery store in order to not buy every eight dollar juice and bag of dark chocolate that my grumbling belly is asking for. My autopilot leads me past the avocados for a squeeze test, past the onions and garlic with a grab for both, and inevitably I end up strolling past the carrots and placing a bag in my shopping cart.
Honestly, I don’t know why I buy so many carrots. I definitely don’t need all these carrots. My produce drawer runneth over.
Hey it’s Sunday, let’s have some cake.
Along with the extra hour that we get today as a bribe for having the deal with months of short days and Winter darkness… let’s just go ahead and eat cake too. This Pear and Pecan Skillet Cake is a riff on the Fig and Almond Breakfast Cake I made a few years back. Obviously what I’m trying to tell you is, pick a fruit and a nut and just go for it. Cake is very approachable.
I’ve always thought of myself as a pretty standard breakfast person… you know, a scrambled egg, toast, and orange juice sort of situation. Simple. Satisfying.
But as morning turns into late morning and hunger persists, my breakfast cravings get a little more OUT THERE- aka, I start to crave everything in the pantry. See: peanut butter, bacon, and bananas in a breakfast sandwich. It’s bonkers. It’s totally over the top. But listen… we’re going into the weekend and this seems like as good a time as any to get a little nutty with breakfast. Would now be a good time to mention that if you don’t yet have my brunch book, Over Easy, now is an excellent moment to add that to your collection.
Listen… I LOOOOOVE a baking project. Catch me on a Saturday morning at 10am and it’s dang possible that I’ll have at least a dozen bagels coming out of the oven as a result of a wild hair / intense craving that woke me up before the sun.
The warmer and breadier the project, the better. If there’s butter involved… I’m in.
While I’m down to weigh and knead and wait and experiment, you should know that not everything is a project in my kitchen. Out of sheer laziness I eat more scrambled eggs than any grown woman should and for dinner tonight? One of those pre-chopped, dressing-included salad bags. FINE. GREAT, really.
Welcome to another Sunday. Let it be easy. Maybe enjoy a warm bagel and sneak in some Halloween candy. Let’s just live it. Geez… ya know?
Here is our week, in parts:
• I think this is a really important thing to read: Potatoes as a Metaphor for Emotional Labor. It’s a really simple metaphor for a really complex aspect of our emotional / conflicted / feeling hearts. Let’s all just bring our potatoes to the kitchen, or at least try.
• If you don’t know who Senator Jeff Flake is, you might listen to this podcast, The New Washington.