Inspired by Many
I wanted to give tribute to those who inspired me to be passionate about baking.
First would be my son, Eli (pictured left) with another inspirational person, my paternal grandmother. Even though Eli was hot and fussy in this photo, I really love this photo of them together. I can say that just looking at the picture makes me want to bake some buttermilk biscuits from scratch–just like she taught me .
Some people have stories of working side by side with someone who helped them learn to bake, but unfortunately, I don’t have that history (I was never interested when I was younger). She taught me how to bake her awesome buttermilk biscuits by just talking me through it and using her words and hands to show me approximate measurements for the recipe. I have gotten really close to mastering her recipe. They are good, but I don’t think I have quite gotten to the same level of awesomeness as her biscuits. Although, it seems anything that granny makes is better, which could be a psychological thing.
As mentioned in my “About Me,” I never baked from scratch before my son was conceived. After learning that I was going to have a baby, SOMETHING JUST CLICKED. Some people call it “maternal instincts,” but I call it “Divine Intervention” because there are a lot of mothers who can’t bake from scratch. Now, My desire is to pass my passion along to Eli in some form–if only to ensure he knows his way around a kitchen so he will make a wonderful kitchen helper for his wife one day.
Another person who inspires me is my mother. While she doesn’t do a lot of baking, she has always been a wonderful cook. I have great memories of watching her cook, and again, while I didn’t stand by and do things step by step, I did help out a little in the kitchen from time to time. When I was old enough, there were certain things that I could cook. It wasn’t until I was in my 20’s that I REALLY did any significant cooking though. Even then, significant is really in the eye of the beholder. It paled in comparison to how she cooks.
I have always called her and asked, “Mom, what goes in your ________ dish?” Just like granny did, she would tell me what I needed and talk me through how to make it. There’s even a post on my blog here about my great-grandmother’s awesome Thanksgiving dressing that you really should check out.
My cooking has MUCH improved. I’m sure there are things that I cook that are really good in my own right, but I can assure you that I wouldn’t be the cook I am today without her contributing so much to my knowledge.
Another resource of inspiration is cookbooks, but not just “any” cookbook, vintage cookbooks or heritage cookbooks. I am SO inspired by this one particular cookbook pictured to the left. It is a local cookbook published in 1951 by the women’s ministry of a local church. There are SO many really great looking recipes in it. What excites me so much about it is thinking of the ladies who submitted the recipes. Many of them well on up in years, or possibly passed on, they were big hospitality people back then. It wasn’t uncommon to have people over for a party every weekend, or every Sunday after church.
Other cookbooks like “heritage cookbooks,” which are those that publish recipes that are attributed to a specific group of people. For example, “Georgia Heritage.” I am interested in that cookbook because I live in Georgia; however, I am also totally sold on another cookbook that is solely for Southern Cakes (southern being anywhere in the south from like Louisiana to North Carolina and even some from further north or even other countries that migrated to the south).
Another cookbook I have enjoyed reading through is one for The Shakers because it includes the history behind the recipe. I TOTALLY love that. I never realized how much I enjoy history until I found my way into the food preparation field.
Google Images is another place that I find inspiration. Many times I fall asleep at night just scrolling through pictures of a specific item. Maybe I’ve had cakes on my mind. I search that cake and click “Images,” and I just look at all of the different cakes that have been posted over the years. I have read SO MANY blog posts on specific cakes that I may have liked more than others. I enjoy reading about the baker’s experience in making the cake.
I seldom EVER actually use the recipe as it is written, but if I do, I give credit to the blog that inspired me with their photo. For example, I have blogged about the Butter Pecan cake of a contest winner on Taste of Home, and the carrot cake listed on AllRecipes called Sam’s Famous Carrot cake. There are some recipes that are just so close to being what I am looking for that it doesn’t make sense to reinvent the wheel; however, most of my cakes come from another type of inspiration…
MY CUSTOMERS!! My customers and their flavor profiles inspire me. When I am not working from my own personal creativity, they give me flavors they love and the occasion they are celebrating, and I begin planning how I could best represent those flavors for that specific occasion.
I love the challenge that comes with pairing flavors that I may not have paired before, or baking a cake that I have never baked before. I had an order for a Pineapple Upside Down Cake once, and my mom asked me, “Have you ever baked one of those before?” I said, “No, but my new answer to anyone’s traditional (non fondant) cake request is ‘Yes, I will bake it.'” I enjoy the challenge of finding just the right recipe, providing them with an awesome product, made from scratch, and adding another item to my menu.