Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Meet Me (Kimberly)

I love San Francisco and baking this much!!!

My name is Kimberly, and I’m a California girl (born and raised).  I currently reside in Sacramento, CA, where I live with my husband and my wonderful son.  I’m a student (at the University of California, Davis), on the road to graduation (I have less than 2 months left).  I’m majoring in mathematics, with a minor in education.  The road has been a long one to say the least.  I graduated high school more than 10 years ago, and after some back and forth with what to major in, and then getting pregnant and married, school took a seat on the back burner.  I went back after a couple years (and being laid-off from my job), and decided to pursue a degree in education, because I’m very passionate about teaching.  When I’m not in school, I’m exploring the city (of San Francisco), going on random drives to nowhere (or the beach.  I love the beach), doing outdoor photography (with my Canon DSLR), or baking.  I love to bake.  I’ve been baking for as long as I can remember.  I use to spend a lot of time with my grandmother (before she passed away), and she taught be a lot about cooking.  I’m still amazed at the fact that she could put a whole meal together for 10 people in a day without burning anything (a feat I have yet to accomplish).  Her cooking was southern cooking, rich in butter and fat.  And even now that I have replicated some of her dishes, nothing compares to what she made.
 Despite my love for cooking, I’m probably the world’s pickiest eater.  I stick to baking because I find that I like a better variety of foods in the baking category.  That doesn’t mean I won’t cook it.  I love cooking for others, and so I will often make things even though I won’t necessarily eat it myself.  I want to work on expanding my horizons, but there are so many rules I make for eating, it’s ridiculous.  It’s a new year though, so we’ll see.


So a little background on this blog… 


Lets start with the title.  Why cinn (and not cinnamon)?  Well, I like the abbreviation and I hope that one day it will catch on.  But I also like the spice.  Breakfast is my favorite meal of the day, and I often find that I put cinnamon in a lot of the things I make (my pancakes, waffles, french toast, cinnamon toast….) and it is by far my favorite smelling spice.  The aroma reminds me of Christmas pinecones, and who doesn’t enjoy holiday reminders?  So Cinn and Spice it is.

Where did the idea of blogging come from?

Well, the original motivation is my own, but I hardly ever do anything by myself.  My friend Juanita and I always talk “baking” together.  Whenever we get together we bake, and we’ve been discussing for a few years on what we would do if we opened our own bakery.  It all started as a dream, but the more you talk about dreams, the more you want them to come true, and so I hope to achieve opening a bakery some day with Juanita.  We’re starting off with this blog.  And we’ll see where it takes us.  You’ll get to learn more about Juanita in her post.

Why a baking blog?

Well, there are a million baking blogs out there.  I’m almost certain mine won’t differentiate too much from the rest, but I like to talk, and I like to bake, and so its not about getting as many followers as possible, but just getting my ideas, and thoughts and feelings about the kitchen out into the world (wide web) and maybe teaching a few people in the process.
 This blog will in a way hold me accountable for trying to get into the kitchen more, and motivate me to see my goals become a reality.  I can seek help from those who read my blog, and in return offer advice to those who also may want to open a bakery as well.  I also love to teach.  I feel like it’s a calling.  And I think I’ve finally got it right.  Baking and teaching: all meshed into one.  I’ve always been a kind of science nerd, so experimenting in the kitchen is fun for me.  My successes and failures will be a learning tool for everyone.

But you’re a novice, so why the big ambitions?

Well, I am a novice, but I have enjoyed baking since I was 3 years old.  I have lots of memories in the kitchen with my grandmother (who I adored and loved with all my heart).  This dream is in part paying homage to her memory and also working on a few goals myself.  I struggle with finding what makes me happy.  I’m heading into my 30’s and I feel like I’m in high school with no idea what I want to be “when I grow up.”  I originally wanted to teach with my degree, and will likely do so, but I find that the stipulations of teaching will bog me down in the classroom.  And as a California resident, the school system is pretty bad off anyway.  Before teaching I was going into veterinary medicine, but I realized how much I hated biology.  And then there was the stint with biotechnology (but that didn’t last that long).  My point is, I’ve been all over the place for as long as I can remember, but one thing that I’ve always enjoyed, was cooking.  I love experimenting in the kitchen.  I loved waking up early with my grandmother on thanksgiving or Christmas day, and making the ham, and the dressing and the sweet potato pie.  And after some sole searching, I realized that I needed to work on things that make me happy.  School does not make me happy (I’m earning a math degree.  Enough said).  Working big-box retail does not make me happy (I can’t fake smile it anymore.  People are just mean).  Being a homebody does not make me happy, unless I’m in the kitchen.  So last year I thought to myself, why not work more on baking?  Don’t just talk about it, actually do it.  Juanita and I go back and forth on baking ideas, and opening a dream bakery.  So I started with a couple of cakes.  I first made a cake for a friend’s birthday, experimenting with fondant (It was a lot of work, and very time consuming, but I had fun in the process). It looked amateur at best, but my friend enjoyed it, and the compliments I received helped a lot. 

(a popcorn bag cake, for my friend who loves movies.  The cake was a tiramisu-flavored cake with mascarpone frosting.)

I moved on to make another friends (yes, my 25 year old friend) birthday cake.  This time I experimented with cake carving (and no fondant.  Did I mention that fondant is really hard to work with?).  It was a simple cake (that I actually had to make twice because the first time I messed up (badly) on the piping), but once again, I enjoyed seeing my ideas become a reality.

(A Pok√©mon cake, not from scratch.  This is just a box cake with box frosting.  But I did do the coloring of the frosting).

(Toy elements added for appeal)

My third attempt was a cake for a friend made on a bet.  It was my friend’s graduation and birthday party.  I wanted to make her a special cake.  Our other friend wanted to make her cake pops that she thought would be better than my cake.  And so it was on!  I spent more than 16 hours making boxed cakes (a total of 18 I think went into the process), buttercream frosting from scratch, fondant rolling, dirty icing, and stencil and piping work (with the help of a dear friend.  That cake would not have been finished without her).  Unfortunately it was the hottest day of the year (in the California valley), and my buttercream didn’t hold.  My cake melted and cracked before it got to the party.  On the upside (for at least me), the friend I was competing against had all of her cake pops melt and fall apart too.  They were a sidewalk decoration.  We called it a draw because she spent just as much time and hers were just as much a disaster as mine (although I do have to confess, they were decorated quite nice).

(This was a three-tiered disaster.  The first layer was a devils food cake with fresh strawberries and chocolate drizzle in the center.   The second layer was a French vanilla cake with a buttercream frosting middle.  And the last layer was a chocolate cake with I a chocolate buttercream frosting.  The cake as you can see looks like a pillow, but that’s because it started to cave in from the buttercream not holding up.  Also the stencil work on the damask print was a booboo on my part.)

My last attempt at amateur cake work came when I offered to make my sister-in-laws cake for her baby shower.  I had the idea of what I wanted to do in my head, but unfortunately it didn’t quite make it in my cake work.  The icing I made melted (It gets pretty hot here in Sacramento) and so when I went to decorate what was supposed to be Simba (with textured fur), turned out to look more like a gremlin.

(Meet Gremlin…I mean Simba.  I was so proud of my Rice Krispy molding skills, but frosting the little monster turned out to be failure.  The royal icing I used lost its hold before it set.)

(What arrived at the party.  Once again, it was hot that day, although not as hot as my last cake fiasco, and so it started to sink a little.)

The fondant work turned out nice (thanks to my husband for rolling it out), but the sugar cookie animals not so much.  I think it was at that point that I decided that I should stick to cupcakes (something I enjoy making, and find pretty easy to do).  I may one day explore cake work again, but for the time being I’ll stick to basic sweets.  

What can I look forward to with your blog?

Well, you can look forward to getting to know me.  And that’s pretty cool I’d say.  But more importantly you can get to learn while my friend Juanita and I learn.  We will be doing a lot of experimenting in the kitchen.  We will find what works and doesn’t work, and hopefully enlighten and inspire you to experiment as well.  We want to provide you with some recipes, and ideas that will get you in the kitchen.  We want to introduce you to products we use, and tutorials on how we use them. And maybe give a few things away as well.  We want to have open discussions where you can ask questions, post ideas, and share your thoughts as well.  So come and be a part of the Cinn & Spice family. 

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