Monday, 27 February 2012

Monthly Miettes

I am especially excited to write this post for you today, as it's been several months in the making! 

Last fall, I started lusting after a certain cookbook, right around the same time that I caught the baking bug (which, oddly, was shortly after insisting I preferred the freedom of cooking!). I started baking more than ever and decided I really wanted to challenge myself and bring my baking skills to the next level. 

That cookbook was called Miette, by Meg Ray, which carries her pastry shop's namesake. Meg is an inspiring, self-taught baker who built this incredible business from the ground up in San Francisco. This cookbook, then, is a compilation of her tried and true recipes, and contains invaluable instruction on the finer techniques in cake baking and decorating.

The book, in a word, is darling. The pages, scalloped and glossy. The photos, stunning. The recipes, challenging, but enticing. The instant I laid my eyes on it, I knew I had to try and create beautiful cakes like the ones in Miette.

Meg Ray's Cookbook: "Miette - Recipes from San Francisco's Most Charming Pastry Shop."

Having signed up for so many blogging events out there last fall, I decided it was high time that I begun my own. So I wrote to Meg and told her about my idea for a blogging challenge called Monthly Miettes. She wrote back saying that she dug the idea. I was elated!

For the more accomplished bakers out there, these recipes might be - pardon the pun! - a piece of cake,  but for me, this is something that will challenge and stretch me. I will probably fail as often as I succeed and I will most certainly learn a ton. I'm looking forward to it!

I wanted it to be easy to participate - the recipes themselves are challenging enough and Lord knows I don't have much time these days! - so the rules are quite straightforward. Buy the book. Make one cake per month along with me and then post about it. Link back to this post. Let me know you've posted by leaving me a comment, and I'll do a round up the following month. That's it!

Click on the logo to visit Miette's website. Used with permission from Meg Ray.

We won't publish the recipes - much like the people over at French Fridays With Dorie - we'll simply work our way through the cookbook, one recipe at a time, one month at a time. That will also encourage others to buy the cookbook and enjoy it's beautiful composition in their own home, in their own time. (The recipes are much too long to re-post, anyway!)

For the first month, I've chosen the cover recipe: Tomboy Cake. You have from now until March 25th, 2012 to submit your post. 

Wait - there's one more rule! When you make your cake, you must, must eat a slice for breakfast, along with a steaming mug of coffee (or whatever it is you drink to wake up!). 

Why? You'll have to watch this video to understand. Prepare to be enamoured!

To recap, here are the rules:

1) Buy Miette. It will be the prettiest, daintiest addition to your kitchen/bookshelf.
2) Bake the cake of the month and post about it on your blog/website by the 25th. We will start with 'Tomboy Cake', due March 25th, 2012.
3) Eat a slice of your cake for breakfast (as often or as seldom as you wish, but at least once!), photograph it, and enjoy this little morning ritual to the fullest.
4) Link back to this post, please and thanks! (And if you're tweeting about it, use #monthlymiettes.)

Leave me a comment below or drop me a line if you would like to participate: foodjetaimee (at) gmail (dot) com.

Happy baking!

Friday, 17 February 2012

Be Mine, Valentine

When I was a kid, I used to throw out all the Valentine's that said "Be Mine, Valentine" because I thought there was a mistake. It didn't make sense! If I didn't throw them out, I'd give them to the kids (boys) I didn't really like. True story. Not understanding the significance of that comma, every year I would get increasingly frustrated, wondering why on earth the publishers wouldn't catch the error and write "Be MY Valentine," instead? I had an 'ah-ha' moment somewhere around the 7th grade - having not seen one of the dreaded Valentines in a few years, and having since learned a little more about the many uses of the common comma - and mourned the many trees I had surely killed in the process of throwing away so many Valentines.

Youths! Scoff, scoff.

So, truth be told, I've been coming home from work every day and face-planting into bed. The new(ish) job has been taking over my life! I'm certainly enjoying all the hard, hands-on work, but work/life balance has been difficult to achieve and plenty of things have been taking a back seat, including this space.

When it came to Valentine's Day, then, I knew I wanted to make a delicious and thoughtful meal for F., but there was no time in the day nor space in my brain for extravagant recipe creation, so I got some ideas from things I'd learned or read in the past few weeks.

Friday, 10 February 2012

Building Community With Tea & Scones

I'm just going to say it: I think our Afternoon Tea was an excellent exercise and success in building community in Halifax.

It's funny. After years of studying politics, development, and post-conflict reconstruction, the term community building became a familiar one to me, dropped frequently into treatises on gender, rebuilding war-torn societies, and, later, in my work on volunteerism. Just one year ago, I wouldn't have imagined this new path my life would take, nor would I have guessed I'd be using such a term to describe an Afternoon Tea Party for (primarily) a group of bloggers.

It's true that community, and opportunities for it, exist around every corner. It's not up to other people to build it for you, but it is a joint venture that needs a ton of investment. I don't buy this every wo(man) is an island stuff. We need each other! Let's just admit it?

Based on my own feelings and those expressed of my guests, then, in a few short hours last Sunday afternoon, a pile of beautiful, talented, interesting women met in my kitchen and connected, shared, and learned. As a result, a sense of community was built, or made even stronger where it existed already. It was a chance to finally meet those people we'd been interacting with online, or a fine excuse to reconnect with others who'd we met only once or twice.

Women + Food = Community. Or at least it can, if harnessed for the good. In my time on this planet, I've found that women can either be the most constructive or destructive forces in other women's lives. Which do you choose?

(In some opening comments at the beginning of our tea, I warned everyone I was a huge sap and infinitely cheesy. If you know me even just a little, then, none of these comments should come as a huge surprise!) 

Saturday, 4 February 2012

Preparing for Tea

A few weeks ago, I wrote a blog post called You Are Invited To Tea: a bit of an ode to building community through our online connections. As a result, about a dozen wonderful and talented women will be gracing my doorstep for Afternoon Tea tomorrow, and I couldn't be more excited!

Bohemian Tea - by Shelagh Duffett 

Tea Roll Call

Allison Kincade of Allie's Changing Kitchen / Twitter: @changingkitchen
Asheley Ramey of Asheley Eats / Twitter: AsheleyEats
Kathy Jollimore of Eat Halifax / Twitter: @kathyjollimore / Facebook Page
Kelly Neil of / Twitter: @baconandbaileys / Facebook Page (also, the recent founder of the Halifax Baking Club!)
Kim Stacey of Emma's Eatery / Twitter @eatfishcakes / Facebook Page
Nancy Stapleton from Adsum for Women & Children / Twitter: @adsumforwomen / Facebook Page
Renée Lavallée of Feisty Chef / Twitter: @FeistyChef / Faceboook Page
Sheena Clark of Butter Versus Burpees / Twitter: B_versus_B

Also, some honourable mentions for those who will be there in spirit. Hope to see you at the next round, ladies!

Heather Nolan of Mmm is for Mommy / Twitter: @MmmisforMommy / Facebook Page
Susan Morrison of Chef Sue Morrison / Twitter: @chefsuem 
Suzie Ridler of Suzie the Foodie / Twitter: @suzieridler / Facebook Page 

At the end of that original 'tea' post, I encouraged people to contact me if they were interested in joining us, so there are also a few women joining us from the community who do not necessarily blog or tweet. I was so pleased to add them our crew of tea-sippers!

I'll post photos of our goodies and tea next week, but for now I would encourage you to visit their blogs and websites, as well as their Twitter and Facebook pages. They are all doing fabulous and creative things in Halifax (and beyond) and are really worth getting to know better - if you don't know them already, that is!

Now, this little blogger has to get baking...