My Writing Process Tour
It’s a little hard to believe my last post was on June 30th, it really seems like only several weeks ago. At that point we were having 100 plus degree weather in Austin and I had planned to come up with some chilled soups, paletas, and maybe a liquado or two to combat the heat. But here we are with fall in the air and Dia de Los Muertos and Halloween less than a week away. Remember when you were a kid on the last day of school ready to jump into the summer which was like an eternity when you could play all day every day to your heart’s content? You r’member! Not having experienced any kind of adult responsibilities, we couldn’t fully appreciate it. But we didn’t have to, we were totally in the moment of enjoying life as only a kid knows how. As adults, our calendars are full of days marked with deadlines, appointments, and must do’s. Depending on what kind of job you have, you have mini-deadlines created for you within the day. Having worked in kitchens for many years, I can attest a cook is constantly working against or with the clock, depending on how you see it. The kitchen may seem relaxed at the beginning of the day with the clock on the wall and that second hand moving so slow. Yes let’s enjoy our coffee a couple of minutes before we start prepping up the soup de jours. What’s the rush? (That’s a very tiny bit of the kid in the summer feeling being relived there.) Then the deadline for the misce en place and/or the presentation of the extensive buffet approaches. As we get closer to zero hour, that clock on the wall doesn’t seem to be moving so slowly anymore. That’s especially true the last half hour or so when most foods are being cooked for maximum freshness and appeal. If you’re working with an a la carte menu, a different sort of manipulation of time is an essential skill to develop. “Time in the Kitchen” sounds like a good title for a post , doesn’t it? Here I go again, making plans too way ahead again. My point is that time has flown by lately for me. In any case, it feels good to be back and wipe the dust off my blog. I hope to get back to more regular posting. No deadlines though.
Now to the important stuff. I must first thank Ginger from Ginger and Bread for nominating me for the “Writing Process Tour.” It’s so nice to get the support and encouragement! I’m not very big on blogger awards because I always feel awkward nominating others. I accepted (so many weeks ago!) this non-award because it would give me a chance to think about where my blog was going. It also gives me an opportunity to acknowledge a few fellow very inspiring bloggers. I have always enjoyed reading Ginger’s very well written and visually beautiful blog and learning about foods from her native southern Germany. She also introduced to me many other foods during her world soccer tour of countries. She is quite adept at making delicious looking loaves of bread from her tradition and beyond. She knows what she is doing. Being a bread enthusiast myself, it’s educating and fun reading about her breads and methods of baking. In her Schwarzbrot post, she writes about her adaptation of a recipe from a 1951 cookbook that’s a an updated version of the original 1912 publication. I love that she included photos of the second hand book and a few of its pages with all its stains and hand written annotations. She also has a photo of a typical “Abendbrot” with her bread. She relates she is aiming for a certain flavor or sourness in her loaf, so she continues with a 2nd version of Schwarzbrot, honing in on what she is going for in the bread. Even though I don’t come from a sourdough bread tradition, I can relate to that. I always have a certain flavor and sourness I work towards in the sourdough bread I make. So she has wonderful photos, recipes from her German tradition, and explanations of her baking or cooking processes. What more do you want? Well, she also writes about her trips around England and her native Germany. Her post about a cottage and garden in Dungeness, Kent conveys the surreal nature of its locality. Thank you again Ginger! I apologize for taking so long to follow up on the “Writing Process Tour.”
The rules for the Writing Process Tour are the following:
1. Acknowledge the person who nominated you.
2. Answer the tour’s 4 questions.
3. Select three others to participate.
1. I could go on about Ginger and her blog. Do visit her site.
2. What am I working on? Trying to improve my baking. In general, I continue baking breads and making tortillas as often as is practical. At work I bake bread as regularly as time allows. That gives me a chance to try different styles and get immediate feedback. At home, I usually have homemade bread ready or in the freezer. I also enjoy making tortillas as often as I can. Pre-dawn hours on weekends are my favorite time to make them. It’s quiet, I have my freshly made French roast by my side, and two whole work-free days are ahead of me. I can never get enough practice.
How does my work differ from others in the genre? In terms of the approach, it’s not much different from other blogs. I sense there is a lot of experimentation going on in food blogs like there is in mine. That’s part of the fun and challenge. Also, everyone brings their unique perspective to their subject matter. My perspective on bread baking is from a 2nd generation Chicano (Mexican-American) background. I must also mention that this a vegetarian friendly blog with “Jalapeno and Cheddar Cheese Sourdough” being my last non-vegan recipe. From here on out I plan to write only vegan-friendly entries.
Why do I write what I do? I write to express my cultural background as it relates to my cooking. I’ll include traditional recipes from time to time, especially those I grew up with. They will often inspire a variation. But I’m also very interested in making new recipes, foods with flavors that might make sense alongside a typical Tex-Mex or Mexican meal. I will try my best to explain the background or story of a recipe so that the reader knows exactly what it’s about. In these times when much of the culinary world is getting eclectic and fusion orientated, I think it’s important to know the origins so that a sense of where the recipe stands in relation to a tradition(s) is not lost.
How does your writing process work? Much of my inspiration is from family cooking, foods I grew up with. Many times I take typical Mexican or Tex-Mex ingredients and think of a way to incorporate them into a bread, tortilla or other food. Local ingredients, though not necessarily associated with Mexican food are also fair game. For record’s sake, I always write down notes for potential recipes in a notebook. In fact, I keep 3 notebooks, one with recipes for breads, one for tortillas, and one for ideas. I’ll look back through the notes and have a very hard time remembering I even did some of recipes! It sure helps going over and reviewing mistakes or suggestions I noted. Sometimes I’ll return to an idea I had months ago and try it. My latest entry is a for a 3-seed sourdough. Sunflower, pumpkin, and sesame seeds are obvious choices. How can I make it unique and personal? If I decide to go for it, the process might take a couple of weekends or more to get it to my satisfaction. I usually describe in the post what adjustments I made. I also find myself finding ideas, inspiration, and reference material from cookbooks which I mention in my posts.
3. I’m choosing Marcella Rousseau at For Your Good Health as someone to participate in the Writing Process Tour. She writes very informatively about different aspects of well being and does so from personal experience. Diet, exercising, and health promoting activities are just some of the topics she explores. She can also point you to good resources for you to investigate. I usually find myself smiling while reading her posts which are written with an understated and heart-felt humor. She’ll be the first to tell you that smiling is good for you. Thank you Marcella!
Another person I’m choosing is Marwinna with her delicious looking loaves at Bread & Philosophy. There was no way I was not going to follow her blog when I came across it. Her niche of bread baking of course got my attention. Cooking and baking is much more than just following recipes as all us fellow food bloggers can attest. So it’s interesting to see her perspective on the experience as she is very observant in her experiments. Baker’s books don’t show us how they arrived at a certain result. How a recipe was tweaked is just as interesting as the final recipe itself. Nuances and details I haven’t encountered in my baking come to light in her writing. I know I’ll learn much from reading her blog.
One more person I’d like to nominate is Hilda with Along the Grapevine. I am so impressed with all the wild and foraged plants she continues to feature with tasty creative recipes. You have to respect someone who has educated themselves so much about naturally found food. That’s what I call being in touch with nature. I also like her conscientious and cautious attitude in her approach to foraging. My neighborhood, which has a wide variety of wild plant life, or the nearby natural park where I walk my dogs probably have a large number of perfectly edible snacks which I’m not aware of. She has at least raised my awareness of foraging, even though I can’t identify very many wild plants.
A chipotle “flatbread” with black beans (pre-vegan photo).
The iconic ceramic rooster always reminds me of our family kitchen.
Thank you very much for reading! It’s what makes it worth it.