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My Writing Process Tour

October 27, 2014

 

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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.

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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.

 

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A chipotle “flatbread” with black beans (pre-vegan photo).

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The iconic ceramic rooster always reminds me of our family kitchen.

 

Thank you very much for reading!  It’s what makes it worth it.

 

 

 

 

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20 Comments leave one →
  1. October 27, 2014 12:46 am

    Great post, and thanks for the links to the other blogs! Hope all is well!

  2. October 27, 2014 2:07 am

    Howdy, Gerard! Great to have you back! 😀

  3. October 27, 2014 2:28 am

    Lovely post and good to see you back again. Thank you for your kind words – I am so happy to think anyone notices weeds more after reading my little blog. It is certainly a learning process for me, and one that has become very rewarding. Of course a big part of it is reading other peoples’ blogs and expanding my own ideas on recipes and techniques. This past year of blogging has been something like taking an intensive cooking course. So much fun!

    • October 27, 2014 2:47 am

      Thank you Hilda. It’s nice to know I have a small presence in the blogosphere, but more importantly in our community! I really am amazed at the creativity that I encounter everyday from our fellow blogger friends. It inspires me to work harder on my blog. Thank you for sharing!

  4. October 27, 2014 7:59 am

    Thank you so much, Gerard, for your kind words! It’s so good seeing you again – I have been missing your thoughts about flavours and textures. Believe me, without your inspiring posts about your work, your dedication to your vision, I would never have gone back to do another version of that bread! You are a real inspiration, Gerard, and I hope to see you again soon in your kitchen 🙂

    • October 27, 2014 10:08 am

      I appreciate that very much Ginger! It was fun to acknowledge you and your blog. Your posts always inspire me to do better and are always a pleasure to read.
      It’s nice to get back and writing this one was a great way to do so. Thanks once again for nominating me!
      Gerard

  5. October 27, 2014 3:26 pm

    Gerard, Thank you for nominating me for the Writing Process Tour. It comes at a very busy time in my life as I am taking a class and I am also in the middle of painting the inside and outside of my house! (Not the whole thing though.) Raking leaves, getting them out of the gutters of my house, mowing….believe it or not, I’ll be doing all of that when I leave the library today after responding to my emails and blog comments! I would like to do the Writing Process Tour because it calls for some introspection but it will have to wait until the weather turns cold. Right now we are having what they call “Indian Summer” and I have to take advantage of it. I’m a slave to the weather! Having said all of that, it was nice to learn more about you in your post. I also appreciate your mention of the other nominees whom I am now following. Have a great day – you deserve it!

    • October 27, 2014 10:41 pm

      You really have a lot going on there Marcella! I’m getting tired just reading about all that work. But I know being outside and active is good and you need to take advantage of the weather as you said. It’ll be winter before we know it. Thanks for the nice response. Take your time with it. It’ll be nice to know a little more about you. Careful out there painting your house!

      • November 19, 2014 6:05 pm

        I got half done of what I wanted to do and before I knew it, winter was here! In a way I like it because it keeps me home and I get in the baking mood which is more relaxing than painting and all the other things I wanted (needed?) to do. I made some apple rolls which were different and a “new” type of Italian bread. It didn’t have much flavor so I’m thinking of ways I can increase the flavor of my breads. I added sesame seeds on top and I couldn’t even taste them. Maybe I need some new taste buds? I’m afraid to put away all my paint paraphernalia because I feel like as soon as I do, the weather will get warm again! (or am I just wishful thinking?) Stay warm! I’ve been making soups which come in handy with this crazy weather!

    • November 21, 2014 1:23 am

      I’ve also been making more soups lately because of the weather but also because they are a good way for me to get protein. Though it is wet, it has warmed up all of sudden after some freezing temperatures, so we are back with moderate weather for the next few days at least. That snowstorm in the northeast is unbelievable.
      I’ve also lately been toasting slices of bread with walnut or olive oil. It’s quick and easy and gives a good crunch to go along with the soup. Those apple rolls sound pretty good! Stay warm and have a good Thanksgiving!

      • November 21, 2014 6:45 pm

        Yes, it is warming up here too. Today the sun is shining. Yes, poor Buffalo, NY! Imagine the floods they will have when it all melts! Walnut oil sounds good! I’m trying to cut back on my food expenses but I might be able to squeeze in some walnut oil. I enjoyed the apple rolls but I would have liked them to be more juicy. I’ve got another batch in the freezer so I might just stuff them with an extra apple. They were great for breakfast. I’m staying warm and finally figured out that if I wear 2 pairs of sweat pants instead of 1 around the house, that I’m very comfortable! As far as going outside, I’ve got a nice down jacket that I bought years ago that keeps me warm as toast. I used to go skiing so I’ve got all kinds of ski pants, face masks, etc. for when I have to dig out of snow. I have no problem with cold weather, it’s the hot, humid weather that I don’t like! Have a happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!

  6. October 27, 2014 7:14 pm

    Glad to read from you again Gerard – that’s a very inspiring post, you have such a unique approach to food, it’s always a great pleasure to read your blog. And totally agree with your assessment of Ginger 🙂

    • October 27, 2014 10:58 pm

      Thank you *lucky star anise*! It’s very nice to feel welcomed like that! Thank you very much too for reading!

  7. sforim permalink
    November 15, 2014 12:04 am

    great post and thanks for sharing so many valuable resources! It is hard to believe it was 100 degrees in Austin as you wrote this post 🙂

    • November 15, 2014 12:59 am

      Thank you very much for the nice words! I appreciate you spending time at my blog.
      Last night it dipped below freezing, so yes summer is way behind us.

      • sforim permalink
        November 19, 2014 3:10 pm

        I enjoy your blog and often read it in between things, when I get a minute. You see, I am a big fan of Hispanic culture, it fascinates me.
        yep, I am 50 miles away North so it feels like being back home in Germany!

    • November 20, 2014 3:14 am

      Thank you, I’ve enjoyed reading about your thoughts and impressions on Central Texas, Americana, and more, especially so because you are from a different culture altogether.
      I hope you have a nice memorable Thanksgiving holiday!

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