Welcome to Baking in Oregon, my brand new blog.
As you can probably tell by the title, I'm planning to post about baking. While my primary focus will be on baking sweet treats and desserts of all kinds, I imagine there will be some savory dishes mixed in here and there. I'm not necessarily going for an Oregon flair in my baking, it just happens to be my home and a place I'm proud to live. If some NW inspired recipes and ingredients do happen to make their way in, then that's a bonus.
I've been interested in cooking since I was a kid. While I had several people who influenced my interest in cooking, it was my grandfather who really got me started. We started simply, making easy snacks for my brother and sister and I such as bread with melted cheddar and season salt. Eventually, he, along with my grandmother, would let me help prepare dinner. One recipe in particular that stands out in my memory was one I had a hard time understanding as a kid - Mousse. I just couldn't figure out why this very tasty chocolate 'pudding' was named after a big animal. I also had a hard time understanding why he kept telling me that the tasty beef sauce I used for my french dip was called au jus. It's funny to recall how the mind of a child interprets things which our adult minds don't give a second thought.
Since then, some years have passed and my interest in cooking has grown to a desire to spread my wings a bit and dig into those areas of cooking that have long haunted me - specifically, baking. For me, many of my past 'baking' experiences included opening the box, adding the eggs, water and oil, mixing together, throwing it in the oven, and considering myself a good cook. That might have been okay for a kid learning to use an oven or even as a bachelor just hoping to put something hot on the table. But now it's time to learn the ways of the baker. It's time to learn that brownies don't have to come from a pre-packaged mix. It's time to learn that bread doesn't need to come from a plastic bag. It's time to learn how to make a proper 'sponge'. It's time to learn about 'proofing' and why a 'financier' has nothing to do with money. It's time to put that beautiful new KitchenAid mixer to work! In short, it's time to do those things I've always wanted to do but have been stopped by my fear of failure - well not any more.After reading a number of foodie bloggers out there, I've found myself inspired not only to start this blog, but to start challenging myself in the kitchen. I may even consider joining up with a group like the Daring Bakers to see if I can conquer some of their 'Daring' recipes.
My motivations? Well, first, my wife, who has supported me through my past kitchen successes and failures. She has endured the pain of living with a 'wannabe baker' gathering up cookbooks, new utensils, pans, ingredients and anything else to clog up our little kitchen. Yes, through it all, she's always there to lick the bowl. Friends and family are next. I may look like I like to eat (and I do), but I really get my enjoyment in making a dish for someone else and having them say 'ohhh...' at the first bite - if I get that reaction, I know I've done okay. Really though, there is nothing like cooking for other people. I mean, food is one of the key ingredients to any gathering. Whether it be for 2 or 22, good food just makes it more fun - and dessert, well that just highlights any food based gathering. Last, but not least, my little girl. Sure, the only raspberries she can understand right now are the kind she makes at me while I'm trying to concentrate on something important, but someday, she'll be old enough to know what a real raspberry is, and what wonderful things you can do with them. Yes, once she's old enough to wield a spatula, she'll be out of the crib and into the kitchen to cook with daddy.
As a part of this blog, I'm also planning to improve upon my photography skills, especially in the subject of still life and, in particular, food photography. I've done okay with scenics and portraits, but I've seen some pretty awesome food photos on many of those blogs out there (Kieran at Ice Cream Ireland comes to mind) and I'm looking forward to testing my skills with a camera as well as with an oven. The photo I've attached to this first blog shows the Cape Mears Lighthouse on the Oregon Coast. This photo recently took 3rd place in a local photo contest, so I thought I'd share it here.
What else will this blog be about? Well, baking/cooking will be the #1 topic. That being said, I'll probably splash a few other topics in here and there. Maybe some thoughts on Oregon and the Northwest. Maybe a little talk or two about healthier eating and exercise (because I really need it!). Who knows what else may crop up from time to time.
So please join me as I start my adventure into the fun and frustrating world of baking. I'd love to get feedback from you folks out there. If you have your own foodie blog, let me know, I'd love to check it out. Got a recipe you think I should try, let me know. Got tips or suggestions that could turn my failures into success? Let me know.
Now, what do I start with??? Hmm...