Friday, July 31, 2009

Legality, vetekran, and my first order

Thank you to all of those with your supporting words and messages! It's a relief to see so many people who seem excited about this... I know I am. :) As for negative comments that have come up... honestly, is this such a big deal? Small operations like these happen all the time, and I am not deceiving anyone and I am being upfront about the situation. If people know the situation and don't feel comfortable with it, that is perfectly fine. However, there is no reason to be so negative about it. And, in all honesty, wouldn't it be better to save your energy for something else more important?

Official "legality" is inconsistent and fickle. A person can be considered legally dead and legally alive at the same time in two different states (depending on the various definitions of "brain dead.") Our country has banned slavery, and yet, almost every banana that you eat is picked through slave labor. Each portable electronic devise that you use fuels the civil war that rages through the DRC. Every cup of coffee or bite of chocolate that you eat that is not Fair Trade robs farmers blindly. (More thoughts on my baking, eating, sustainability, and Fair Trade later.) Many pharmaceutical drugs are tested on the impoverished in developing countries with no informed consent and no compensation. And yet, these are all legal in the United States. I understand that rules and laws are in place to try and protect people, but seriously--my kitchen is a lot cleaner than a lot of places in Berkeley, let's just put it that way. There are better battles to fight.

That being said... let's jump to happier news! I received my first order on Wednesday afternoon, the day that I publicized everything. :) It was an order of a dozen ginger cookies. I had lots of fun making it all pretty with fantastically awesomely colorful scrapbooking paper... and it comes with a little card!

Close-up of the logo sealing the box! I haven't been all artsy for a while... it was fun! :)

The chewy ginger cookies in progress... icky gooey molasses!

And the final stack!

These thin, chewy cookies are slightly crispy at the edges, and chewy through the middle. They spread out a ridiculous amount... I don't have any other cookies that spread out as much as these. These delightful cookies are spiced mostly with ginger, cinnamon, molasses, and a smidgen of cloves (the cloves are optional depending on people's preferences...), and then rolled around in sugar before being baked.

I also wanted to work on something else... I haven't baked any since the light whole wheat bread, and my roommate hasn't brought anything into work (I live vicariously through him until I can finally get a job and distribute free treats there instead), and apparently, I still want to give out free food even though I'd like to charge for them. Anyhow, I wanted to make something a little more interesting than your usual boring muffin or zucchini bread (although, I have bananas that are going and zucchinis that need using soon...), so I decided to make a vetekran, a Swedish Tea Ring. It's basically a giant ring of cinnamon buns.

Unfortunately, I baked this at night and was in a rush (to eat it!), so I wasn't able to get a really good picture of it.

The dough is a little different in that the dough has cardamom in it, and requires little kneading, and the first rise happens in the refrigerator. After rolling out the dough and filling it with buttery, cinnamon-sugary goodness, you roll it up jelly-roll style, just like cinnamon rolls. Except, when you're done rolling it up, you pinch the ends together and cut almost to the edge, but not quite.

You're supposed to turn the cut faces upwards so it makes a pretty pattern, but my dough was too sticky, my baking sheet was too small, and I don't think I rolled it up tightly enough. So, my vetekran was kind of ugly and took longer to bake... and I even totally forgot to put the glaze on top (I was distracted by how ugly it was!)... but I still think it tasted great! I mean, it's bread and cinnamon... how bad could it be? :)

Yes, that is a ring of cinnamon-sugar goodness. I have another order for this weekend! :)

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

And so it begins!

Today is the day that I've decided to "go public." Okay, it's not that dramatic, but today is the day that I've decided to start publicizing my blog and Om Nom Nom (also known as OmNom or Nom for short). It's going to be a small operation, mainly spread through word of mouth through friends and family, and, for now, I'm only doing local deliveries. I'm excited. :)

Menu (click image for larger size)

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The ordering menu can also be found on the top of the right hand column. I plan to do monthly specials, as well... something fit for the season, or something that's a little more exciting than the usual fair, or just a new awesome recipe that I've discovered. Keep checking back for more updates and more food porn! Please feel free to email me with any inquiries, thoughts, or comments! :)

Oh yes, and I want to thank Mike, Ben, and Adam on their input as I was getting started!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

First Baking Post - Light Wheat Bread

So I've decided to start out with a something that I've baked recently. I have about two years' worth of photos of baked goods stored up, but I still have yet to find a good way to put them up.

Yesterday, I experiment with Peter Reinhart's Light Whole Wheat Break from the his Bread Baker's Apprentice.

Photograph taken from

It is one of the most amazing books ever... there is actually a flock of bloggers who are doing the Bread Baker's Challenge, where they all bake the same recipe, once per month, until they finish the book, but I'm clearly not structured enough for that at all.

I decided to do his light whole wheat bread because I have been looking for a good whole wheat recipe to put on my little menu, and because I love whole-wheat bread. The previous whole wheat breads have been either too coarse, or an unsatisfying texture. I did have an excellent oatmeal wheat loaf, but it's not quite the same.

I'm still horrible at trying to take pictures in the middle of baking, and, to be honest, I'm kind of messy, and I'm not a big fan of getting flour all over my beautiful Canon XT... I abuse it enough as it is, hehe. That, and I have horrible lighting in my kitchen, which is annoying and is a deterrent from taking more photos.

This is the loaf in the pan after the second rise, right before entering the oven!

Look how beautiful it is! The first rise was an hour and a half, almost two hours, which is the recommended time, but the second rise was only for 30 minutes, or even less. The bread was rising a lot faster than usual (which was odd, because it was fairly cold here), and I had to finish baking the whole thing before Target and REI closed. :P

This loaf seemed to be lopsidedly over-excited about rising in the bread pan. Nice and hot, right out of the oven.

As amazing as hot bread is, most places have been saying not to slice bread while it is still hot, or it will dry out quickly. I guess this makes sense, since, once sliced, the steam (i.e. moisture) will escape the bread, thereby making a drier loaf. So, after running errands, two hours later, my roommate and I dove into the loaf.

This light whole wheat loaf was part bread flour and part whole wheat flour, which gave it a nice, light texture, and a slight whole wheat flavor. It gave a nice crust, as well. Personally, I did not like the flavor too much--it was a little too light for me, but my roommate still liked it.

Baking, Photography, and Blogging

Hello there! So a little (or a lot) about myself.

My name is Edith, and I just recently graduated from the University of California, Berkeley this past May. I started off studying Molecular Biology, but ended up in the Interdisciplinary Studies department. Basically it meant that I could choose the upper division courses I wanted to take (and were approved, of course) in various departments and write a senior thesis in the end. My focus was in International Development, Poverty, and Healthcare (specifically in Sub-Saharan Africa) and my final thesis was a theoretical analysis of the debate on the effect of official donor aid (ODA) on development in developing countries (the Global South, if you want to be politically correct about it). Now, I am graduated, and in the process of looking for that self-fulfilling job that everyone wants before I go to grad school.

Don't I look so proud? Photograph courtesy of Mike Ross

In the mean time, I've decided to take on this part-time project.

Many people keep on telling me to open my own bakery, or to become a pastry chef, or something of the sort, since I kept on bringing in baked goods (once, often twice a week) and giving them away at work, in class, and at dance practice. I honestly don't believe that I would be happy become a full-time baker/chef, but I figure I might as well at least try and cover my expenses from what has become a very expensive hobby that I keep on giving away for free. :)

Rockclimbing at Taos, New Mexico in the rain. Photograph Courtesy of Jay Foley

I am a hodge-podge of things, and my studies are just the beginning of it. My interests range from backpacking to skiing to painting to old computer platform games (yes, I have a DOS-box installed on my laptop) to logic puzzles to reading pretentious Russian novels. And for those who know me, they know that I can't stop dancing around, especially when music is playing.

I love my Fei Tian Dancers. Photography courtesy of Wilson So

And of course, I love baking, cooking, and photography. My weapon of choice is my Canon Rebel XT, and currently my favorite lens is my Canon 50mm f-1.4 lens. It's nice and compact, and takes great photos, especially in low lighting. I love taking candid shots of people... documentary photography and dance photography are my favorites, but I am trying to get better at still-life photography (for baking, of course!).

Now for the baking. I never grew up baking--my family had an oven, but that was used mainly for storing extra frying pans or the occasional carrot cake from the Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook that I loved so much in junior high. In fact, for the first half of college, I lived off of rice, ramen, and lots of soups (I love soups... you just toss everything into a pot and let it boil). It wasn't until the summer/fall of 2006, when my boyfriend and I had broken up when I, for some reason (maybe because he loved baking), picked up a baking frenzy. It's pretty safe to say that my roommate, who lived in the living room next to the kitchen, hated me for the longest time because I would take my frustrations from school and life out on my baked goods. At that point, all I went off of was (which is a great site, by the way) and not much experience and started off with cookies and muffins. It then evolved into pies and quick breads, and now (hopefully), I am a more skilled and refined baker and cook.

I love feeding people... some of the food I made for my recent house-warming party!

Well, enough words for now. At this point, I'm notorious for never keep up with my blogs (I have a travel blog that has half-finished trips posted...). However, hopefully this will not be the case with this one. I hope to use this site as a way for people to look at the things that I bake, and as a way for myself to see how my baking and cooking have evolved.

If you're interested in ordering something, take a look at the menu, and please feel free to email me at OmNomNom.Goodies[at]gmail[dot]com.

Cheers, Edith