Late August 2008, one year into working at my still-new job, living in a still-new state, I joined Tuesdays with Dorie (TWD). The baking blog community comforted me and kept me company during a lonely time of adjustment to said new life. I remember weekend baking binges and Tuesday evenings sifting through photos and finding words and stories to create blog posts about cookies, cakes, tarts, and puddings. I wrote my last TWD post in November of 2011, a time of busy happiness, of wedding planning and professional milestones.
I return to the kitchen, dust off Blossom (my pink KitchenAid mixer), tie my apron strings, practice my minimal French and start Baking Chez Moi. I fill this new blog space with stories, photos, and deliciousness. I find my way back to the art and craft of baking, and, more importantly, writing. (You can read my previous baking adventures at bliss: towards a delicious life).
Last Saturday, after helping friends harvest the last leafy greens from their garden before the coming cold, I cracked open Baking Chez Moi and studied the first recipe for the baking group: Palets de Dames. I mixed together the dough and tucked it in the refrigerator to chill. On Sunday morning, I boarded the poetically named Hiawatha Express from Milwaukee to Chicago, where I met my mom, who traveled via a less-poetically named train from Michigan for a quick overnight visit. Our destination: The Spice House.
I was going to meet Dorie.
I’m a proud bibliophile who devours books, particularly fiction, non-stop. I’ve met many authors at bookstore readings, academic conferences, and University lectures. But I’ve never been quite as excited to meet an author. Most books feed my mind, and perhaps trigger an emotional response. Dorie’s books have quite literally fed me and my loved ones on occasions as diverse as ordinary weekdays and once-in-a-lifetime weddings.
Mom and I arrived at the Spice House at dusk, and joined the crowd inside the cozy shop. Within minutes we were sipping Korbel sparkling wine and eating Chocolate Linzer Cookies and Vanilla Sables and assorted truffles as we waited to see Dorie. And then there we were, and she was every bit as charming and approachable as I had imagined. We chatted and she signed my book, posed for photos, and kissed my cheek. This forty-year old woman was having a serious fangirl moment.
Dorie spoke to the crowd about her process writing the book and her editor’s insistence on a macaron recipe. As she spoke of her recipe testing and commiserating with fellow culinary genius Pierre Hermé, I drifted back to my trip to Paris in 2010. I remembered all of the sweet treats I savored from Pierre Hermé and Ladurée and Poilâne. I thought of the bag of almond flour nestled in my cupboard, purchased this Summer when I dreamed of macaron.
As I pull these stories together, I think of my mom, who baked oatmeal chocolate chip cookies throughout my childhood. Who always baked homemade birthday cakes–and still bakes a multi-layer German chocolate cake in early March every year . Cooking and baking, languages of love.
I think of my grandma, who gave me Baking: From My Home to Yours, the original Tuesdays with Dorie master text. My grandma, who signed up for the University sponsored ten-day trip to Paris I co-lead, and willingly accompanied me to every chocolate shop and patisserie on my must-visit list our last day in the city.
I think of the cookbook authors and fellow bloggers who have shaped my culinary journey from tentative cook to confident, creative innovator, eager to keep learning.
My small kitchen contains multitudes.
Palets de Dames satisfy with subtle sweetness and softness, and promise to be a favorite of my husband Gregg’s–he prefers soft cookies, while I crave a bit of crunch or chewiness. These delicate and simple cookies pair beautifully with a cup of darjeeling on a cold November evening, and are a snap to make, especially when you have the dough chilling in the fridge.