Welcome to Kitchen Smidgen! As this is my first blog ever I’ll apologize in advance that I may be a wee bit long winded on this one, but please bear with me and remember good things eventually come to those who wait.
I am not going to tell you my entire life story just yet, but I will now share how I became hooked on cooking and baking. Perhaps you’ve heard those compelling stories that tug on the heart strings about people who have loved cooking from memorable times they enjoyed in the kitchen with their momma or grandma. Well my tale is quite different. That’s not to say that my mother is not a wonderful cook (she is!) or that I do not have fond recollections from grand family meals over the years, rather that the reality of my former life was just far too busy to permit the joy of cooking and baking to be part of it. I traveled the planet with my fashion industry executive job and worked crazy hours constantly, so culinary creativity was sure not a priority for me when I was home. My previous idea of genuine baking was opening a box of Betty Crocker cake mix – and trust me even that was a major effort!
My eldest sister several years ago then decided to compile a family cookbook of recipes gathered from our mother, Meme (our grandma), in-laws, siblings, and extended family members. My personal contribution was Sunday Quick Meals (I am embarrassed to admit it warranted it’s own special section in our heirloom). My “quickies” were stuffed with mouth watering gems like pre-cooked roast beef, canned corn, and bagged mashed potatoes (and don’t pretend you don’t know what these are or deny having used them). That swift stomach pleaser took about 15 microwaveable minutes and then – voila – a family feast! Could I be any more pathetic? And to make matters worse, my meal plan proficiency is forever bound in print for future generations of our family to behold.
Fortunately, I had an inspiration point to alter my kitchen limitations. For my daughter’s 12th birthday, I decided to personally bake her a cake. That is what normal mother’s do, right? She had typically asked for a Dairy Queen cake on her special occasion as she well knew my shortcomings by this stage in her life. However, I was determined to start doing things differently. This time I was going to make her a cake from scratch. Needless to say, my unprecedented baking experience was not altogether perfect: the cake stuck to the pan, my multi-tiered dessert leaned like the Tower of Pisa, and the store bought icing (OK, I wasn’t ready for the full scratch creative process) all turned to mush. Who knew you had to let a cake cool before frosting it? However, despite that cake being an obvious disaster (or what my husband calls a “dish-aster”), a truly wonderful thing happened – my daughter absolutely loved it because I had made it especially for her. Child inspired, for the past eight years, I have continually attempted to improve my cooking and baking talents to make my kids, hubby and mother hopefully a tiny bit happier and proud.
Leaning Tower of Pisa Cake
Happy 14th Birthday
Fast forward. After 25 years in the fashion industry, I said farewell to it earlier this year to eagerly study Baking & Pastry Arts at George Brown College in Toronto. Having traveled to three dozen countries and six continents in my life, I have enjoyed amazing experiences tasting international culture and cuisine. Now it’s time for me to share tiny secrets for simple living and real tasty cooking that I have learnt along the way.
If you are wondering where my blog’s name came from, here is the scoop. Firstly, it was a portion of the title of the family cookbook noted above that my sister created. Secondly, as many avid cooks may know from old cookbooks and cherished family recipes that have been handed down from generation to generation, some special recipes can call for a smidgen of an ingredient. A smidgen is an actual measure equivalent to about 1/32 of a teaspoon. And although such a minute amount may seem to be inconsequential, it’s often the tiniest things in both food and life – like a smidgen of love, hope, faith, or even red pepper flakes (as my son excitedly points out) – that can make all the difference in the world.