Welcome to Baker’s Nook, the kitchen chronicles of a baking-obsessed, twenty-something college graduate! I’ve always had a thing for baking, but while cloistered away in the world of academia, it was only an occasional extravagance. It wasn’t until I entered the real world of a 9-5 job, and it’s subsequent guilt-free allotment of work/leisure time, that allowed me to discover the passion I truly had. At the moment, I’m an English teacher in Nara Prefecture, Japan and fervid baker by night. Japan will always be near and dear to me, and while this blog occasionally digresses into Japan-specific specialties, the recipes and wrapping ideas can be carried out anywhere on the globe. So whether you’re a fellow JET like me, humbly equipped with a temperamental toaster-microwave-oven contraption in a tiny single apartment kitchen, or the lucky owner of a full-size, English language oven, you can join me in my mission to make, bake, and give as many confections as my spare time allows!
Baking is great because…
It doesn’t impose or presuppose anything. A baked good is always a treat, no matter how simple or elaborate. Cooking, on the other hand, always comes with expectations and standards. You need protein, veggies, grains, and enough time and sanity after work to put it all together. At dinner, there’s not always time (or patience…) to exclaim about the picture-perfect golden ruffle of a quiche crust–the food is hot and people are hungry! But with baking, there is time to delight in the prettiness of a crumbly cherry scone or admire the cloud-like burst of piping hot batter in a popover. Perhaps most special of all, baked goods are beautiful, rustic, and don’t just begin and end in the kitchen–when they are gifts, they are an extension of one’s hand and home.
At Baker’s Nook, I focus on the process of making, wrapping, and giving baked goods, because I think the world needs more handcrafted things. Things made my hand have life, love, and spirit in them, and when you give someone something handmade, you give that person a unique embodiment of your time, effort, and attention. My gifts are about making the best use of resources, materials, and time. You don’t need fancy wrapping paper or silk ribbon to make a gift elegant–re-appropriating common things like seran wrap, parchment paper, twine, newspaper, and even paper bags can, in my opinion, be just as classy and certainly more wallet-friendly. The way you present something is as important, I think, as the thing itself! But that doesn’t mean it has to be over the top or a bank-buster. It just has to be thoughtfully crafted.
The most important message I can convey here is that I think everything we do should be done as a gift to someone, even it it’s just to yourself! Drink coffee out of your best teacup and saucer, and pack your lunch with style and color so it’s a pleasure to look at as well as taste.
The feeling of a baked good, to me, is decidedly different from a cooked meal. It has more warmth, more affection, and pure, unsophisticated goodness. I love food because it brings people together, but baking goes beyond our basic food necessities and offers up a small taste of home, happiness, and indulgence.
I look forward to sharing and exchanging ideas!
From yours truly in the kitchen,