It is 2020. It is heartbreaking that this still needs to be said (over and over, until the message is really, truly understood), but here goes: BLACK LIVES MATTER. RIP George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and the countless other black men and women whose lives were pointlessly, violently lost due to the intense systemic racism and prejudice in this country. I’ve been spending the last few days thinking about the ways we can help dismantle the broken social structures that enabled these tragedies to occur in the first place. Please consider watching Chris Cuomo’s meditation of America as a tale of two cities, then read this post by @goodgoodgoodco on how to be actively antiracist and this post by @mireillecharper on non-optical allyship. The Cut also has a great round-up of ways you can actively demand justice for George Floyd.
Now, how is everybody doing?
I wish I had good news to report, but the truth is, well…🤷🏻♀️. It feels like many things are still in limbo or on hold indefinitely. My city of Portland is still in lockdown. We have no official ETA of re-opening any time soon (though there have been some reports of a mid-June re-opening). In any case, Erlend and I made the decision to postpone our August wedding.
The good news is that, because our wedding was so small (we’d planned a courthouse wedding with a ceremony exclusive to just our parents), there wasn’t much to cancel. Just the flowers and photography (both of which were weirdly expensive, but that’s another story, lol). The bad news is that because of the uncertainty surrounding the pandemic, we didn’t set a new date. It just seemed especially risky to do so! Because what if the worst of the scientific models comes true? That COVID-19 comes back with a vengeance in the fall/winter? What if this truly is our lives for the next 2 to 3 years?
If it were up to me, Erlend and I would likely just go to the courthouse and just unceremoniously get the deed done. Why? Doing so would afford us the legal protections that we currently don’t have as a couple. I mean maybe that’s not romantic, but it’s the end of the world and it’s important to plan. However, I wrote before that our decision to have a ceremony in the first place was driven primarily by our families. It seems especially heartbreaking to have some kind of wedding without either of our moms actually there. But maybe that’s just the reality of future weddings. I really don’t know, except that it seems pretty unappealing to do anything over FaceTime or Zoom. So in the meantime, I’ve just been keeping myself busy by developing new recipes for y’all.
In Case You Missed It…
And in case you missed it, I published and updated a TON of recipes in the past month. Here’s a round-up of everything new:
- Very Small Batch Yellow Cake with Chocolate Frosting
- Coffee Tres Leches Cake
- Small Batch Blueberry Muffin Recipe
- Mini Pancake Cereal Recipe
- Small Batch Banana Nut Muffins
- Rhubarb Custard Pie
- Very Small Batch Strawberry Cake
- Vietnamese Iced Coffee Cake (This is a major update to a popular recipe of mine—the post now includes GIFs on how to make the signature swirl pattern!)
- 3 Ingredient Peanut Butter Cookies
- Mini Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins
Food For Thought
This past month, I also spent a LOT of time thinking and reading about food beyond the baking recipes you see on this blog. Here are the ideas and issues that resonated with me:
- This one is for all the couples stuck together: “In quarantine, cooking is our love language.”
- COVID-19 exposed massive flaws and shortcomings in our government, healthcare system, economy, and even our food system. The stories about farmers dumping milk and burying vegetables, as well as culling and overcrowding animals are heartbreaking. I also find myself wondering: is this the end of meat?
- Forever humbled by how this restaurant owner handled the loss of his building during Minneapolis’ George Floyd protests: “We can rebuild a building, but we cannot rebuild a human.” Please consider supporting their GoFundMe.
- How yogurt in America reflects its food trends. Fascinating!
- I would be remiss if I didn’t mention one of the biggest scandals the food world has seen as of late: beloved recipe writer and cookbook author Alison Roman’s disastrous interview. In the interview, Alison said some choice words about Chrissy Teigan and Marie Kondo (including a questionable, racist bit where it seems like she mocks Marie’s accent… yikes!). This Eater article is a good summary of why her interview was so problematic. My favorite takes include this Pajiba article on Alison Roman and her ethnic erasure of recipes and this tweet thread by @clairewillett dismantling the insidious toxic nature of Alison’s words. I also like this deep-dive from Eater that examines why “ethnic” ingredients like kimchi, harissa, and more only truly take off when white food writers/chefs incorporate them into their cooking.
- On the opposite end of the spectrum, I loved this piece by The Atlantic that discusses how many food influencers, chefs, food writers, and more have pivoted to provide more empathetic and accessible recipes during our critical times. Because of all the flour shortages (and other ingredients, too!), I’ve been doing a lot of that too by providing more substitutions for my more recent recipes, as well as developing small batch recipes that help ration essentials.
- Speaking of flour shortages, here’s an inside look at how King Arthur Flour is handling the sudden spike of demand for their products. I have SO much respect for their dedication and hard work in keeping us supplied. Sincerely.
- Rude and entitled customers. Angry and violent grocery shoppers. This is what it’s like to be an essential worker during the pandemic. Please be kind!
Now Let’s Talk About Fun Stuff
Because yes, sometimes I need an escape from it all. Here’s what I’ve been doing to distract myself:
- At the start of the month, I blew through Mindy Kaling’s Never Have I Ever on Netflix in one afternoon. Like this reviewer said—the show made me happier than I’ve been in weeks, and reminded me a lot of my own high school experience. Now who wants to talk about the Devi-Ben-Paxton love triangle with me (or how, at the end of the day, the show is more about Devi and her mom)?!
- I only recently discovered TikTok (I’m @hummingbirdhigh, if you want to follow—I’ve only posted one video so far, and it’s of my cat doing the #levelupchallenge, lol), and I was surprised to find that there are a lot of folks paying homage to the early and mid-2000s. I am here for this (after all, those are the years in which I grew up), but I am also not ready?! It feels too soon!!!
- Speaking of the early and mid-2000s, I have an important question for you: are you an Aragorn girl, or a Legolas girl??? Or just a straight-up Boromir WOMAN?!
- “I ate like a Gilmore Girl for a week and here’s what happened.” Not gonna lie; this looks remarkably similar to my quarantine diet. You know, the one I’ve since gained 7lbs on, lol.
- I am almost as big a fan of The Hunger Games trilogy as I am of the Harry Potter series; I devoured the new prequel, The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, in less than a day. Has anybody else read it yet? Can we please chat about it?
…And Some Hot Takes
And finally, Imma leave you with some hot takes:
- This is old, but gold: A Quick Guide to Instagram DM Etiquette by The Frugality. The truth is, I love answering most of your questions—I love doing anything to encourage you guys to bake as much as possible! But also, it can be really, really overwhelming. I get urgent DMs at all hours (including Saturday night at midnight!) that I feel like I need to respond to. I often field questions where the information is already readily available in the blog post or through Google. While many of you are lovely to chat with (and I love, love, love seeing you sharing the results of my recipes!), there are a handful of rude people who display the worst behaviors described in that guide. At the end of the day, I know we are all trying our best…but I need your help, too.
Most recently, I was saddened by some of the questions I saw in the tutorial for my Vietnamese iced coffee cake. There were a couple of questions about substitutions—like swapping out the coffee in the recipe with tea, or swapping out the sweetened condensed milk with something else—that would have changed the flavor and nature of the cake completely. I understand the need to make substitutions because of ingredient shortages and/or allergies. But these substitution requests bordered on—and I don’t say this lightly—disrespectful. In the blog post, I wrote about the historical reasons why Vietnamese coffee is paired with sweetened condensed milk. That kind of substitution would have inconsiderately stripped the cake of its Vietnamese identity entirely. Why not just find another coffee-flavored cake recipe, or one that isn’t paying homage to the signature dish of a country?
- Two Ingredient Ice Cream Bread. I am not ready. I do not agree. This is wrong.
- Did Instagram ruin the chocolate chip cookie? You tell me.
Hope you all are staying safe and healthy! Please let me know how you’re doing in the comments below, and feel free to share the articles, memes, movies, songs, and stories that are floating around in your heads, too.