If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll know that September was a rough month. A few weeks ago, major wildfires burned throughout my state of Oregon. Some were dangerously close to the city of Portland itself. For two weeks, smoke obscured the sky and the air was a hazy brownish/orange color. Air quality was so bad that Portland’s AQI, a scientific index measuring the quality of air, consistently had readings between 475 and 600 (for context, clean air has an AQI reading between 0 and 50; the scale maxes out at 500). Our local government warned us to stay by our phones for alerts about evacuations, and advised us against any activities that would increase our heart rate and breathing.
Last month, I talked about how Erlend and I were re-evaluating whether or not we wanted to stay in my house. The wildfires, however, added fuel (ha) to our discussion. I’d always thought that the oldness of my house was an asset. The house was built in 1912, with charming period details like crown molding and bay windows. However, many of those windows are in desperate need of replacing—something we’d planned to do this year, before we called off our remodeling plans due to COVID.
Unfortunately, it was a mistake to delay our upgrades. To our horror, smoke leaked through almost all the old windows and doors of the house. And without a modern HVAC system to help filter the air, there was no escaping it. Instead, we spent the two weeks wearing N95 masks indoors, only taking them off to eat and sleep. Meanwhile, as I shared Instagram Stories of the grim experience on my Instagram account, I had a handful of folks DM me to say that my “anarchist” city deserved to burn and didn’t deserve any federal help, and that climate change was a hoax (it’s not, by the way).
It was a dark time, to say the least.
Luckily, I’m somewhat out of the woods. The smoke has cleared in Portland (for the time being, though some of the fires sadly burn on). Although I’m now intensely behind on work, I’m hoping that I can get back to a regular cadence of developing recipes soon. And of course, by the end of the month, I hope to share some good news with you guys about our current situation.
How are you guys doing?
In Case You Missed It: New Recipes
And in case you missed it, I published and updated the following recipes in the past month. Here’s a round-up of everything new:
- Small Batch Peach Crumb Bars
- Small Batch Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins
- Neapolitan Cookies (Although I technically published this recipe just last month, I love it so much that I wanted to make it again! This time, I made an Instagram Story tutorial to follow along with the recipe. Check it out on my Instagram profile and in the blog post!)
- Earl Grey Chocolate Chip Cookies (This is an update to one of my favorite recipes I published way back in 2014! I’m so excited to see so many of you bake the recipe in these past few weeks. Be sure to check it out, along with its Instagram Story tutorial.)
- The Hershey’s Perfectly Chocolate Cake (This recipe is a part of my “Back Of The Box” baking series, where I review and update the baking recipes on the back of ingredient packaging. Last month, I did the Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe!)
- Pumpkin Spice Dalgona Coffee (I made a pumpkin spice version of the TikTok famous dalgona coffee recipe. Check out the recipe in my original post about dalgona coffee, along with the Instagram Story tutorial for the pumpkin spice version on my profile!)
Support Me On Patreon
Developing and updating these recipes requires financial resources from ads on my website and paid partnerships with brands. Unfortunately, because of the pandemic, many brands have limited their advertising budgets and cancelled sponsorship opportunities. So if you are able to financially support my work, please consider becoming a Patreon supporter. You can learn more about why I decided to start a Patreon in this far too emotional and confessional essay (lol).
However, the TL/DR is this: in addition to enabling me to keep developing more customized recipes suited to your needs, Patreon supporters help shape future recipes on Hummingbird High. Patreon supporters get access to exclusive recipes and Instagram Story tutorials like these Small Batch Blueberry Scones, this Very Small Batch Yellow Sheet Cake, Small Batch Cinnamon Rolls, and more.
So many of my friends, acquaintances, and peers wrote amazing cookbooks that came out last month (or are about to)! A few of my faves were all about pie:
- Pie Style: Stunning Designs and Flavorful Fillings You Can Make At Home by Helen Nugent of @batterednbaked and Pie-Eyed Girl. Every time I scroll my feed, I always stop when I run across one of Helen’s “high-design” pies. I am always so blown away by Helen’s talent. Her book teaches you how to recreate them at home, complete with recipes and some photo tutorials!
- Pie Camp: The Skills You Need To Make Any Pie You Want by Kate McDermott. If you are more interested in classic pies, definitely check out Kate’s new book instead! She provides every classic recipe you would ever need, keep everything simple and attainable for bakers of any level.
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 photo essay of food insecurity in America was humbling.
- “The Strange Grief of Losing My Sense of Taste.” One of the symptoms of COVID-19 is the loss of taste and smell. This moving essay made me realize the full devastation of losing those senses.
- “7 Ways the Pandemic Has Changed How We Shop For Food.” Oranges, dried beans, and frozen foods are apparently in.
- “People are dining out, they just don’t want anyone to know about it.” Real talk! Every time I walk around in my neighborhood, I am always stunned by the number of people dining out. Admittedly, most of it has been outdoors on patios and sidewalks. But what do you think? Do you feel safe dining out?
- But despite this anecdotal evidence of people dining out, many restaurants are still struggling. So how do we recreate their business model to be more suited to these times? I don’t know, but I loved this deep dive into the issue by former Bon Appetit writer Priya Krishna.
Recipes and Resources To Save
And here are the recipes and cooking-related resources I saved these last few weeks:
- I thought this Snack Week series by Eater was so fun! In the series, they round-up fun snacks from China, Mexico, and Turkey, as well as the best snacks for road trips and fifth graders. They also look back at popular snacks from previous decades (like Entenmann’s, SnackWell’s, and even Quaker Rice Cakes).
- My friend Erin made a small batch recipe for s’mores bars and I died. They look so good!
- “Here’s What Melted, Cold, and Room-Temperature Butter Do in Cookies.” Yes! People always ask me why some of my cookie recipes use melted butter, and others use room-temperature butter. That Kitchn article has all the answers!
- Mid-Autumn Festival starts TODAY, and you should definitely celebrate by making Kristina’s matcha brownie mooncakes. Yum.
Finally, On A Lighthearted Note
- Okay, this isn’t really lighthearted, but here goes: did you know that eating too much black licorice can KILL you??? I always knew I was justified in my hatred for it!
- “10 Delicious Food Movies.” I am personally very excited about Ottolenghi and the Cakes of Versailles!
- My British friend Kiron sent me this sack of wet eggs being sold at his supermarket and we spent the morning super grossed out by it. Apparently we weren’t the only ones—here’s the sack of wet eggs, explained.
- Would you take a flight to nowhere?! I don’t know about you guys, but I always thought that the plane ride and process of going through airport security was the LEAST fun thing about travel. But maybe I’m wrong….? No, I’m not convinced I am (lol).
- “16 Uninspiring Meals That People Had The Misfortune Of Eating.” Hilarious.
Now, I 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 ideas and issues that are floating around in your heads, too.