Happy 2021! Does anybody have any New Year’s resolutions? I used to be SUCH a snob about New Year’s resolutions (my thinking was that it was such a silly and arbitrary way of deciding to change my life—if I was really serious, I’d start it WHENEVER regardless of the date 🙄🙄🙄). But as I’ve grown older, I’ve calmed down a little bit and now see it as a reminder to “reset” things if needed.
And oh boy, does my life need a reset after 2020 (lol).
2020 really derailed my day-to-day routine. Pre-pandemic, you could set a watch to my schedule. I’d wake up at 7:15AM on the dot, go through my emails and my calendar, then bike over to the gym at exactly 8:40AM to catch a 9AM class. From there, I’d eat my healthy-ish brunch of scrambled egg and salad from the Whole Foods breakfast bar, then do some grocery shopping to prep for the recipe development and photography shoots I was doing for this blog the rest of the day. That routine was so constant and unfailing that, back in early March, right before everything broke down, I actually wondered to myself: “What if this is just my life forever and ever? Is this really it?”
LOL. Life really finds a way to bite you in the ass like that.
So let’s talk resolutions:
Reset No. 1: Stop answering Instagram DMs in the middle of the night.
Since March, I’ve been a little unmoored. Although I am still exercising almost daily (I’m one of those weirdos for whom exercise is a necessity—without it I get mentally unwell), I’ve been struggling with almost all other aspects of my routine. Since I work from home, it’s always been a struggle to separate my work life from my downtime. But without the ability to leave the house and do other things, there’s been almost no boundaries dividing work and play. As a result, I find myself thinking about and working on Hummingbird High almost every hour of the day. I’m barreling towards burnout fast.
It’s gotten to the point where I’ve found myself daydreaming about returning to corporate life just so I could have some semblance of separation again. Which, frankly, is ridiculous, especially given my not-so-great experiences when I DID work a traditional 9-to-5 (which you can read more about in my About page and cookbook). As a result, one of my resolutions this year is to find a way to give myself better work-life boundaries.
What does that actually mean? I don’t know yet, but I’m working on finding out!
Reset No. 2: Stop eating popcorn and chips for lunch.
Another thing that needs resetting? My eating habits. I’ve always been a stress eater and this year really proved that (lol). Just last month, I was unpacking my would-be wedding dress (that I’m likely going to sell, since it’s becoming increasingly unlikely we’re not going to have a proper ceremony or celebration after all). I was floored to find that it was a bridal sample size. Snort—there’s no way I was fitting into it now! I’d bought it at the end of last year, when I was about 15 pounds lighter thanks to my steady routine. Because without my routine, I avoided real meals and instead grazed more, snacked more, and found myself relying on takeout and delivery frequently… all of which quickly added up.
So one of my resets? Stop eating snacks and dessert after every meal (yes, lol, I eat dessert after breakfast, lunch, AND dinner because I am ridiculous). Stop eating snacks FOR a meal. Get better at meal planning.
Note that the reset is for intentionally starting meal planning as opposed to, well, dieting. If you want to diet and actively lose weight, good for you! I’ve been there before. I respect it but that’s not what I’m doing here. Because real talk? There’s no way you’re getting me to diet during this freaking pandemic! Food is one of the few joys I have during this hard time. Of course my pandemic bod is gonna be a little squishier and heavier than my non-pandemic bod, lol. My non-pandemic bod didn’t have to get me through a year of inertia, stress, and uncertainty! It’s time we all celebrated our pandemic bodies, lol.
Okay, (Now An Actual) Resolution (No. 3, technically?): Learn a new language.
Like I said, my New Year’s resolutions tend to be more about resetting the stuff in my life that has gone awry. But I do have one real resolution for 2021: learn how to speak Tagalog (the official language of the Philippines) again! One of my favorite things about last year was introducing you guys to Filipino desserts like cassava cake, leche flan, and of course, these ube crinkle cookies. But how can I walk the walk without talking the talk? Although I grew up speaking Tagalog, my grasp on the language slipped away pretty quickly after my family moved away from the Philippines to settle abroad in the Netherlands, England, and the United States. I’ve been meaning to take Tagalog lessons for sometime now—I actually made this resolution last year, after my trip to Seoul and Manila. But then 2020 happened and it was the first goal of mine to fall by the wayside. I’m not letting that happen this year!
Okay, but what about Hummingbird High?!
In addition to these personal goals, I have some for Hummingbird High. Starting with this month! I’m hoping to focus more on alternative baking. What does that mean? Baking recipes that are vegan, gluten free, egg free, and/or all of the above! But don’t panic—I love eggs, gluten, and dairy too much to give up on them forever ever, lol. This focus is just temporary, and it’s more for practice, really. I don’t have a ton of alternative baking recipes and want to expand my repertoire. Besides—I’ve already promised my Patreon supporters a recreation of a gateau basque, one of my favorite bakery baked goods (that is unapologetically full of both gluten and dairy), lol.
Alright, thanks for listening to me ramble on about my resolutions. But I’d love to hear about yours! What are YOU hoping to reset and accomplish this year?
In Case You Missed It: New Recipes
And in case you missed it, I published and updated a TON of new recipes on both Hummingbird High and partner’s websites in the past month. Here’s a round-up of everything new:
- Whipped Hot Chocolate
- Peppermint Bark Oreos (This is a recipe exclusive to Patreon supporters! Learn more below.)
- Ube Crinkle Cookies (The Kitchn also featured this recipe as part of their “Quarantine Cookies” series!)
- A Snickerdoodle Recipe Without Cream of Tartar (OMG, I offended somebody with this recipe. Check out the comments—she couldn’t believe what a MONSTER I was for coming up with this recipe, lol. People are wild.)
- Eggnog Sheet Cake (This recipe is technically on my partner C&H Sugar’s website… but it’s SO good that I’m considering republishing it on Hummingbird High next holiday season!)
- Brown Butter Chai Crinkle Cookies (I am so sad that this recipe didn’t get more love on Instagram—it’s one of my favorite cookie recipes from the year, and nearly made it into my “Favorite Recipes From 2020” list.)
- Brown Butter Pecan Pie Brownies (This is a recipe on my partner Vermont Creamery’s website!)
- Filipino Leche Flan (Although this recipe doesn’t have an official blog post, I might have to change that. It’s my mom’s recipe and SO many of you baked it from the Instagram Story tutorial and video. Loved introducing this Filipino classic to y’all!)
- Salted Honey Parker House Rolls (This is another recipe on my partner Vermont Creamery’s website!)
- 6-Inch Cheesecake Recipe (This is an update to a popular small batch cheesecake recipe of mine from 2013!)
Okay, wow! Until I wrote out all the recipes above, I didn’t realize how busy I’d been this month. And in addition to the recipes, I also published a guide to gifting and mailing holiday cookies (sadly, this is exclusive to Patreon supporters—learn more below).
I also wrote a round-up of everything I baked in 2020, highlighting your favorite recipes on Hummingbird High, Instagram, and more. Be sure to check it out! There are a ton of fun recipes from earlier this year, including Dalgona Coffee, Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookies, and more!
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 Small Batch Blueberry Scones, Very Small Batch Yellow Sheet Cake, Small Batch Cinnamon Rolls, and more.
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:
- “Yes, Many of Us Are Stress-Eating and Gaining Weight in the Pandemic.” in The New York TImes. Okay, glad it’s not just me (lol).
- “The Year Flour Was King” in Eater. Remember the Great Flour Shortage of March/April 2020? It turns out that the shortage was mostly due to packaging materials, and not flour itself! This article talks about the circumstances that led to that shortage, and how one of my favorite companies, King Arthur Baking Company, weathered it all.
- “Why the Dream Kitchen Always Includes an Island” in Jezebel. Real talk: one of the reasons why we decided to pull the trigger on our new house was because of the kitchen’s massive island (my old kitchen didn’t have one, and I desperately wanted one!). And while I like it a lot, it also didn’t improve my life as much as I thought it was going to. What am I doing wrong?
- “I’m So Over Brands” in Eater. Did anybody else see that ad campaign for KFC announcing that they’d partnered with Lifetime for a movie starring Mario Lopez as a sexy Colonel Sanders? Like, the Colonel Sanders of KFC? What on earth?! While I’m not quite as offended by the campaign, I did appreciate some of the points the writer brought up about these brands having a strange hold over our lives.
- “The Talented Ms. Calloway” in LA Review of Books. Last year, I, along with half the world it seems, got sucked into the Caroline Calloway scammer and ghostwriting drama. Anybody else? And while this article seems like it’s yet another critique of problematic Caroline, it actually ends up being a more thoughtful meditation about women’s work, influencer culture, and the broken publishing industry.
- “Our Shared Unsharing” in The Cut. Okay, wait—on the subject of influencer culture: This article talks about how 2020 broke Instagram and made us more self-conscious and thoughtful about our posting on social media. Apparently most of us withheld sharing on Instagram this year for fear of looking insensitive and not #woke. Is this the end of Instagram and the super curated, YOLO, #blessed influencer culture as we know it?
- “How Will We Eat in 2021? 11 Predictions to Chew On” in The New York Times. Finally, a fun one! Looks like meal kits, canned drinks of any kind and variety, and burnt basque cheesecake (a recipe I’m currently working on, coincidentally!) are here to stay.
Recipes and Resources To Save
And here are the recipes and cooking-related resources I saved these last few weeks:
- How delightful are these perfect cranberry bars by ful-filled?! That color! I swoon.
- In baking, there is such a push to serve everything as fresh as possible. But real talk: there are some desserts that taste better when their dough or batter has been rested for some time. First cookie dough, and now… cake? Let’s all age our cakes!
- I know we are officially past “gingerbread house season”, but allow me to share just one more: this gingerbread cottage by twigg studios looks EXACTLY like the ones you see in the English countryside. Amazing!
Finally, On A Lighthearted Note
- OMG, wtf is this CANNIBAL SANDWICH? Wisconsin readers—is this really a thing!?! Should I stop being judgy and weirded out by it, especially since I don’t mind oysters, tartare, and sushi?! I’m sorry, I’m sorry, but it’s just SO MUCH RAW MEAT.
- I binged the latest season of the Great British Bake Off in early December and fell into a GBBO hole. I especially loved this behind-the-scenes look of how the show gets made. I think my new goal in life is to become chief home economist for the show. Do you think my
homeeconomics degree (that I only used for six months in my short-lived finance career) will give me a leg up (lollll)?!
- Another dream job? Becoming a part of Oreo’s innovation dream team, the one that comes up with the special edition limited flavors. I think I would excel at it, especially the taste testing part. 😜😜😜
Okay, whew! That’s all for now, folks. I hope you all are staying safe and healthy—happy new year! 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.