This last month, my mom and her friend came to visit for two weeks! We spent the time doing mini quick trips to Multnomah Falls (see the pretty picture above), a weekend in Seattle, and outdoor dining at some of my favorite restaurants in Portland.
These trips mark the first time I’ve left Portland since the start of the pandemic. And even though they were baby travels (Multnomah Falls is only a 30 minute drive from my house, while Seattle is only 3 hours away), I’d forgotten how rejuvenating travel and a change of scenery could be. Pre-pandemic, I traveled at least once a quarter. My travels were both for work and/or fun, and took me to cities near and far like Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York, London, Copenhagen, Paris, Manila, Seoul, Istanbul, and even Tel Aviv! I can’t believe how much I took that all for granted—sometimes I would even complain about my busy travel schedule! Wild.
Truthfully, despite being vaccinated, I still feel iffy about the “ethics” of traveling during a global pandemic. Even though I’m fully vaccinated, I truly believe that the pandemic isn’t over until it’s over globally, EVERYWHERE. And that will only happen if we continue to follow unpopular precautions and restrictions like masking, socially distancing, and restricting our travel for essential reasons only.
That being said, I also know that my opinion is unpopular. The last year and a half has been tough on everybody, and those precautions take a mental toll. Many of the older folks (cough, boomers, cough) I’ve spoken with about the pandemic feel as if it’s robbed them of the precious last few years of their life in which they are still physically and mentally able to travel. And if folks are vaccinated, restricting ourselves seems unnecessary. And I’m sympathetic to that.
I don’t know if I’m being dramatic, but to me, it feels like it’s a choice between two not-so-great decisions. Continuing to avoid things like travel, dining out, going to the movies and everything else means that I would be protecting my physical health at the expense of my mental health. But doing all those things again means the opposite—is 3 hours at a crowded movie theater, or 2 hours of dining in at a restaurant worth the risk of catching a breakthrough Delta COVID infection? Probably not, lol.
Anyway, these are probably heavier topics than you would like to see on a baking blog. So back to our regular programming:
In Case You Missed It: New Recipes and Posts on Hummingbird High
And in case you missed it, I published the following new recipes and posts on Hummingbird High. Here’s a round-up of everything new:
- Maple Pecan Muffins
- My Best M&M Cookies
- Small Batch Apple Galette
- NOT Cakey Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies
- Maple Brown Sugar Donut Muffins
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:
- One of my “hobbies” (if you can call it that, lol) has always been going out to eat! I love trying new restaurants, cafes, and bakeries in Portland and other cities when I travel. But the rules of dining out have definitely changed since the pandemic, and I loved the New York Times’ “How Eating Out Has Changed: From The Menu To The Tip” and @foodandwine’s “The New Rules Of Dining Out” lays it all out.
- “Don’t Believe The Salad Millionaire: You’re smart enough to pick your own lunch, no matter what Sweetgreen’s CEO says” in The Atlantic. Sweetgreen, my favorite salad chain and pretty much what I survived off of when I lived in New York, recently came under fire because their CEO claimed that Americans are too fat to survive COVID. Yikes. The Atlantic breaks down why this is so problematic, highlighting plenty of systemic failures that affect our food system and the resulting unhealthy choices we are forced to make.
- “Baking That’s Simple, but Always Satisfying” in The New York Times. Genevieve Ko, ne of my favorite food writers, launched a new column focusing on “effortless baking recipes” that don’t rely on super precise quantities and enable you to “skip the mixer” and work by hand. While I’m all for these recipes (in fact, this year, I’ve made an effort to develop more recipes that DON’T need a stand mixer), I don’t really agree with her argument that doing so enables you to become a better baker. I think that a mixer is there to make your life easy—I would legit be out of breath if I had to whip meringue or knead dough without one.
New Cookbooks To Try
Vallery won The Great American Baking Show, the American version of The Great British Bake Off. Unfortunately, her season never aired after several accusations of sexual misconduct against one of the judges. Yikes! I’m happy to see that Vallery is doing well though—her book is filled with amazing, classic baking recipes that I can’t wait to try!
Recipes and Resources To Save
And here are the recipes and cooking-related resources I saved these last few weeks:
- “How To Clean And Care For Your Sheet Pans — And Worry Less About How They Look” in The Washington Post. Real Talk: I use my sheet pans for EVERYTHING. Not only do I use them for baking, I use them for my savory cooking too! And you’d be shook if you saw the state of them. But thankfully, according to this guide, their appearance doesn’t matter too much at all. Whew.
- “Stable Vanilla Buttercream Recipe for Hot Weather” by Sugar and Sparrow. Okay, I’m sharing this one a little late, but maybe it’s still hot where you’re from? In any case, check out this blog post because it’s really cool—Whitney “heat tested” a bunch of different buttercreams under the warm, hot sun and eventually developed a recipe that was heat stable. Amazing!
- “31 Pie Tips From A Professional Baker” in Buzzfeed. My friend and reigning pie queen Erin McDowell shared all her best pie baking tips in this article. So many good ones in here!
- And speaking of pies, how ADORABLE are these poached pear pies by Twigg Studios? I love the way they actually look like pears!
Finally, On A Lighthearted Note
- “A Reminder Of What Cakes Looked Like Before Baking Shows Ruined Our Expectations Forever” in Buzzfeed. Whoa! This was eye-opening. I’m so used to celebration cakes being stacked, round affairs but it turns out that throughout history most of them were sheet cakes???! I kinda love that though—should we bring it back into fashion?!
Okay, whew! That’s all for now, folks. 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.
NEVER miss a recipe
NO TIME TO BAKE?!
Over the past several years of running Hummingbird High, I kept a crucial aspect of my life hidden from my readers: I had a full-time, extremely demanding job in the tech world. In my debut cookbook, Weeknight Baking, I finally reveal the secrets to baking delicious desserts on a tight schedule.