Friday, January 29, 2010

Writer's Alcove: 17 and Baking

Today's feature post is dedicated to Elissa from 17 and Baking. Elissa studies hard, writes with passion, and finds time to bake some delectable treats. When reading her blog, you'll wonder why no one hasn't invented Taste a Blog capabilities. I know it would be a hit!

17and Baking

1. Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

It's hard to see myself as a 27 year old, but without a doubt, I'll be writing. It's always been one of my life-long ambitions to write a book, so maybe a novel would be in the works. I'd like to think that I'll be able to use journalism to improve the lives of those around me, writing about issues that are meaningful to me. Of course, in a perfect world, I might also own a little bakery too, so I could bring a little sunshine into the world in another way.

2. Given the opportunity to work with any cook/baker, who would you choose and why?

There's far too many talented food bloggers to possibly choose from, but one of the first people who comes to mind is David Lebovitz. The moment frost stops edging our lawn on the drive to school and the morning fog lifts into afternoon sunshine, I begin craving ice cream. David's book The Perfect Scoop is literally my ice cream bible. I tend to like quirky, unusual flavors, and the first time I browsed his book I ended up bookmarking nearly half the book. On top of that, he's a great photographer and writer, who posts entertaining tweets and seems to have a good sense of humor.

3. What are some of your favorite things about nature?

Now that there is a likely expiration date on my time left in Seattle, I've begun noticing all the things I love about the Evergreen State. I love how green it is here, the uncut trees that tower high above my house and the huge pink rhododendron bushes are a part of what defines home for me. We have a flower garden that literally bursts into bloom in spring, and a vegetable garden that stocks our table with fresh produce. I can't imagine living without a backyard, or without a view of trees outside my window.

4. When given a writing assignment, what gives you inspiration?

School-wise, inspiration comes from the assigned reading material! :) But when it comes to food blog writing, I draw inspiration from whatever feelings or thoughts come to me while I'm baking. Being in the kitchen is very therapeutic and relaxing for me. I like to bake alone, curtains flung open and lights turned off, and it gives me the chance to think and reflect. Whatever I spend the most time thinking about usually becomes the topic of the post. After all, I think food is extremely personal, and it's difficult to separate from my life - so I embrace the connection.

5. If you could travel back in time, where would you go and who would you take?

Believe it or not, I'd like to experience some of Laura Ingalls Wilder's childhood. When I was little, I read the entire series about her life growing up on wide expanses of prairie and in small towns. I like that idea of a simpler time and think it was probably as sweet and golden a childhood as possible. I'd bring my dog Tilly, who would probably be frightened of Laura's dog Jack but love the table scraps.

6. Name a favorite childhood memory.

When I was growing up, my grandmother used to tell me the most amazing bedtime stories. She made them up right on the spot, about whatever topic I chose on a whim. The stories were always sweet and uplifting, with a hint of a moral. One night as I was starting to get a little older, I was halfway asleep as she described a baby alligator who needed braces. Just as I was beginning to drift off, she said, "And then Mrs. Alligator was turned into a handbag. The end." I sat bolt upright in horrified shock at hearing those words from my grandmother, but she couldn't stop laughing. To this day, it's one of the funniest childhood memories I have.

7. Describe your high school experience in 10 words or less.

Growth. Some heartache, true friendships. "Most likely to become famous?"

8. What's something fun about you that my readers would be surprised to learn?

I am a horrible pack rat - I just can't bear to throw things away because literally everything has "memories" for me. Under my bed and pushed deep into my closet are toys from my childhood, ticket stubs from "movies that meant something to me," even a set of erasers that my best friend and I wrote stories about in 4th grade. I am also terribly messy and poorly organized, which means I can almost never find what I am looking for (including recipes.)

9. What advice would you give to someone whether young or old who wants to start baking?

Please go for it! You're ever too young or to old to pursue something that interests you, baking included. I don't believe that I personally have any extraordinary baking talent or a natural gift. Anyone can bake the treats that come out of my oven - you just need to jump into it. When I started out, I burned plenty of cookies and baked my share of dry cakes, but with time I've gotten better. You can do anything you put your mind to.

10. What kind of dessert best describes you and why?

I think a lemon chiffon cake, my mom's favorite dessert, best describes me. Unlike angel cakes, chiffon cakes use egg yolks as well as the whites. They're light and sunny, airy even, but there's a hidden depth and richness in them (not bragging, just saying I'm not all fluff.) As for the lemon, it's sweet without being achingly sugary, and I can't help but think that if I could see my aura it'd be as yellow as a smooth-skinned lemon.

Hope you learned something new about a very talented young lady. I know I did!