I love putting stuff together or breaking things up to see how it works and then making something new or putting it to a new use.  You should see my junk box filled with fabric pieces, ribbons, faux gems cut off discarded dress shoes, brooches, jeweled  buttons, bells, curtain hardware (the hardware store is a favorite haunt, also my main source for spray paint), buckles, key chains...all sorts of stuff I keep for future refurb or resurrection.  I also have a box filled with old Elle Decor magazine clippings - from shoes to furnishings to DIY tips. There’s lots of nifty ideas and interesting conversation pieces.  I like European designs and thanks Net 25 for bringing DW to regular TV. 

I have this old school chain belt, real 80’s stuff.  Now that chunky necklaces are in, I decided it would do.  It is a bit heavy but hey, being fashionable sometimes call for a little discomfort – maybe my neck needs the workout! It sure reminds me of those Chanel (though much less finely wrought or conservative) and funky Forever 21 chain necklaces.  

Sometimes I can’t put it back together and it stays in the junk box or end up as weird Christmas tree ornament or pet accessory.  If my pit bull stays still enough with her jeweled collar on, I’ll post a picture. 

I do the same with food.  I deconstruct and reconstruct.  I love to try everything (though nothing too exotic).  I try to guess what’s in my food and then see if I can cook it at home someday.  I’m an improv cook, experimenting with foodstuff, trying to remember and do all the taste fix-ups - spice or salt to make it interesting, sugar or a potato to correct saltiness, water to thin or starch to thicken – constantly dipping in my tasting spoon.  I’m gung-ho about any ingredient, even ready mix or foil packed sauces (Lee Kum Kee and Asian Gourmet).  In it goes as pasta sauce, dip, gravy, etc.  I don’t have a basic recipe and I find it hard to keep to one anyway.  I always tweak. That’s why this blog won’t have a recipe feature, just suggestions.

I applaud and appreciate Panlasang for trying to simplify and adapt dishes.  That guy has to work with what’s available where he’s at.  He is doing people a service, mainly Filipinos abroad that miss home cooking and critics who felt he is violating the sanctity of slow cooking and defiling tradition with his improv recipes pan him! I wish people won’t be so harsh. To each his own, right? We are all just food loving people who try to improve and improvise one dish at a time, not always aiming for a culinary or pastry star, just trying to help.     

I can’t honestly say I’m a baker, yet.  I have a lot of respect for pastry chefs (I am friends with one or two).  Baking is way too fussy. The measuring, weighing, and converting measurements are tedious! I don’t even have thermometers (oven or candy), weighing scale, timer and all other gadgets that make baking as exact a science as it’s supposed to be.  I am also appallingly no good at Math! I'd like to think I am more of a creative type and formulas and numbers aren't all that sexy to me.

I bake because I love cake.  I got into it because I figure I am baking for me (very forgiving) and working with basic equipment.  I don’t have to be finicky about every little thing since I am working with a defective home oven.  I figured winging it and blind baking would do.  I just make sure I look for test recipes that doesn't call for a ton of ingredients or which tastes I am at least familiar with.   I also make sure to scour the net for pictures of what every stage and end product is supposed to look like and read up on lots of real feedback, tips and tricks.  I am not formulaic much.  I tend to adjust everything to taste, mouth feel and 'instinct'.  More often than not, 
it works ; ).

As my twin nephews would say, my botched up bakes is at least edible and yummy! Soon though, I get to examine what I did wrong or right, do my plus and minuses and voila - it comes out perfect on the next try!   Why, that's some kind of math right? ; )   

I’m not saying I’m going to wing it forever! Right now, my amateur baking is a blip of a business, not by intent, more like by friends' demand (do I dare say popular hehe). What can I say, they are my friends: supportive, generous and inclined to spell diet as e-a-t at Christmas.  After all, Christmas is a season of favorites, indulgence and novel bakes. 

It’s a good season for home bakers everywhere, even for newbies like me.  You get to test the market.  It’s heaven to hear glowing feedback and accept repeat orders.  What’s hellish is its really exhausting! I’m marketer, prep, baker, clean up and delivery crew in one! I could hardly cope.  Have I mentioned I am obsessive-compulsive enough to make everything look delish? I realize I’m going to have to go to pastry school if I’m going to really get into this, which means serious money hereabouts.   I’ll just have to see.   


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