Happy Birthday Shell…per our store policy you get a FREE cupcake!

Just me and my sister.  Happy Birthday Shelly!

Just me and my sister. Happy Birthday Shelly!

Today is my sister Shelly’s birthday…Happy Birthday Shell! Per our store policy, you get a FREE cupcake.

Although I am not going to disclose her age, suffice it to say that we’ve been together for several decades now. Although I often joke with customers that Shelly is my older sister, that simply is not the truth.  My husband refers to us as “Dot and Bee”, a reference to my aunt and grandmother who lived together most of their adult life.

Shelly and I are two of six daughters born to the most amazing parents who began spending summer vacations on the shore when we were all very little. Some of our best childhood memories are at the beach so it’s a no wonder that most of us have migrated here as adults.

10 years ago I couldn’t have imagined that I would own and share a business with Shelly. She and her family made the move to the shore 13 years before. I was still living just outside of Washington, D.C. with my “brood” very content doing volunteer work and baking out of my home. Despite that, a dream developed and came true for both of us.  I’m proud to say that we are still chugging along in our little all-natural bakery going on three years now.

As the title of the blog implies…It’s not all cupcakes and sprinkles! We’ve gone through our share of ups and downs.  Thank God mostly ups. We’ve had differences of opinions, most settled without blood shed. We have different management styles, different talents, different weaknesses and strengths. Shelly handles “the books” since I’m a known spender. I now appropriately refer to her as the “Furor”. I handle the social media, displays and such. Her specialties include cookies and pies. My specialties include cakes, individual desserts and the like. We both specialize in everything else.  Together our favorite part happens to be the people we serve and the community we do business in.

I consider myself blessed to be so close to my family…to work with and live just doors away from Shelly and her children is a gift, one that I hope  never to take for granted.  My sisters are beautiful, strong and talented women who also happen to be my very best friends, Shelly of course included. She has a great sense of humor and we laugh at and with each other often.  Boy do we have some stories!

When/If you see Shelly today feel free to wish her a Happy Birthday…I’m wishing her  loads and loads of Happiness, Love, Laughter and a lifetime of Living Well!

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Loving the fresh foods of Summer…Refrigerator Peach Basil Preserves!

I know I haven’t blogged in a while.  The days and nights seem to be flying by and like most people I know, there doesn’t seem to be enough hours in a day.  So it is really hard for me to believe that we’re back to Summer on the Eastern Shore.  There are so many reasons that I love Summer most; napping on the beach and swimming in the ocean, the smell of sunscreen, salt water and sleeping with the windows open to name a few.

Not surprisingly, one of my very favorite perks of Summer happens to be the fresh food; vine ripe tomatoes, fragrant herbs, corn on the cob, watermelon and of course fresh peaches.  Our friend and neighbor Jason just brought us a bucket of his “sweet as sugar” peaches so I instantly thought…Refrigerator Peach Preserves!  Then I noticed that our Basil plants needed a harvesting so I thought Refrigerator Peach Basil Preserves.

Honestly, I’m not one to stand in a kitchen filled with jars, lids and boiling water baths so Refrigerator Preserves and Jams are right up my ally.  I also am not a huge fan of using pectin, most fruits contain enough pectin to jell on their own if prepared correctly anyway.  Plus, with Refrigerator Preserves and Jam you don’t have to be an expert cook or canner and you can be uber creative with your combinations of fruit/herbs.

Saturday must have been my lucky day.  Not only did Jason deliver some beautiful peaches, but my husband and friend Melinda offered to peel and chop the entire bucket, about 30 peaches, to which I added lemon juice and sugar.  I covered the concoction and allowed it to macerate over night.  After adding the fresh basil which I sliced thin, all that was left to do was to cook, reduce and enjoy.

As a general rule, I use one pound of fruit to 1 tablespoon lemon juice to one cup of sugar and cook over medium heat until the mixture coats the tines of a fork.  If you place a dollop on a plate and place it in the refrigerator for several minutes, it should resemble the consistency of ketchup.  Seal in airtight containers and refrigerate for up to two weeks or place in freezer.

Of course, I enjoy this type of preserve/jam on toast, but you can just as easily glaze grilled chicken with it or pour it over some softened cream cheese and serve with crusty french baguette for a “no brainer” appetizer.  I think I’ll be trying my hand at Vidalia Onion Peach Chutney next.  Enjoy!Image!

Racing for the Cure….

Today, Komen Race for the Cure came to Ocean City, Maryland.  Despite the wind and driving rain, more than 2,000 men, women, children, babies, people of all races, shapes and sizes, ran/walked/strolled the race to help find a cure for breast cancer.  Did you know that the Eastern Shore of Maryland has some of the highest incident and mortality rates?

Myself and Suzie Taylor of Ayer’s Creek Adventures volunteered several months ago to help with operations and recruitment of sponsorships and teams.   Unfortunately, sponsorship opportunities are not very affordable for most small businesses so, in Berlin, we decided that joining forces was the way to go.  We organized sponsorship “Historic Berlin, Maryland” which included 14 local businesses, everything from coffee and thrift shops, to bakeries and hotels, restaurants, B&B’s and spa services.  This was a huge success!  Together, we supported a great cause and hosting a table in the race village allowed us to introduce our town to hundreds of people who didn’t even know that Historic Berlin, Maryland existed.

This event is personal to both Suzie and myself.  My mother, thank God, is a breast cancer survivor thanks to regular breast exams, early detection and access to great health care.  Suzie’s mother, Joann and her Aunt sadly lost their battle with this disease.  It doesn’t get more personal than that.  As a matter of fact, it seemed very personal to everyone in attendance.  If not, I can’t imagine that we wouldn’t all have rolled over this morning and hit the snooze button instead of  crawling out of bed and weathering the coastal storm that, today, decided to target the East Coast.  I know we need the rain!

I have “raced for the cure” before in D.C. and get very emotional when the “Survivors Parade of Pink” starts.  Today was no exception.  I can’t help but marvel at the courage and strength of the women and men presented and of course, those souls and their families who lost the battle before the cure was found.  Personally, I would love to know how much money is spent each year on determining the various causes of breast cancer.  When my mother was 50, she didn’t know one person with breast cancer.  I just turned 50 and I know handfuls of friends and family with this disease.  Why, exactly, are some areas experiencing higher incident and mortality rate?  I could go on and on.

Suzie’s sister Shelly and I ran together.  We were perfectly matched for our pace.  For the first leg, down the boardwalk, the wind was hitting us head on and then we rounded the corner both figuratively and literally.  There were lots of supporters along the way, standing and cheering us on.  This made me think about what this world would be like if we all had people in our lives acting as personal motivators cheering “You can do it”, “Great job”, “Way to go” .  We were passed by some who made it look easy, but there were also people behind us who scratched their way to the finish line,  everyone proud that they completed the course.

The "cutest team" award!In all it was an exceptional day!  I realize that there is often some controversy with organizations such as Komen, but if you only focus on that you’ve missed the point in my opinion.  In addition to raising money to help find a cure, races such as this one, allow for a community of people to come together as one family.  Being amongst that crowd, knowing that we all support the same cause, running/walking for or in memory of a loved one was, for me, both uplifting and spiritual.  I know that I was not the only one who felt that.  To me it reinforces the fact that we’re never alone if we care enough to reach out to one another, we need to live in this moment and spend time with the people we love.  Most importantly, I know that, like today’s race, when people come together great things are possible!

My “Feed Your Sweet Tooth Diet” Week #2

Feed Your Sweet Tooth!

I'm feeding my Sweet Tooth!

Day 8…

Weighed in today at 152lbs.  Whoohoo, 1.5 lbs lost!  I know that might not sound like much, but I’m taking it.  Also, took my measurements and although the waist and hips didn’t budge, my bust area is down .5 inches.  Somebody please tell me why woman usually lose weight in their boobs first?

I walked the dog this morning as usual.   Went to the gym before work and exercised my lower half plus abs.  I’m going to go back to the gym before dinner and take the Pilates class that I started last week.  This class is actually relaxing even though you are getting a great “core” workout.  I almost went straight home after work, tempted to sit on the couch and kick off my shoes, but I didn’t.  I’m glad that I pushed myself through the door and onto my mat and I feel better for having done it.

For breakfast this morning I enjoyed our Gluten Free Low Sugar homemade Granola.  I warmed it up with milk for a hot breakfast.  This really could count as a dessert because it was so delicious.  Granola is so easy to make  yourself and when you do, you can add anything you want to make it yummy.  Today’s granola had walnuts with dried cranberries.  It’s also full of fiber, protein and antioxidants.  Healthy can taste good!

I enjoyed my dessert today after lunch.  Our Cupcake Bombs are Valrhona chocolate cake mixed with our cream cheese buttercream frosting, rolled and topped with Calabaut chocolate ganache.  I warmed it up and it was so good I really wanted to eat another.  Resisting this temptation was easier to do once I reminded myself that I could have another one tomorrow if I wanted.

I managed to eat dinner prior to 7:00pm tonight and enjoyed a glass of wine with it.  This eating slowly and mindfully thing is starting to make my meals more enjoyable and me more relaxed.

Day 9…

It was pouring rain this morning so the pooch walk was short.  I also felt a little under the weather today.  Maybe that’s because it’s so dreary outside.  Anyway, tonight I have my spinning class, which usually is a butt kicker, so no worries.

Breakfast was uneventful.  I am not preparing any special meals or snacks.  I am eating whatever I have and/or feel like.  I am making sure that I drink at least 8 ounces of water before I do eat.  This is such a simple weight loss strategy, one that I have heard about before, but for some reason never tried.   This does seem to be working.  Between the water and eating slowly, I felt so full I only ate half of my omelet.

I ate some turkey breast today for my snack and enjoyed a Cannoli today for my dessert.  We fill them fresh in the bakery so that they aren’t soggy and it was divine.  I love the fact that I am enjoying dessert without guilt for the first time in decades.

Tonight I ate dinner before going to my spinning class.  I almost didn’t go at all.   My sister, who normally goes to this class with me, couldn’t this evening.  I started to make some excuses, tried to think of an exercise I could just do at home and then I stopped myself.  This is exactly why I do better when I have an exercise buddy.  I did manage to change my internal conversation and decided to get in my car and drive to the gym.  Once there, I took the class and had an amazing workout.

Day 10…

Started my morning as usual.  Headed to the gym before work and exercised my chest, back and abs with weights.

I’ve been trying to get my dad, who now has Diabetes, to join our gym.  I’m certain that if he moves more, he’ll lose some weight and in turn he’ll have more control over his blood sugar.   No one in my family thought that he would, but I bought him 2 training sessions for Christmas hoping that it might be just the catalyst he needed.

I understand that sometimes going into a gym for the first time can be intimidating particularly when you’re older.  So, I ask him he wanted to come in and talk to the trainer on a morning that I would be there.  He did and he set up his two training sessions.   I didn’t know if he would continue past that.

I was at work today when my dad came in and told me that he joined our gym for the year.  You can’t imagine how happy this makes me.   He is the finest person I know and I want him around for a really long time.  Maybe he’ll even join the “Biggest Loser” challenge.  We can motivate each other.

Oh yah, I ate my dessert today with breakfast.  I know that sounds crazy, but not when you own a bakery.   I enjoyed our Fudge Brownie with my coffee.  I just couldn’t resist that smell of chocolate.  Lunch and dinner was uneventful.  I am getting better about planning to eat before 7:00pm.

Day 11…

This morning I rediscovered Chia Seeds!  I’ve had them before in coconut bars that I’ve purchased from my local organic store, but I just learned how to incorporate them into my everyday meals.

The ancient Aztec and Mayan people revered Chia Seeds as vital to their nourishment and it’s a know wonder.  These gluten-free seeds are packed with Omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants, protein and fiber.  You can enjoy them in juice, yogurt, cereal, and baked goods.  Once soaked in a liquid for 10-15 minutes they make a gel that you can add to almost anything.  They’re fantastic and they even help you to feel full.

I soaked mine this morning and added them to some Pomegranate juice, which I enjoyed after my breakfast.  Wow, I just realized that I ate my breakfast while on the computer and that’s a no-no.  Anyway, if you’ve never tried them, stop by your local organic store and pick up a bag.

I enjoyed my dessert after my lunch today.  I am finding that this is a perfect time to feed my sweet tooth.  I had a serving of our Cupcake Bread Pudding.  It’s just like bread pudding except that instead of using bread we use our cupcakes.  This confection did “hit the spot”, but I should have only eaten half of the serving because after eating the whole thing I felt too full.

I ate my dinner tonight pretty early, before my spinning class.  I thought I might be hungry later on, but surprisingly I was very content for the rest of the evening.  My husband came home from a business trip and while he enjoyed a glass of wine, I enjoyed a dirty martini.

Day 12…

Exercise was pretty uneventful today.  I made my way to the gym and performed resistance training on my shoulders, biceps, triceps and abs.  Looking back on the workout, I could have pressed myself a little harder.

I also didn’t do so well with my water consumption today.  I drank a lot of water, but forgot to drink it before both breakfast and lunch.  I was really busy at work and also didn’t eat as mindfully as I want to.

We ate dinner out and I used chopsticks, which slowed me down thankfully because I was really hungry and otherwise might have eaten too fast.  My dessert tonight was a piece of my niece’s birthday cake.  I honestly felt a bit guilty eating my dessert late and in all didn’t feel great about the day.  I’m trying not to dwell on this and instead I’m refocusing my energy on tomorrow.

Day 13…

Today was my day of rest, well as far as exercise goes.  I did walk the dog, but it was pouring rain so we weren’t out for long.  Added my chia seeds in juice to my morning routine and wasn’t even really hungry for breakfast or lunch.

We had company come over for dinner and I made a Peach Blueberry Cobbler with vanilla whipped cream.  I had every intension of enjoying it for dessert, but I had also enjoyed a couple of glasses of wine during dinner so I decided that the wine was probably enough dessert for me, plus I really didn’t want it.

I am a little nervous about my weigh in this week and I don’t know exactly why.   I am trying to remember that this is a 6-week journey and that some weeks are going to be better than others.  I really don’t want to set myself up for disappointment.  Rather, I want to remain positive and focused on the positive changes that I have already made.

Day 14…

Chia seeds again this morning in my juice and after drinking it I was full so I waved off breakfast, which was a mistake.  By the time lunch rolled around I was pretty hungry.  I drank my water, but ate faster than I have been and I think I over ate as a result.  I did enjoy the leftover Peach Blueberry Cobbler from the night before though.

This morning my daughter and I worked out to a free on demand video on cable.  We did 30 minutes of Power Yoga and let me tell you it was everything but relaxing.  I think I’ll add this to my exercise routine on a regular basis.  Today I also added an additional 30 minutes of walk/running for some extra cardio.  I’m trying to jog on soft surfaces so that it’s a little bit easier on my joints.  The park close to the bakery has a soft surface path and the neighborhood we live in has several so I have plenty of options.

The playoffs were on today and after watching the Raven’s heartbreaking loss I would be lying if I didn’t admit that I’m craving some chocolate.  I will drown my sorrows with water instead.

Feed Your Sweet Tooth Diet…Week #1 Lost 1.5 lbs.!

Maybe I can have my cake and eat it too!

my "Feed Your Sweet Tooth Diet"

My Rules…

the do’s

Exercise at least 6 days per week for at least 30 minutes

Drink 64 oz. of water daily including at least 8oz before each meal

Eat mindfully, putting the utensil down between bites

Eat a serving of Dessert Daily

the don’ts

Don’t eat past 7:00pm,

Don’t count calories

Don’t prepare special meals or take any weight loss supplement

Day 1…

Weighed in today at 153.5 lbs. to my delight because I actually thought that I was around 160.  Took my measurements, wasn’t so delighted there with 37″, 31″, 42″.  Step aside JayLo, baby’s got back!  That middle number is what bothers me most.  I’ve always been curvy, but that middle number is going to change.

Today I added walking/running with my dog for 15 minutes, cycling for 20 minutes at intervals on level 3 before work and I also added a Pilates class with my daughters before dinner.  Breaking it up seemed to work well.

Drank a lot of water today.  Tried to add a glass prior to each meal.   The hardest thing today was to eat slowly and mindfully.  I guess I have gotten into a bad habit of eating too fast.  I’m sure this is carried over from the days when I had small children and every time I sat down to eat, all hell broke loose.  This habit didn’t develop overnight so I can’t expect that I will correct it in one day.

My dessert today was a zucchini muffin and I enjoyed it with my breakfast.  Surprisingly I didn’t really want anything else sweet all day and that’s unusual.

Day 2…

Walked the dog this morning and hit the gym before work.  I did some resistance training there, chest and back.  Resistance training/weight lifting is so great for women in particular.  It helps us build stronger bones which is really important considering that we are more prone to suffer from osteoporosis.  You don’t even have to belong to a gym or have any fancy equipment.  Push ups and squats are two great exercises and work most of the muscles in the upper and lower body using simply your own body weight.

I drank plenty of water and some green tea today.  I remembered to eat mindfully, but that was still difficult.  Eating slowly almost makes me nervous.  What’s that all about?  I did eat after 7:00pm.  I had a meeting that ran late and I was starving.  Although, I must admit that eating slowly did make me feel full sooner than usual.

My dessert today was our Kahlua Soaked Chocolate Cake and I enjoyed it after my bowl of chili for lunch.  It was delicious and I really savored it.  Again, shockingly I did not crave anything sweet later in the day and believe me I had plenty of opportunity.  I might be on to something.

Day 3…

Walked/ran with the dog again this morning.  This is actually a great way to start my day.   Drank my fair share of H20.  I am going to fill a pitcher each day so that I can measure what I drink.  I read somewhere that most often when you think you’re hungry, your body is actually thirsty.  I also started to eat my lunch while working on the computer and quickly decided that this was not mindful eating, so I turned it off.  I did have a moment today after lunch that I might have normally eaten something just because I was stressed.  I paid close attention to that feeling and decided instead to drink a large glass of water.

My dessert today was another slice of Kahlua cake.  I must say that this confection is one of our very best.  Although after eating the slice I realized that I could have actually been satisfied with probably half of the portion.  Again no other cravings for sweets today.  Truthfully I didn’t really crave the cake, but have decided for this experiment to make sure that I eat something sweet everyday.  Maybe tomorrow I’ll stick to a smaller portion if I’m not really “jonesin” for something sweet.  FYI, did you know that the word “jonesin” in the urban dictionary means an intense craving for a drug?

Ran/walked/skipped with my daughter for about 2 miles this afternoon.  I think it was her idea to skip and it was so much fun.  It reminded me of being a kid.  For some reason the song “zip a dee doo dah” from the Disney movie Song of the South came immediately to mind.  Anyway, the intervals had our heart rates going up and down which I’ve read  is supposed to be the best type of cardio training.

Dinner tonight was uneventful.  I did enjoy a glass of wine which I might consider to be a “dessert” in the future.  We’ll see what my numbers show the next week.

Day 4…

This morning I simply walked the dog.  I knew I was going to the gym to do my resistance training, shoulders, biceps,  triceps and abs and I was taking a spinning class in the evening and that seemed like plenty.

I had some trouble today remembering to drink my water before my meal.  I was really busy at work and maybe that threw me off.  Also the no eating after 7:00pm is proving to be more difficult than any of the other rules.  Tonight I ate at 7:30.  I’m going to have to plan better.

My dessert today was 3 smaller shortbread cookies which was perfect.  I had tried a new recipe and had to taste test them anyway.  I really enjoyed them, but didn’t crave anything else sweet for the rest of the day.

Day 5…

My cardio today was on the treadmill because it was cold and windy outside.  I did a walk/run for about 30 minutes, again the combination of walking and running at intervals had my heart rate up and down.  I ate my dessert at breakfast this morning because I had to taste test our Ginger Refrigerator Cake.  Lunch was Steak Salad, uneventful.

Dinner was a total disaster.  We were getting ready for an arts reception and I didn’t preplan a dinner so I had some cheese with crackers and meatballs with tortellini.  It wasn’t ideal, it wasn’t mindful eating or even remotely enjoyable, but I’m not going to beat myself up about it.   I’ll try and plan better in the future.  Drank socially this evening.  Lemon drops were the drink of the evening, a lemon wedge sprinkled with raw sugar and a shot of vodka.  You bite the lemon, drink the shot and bite the lemon.  Supposedly, vodka has one of the lowest calorie counts plus, this drink is very tasty.

Day 6…

Today was my “day of rest” as far as exercising goes.  I did walk the dog, but at a relaxing pace.  Ate our Organic Celery Salad for breakfast today and it was filling and delicious.  I didn’t do so well with my water consumption today.  I didn’t fill my pitcher at work and wasn’t thinking about it.

I was hungry at lunch today, but remembered to put my sandwich down between bites and felt full before I even finished, so I only really ate half.  My dessert today was an Ice Cream Sundae.  My nephews were in the bakery today and I taught them how to make real Whipped Cream and Hot Fudge Sauce.  Together we enjoyed the “fruits of their labor”.  We had so much fun and it was delicious to boot!

We had reservations tonight for dinner so once again I ate after 7:00pm.  This rule has proven to be the most difficult and here I thought my sweet cravings were going to be the toughest obstacle .  I resisted the urge to order an appetizer and focused on savoring my meal and the company that we shared.  We had a lovely evening!

Day 7…

I ran outside this morning for 30 minutes again alternating between walking and running.  My brother-in-law once told me that when you first start to add running to your exercise regimen, you should either walk or slow down when you’re feeling fatigued and once you recover you can pick up your pace again.  So this has been my approach.

The playoffs were on today so I probably ate a little more at lunch than I have this past week.  I am drinking a lot of water today to try and balance the urge to eat all the “tail gaty” snacks and it seems to be working.

My dessert today was my mother’s Baked Custard.  It’s like eating a cross between creme brulee’ and flan.  She used to make this all of the time when we were children and it really is one of my “comfort foods”.  Surprisingly it isn’t high in sugar and not that bad on the fat count.  It’s purely delicious.

I made sure that I didn’t eat anything tonight past 7:00pm.  Weigh ins are tomorrow morning.  Even if I didn’t lose any weight this week, I do feel better.  I’m actually enjoying the exercises that I’ve added to my normal routine and the permission that I’ve given myself to eat dessert seems to have set me free.

Can my “Feed Your Sweet Tooth Diet” work?

My "Feed Your Sweet Tooth" Diet!

Feeding My Sweet Tooth

Can I feed my Sweet Tooth daily and still loose a little weight?

My sister Shelly and I own an all natural bakery in Berlin, Maryland.  There’s no denying that we love sweets and  in our business, we want you to love Sweets too.

We came by our “Sweet Tooth” naturally when our Dad  kindly passed that gene on to us.  Actually my Dad has the biggest “Sweet Tooth”of anyone I have ever met.  I still have vivid childhood memories of him dieting and performing various methods of sweet deprivation. His most favorite indulgence is ice cream.  We all still laugh when we talk about the time he was trying to loose a little weight and my mother thought that he was doing so well.  She was proud that he had “tamed his tooth” until one day she had to drive his car to work.  For what ever reason, she had to slam on her brakes and an empty container of Breyers Ice Cream rolled out from under the seat.  He was “busted”!   Reflecting on this story reminded me that my father was “fit as a fiddle” when he was the most active despite what he ate.  He played baseball and was an avid runner.  The “wheels didn’t fall off” until he had knee issues and became less active.  That’s when he began riding the “diet roller coaster”.

I try to work out regularly, but honestly I haven’t made it a priority and often don’t push myself as hard as I should when I do.  I don’t usually buy into the whole New Years resolution thing.  I try to remember that I have the opportunity to make positive changes every day, but I’m turning 50 in March and I really want to be “fit and 50”.  That in mind, I have decided to enter the 6 week “Biggest Loser” challenge at my gym which begins today with the “dreaded” weigh in.  There is an entry fee and prize money for the winner, but I am more motivated by the accountability of this whole thing, particularly now that it’s public knowledge.  I did ask both my husband and Shelly to join me, but they both declined.  I’m going to have to go it alone.

This will be an experiment of sorts.  I hope to prove to myself, once and for all, that deprivation isn’t “my” key to weight loss and fitness.   I don’t know about other tooths, but my Sweet Tooth has a mind of it’s own and it expects to be cared for.  In the past, whenever I have deprived my Sweet Tooth, my “Tooth” has retaliated and it hasn’t been pretty.  So instead of starving “it” or myself, I’m simply going to move more, make small changes like drinking more water, eating slowing and mindfully, keeping a log of my meals, activities and progress,  all while still indulging in my daily dose of sweets.

If you would like to join me on this quest, I would love to have you along.  If you have any helpful tips you would like to share, they are most welcome.  Follow my progress with weekly updates via our blog and on   the bakery’s facebook page  and see if the “Feed Your Sweet Tooth Diet” works!  It could go either way.

Summer’s end and a fantastic recipe with homegrown tomatoes?

I view Summer as a precious gift!  Why does it go by faster than any other season?  Does it seem to anyone else that the kids start school earlier and earlier each year?  Summer is my favorite season!  I love everything about it, the warmth, the extension of daylight, the fresh local food, the kids being home.   My fretting about Summer’s end begins around, about the 4th of July.

You might be wondering, what the heck this has to do with “cupcakes and sprinkles”?  Maybe it doesn’t have anything to do with the bakery, but we’ve been reminded of the season’s end a lot lately.  Our normally “happy go lucky” visitors come in looking sullen, contemplating the return home and back to the “grind”.  Our youngest customers, including our own children appear obviously dismayed by the thought of school days, homework, projects and schedules. What happened to the days when Summer vacation started at Memorial Day and lasted through Labor Day weekend?

This Summer, in particular, seems to have vanished.  Owning a  business in a resort town, the tourist season is obviously the busiest and we’re not complaining.  Plus, “time flies when you’re having fun”!   Our children, my niece and our parents have helped us more than ever this season, working in the kitchen, at the counter, setting up at Farmer’s Market and serving during Art Strolls.  We’ve had an absolute blast!  It’s awesome owning a business and priceless watching your family take as much pride in it as you do.

Not to be a total “downer”, of course there are many exciting things to look forward to in Berlin this Fall and Winter…Fiddlers Convention, Octoberfest, Victorian Christmas and 2nd Friday Art Strolls.  Heck, in my humble opinion, September and October are two of the best months to be on the shore.  The weather and water are still warm, the monster crowds and traffic are gone, the crabs still running.  We also have exciting, new sweets and savouries that we’re working on and “rolling out” this Fall and during the holidays.

When experimenting and testing new recipes, Summer gives us the best possibility of using homegrown, fresh, local ingredients.

Tomato Pie

Super Easy and Delicious

This season we have great farmers and gardeners provide us with some of the best tomatoes I have ever eaten.  We’ve made them “every which way, but loose” and one of our favorite recipes is a savory Tomato Pie!  So to conclude my rantings of Summer’s end on a positive note, I’m sharing this super easy recipe for all to enjoy!  Savor every last day of Summer and all of the “gifts” it has to offer.

Tomato Pie

one prepared pie crust (I would give you Shelly’s recipe, but she would kill me.)

4 large tomato

1/2 cup good mayonnaise

1-1/4 cup parmesan cheese

fresh herbs to taste

Slice tomatoes, place on paper towels and sprinkle with coarse salt.  Let rest for 30 minutes.  Prepared pie crust, prick and bake in a 350 degree oven for 10 minutes until lightly browned.  Sprinkle 1/4 cup of parmesan cheese on bottom of pie crust.  Place drained tomatoes in circular pattern on top of cheese.  Add remaining cheese to mayonnaise and add chopped fresh herbs to taste.  We love the combination of basil and oregano, but you can use creative license here.  Spread this mixture on top of tomatoes and bake pie in oven for 15 minutes until golden brown.   Prepared side salad, open a bottle of wine and dinner is served!

The Sweet Life…striking “the balance”…working it out!

No one has to tell us about diets, indulging in sweets in moderation and watching the waist line.  Our stretchy pants feel the pain of having to taste most everything that leaves the building everyday.  Plus, I’m sure that you’ve read our previous post about “you can have your cake and eat it too” so I am not going to elaborate on that subject.  So what, you ask, am I blogging about now?  Well, it’s our newest endeavor.

We want to connect our customers with our local fitness centers, personal trainers/coaches and share healthy eating tips.  You think it’s “weird” that the owners of a dessert cafe are blogging about fitness?  Let me be clear, we definitely want you to get “BAKED” at the beach, but it is as important to us that our customers are happy and most importantly healthy.  We hope you know that this is why we are committed to baking au’naturale.   We seriously believe that good health and happiness are all about striking “the balance” between the “healthy” and the “indulgent”.   Sometimes that balancing act is just down right difficult.

This  idea came to me when I saw a customer of ours at the gym.  She kindly commented on our facebook post and picture of our Monster Cream Puff asking, “Do you think I could eat half of one if I walk for 30 minutes on the treadmill”?  “Why yes”, I replied and voila the proverbial lightbulb in my head went off.  Why not  connect with the local fitness gurus and share fitness tips, “specials” and wellness strategies with our fans?  Why not ask our fans to share their success stories, tips and recipes.  I don’t know about you, but I can use all of the help that I can get!

No matter if you are a local, just visiting or vacationing at the beach, there are a plethora of fitness centers to choose from and most offer yearly, seasonal, monthly, weekly and daily rates.  Some are even open 24 hours a day.  Fitness centers are not a “one size fits all” and gyms here are no exception.  They offer different fitness philosophies, different work out schedules, classes and styles and varying approaches to reaching your fitness goals.  Most of the centers provide personal coaching, some are class oriented, some more “free weight” minded.  Some follow specific diet regimens like the Paleo Diet which one of our friends and customers recently shared a dessert recipe from.  It was so delicious, Chocolate Babies are now on our “favorites” menu.

Shelly and I come from a large family who celebrate every occasion with food and we own a bakery for gosh sakes. We are constantly striving to strike “the balance” and so we work out almost every morning together.  I personally can’t imagine the strain on our stretchy pants if we didn’t.   One of the factors that we considered when joining a gym was the convenience of the location to the bakery and our children’s school.  Let’s face it, some days are harder than others and for us convenience was a major consideration.  I’ll be honest, the struggle for me is walking through the gym door.  Once I make it past that threshold, I’m “golden” and I always feel physically and mentally better for it.

So, in addition to providing you the very best all natural desserts, breads and beverages, we’re also going to be “rooting out” fitness tips, gym specials and healthy dessert recipes for your overall wellbeing and enjoyment.  We’ll be providing more gluten free, diabetic friendly and vegan dessert options at “BAKED” and are interested in your own personal success stories, winning tips, strategies and recipes.  Visit us on facebook, share your strategies and join our quest to strike “the balance” for a happy, healthy, sweet life.

You can have your cake and eat it too!

Let me preface this post by admitting that I’ve added the inventor of “lycra” to my list of people I thank God for and that the term “muffin top”  has a new meaning for me, particularly since taste testing began in the bakery.   Still, over this past year, I was still surprised by the number of customers who came into the bakery and asked if they could just “stand and smell”.  “Why of course you can” we responded, but this begs the question…”why would you want to just smell fresh-baked deliciousness when you can actually taste it?

This form of question usually resulted in one poor soul, most often a woman, standing by while their companion ordered and indulged in something sweet.  The deprived usually commented, while looking anxious and depressed, “I really want something, but I simply can’t indulge”.  I can almost hear their internal conversation aloud; “should I, maybe just a little, don’t do it , I really want it, no you can’t have it” and so on and so on.  Why do we do this to ourselves?

I’m like a kid in the classroom right now with both arms raised in the air almost screaming…Ooh, Ooh, Ooh!  I know the answer to this.  For most of us, it has to do with deprivation in the desperate attempt to reach or maintain a certain body weight. Let’s address the “elephant in the room”, for some this has everything to do with good health, particularly if they have issues with blood sugar, but for many it is not about being healthy at all.  It is about their negative body image and their desperate attempt to “feel good in their own skin”.  This kind of deprivation usually leads to bingeing, which usually ends with guilt and this vicious cycle begins.

It’s no wonder so many of us, even beginning in the early teenager years, have poor body image.  The messages we all get from magazines, movies and television are totally skewed.

How can any of us get a handle on reality when everything we see from photos of fashion models to actors and even athletes are doctored to “perfection” with computer tricks and the ever popular chemical and surgical enhancements.  According to dosomething.org, did you know…

*Twenty years ago, models weighed 8% less than the average woman. Today, they weigh 23% less than the average woman.

*The average American woman is 5’4” tall and weighs 140 pounds. The average American model is 5’11” tall and weighs 117 pounds.

*If Barbie was a real woman, she’d have to walk on all fours due to her proportions.

*About 7% of 12th grade males have used steroids in order to become more muscular.

*If GI Joe were human, he’d have larger biceps than any bodybuilder in history.

*One out of every four college aged women has an eating disorder.

*It is estimated that 40-50% of American women are trying to lose weight at any point in time.

*Americans spend more than 40 billion dollars a year on dieting and diet-related products – that’s roughly equivalent to the amount the U.S. Federal Government spends on education each year!

*Almost half of all women smokers smoke because they see it as the best way to control their weight. Of these women, 25% will die of a disease caused by smoking.

*In 2007, there were about 11.7 million cosmetic procedures performed in the U.S. Ninety one percent of these were performed on women.

*A study found that 53% of thirteen-year-old American girls are unhappy with their bodies. This number grows to 78% by the time girls reach seventeen.

Isn’t that shocking?  I don’t have all of the answers and I am certainly not suggesting that we all binge on “sweets” with reckless abandon.   Although, that would be great for our business!  I have come to the conclusion, though, that moderation can be part of the solution.  How about we focus on setting goals of being strong, fit and healthy.  How about planning healthy, nutritious meals which can even include dessert.  We can encourage more physical activity.  Remember, diets don’t work because food deprivation causes the body to burn fuel more slowly.

Maybe we order and prepare smaller serving sizes.  For example, if you do indulge in dessert, order or prepare in single serve sizes like cupcakes.  Freeze the remainder and just take out a single serve portion to be enjoyed each day.  When you eat one, savor it as a treat.  Sit down while you eat it, focus on the flavor and texture, put your utensil down between bites.   Give yourself permission to enjoy it.  When we deprive ourselves that’s when the indulgence takes on the “super power”.

Bottom line, I believe we can encourage and remind each other to be the best that we can be.   Love yourself and others for who you and they are and remember, “beauty is only skin deep”.  Physical beauty is superficial.  A pleasing exterior is no guide to a person’s inner beauty or character.   You can “have your cake and eat and enjoy it too!

Is it better for a cupcake to look great or taste great?

Is it better for a cupcake to look great or taste great.  I personally think both, but there’s nothing worse than something looking tasty and tasting terrible.   I mean really, once it reaches your mouth who cares what it looks like?

As a “food lover” and owner of a small bakery, I am acutely aware of the fact that eating is a multi-sensory experience.  Long before we taste something, whether it be savory or sweet, the visual and  olfactory cues can either peak or diminish our desire.   Obviously, our goal at Baked Dessert Cafe is to offer food that looks great and tastes even better.

With the popularity of shows like Ace of Cakes and the availability of sugar clay decorations, along with the ability to photo copy on edible papers, it seems that most are adding these decorative designs to cakes, cupcakes and cookies.  We are no exception.  Fondant is not “natural” neither is the color copied edible image, but if you want something with a custom design, there is no “equal” substitute.  We inform our customers of this “up front”.

Like most, I personally don’t care for the taste of either one.  Most people admit that they peel the fondant decorations off and don’t even eat them. No surprise, they contain loads of artificial flavors and colors.  Enough reason to reduce the use, right?  In addition, adding these decorative details is expensive and adds significantly to the cost of the product.

Shelly and I intend to redirect our focus on creating visually appealing desserts that are decorated “au naturale”.   We have always used fruit/vegetable based coloring, sprinkles, nonparells, along with chocolate shavings, ganache, caramels and curds to decorate our desserts.  We also have added fondant flowers, shells and such to increase the visual appeal.  On special request, we will continue to do so because “what the customer wants is what the customer gets”, but we’re going to get back to our  “old school” style of doing things and we intend to bring our customers along with us.