Deb Kim: If I Knew You Were Coming…

Cake. What a fine and useful word. Piece of cake! You take the cake! It was a cakewalk! Time for cake!  It feels good to say it, and even better to eat it.

Cake is happy. Mmm, I should qualify that. Cake is happy in my life. I read this book and was  a little sad to see lemon cake, a fine cake that’s practically health food what with its citrus’y goodness, cast in such a gloomy light. Couldn’t Ms. Bender have chosen beets?

We’re talking about our hobbies this week.  Baking is important to me. To call baking a hobby would be like sitting it for a timeout on the perimeter of my life. No, no! Cake is much more than a hobby. I’m Italian (Rossi Stagliano, it’s a dead giveaway.) Food is love. Love is food. More food is more love. Too much food is agita, but that’s another post.

I bake for my girls, who are on the gluten free/casein free diet. That means no wheat/oats/rye or dairy. We also avoid soy, hydrogenated oil, high fructose corn syrup and all artificial colors and flavors. (You’re thinking, “Tell Kim we’ll pass on that next dessert invite,” aren’t you?)  Prepared GFCF foods are outrageously expensive. With three hungry girls to feed, it’s cheaper to make my own. I can make just about anything GFCF – from basic cakes to Hostess Cupcake knockoffs that would fool Little Debbie herself.

Baking is therapy. I love the sifting, measuring, mixing, prepping the pans, the whir of the stand mixer, all of it. It’s a rhythmic beat that yields a yummy treat.  How can you go wrong? Like the wedding cake (see photo) I attempted last year for my girls’s middle school teacher. It was a traditional cake, loaded with butter and flour, but peanut free for the Bride. It was for a shower we threw at school, not for her real wedding!  It wasn’t a Cake Wrecks blog   disaster, but it was hardly a professionally made cake. Kneading fondant is therapeutic. Trust me.

About 8 years back I got into decorating furniture and  old wood handbags (I find those on ebay) from the 1960s and 70s with retro art. I customized the handbags for friends and family and sold them too. I used art from old  board games like Barbie Queen of the Prom. Here’s a photo of my “Chutzpah!” game purse. Chutzpah was an hysterical game about kitchsy Jewish life using old Borscht belt jokes and lots of Yiddish. It never fails that women ask me where I got my purse when I carry one of my creations. If you check out my website (HERE) you’ll see my baking and retro themes together.

I don’t paint much any longer. We’ve moved a couple of times and my games and paints are still in a box in my basement. But I bake weekly.

What do you do to unwind, relax and treat yourself to a creative moment?

14 Replies to “Deb Kim: If I Knew You Were Coming…”

  1. You are amazing! I can’t cook to save my life. My husband has been toiling all night making Rosh Hashana brisket, kugel, and mandel. I wrote and went to the gym. Would love to try a GF recipe though.

    When it comes to unwinding, relaxing, and finding a meditatively creative place, send me out on a hike. A couple months ago I took an 18 mile hike to the top of Mt. Wilson (Whitney? Wilson? I get them confused — the smaller of the 2 is the one I mean — the one near Pasadena), and the combination of the hard work and the breathtaking views was mind-boggling. Even more relaxing with just as much “wow” factor is stand-up paddleboarding. I’ve only done it twice, but it’s like walking on water.

  2. I used to love to bake – especially bread. There’s something about that process I found soothing (which you’ll see when you read my book!). You’re encouraging me to try again. Once I’ve unpacked my mixer, that is. 🙂

    Do you talk about the GFCF thing in your book? Do you find it’s made a difference for the girls?

  3. I have a chapter titled, “Beef, it’s what’s for breakfast, lunch and dinner.” Our first GFCF meal was potato chips and OJ. I was completely lost. It has made a huge difference in behavior, GI functioning, sleep and bathroom functionality. Yup. I have a Cuisinart bread machine with a GF setting – saved my life. I could NEVER get dough to rise in my usually chilly house. Drove me bananas!

  4. Elise, I would love to be able to get out for private time like that. I have a recipe for GFCF ruggelach I might try tomorrow, we have no school for the holiday. I make a good GFCF Hamenstashen too. Not a kufel fan – noodles are supposed to be savory only in my universe – no sugar! 🙂 Shana Tova! KIM

  5. I loooooooove to cook, but for some reason I’ve never been a baker. I admire the aesthetic, and I’d be delighted to eat anything you’d like to bake for me, but it’s just never clicked for me the way regular cooking has.


  6. I’m more like Tawna, I love to cook, but baking for me usually means something from a mix, fudge (which barely counts), or sugar cookies, and the later two only between Thanksgiving and Christmas. My fudge is pretty delicious, though, and it can rot your teeth in a single bite. I’m very impressed by your cake, I can’t even get the icing on a birthday cake to come out smooth! I’m just not patient enough for stuff like that, I guess.

  7. Tawna, you make dinner, I’ll cover dessert. Perfect. And fudge earns double points for falling into the candy category. Mmm, fudge. And homemade isn’t supposed to look perfect (that’s my story and I’m sticking with it.) My cakes are never perfect visually. Lumps and bumps abound, kind of like on the baker herself! 🙂

  8. Gorgeous! I love to cook and one of my goals this fall is to learn to make artisan breads (I have the mixmaster–a birthday present–now I need to get over my fear of yeast!). I also knit to relax. Oh, and do the NYT crossword puzzles. And read.

    Hmmm, I’m starting to see why I don’t always get done what needs to get done. Too many relaxing things calling my name.

  9. That cake looks divine! Is it a fondant frosting? I have a weak spot for fondant! I admire anyone who can keep to a gluten free diet. My sister’s son is intolerant to gluten and I know, from her stories, how difficult it can be. You’re one good mama for keeping up with that diet for the benefit of your girls! Hugs to you! And, this pregnant woman would really love to come over to your house right for a slice of that lovely looking cake. Pregnancy craving is in full effect right now! xoxo

  10. I perfected my recipes for brownies, cheesecake and waffles then sort of stopped baking and switched to meals like Tawna. I’m more salty than sweet. Lately I’ve been into soups and attempting slow-cooker routines so I can have aromas wafting around me all day while I write. I’m a novice with gluten-free but plan to learn.

    To relax, I dabble in the esoteric, like contemplating an astrological chart or analyzing the Feng Shui balance in my home. I also like listening to talks on because it is relaxing to me to know there are so many excellent people out in the world doing good stuff so I can kick back and do a Tarot reading on a character in one of my books who hasn’t made his/her issues known yet.

    Gardening used to be my stress release because there was instant gratification when weeding! But I avoid stress now so am happy to water the weeds.

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