Willow Bird Baking - lessons in life & kitchen confidence
Willow Bird Baking is the chronicle of the kitchen experiments, successes, failures, discoveries, messes, miracles, and musings of a determined upstart of a baker in Charlotte, North Carolina. WBB's mission is simple: to get you in the kitchen, cooking things that taste better and look prettier than you thought they could.
I first tasted key lime pie when my family took a trip to Florida when I was in middle school. My mom had been dying to get the real deal key lime pie straight from the source, and her excitement was infectious. The first bite of sweet-but-tart key lime on sweet graham cracker crust with an abundance of fluffy whipped cream seemed to slice right through the muggy Florida heat and made me a key lime believer.
When I was little, my favorite ice cream flavor was always cookies & cream. That is, until the early 90s, when cookie dough ice cream hit the shelves. Ice cream with cookie dough MIXED RIGHT IN. Like you literally didn’t even have to sneak it out of the fridge anymore. My little life was changed.
While I was busy surveying new flavors and adjusting accordingly, though, my dad always stayed true to his one favorite flavor: butter pecan.
There’s something I want you to know about me. I’ve wrestled for quite awhile about how to say this, but I’ve never wrestled with whether or not it needs to be said. If you don’t know this, you don’t know me. And if this space isn’t a space to share myself and learn about you, it’s nothing to me.
Whenever I’m sad I start spending more and more time wandering around in the wilderness. I’ll walk up mountains and around lakes for hours. I exercise more. I avoid going home, but I also avoid going anywhere with people. I stop responding to messages and texts. I make excuses and cancel plans.
I hide. I eat less. My clothes get louder as I get silent.
I start writing more poetry. My instagram fills with sunsets and song lyrics or goes silent all together. There are fewer new recipes or, when the new recipes are still coming, the posts are short and storyless. My voice feels like it’s trapped in a bubble.
In the wake of the Anthony Bourdain’s death, someone on Twitter asked: How do we know if you need help? And what kinds of things help you? Let’s ask each other that now, while we can.
San Diego has these places I affectionately call Liquor Delis and they’re the weirdest thing. As the name implies, they’re liquor stores that are . . . also delis. Maybe you grew up with this and it’s totally normal for you, but to me this is about as weird as the gas station in North Carolina that sells fried chicken (the best fried chicken ever, incidentally). And even weirder than these places existing is the fact that they’re my new favorite thing.
Calling the police on Black people puts them in danger. White folks, we’ve started to use calling the police more as a way to keep people out of certain spaces or prevent certain behaviors than to respond to legitimate emergencies. When we do this without examining our biases — without asking ourselves why we feel like certain people don’t belong or certain behaviors are a nuisance — it’s not surprising that the outcomes tend to be racist.
There are plenty of recent examples: the white woman who called police on Black people barbecuing, the white woman who called police on a Black woman taking a nap in her dorm common room, the white woman who called police on two Black men waiting for a friend at Starbucks. Any of these could’ve ended in tragedy. One solution is obviously dealing with the militarized and racially biased policing that is simply a fact in our country.
But another? Another is to STOP CALLING THE POLICE. I’ve grappled with this over the past few years as a white woman, and here’s my own personal plan:
Audre Lorde is teaching me all the things lately via Sister Outsider. One of the things she said that struck me is how hard it was for her to write prose because her thoughts didn’t seem to work like everyone else’s. They were more feelings and intuition. Applying this linear order to those “thoughts” and using grammar to arrange and spread them was harder work given their natural state.
You know that feeling when you have a big cup of coffee, all the time in the world, and you walk into your favorite store to just BROWSE leisurely? That, “Oh, maybe after I stroll down every aisle I’ll grab some lunch” feeling? That, “Oh, if I feel like it maybe I’ll take a nap or go for a walk” feeling? When your self-care dial is set to maximum?
Let’s make a list of our favorite ways to create that feeling and then let’s make THAT our to-do list today. Okay? Okay.
Tres Leches Carrot Cake (and 5 Easy Steps to Get a Therapist)
Finding mental healthcare is so daunting, especially for the people who need it most. I’m not an expert — just a person who has had to find mental healthcare in lots of places lots of times — but it occurred to me that if I could make the nebulous, scary task of finding a therapist a little more concrete, it might be helpful.
There are lots of things that make this task hard. First, you may not know quite what you need and even if you do, you may not know quite where to find it. You may not be sure what to do if you do find it. When I have this many question marks, I tend to procrastinate instead of taking action, even if I’m suffering. Hopefully, these few steps will reduce the number of question marks you have about taking the first step toward finding a therapist.
Coconut Cake with Whipped Frosting (and My First Trip to Disneyland!)
I WENT TO DISNEYLAND FOR THE FIRST TIME and I am hashtag blessed. I went with some experienced Disney veterans and I’m so glad, because one thing I discovered is that Disney is a giant, whimsical STRATEGY GAME OF DOOM.
There are plenty of people drifting around like so much flotsam and jetsam in a sea of mouse-eared confusion. They end up in interminable lines and make the mistake of bothering with Autopia. They probably have fun. But then there are these OTHER people … people who straight up DO DISNEY.
THEY HAVE PLANNED. THEY HAVE PREPARED. MAXIMIZING FUN IS THEIR MIDDLE NAME (it makes for awkward business cards, but they manage).