In 2017, We learned a bunch!

When I began teaching baking and decorating classes, I had no idea how much I would learn! In 2017, I branched out from being a vendor at a local farmer’s market and a bespoke baker and began teaching public and private classes.

While I continue to teach  decorating at Michael’s using the Wilton Method,  I have made the progression to teach baking, confectionery and a series of beginner baking classes; called Next-Generation-Baker.  It’s on the class information page.

In 2017, we learned to make pies, homemade candy corn, caramel apples and decorated gingerbread cookies and sugar cookies. We made cupcake bouquets, mother’s day cupcake flowers, father’s day craw-daddy cupcakes, pie filling, witch brooms and shoes and black cats. We made small-tall cakes decorated with purple Louisiana Iris and cakes decorated with succulents. We torted, filled and frosted cakes and cupcakes.

I attended a baking workshop at King Arthur Flour in Norwich, Vermont.  I took classes on how to make the flakiest pie crust and the tastiest filling, temper chocolate and make truffles and ganache and how to choose the right chocolate for a recipe.

What is my take-a-way in 2017? I learn from doing and what I love to do is teach. When you teach a person to bake, you give them life and social skills and they attain self-confidence through their ability to bake.  What is learned in baking goes far beyond the kitchen walls.  Bakers not only bake for themselves, but also bake for others. When a person, especially a young person, bakes for their family and friends, they are sharing a part of themselves – their love of baking- through communication that is personal, one-on-one, face-to-face; not electronic.

We learned a bunch in 2017 and we’re sharing our love…


The Kindness of Strangers


As with Blanche DuBois, many of us have depended upon the kindness of strangers. But sometimes the kindness of strangers surpasses our expectations- sometimes we even surprise ourselves…

On May 15, 2017, our small community changed in the blink of an eye. A 7-year-old first grader brought a gun to school and when it fell out of his backpack, his class mate picked it up and the gun accidentally went off. The bullet struck their class mate, Gage. He was airlifted to a medical facility and so began his road to recovery. Meanwhile…

Prayer Warriors prayed for strength and healing, law enforcement urged firearm safety at home, schools provided counseling for their students and faculty. Our community slowed its pace, took in a deep breath and exhaled. Now it was ready…

After word of the accident got out on social media and to the local TV and radio stations, the question people were most asking was, “how is he and what can I do?”  Strangers wanting to help. If you know anything about the South, it’s that strangers are just friends that you haven’t met yet.  And so, it began…

An account was set up at a local bank along with other funding accounts to assist the family in paying medical and daily expenses. They had not left Gage’s side since arriving at the hospital.  Schools raised money by having blue jeans days, groups sold t-shirts, and this is where I come in…

I have a son who served in the Marine Corps for almost 8 years and was deployed nearly as many times. He was sent to far-a-way places that has camels and dust storms and red seas. He came back – unharmed – and for this I am thankful. On that day in May when I heard the news of the terrible accident my thoughts went to my son and to the mother of the boy who had been shot.

My heart said, “Do something” so I did. I changed my planned menu of baked good for the farmers market.  I baked cookies -lots of cookies.  On social media, I posted “Cookies and Lemonade for Sale – all proceeds going to Gage’s Road to Recovery Fund”. The word spread and people came. They bought cookies and lemonade or just to donate. I received the kindness of strangers that day and raised over $300 in just a few hours for Gage’s Road to Recovery Fund.

The kindness of strangers will make a difference in Gage’s life as he has in theirs and they have in mine.


Amelia, the Maker of Hugs

Cupcakes…why is it just the thought or mention of them brings a smile? They are made using the same basic ingredients as standard-sized cakes: butter, sugar, eggs and flour – so what is it? Is it the individual portion size or the cup shape that fits perfectly in our hand? Could it be the beautifully sprinkled glorious frosting? Or the pleasure we get from peeling away the paper cup liner to reveal the moist deliciousness inside?
 I say yes to all of the above- but, who was the baking genius behind this celebrated bliss?

Her name is Amelia.


Amelia Simmons wrote what is believed to be the first cookbook authored by an American published in the United States.  As an American, Amelia understood that existing cookbooks were British and lacked common, practical recipes for the American culture.  When Amelia first made “soft cakes in little pans, “she could not have imagined how much her “cup cakes” would become a part of American culture.

Amelia’s recipe (shown below) is believed to be the first ever cupcake recipe.  It was included in her book, American Cookery, written in 1796.



 As with all things, there is an original and versions of…

After Amelia, came Miss Eliza Leslie in 1828 with her book, Seventy-Five Receipts for Pastry Cakes, and Sweetmeats. Next in 1832, Mrs. Lydia Child published her version of “cup cakes” in The American Frugal Housewife. Mrs. Child dedicated her book to “Those Who Are Not Ashamed of Economy.” Lastly was Mrs. M.E. Porter’s version of the “cup cake” in her book, Mrs. Porter’s New Southern Cookery Book.  

So, what is it about cupcakes? Is it that cupcakes taste good? Lots of things taste good. Cupcakes don’t just taste good, they make us feel good on the inside – like a getting a hug.  


Little is known of Amelia Simmons other than she was an orphan and a woman of modest means and the maker of hugs…