Amy J

Member’s Blog Name: 
L’Esistenza Bellissima

Hi! I’m Amy J. and I live in the U.S., in Pine Bluff, Arkansas. I moved here almost 11 years ago with my then-new hubby (it’s his hometown)…

…I’m still not totally used to it! LOL Wish I could click my heels and take us all back to the Memphis area, a.k.a. Home! We have a 6-year-old daughter and are expecting little sister at the end of July! I work at a paper mill, in the customer service department with truck shipments (this job has absolutely nothing do with the BA in English that I got, ha ha). I don’t do nearly enough creative stuff, so am always having that internal struggle to fulfill that!

What’s the best part about being a Daring Baker?

Where to start?!?! The camaraderie, helpfulness, and friendliness of all the DB’s is awesome. I also love the fact that expertise levels range from people who just started baking to professionals – and that everyone is welcome and encouraged to be a part. I have learned so much being a part of the group, and have ended up making things that I never would have attempted alone. I’ve actually done things that I’ve seen and shrugged off, thinking, ‘There’s no way I could ever do THAT,’ but I did!! My confidence level in baking has risen (pardon the pun, LOL) and the best thing is that it’s bled over into other areas of my life. Smile

What’s your favorite flower and/or plant?

I love hosta lilies and big leafy ferns; the green lushness really appeals to me. I only have one house plant, though – something that my little girl gave me for Mother’s Day ’08. It sits in the window sill and I water it when it seems to languish, Lord love it. I also love gardening and am especially interested in heirloom veggies/herbs.

Who taught you how to cook and/or bake?

My mom has pictures of me sitting on the kitchen counter licking a bowl of cake batter with a chocolate ring around my mouth. Smile Can we say I wore my chocolate well?! She stayed home when we were little and I learned the basics from her. Later, my dad started poking around in the kitchen and it turns out that he is a darn good cook and baker also. I have watched them both and learned much from them over the years. The fun thing for me is that my little girl has joined me in the kitchen since she was able to “help”, and we have created some fun memories as well!

How long have you been a Daring Baker/Daring Cook and what’s your favorite thing about being in the group(s) so far?

I joined Daring Bakers in March 2008. I had to take a mini sabbatical for a few months because I became pregnant and was siiiiick. Phbbbbt! Now I’m better and have my act semi-together, so I am thrilled to be back active with the group! I have REALLY missed not being a part of Daring Bakers!

What’s your favorite kitchen gadget? How about your favorite kitchen appliance?

I simultaneously love and fear my microplane. I love how it easily zips off citrus zest or finely shreds a hard cheese; I fear it for its potential to zip off and shred my knuckles! =:O And I know it isn’t an original answer, but as far as appliances go I do love my KitchenAid mixer. It rules.

Are you known for making a certain dish or dessert? If so, what is it?

In my family, aside from cooking or baking things, I’m known for my squash casserole – this is actually my mom’s recipe that I nabbed from her. My hubby also loves my homemade salsa and guacamole, which I must admit are pretty darned good, as well as slaw and baked beans. My coworkers just know that I enjoy cooking because I bring things up to the office on occasion! College friends know me for my baking, especially biscotti: Last year I started up a little home baking biz to help some friends who were doing a Secret Pal swap – it ended up being really successful, and I had a blast and I want to continue it!

Is there any recipe and/or technique that we haven’t covered yet that you’d really like to make/learn?

I’m sure this isn’t the first time someone’s said this, but I would love to try macarons. But in all seriousness, it really doesn’t matter to me – everything we do is fun, and I learn something no matter what the challenge!

Do you have a favorite movie? Book? Genre of music?

Movie: The Quiet Man, Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure (when I first crushed on Keanu Reeves), Animal House, Ice-T’s “Friday” movies….there are a lot more that I can’t think of right now. Like jokes, I love so many of them, but can’t tell you about them to save my life. ;>

Book: LOTR and other Tolkein, Eudora Welty, Wm. Faulkner, The Secret Life of Bees, Harry Potter, children’s books (Dr. Seuss and Skippyjon Jones rock!)

Music: Pretty much anything and everything, omitting country and some opera. Rock, classical, old school 80’s rap, 60s/70s folk, R&B, jazz, you name it. Actual individuals: Indigo Girls, James Taylor, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Eric Clapton, Temptations Sarah McLachlan, Sting, Maroon5, Sade. This is just the tip of the iceberg, though; being a musician, I love soooo many artists! I also love indie music and great artists/bands who don’t get radio time – there are some great ones out there!

You’ve just won $5000.00!!! But it comes with some stipulations.. you can’t spend it on your kids or your significant other! This is all YOURS. What would you spend it on? (we’re also going to fantasize that you have no bills whatsoever! Woo!! Hehee)

Yay, money revolves around me, I love it (yes…this definitely is a dream)! I’d take a trip (doesn’t matter where – too many places I’d love to go) and invite a couple of girlfriends to come along. I’d also pay a housekeeper to come and get my house in order, so that when I returned it would be perfect and super-spotless!

What is the ultimate comfort food to you?

Mom’s squash casserole; black-eyed peas with chow-chow (I am a Southern girl!); chocolate! Sushi and Indian are major comfort foods to me, too – when I was so ill at the beginning of this pregnancy, I craved Indian dishes! Just smelling it made the nausea go away, for a short while at least! Sadly, the nearest restaurant is a 45-minute drive away, as we live in a culturally deprived town. Boo hoo!

Which season (Winter, Summer, Spring, Fall) is your favorite.. why?

My fave season is fall. I love when the heat of summer fades away and there’s a crispness in the air…fall colors…wearing sweaters…great hiking weather…holidays just around the corner….

Other than cooking and/or baking.. what hobbies do you enjoy?

I sing, and can play piano, guitar, clarinet, and dulcimer as well as writing songs. I love to write short stories and poems. Scrapbooking is another fun thing for me, which I need to make time to do so that I can catch up on my oldest child’s life. *cough* I took a class in making stained glass a few years ago that I really-really enjoyed, but I haven’t done it in a while because working with the lead solder and turning around and dealing with a child didn’t make me feel too comfy, ya know? However, I would love to pick that up again sometime! I adore spending time in the outdoors and appreciating nature – hiking, backpacking, and camping. I really enjoy taking pictures, though I am soooo amateur at it! Finally, spending time with friends and family is something that makes everything worthwhile to me!

You can visit Amy on her blog L’Esistenza Bellissima

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