FAQs, Tips and Tricks

frequently asked questions.

Who are you? Why are you so clandestine? (In other words, why don’t you tell anyone your name or provide a picture?)
Hello. Welcome to my blog. And thank you for your interest! My name is Anise Benedict. If you’re looking for a picture, I don’t have one right now. It’s not that I’m afraid for people to see what I look like. It’s that I don’t have any great pictures of me in the kitchen. Or of me at all, really. I don’t take a lot of pictures. Stay tuned – picture coming soon!
When did you start baking/cooking?
I’ve been baking/cooking since I was a child. The first recipe I ever memorized was buttermilk pancakes, which I made frequently. I also made omelettes, chocolate chip cookies and lots and lots of macaroni and cheese (not that that really counts). My mom grew up the second-oldest of seven children. Her father was a farmer. Her mother a fork-lift operator at JCPenney. My mom cooked a lot for her brothers and sisters. Everything she learned, she learned from her mother.
Do you weigh 300 pounds?
Of course not!
How are you not 300 pounds?
Good question. Sometimes I wonder the same thing myself. And my coworkers routinely ask me that question, or something similar. I do everything wrong. I don’t eat breakfast during the week (no breakfast, sub coffee). And if I do eat breakfast during the week it’s most often a donut or giant cookie. I go in spurts where I don’t pack a lunch for work. And then I end up eating Cheetos. Say about half a bag. Maybe more. I don’t eat that many fruits. I eat even less vegetables and I almost never eat whole-grain anything. The only thing I do do right is I drink plenty of water. But this is only because I’m always thirsty/craving water (which I’m convinced means something is wrong with me). So there you have it. My eating habits are disgusting, right? No wonder people want to know how I’m not 300 pounds. The answer is … Honestly? I have to guess that I have a fairly high metabolism. Which should be worsening any one of these years as I’m no spring chicken. But if metabolism doesn’t account for my weight then I would have to say it’s the eating style I’ve adopted over the last few years: I eat what I want, when I want only mostly when I’m hungry and I stop when I’m full no longer hungry. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not thin. Some people call me thin, and I hate it. I mean, I wish I was thin! I like to consider myself normal. A healthy, less than the American-average weight. Somehow I’m the same weight I was in high school (though back then I thought I was fat). Now I’m just happy with my weight. Would I be happier if I were 10 pounds thinner? Of course. But JC (Jesus Christ) I love food. I will never be 10 pounds thinner.
If you’re really not 300 pounds, as you claim, what do you do with all that food that you make?
Even better question. This leads me back to why I don’t have that many pictures of myself, in a round-about way. Unlike when I first started this blog (in a happy relationship), I am single. So It’s not like I have a family/husband/boyfriend to share the food. Oh and I live alone. So no roommate either. As the consummate single gal, I need to be more creative. The majority of the food I take with me to work. Not just baked goods either. My coworker, Coleen, is happy to eat just about anything I bring to work. So the more food I make, the more I take into work. (And the more my coworkers love me. Are you getting my MO? Everyone at work loves me.) Sometimes I’ll share food with my neighbors, when they’re around or I run into them. I hate throwing food out, but it happens. I just threw out almost an entire peanut butter cream pie. And it was a jumbo one, too. Oh yeah – back to the picture thing. I don’t have anyone to take pictures of me baking/cooking/etc. I swear it’s easier to take pictures when you’re in a relationship, no? Both together and of each other? That being said, if you know any cute, single guys in their late 20s to early 40s who live in the Portland-metro area, you can have them email me. Southeast Portland is preferred, but let’s face it. I can’t be picky. I’m not getting any younger. Oh. I forgot. I have a dog. He’s a 14-year-old Dachshund named Odie. (Odin is his given name but that seems too formal, no?) He likes to eat just about anything I feed him. Including beets. I have tons of pictures of Odie because what else do you take pictures of when you don’t have kids? Here’s one of Odie:

Odie

Why does your dog’s tongue hang out the side of his mouth?
OK, so that’s not a food-related question but honestly it’s a frequently asked question I get whenever anyone meets my dog. He’s old, people. He has about two teeth in his mouth. So his tongue hangs out and his mouth is crooked. You should meet his brother. His tongue hangs out the other side of his mouth and his mouth is even more crooked.
Your pictures are great! Did you take a course in photography?
Well, yes. I did actually. In high school. But back then that’s when we developed our own film (am I dating myself?) in two different dark rooms. And I don’t really remember much about what I learned in photography. I certainly don’t have that kind of camera. And thanks for your kind words but my pictures are not that great. They are nowhere near other bloggers photos, but I do what I can with my iPhone (4S) and the apps I have on my phone. I’m getting better every day.
What’s your favorite thing to make and why?
That’s like asking which child is your favorite child. You can’t choose between them. A lot of people who know me assume that I prefer baking to cooking. I love them equally, for different reasons. But I tend to bake a bit more than I cook, I suppose.
Where can I buy one of your cakes?
Technically, I would need a commercial kitchen before I would be able to go into business. Technically. Every once in a while a friend will beg me to make a birthday cake for purchase. I have done this a few times. Sometimes I donate a cake for a cause birthday. The pie in the sky idea is to open my own bakery and cafe.

tips and tricks

God, I wish someone would have given me this tip when I first started making pies! For a flakey, crescent-like pie crust, use very chilled butter and water. For more information, read more here.
Like to bake cakes but terrible at decorating? Yeah. Me too. For an artsy and impressive looking cake, decorate the outside of your cake with chocolate bark. Read more here.
Brown butter is your friend and secret weapon. It gives any savory dish a nutty flavor. Add it to baked goods and it lends a caramel-like flavor. Never heard of brown butter? Yeah, I hadn’t at first either. Read more about it here.
I like to cook with fresh herbs whenever possible – especially herbs from my garden. Sometimes I don’t have fresh herbs on hand. I do usually carry a good stock of dried herbs One third dried herbs equals one part fresh herbs, if you too do not have any fresh herbs. Dried herbs should be added at the beginning to allow the flavor to come out. Fresh herbs should be added toward the end so they don’t lose their flavor.
Substitute parchment paper in baking when a process calls for wax paper. It’s my opinion that parchment paper holds up better. (I do on occasion use wax paper – usually when I’ve run out of parchment.) I also substitute parchment paper for aluminum foil (in baking) and when roasting vegetables.
Instead of using butter and flour to grease and flour a pan when baking a chocolate cake, substitute baking cocoa. It’s less obvious than the white stuff when you take the cake out of the oven.
Undercooking is better than overcooking. In most instances you can fix something that’s been undercooked. It’s hard to undo something that’s been overcooked. Like, say, a steak.
When I was a kid my mom kept bacon grease in a jar in the freezer. As an adult, I’ve been known to save my bacon grease, too. Cooking in bacon grease makes almost everything taste better! In my opinion. Disregard this tip if you’re health conscious, vegetarian or vegan.

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