Chocolate & Passover

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Chocolate & Passover

This year was different in a way that was unexpected. I recently started a new job and it has me exhausted after each day. That’s a good thing and a bad thing, but like I said, Passover is about reflection and this week I’m reflecting on chocolate.

Dessert plays a big role in my life and therefore during every holiday I find new ways to get creative and find a common theme that’s reflective depending on what’s happening in my life. When people think of cocoa powder they either think of chocolate cake or hot chocolate. Both are amazing options, but since it’s not really cold enough for a cup of hot chocolate and I can’t have flour then the obvious choice is...flourless chocolate cake!

There are a billion (okay, maybe not that much!) recipes for this type of cake and that can often be intimidating if you’ve never made it before, but have no fear, I’ve found a recipe and will attach it below. But no matter what recipes you find online, always be rest assured that the ingredients you use will be the ultimate tipping point. If your recipes are cheap and low quality then your end result may not live up to your expectation. Be sure to spend time thinking about the main ingredients in your dish before diving into the recipe. The two most important ingredients for this FLOURLESS CHOCOLATE CAKE will be cocoa powder and chocolate chips. For the cocoa powder I used Askinosie Cocoa Powder because they are small batch company that sells kosher and non-alkalized products. And of course, the chocolate is always Ghirardelli or Guittard, because chocolate.

About the Cocoa Powder!

"We were the first small batch chocolate makers to make cocoa powder from scratch! And the proof is in the powder. We make our Natural Cocoa Powder in our factory, using the same beans with which we make our chocolate, creating an authentic single origin cocoa powder with a rich chocolate flavor. A by-product of pressing cocoa butter (which we are one of the few chocolate makers to do ourselves), our cocoa powder is unsweetened and non-alkalized.

This pure cocoa powder is Certified Kosher D.E., vegan and gluten free." 

Now, time for the recipe

 

Flourless Chocolate Cake

Before we start, keep in mind this cake does not call for icing because it will be so fudgy you won’t need it. But I am adding some whipped creme fraiche and powdered sugar!

Ingredients

1 Cup - (2 sticks) of unsalted butter, cut into pieces

¼ Cup - unsweetened cocoa powder, plus more for dusting

1 ¼ Cup - heavy cream

8 oz - chocolate, chopped

5 - large eggs

1 Cup - granulated sugar

½ Cup - creme fraiche

¼ Cup - confectioners’ sugar (aka. Powdered sugar)

Directions                          

1. Heat oven to 350° F. Butter a 9-inch springform pan and dust with cocoa powder.

2. In a medium saucepan, heat the butter with 1⁄4 cup of the heavy cream over medium-low heat until the butter is melted. Add the chocolate and stir until melted and smooth; remove from heat.

3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, granulated sugar, and cocoa powder. Whisk in the chocolate mixture.                        

4. Transfer the batter to the prepared pan and bake until puffed and set, 35 to 40 minutes. Let cool in the pan for 1 hour. Run a knife around the edge of the cake before unmolding.                      

5. Using an electric mixer, beat the remaining 1 cup of heavy cream with the crème fraîche and confectioners’ sugar until soft peaks form. Dust the cake with cocoa (or confectioners’ sugar) and serve with the whipped cream mixture.

Now that you made this delicious cake and listened to me rant about my love for Passover I’d for you to reflect on something this week: what makes you feel reflective? Is it a time of year? Is it something you do for yourself each day?


Thank you Readers and Bake On! Passover is one of my favorite holidays of the year. It’s celebratory in a way that’s respectful and reflective, and the symbolism that food brings to this holiday is incredible. I won’t go into lavish details about the holiday, but for me, Passover is the time of year where I reflect and pray for thanks and longevity as each year brings me new obstacles and closer to my whole-self.

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What the Heck is Coffee Syrup?

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What the Heck is Coffee Syrup?

I’m as lost as you! I’ve never heard of the thing, never knew it existed, and had no idea how it was made or why anyone would want to use this product. I’m a coffee drinker so I can appreciate a good coffee flavored ice cream, coffee flavored whatever and I’ll be all over that, but when Baker Batch told me I’d be working with Dave’s Coffee Milk Syrup to bring ya’ll something creative I was excited and...concerned. I had no idea how to use it! Until, like any good librarian, I did my research and found that this product is not only a Rhode Island staple, it’s also used primarily in milk.

Well, how is it made?

“It all starts with our fresh roasted coffee. We've selected a superb Brazilian bean and roasted it specifically to be used in our coffee syrup. It's nutty, sweet, smooth and roasted with it's natural smokey goodness. The finished roast then rests for two days.

After resting the coffee is ground and cold brewed for 18 hours in our modified stainless steel kettle.

Finally, the cold brewed coffee is drained and combined with pure cane sugar. The mixture of coffee and sugar is brought to a boil and simmers for over an hour. During this time the syrup reduces and the sugar begins to caramelize. When the syrup reaches the perfect consistency, it is hot bottled into our signature amber glass bottles. The amber glass protects the sweet flavor of our coffee syrup from the environment.

There's a whole lot of love that goes into each bottle of Dave's Coffee Syrup. And, from the roasted coffee to the bottled syrup, we do it all right here in Rhode Island. “  - Dave’s Coffee

I blame all my Rhode Island friends for not introducing me to this gem earlier, but I’m sure glad that I had the chance to work with Dave’s Coffee Milk Syrup now!

 

 

 

How to Use Coffee Milk Syrup in Recipes

COFFEE SPICE CAKE

 

·  1/2 cup unsalted butter

·  1 cup white sugar

·  1 egg

·  1/4 cup Dave’s Coffee Milk Syrup

·  1/2 cup almond milk

·  2 cups sifted flour

·  1/2 tsp. salt

·  1/2 tsp. cinnamon

·  1/2 tsp. nutmeg

·  2 tsp. baking powder

1.     Cream unsalted butter.

2.     Add sugar and thoroughly mix.

3.     Beat in 1 egg.

4.     Add mixture of coffee syrup and milk.

5.     Sift dry ingredients into others and beat for 1 minute. Sifting the flour is very important. If you don’t sift the flour the cake will be very dense.

6.     Bake in Bundt pan at 350°F for 40 minutes.

Bakers Tip: Drizzle some coffee syrup on each slice to give it some moisture! And if you don’t have a bundt pan do not worry! Any pan will work just keep your eyes on the bake.

 

COFFEE MILK  (A Rhode Island Favorite)

·  Add 2 tbs. of Dave’s Coffee Milk Syrup to a 7-oz. glass of cold milk.

·  Shake well in a beverage shaker, and serve.

*Bakers Tip: I used Almond Milk that was unsweetened because this stuff is sweet enough on its own. Sweetness never bothered me so if you love it try scooping some vanilla ice cream in that glass and have at it!

 

Pick up your bottle of Dave’s Coffee Milk Syrup HERE !!

 

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Book Review: You Are A Badass

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Book Review: You Are A Badass

BOOK REVIEW

You Are A Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life

This book is considered a self-help book for anyone wanting to make a change in their life. I was originally attracted to this book because of the bright yellow cover, the font type and size, and the positive title. Jen Sincero has a great voice and immediately pulls you into her story as soon as you start reading. The biggest thing for me with this book was how Jen seemed to be talking directly at me, like an old friend would if I needed a good talking to.

Overall I give this book an 8 out 10. It was awesome and uplifting but not a 10. And although I won't spend the whole time bashing the book, because it was 80% awesome, I’ll also talk about all the things I loved about the book.

I loved this book because Jen calls you on your shit. All your excuses, your vulnerabilities, your whining and moping, and complaining. All the times you said ‘I can’t’ ‘I shouldn’t’ she says ‘NO WAY!’ and basically tells you all the reasons why you think that way, how to stop thinking that way, and how to stop doubting yourself.

The first thing that really resonated with me was the Big Snooze. Jen calls the Big Snooze the garbage that was stuffed into your subconscious as a kid that doesn’t ring true for you. The Big Snooze gets validation from outside sources. All those opinions of others that you might be worried about, that’s the Big Snooze. It’s boring and wasteful and takes up so much of our emotional space that’s very unnecessary. The Big Snooze are the people that you think you should care about their opinions, but those people are snoring away so who cares what they think! This is the first step to recognizing your beauty, stop caring about those schmucks and move on. Most people genuinely hate it when they see other people living their dream and they don’t have the balls to do it themselves.

“Whatever happens, stay the course, because there’s nothing cooler than watching your entire reality shift into one that is the perfect expression of you.” (page 47)

Jen starts every chapter with an anecdote to make her point relatable and comfortable. Some people may dislike this idea, but for me it made Jen to be more of a human being than some kind of spiritual profit. Generally I feel most people see self-help authors like yogi’s or religious leaders, but they aren’t, they are people with flaws just like you and me and everyone else and we all fuck up sometimes.

A lot of what happens throughout the book, for me at least, was an epiphany or what I like to call, my ‘duh!’ moment. When other people say, “It’s just as easy to believe we’re awesome as it is to believe we’re giant sucking things,” you’re like yeah that makes sense. But why does it take someone else to say it before I can believe it??

After reading several reviews I saw a lot of hate for the type of language Jen uses in her book. Customers say Jen calls you whiny and why would I listen to anyone that makes fun of me? Well I can defend it in a lot of ways. Sometimes we need some tough love and most of us don’t surround ourselves with people that will provide this. And why would you read a book about self-help if all you want is someone to stroke your ego? Seems like a big waste of time if you ask me. So Jen, I applaud you. You don’t hide behind fluffy words. And in her defence, she spends a lot of time tell you how wonderful you are.

APPRECIATE HOW SPECIAL YOU ARE! - Jen Sincero

Thank you, Jen.

She then moves the book into recognizing that self-love is not only important, but necessary for any productive change you want to see in your life. If you don’t love yourself. Your whole self! Then you won’t get everything you want. Do things you love, she says, really listen to how you speak and pay attention to what you do, and make a conscious effort to increase your joy in whatever capacity you can. (page 57).

I believe we can all get behind this. You’re right, it’s easier said than done, but Jen breaks down how to go about achieving these things in some simple steps and she brings up some interesting things I think we all do too often.

Personally, I feel guilty over anything I disagree with. I constantly play victim and I constantly believe that I’m a failure...at almost everything. All of this is ridiculous and it only makes my life SADDER. I’m my biggest set-back and I have a lot to change if I want to see myself truly succeed in the future.

I could go into the nitty gritty of the book, but overall I believe Jen Sincero did a wonderful job. The main reason why I give it an 8/10 is because towards the end I disagree with her talk on money. I have strong beliefs that you shouldn’t go into debt over anything unless you know you’re going to get that investment back. She believes otherwise and that’s just not something I can get behind.

If you’re looking for a book to help you get out of that funk you’re in then read this. If you’re looking for a book that surprisingly understands you then you’ll find that here.

The hardest part about this book is doing exactly what she says we all need to do. Which is love ourselves. Stop doubting ourselves and just go for what we want. Shamelessly, disregarding anyone’s thoughts or opinions of you just do you.

These are all steps we can do over time, but it’s not going to happen over a weekend.

Self work takes time and I think Jen did a great job saying you’re not totally fucked up, you’re great, but do you believe you’re great?

Go support your local library and grab this book. Read a few chapters. Let me know how you liked it and let’s talk!

Love yourself...and you will have it all.

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Ramblings & Oreos

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Ramblings & Oreos

It’s been a long time folks. It’s all my fault and I’m sorry. But not too sorry because let’s be honest, life gets crazy and some magical stuff has been happening.

Let’s get some real talk going. The Bake Lab isn’t my job, it’s my passion project, my experiment, the project that really makes absolutely no money yet I still do it anyway. I started it because I was bored and uninspired and wanted something to pressure myself to really bake my ass into gear. (hehe!) And if you’ve been following my IG account then you’ll know that I’ve been baking cakes, donuts, cake donuts, cookies, breads, and a whole lot of other delicious foods. I’ve been learning a ton and really pushing my limits as to what I know in the kitchen. I made bagels for the first time ever and although I probably won’t make them again it was pretty awesome.

 

And since the holidays it’s been insane-pants. Both good and bad.

Seeing family in New Jersey was awesome, I love my parents and sister so much that it just brings joy and goodness to my whole-self. But I left for NJ right after I left my pastry job for a prep school. I wasn’t happy there and needed to make a change. I’m not one to stay or do anything that makes me unhappy. We only have one life to live and I’ll be damned if I live it as an unhappy bitch.

Good stuff = family

Bad stuff = still unemployed and panicking

I’m healthy. I’m in a great relationship. I live in an awesome apartment in the beautiful state of California. I have a super supportive family and friends. There is nothing I’m more grateful for. I want to change one thing and that’s my career. If you guys know me, I’m a librarian and an avid reader and am struggling to find a library job. But wait, there is hope! I recently had an interview with the NYPL that I’m hoping to land and if that happens, then I’m coming back for you NYC! Things are currently uncertain and for the meantime I’m still applying, interviewing, getting rejected, and repeating the cycle all over again.

Being unemployed really sucks, but at least I have my baking and my books to keep me sane and creative.

This May will be the 2 year anniversary of when I started this business and I’ve had a lot on my mind. I’m less concerned with my sales and more concerned about my connection with you and how I can use this platform for creativity and community.

Here are a few things I’ve been thinking of:

  1. Would you be interested in a book club? Each month we pick a book and read it and then at the end of the month we discuss and pick a new one! This would be an online discussion / forum.

  2. Would you be interested if I offered a bartering option. For every box of cookies or baked good we would trade for something you made or bought locally.

  3. Subscription box? Baked goods and Books?

I love ideas! So if you have one I’m down! Wanna collaborate? Work together? Let’s talk!


Because you’ve been patient and read all that nonsense and ended up here you deserve something wonderful!

Chocolate Covered Oreos

I’ve been dunking these bad boys in chocolate three times now and I am hooked. It’s so easy to do with kids and friends, and super easy to do if you have limited time to bring something sweet to an occasion.

Recipe

  • 1 Box of Oreos (your choice! They have mint ones, red velvet, double stuffed, chocolate, golden, you name it!)

  • 1 bag of Candy Melts (pick any color! you can find these at Michael’s)

  • 1 bag of good quality White Chocolate (like Ghirardelli)  

  • 5 Tbsp of Sprinkles (any kind!)

  • Water from the tap!

Utensils

  • 1 Fork

  • 1 Spatula

  • Baking sheet

  • Parchment aper

  • 1 Large aluminum or glass bowl

  • 1 Small saucepan

Once you get all your items together fill the saucepan about half way with water and set on stove. Turn stove onto high heat and wait for the water to start to simmer before putting your bowl on top of the saucepan. Empty your bags (total of 2) of chocolate into the bowl and the chocolate should melt slowly but surely. Make sure to use your spatula to stir and mix the chocolate.

While the chocolate is melting set out a baking sheet and lay parchment paper on top.

Once the chocolate is all velvety remove the bowl from the saucepan (with caution! The bottom of the bowl is hot!).

With your fork take one oreo and dip it into the chocolate. This part can get messy, but it’s chocolate so it’s all good! Once the oreo is covered in chocolate place it on the parchment paper. Repeat for ALL Oreos!

Once all the oreos are all dipped put the baking sheet in the fridge for roughly 30-40 min. At this time you can take all the oreos and eat them or share them or send them off to a friend or relative!

BAM! CHOCOLATE COVERED OREOS FOR THE WIN!

**Bakers Note: If you’re adding sprinkles make sure to sprinkle the oreos after 5-6 dipped oreos. Depending on the chocolate and the temperature of your kitchen the chocolate can harden quickly.

 

 

 

 

 

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My Banana Chocolate Chip Bread Recipe! (because sharing is caring!)

Rachel's Banana Chocolate Chip Bread 

Note: This recipe derives from an original recipe from Merrill Stubbs (Food52) 

Makes one 2-pound loaf

  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, plus more for the pan
  • 3 large, ripe bananas (or 4 small ones)
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour (try using Cup4Cup Flour to make it Gluten-Free)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips  
  1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees F, and butter a 5-by-9-inch loaf pan (or any bread pan really)
  2. Peel the bananas and in a large mixing bowl, mash them well with a fork. Stir in the sugar and then the egg, mixing thoroughly. Stir in the butter.
  3. Sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Fold the dry ingredients gently into the wet, mixing just until you no longer see any streaks of raw flour. (Do not over-mix, or the banana bread will be tough!)
  4. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 45 to 55 minutes. (This timing depends on your oven and what pan you decided to use. I would start with 30 minutes and work upwards.)
  5. Cool in the pan on a rack for 5 minutes, and then turn out onto the rack to cool completely before slicing and serving. 

Bakers Note: make sure your chocolate is fresh and not chalky. If you're not sure take a bite and see. If it's not smooth don't use it, it will only dry out your bread. 

If you're feeling adventures try this Cream Cheese Frosting! Yes, this frosting goes magnificently well with the Banana Chocolate Chip Bread. Slice up a piece, warm it up in the microwave and slab some frosting on that and you got yourself CAKE! I can't take any credit for this frosting or even having the idea of putting frosting on the bread. Rob, my partner, had this crazy idea and boy was it magical! 

Rob's Cream Cheese Frosting

4 ounces unsalted butter, softened
4 ounces cream cheese, softened (we used the original kind)
2 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

In a large bowl, beat together the butter and cream cheese with an electric mixer. With the mixer on low speed, add the powdered sugar a cup at a time until smooth and creamy. Beat in the vanilla extract. 

One recipe of the frosting will be enough (trust me) for one loaf of bread! 

 

<3 Bake On! <3

Rachel
 


 

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Radio Silence

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Radio Silence

It’s been quite the journey to say the least. After leaving Etsy I felt an emptiness. I had left a community I was starting to rely on, depend on for advice and outreach. Although I could always tap into that community again I now feel like an imposter. I’m no longer apart of Etsy exclusive events or fairs or meet-ups. And not to mention that while I was leaving Etsy I was also being laid off from my last job at Evernote. Change was among us and I couldn’t do anything to try to stop it. It was frustrating and sad and because I’m a frighteningly impatient human I was eager to keep the ball moving even if that ball was a square and it wasn’t going anywhere anymore.

So I left Etsy. Got laid off of my last job. No longer allowed to be on unemployment and scrambling for a new job, learning a new e-commerce system, paying a ton of fees, and feeling absolutely overwhelmed.

I talk a lot about my feelings, which sometimes can make people uncomfortable, but it’s how I understand my life so future apologizes if I bore you or offend you in any way.

While leaving Etsy was necessary, and frankly out of my hands, I was feeling good about having everything on my Squarespace site, but with that came new change. And this new change wasn’t great. My sales had dropped significantly. I went from having a steady stream of sales to zero. Yep, you read that right. ZERO sales. Now rationally thinking there are probably a ton of reasons for this, but in my mind it was the platform change that really did it. And while I still feel like I ‘should’ be doing a lot more for my business I realize that this business isn’t paying my bills and it isn’t my source of reliability in my financial life. It never was. It was a project that grew and grew and changed and fell and got right back up again. There are nights when I think about reaching back out to clients or if I want to add a new item on my site (which I am, but it’s not going to be cookies!). But I try my hardest to not make myself run through the list of ‘should’s that will drive me absolutely bonkers.

The lack of sales was a blessing in disguise because I landed a baking gig at a nearby prep school. Yes, that’s right. I bake for children. Approximately 500 of them everyday. I make about 75 cookies a day, 2 dozen muffins, 20 pizzas from scratch (yes, I make my own dough), and I make cakes and breads when I have ‘down time’. Needless to say I’m exhausted after every work day that even if I was getting any orders the likelihood that I’d be super pumped about it is small.

Regardless I haven’t abandoned ship. There was radio silence and there definitely will be more radio silence in the future, but that’s life. And as a 26 year old that has no idea what she’s doing or how to do I think I ought to be more gentle with myself about this whole thing. It’s a learning process and although I pressure myself to achieve or accomplish God knows what I have to be honest with myself that sometimes I’ll fail. I’ll fail a lot. But it’s not about failing is it? It’s about getting back up. That’s what all those smart people say right?

For now I’ll keep on baking. Baking for myself. For the Bake Lab. For work. And I’ll keep on learning. And all the while my life will go on and other magical things will start to happen.

For example I’m going back to New Jersey in November so I’m super excited about that! I planned a trip to Japan with my boyfriend for March and my cousin is coming to visit this weekend!

I am grateful for all of my friends and family that continue to support my craziness. I love you all so dearly.

Keep learning <3

Rachel

Man, I can't wait to see this big beautiful city again <3 

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I am leaving Etsy.

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I am leaving Etsy.

Hello Fellow Cookie Lovers,

I’m writing to you to let you know of some critical changes happening over at The Lab. I’m leaving Etsy as of Aug 1st and will be running my entire business out of my website!

If I had my way I wouldn’t leave Etsy because it’s the equivalent to a safety net, but I must spread my wings and fly onto something a little more controlled.

Etsy was wonderful for the first year and after 500 + sales I couldn’t have asked for a better experience, but after some complications, lack of customization, and overall feel of the platform I feel it’s time to move on to something more...me.

Mind you, I love everything about Etsy and will continue to support all the makers and crafters on there. As for me, it is time to spread my wings and fly solo into the world of entrepreneurs and websites, and all the craziness that goes into it.

You may find out that the format in purchasing cookies is a bit different and non-traditional. You can still order for yourself, for your friends, or your family!

Like always feel free to reach out if you have questions! You can find me on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter. You can find me on here or feel free to text me, call me, send a pigeon with a lovely hand written letter. I’m here to provide delicious baked goods and I’ll continue to do so no matter what happens. Even if we all need to move to Mars or...Canada because Donald Trump becomes president.

So for now, business is as usual! 

And thank you to everyone for your constant support and love. And Peace Out Etsy! 

 

Bake on,  

xo xo Rachel

 

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The Key Lime Pie Cookie

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The Key Lime Pie Cookie

I haven’t written about a cookie for some time now...or ever? Not because my cookies don’t deserve the spotlight, let’s be honest they do, but this cookie was a particularly tricky cookie to accomplish. The flavor is always first priority to me and the first time I tried this cookie I was disappointed. I love key lime in the Summer time. It’s so sour and pouty and childish in nature that I wanted to replicate that flavor in every bite but in a cookie. Key Lime Pie has a specific crust, texture, flavor balance, and presentation so taking all those things into account I wanted to transform that custardy experience into a bite sized cookie anyone could enjoy all year round. But baking citrus is incredibly difficult to accomplish. Using whole fruits in baked desserts usually retains its delicious flavor, but using full slices of limes in a cookie just grosses me out. Using juices in baked desserts will just evaporate while in the oven and disappear into the abyss of awesome. And finally, consider all the fruity citrusy desserts you had, most of the time they were in a custard form. Hence pie. But I’m stubborn and I want to eat my Key Lime Pie all the time, in a cookie, when I want it. So it had to be done. Key Lime Pie Cookie.

 

 

The First Attempt

I followed a recipe written by a wonderful recipe curator to get my creative spirits going. Mainly using zest and juices to accomplish the key lime essence in the cookie. The reviews were awesome, the recipe simple, but when the finished product came out of the oven I was disappointed. The smell was amazing but the taste just wasn’t there. Many people loved the cookies texture and taste, but I wasn’t happy with it.

 

The Second Attempt

Okay let’s try this again. But this time more juices and more zest, almost doubling the quantity from the previous (original recipe). Still nada. I wasn’t happy with it still! It was as if I didn’t even add lime to it at all! Ugh, such a shame.

So before I decided to try again I knew I had to think of something else. There had to be something else I could use to get the flavor I wanted. It was not impossible! I mean, at least, I didn’t believe it was. But then I did some research and came upon what is known as Lime Juice Powder. Essentially it’s the resolution to the citrus problem I was having. Two teaspoons was the recommended proportion for a batch of cookies, but because I don’t listen to anyone I decided to use 3 tablespoons. Mind you the batches I make usually yield up to 24 cookies. So I decided to keep the original amount of lime juice required for the recipe then add the additional powder for some umph!

 

The Third Attempt

Well the powder worked!! And all of a sudden I got delicious Key Lime Pie Cookies! The texture changed drastically too. Originally it was a dense layered cookie but when I added the powder the cookies immediately became light and fluffy and very airy. Although I prefered the density of the original cookie I favored the flavor of the powder cookie more.

 

Lessons I’ve Learned…

Don’t stop! If you love being in the kitchen as much as I do and you have this idea and you want to accomplish something then go for it. There are so many ways to achieve the flavor you want, but sometimes it’s in very unlikely places or places you never knew existed.


So do your research because you’ll always learn something new.

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So You Want to Make Ice Cream?!

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So You Want to Make Ice Cream?!

So you want to make Ice Cream?! 

Lately I haven't felt the urge to turn my oven on when my apartment gets to 80 degrees so I figured what's the best thing to have on a hot day, that takes very few ingredients and I can enjoy with my friends? ICE CREAM!! 

This blog entry is specific for anyone interested in starting to make their own ice cream, get some helpful tips, and enjoy the crazy combinations of your hearts desire! 

Share your recipes ! Send photos of your work! And I hope to hear about your adventures in the kitchen! 

Homemade Recipes

 

Cake Batter Ice Cream

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 cup milk

  • 1 cup sugar

  • 3 cups half and half

  • ¼ tsp salt

  • ¾ cup yellow cake mix

  • 6 TBS rainbow sprinkles optional

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Combine milk and sugar in a small pot and heat over medium.

  2. Heat for a few minutes, stirring occasionally until sugar is mostly dissolved.

  3. In a mixing bowl, combine sugar milk, half and half, salt and cake mix. Stir well to combine.

  4. Pour mixture into your ice cream maker (make sure you prepared your bowl in the freezer ahead of time). Follow manufactures instructions. I mixed mine for 30 minutes.

  5. Add sprinkles and allow to mix for additional 5 minutes.

  6. Remove ice cream from ice cream maker and put into a small glass bowl or container. Cover with lid or foil and freeze for additional 2 hours to overnight to get ice cream to harden more.                    

Simple Vanilla Ice Cream                                

Makes about 7 cups

INGREDIENTS

  • 11⁄2 cups whole milk

  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar                    

  • pinch table salt

  • 3 cups heavy cream                    

  • 11⁄2 tablespoons pure vanilla extract                     

INSTRUCTIONS

In a medium bowl, use a hand mixer on low speed or whisk to combine the milk, sugar and salt until the sugar is dissolved. Stir in the heavy cream and vanilla. Cover and refrigerate 1 to 2 hours, or overnight.    Turn the Cuisinart® Ice Cream Maker on; pour the mixture into the frozen freezer bowl and let mix until thickened, about 30 to 35 minutes. The ice cream will have a soft, creamy texture. If a firmer consistency is desired, transfer the ice cream to an air- tight container and place in freezer for about 2 hours. Remove from freezer about 15 minutes before serving

    

 

Helpful (and fun!!) Tips

  • Add food coloring to any base!

  • Take a plain recipe and add (no more than 1 cup) of finely crushed add-ins!

    • You can add nuts, cookies, sprinkles, and virtually anything else your heart desires!

  • When adding anything more than the recipe calls for make sure you stay away from liquids like caramel sauce or chocolate sauce. That can disrupt your base and make it more liquidity than you want.

  • Any time a recipe says you can eat the ice cream the day you make it is lying. LIARS I TELL YOU! The best way to enjoy your homemade ice cream is to let it sit in the freezer overnight and enjoy it the next day. Seriously, take my word on this. It doesn’t maker what recipe, when you let it sit for that long it hardens into this creamy deliciousness!

 

Product Reviews

So I’ve never tried any of those “No Churn” recipes but I don’t believe them.There is something about the chemistry between milk, sugar, and cream that needs a level of coldness that can’t be accomplished with just ice and salt. So I made the investment to purchase an Ice Cream Maker! Now, there are a lot of ice cream makers on the market, but don’t be fooled by the $100 + ones, they may be pretty, but consider your objectives.

How much are you willing to spend?

How quickly do you want to enjoy your ice cream?

How much counter / kitchen space do you have to store this item?

If you live in a small apartment (like me) then buying a smaller maker will be better and will suffice greatly than a large one. All the ice cream makers usually produce 1.5 quarts of ice cream and that can be fine for 2-3 people over a 3-4 day period (or longer). If you have a family of 4 or more then that ice cream will probably last about 1-2 days (or less? ahah). It’s important to keep in mind that if you’re an ice cream lover like me, making ice cream instead of buying it may not be the solution to your ice cream … issue. See ice cream making as an activity and a process. It’s fun!

When you decide on which maker you’re going to buy (I bought the Cuisinart ICE-21 and use it about once a week to make ice cream!) pick a simple recipe and make sure you read the maker’s instructions on when to put the mix in, how long to keep it stirring, and freezing instructions.

I adore my ice cream maker and if you’re on a budget I’d highly recommend getting this baby on Amazon (or World Market and Sur La Table usually have sales as well!).

Not interested in making ice cream from scratch for the first time? Try using simple Starter Mixes like the Sur La Table Starter Mixes that you can buy online or at their store! I love their starter mixes because it’s virtually fool proof! You can’t beat a great taste, easy mixes, and affordable cost! Each box comes with 2 mixes so you can enjoy it twice! But make sure to read what the box contains because I recently bought the Butter Pecan box and it didn’t come with pecans (BUT WHY??!!). So now you’re set. Get your Pinterest Board ready. Get that Maker nice and frozen and buy all the heavy cream because it’s going to be a wonderfully melty day!

            

 

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Book Review: #GIRLBOSS

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Book Review: #GIRLBOSS

As I’ve previously mentioned in many other blog posts, I love to read. But since starting Rachel’s Bake Lab I had accidentally put a lot of my other hobbies and loves on the back burner. Not any more! While I tend to read a lot of YA and Graphic Novels (currently reading: Nimona) I’ve decided to counter every romantic novel with a book that helps give my business and my craft a bit more direction and purpose.

So after reading The Defining Decade I gobbled up two Lucy Knisley books (Age of License & Displacement) and then headed straight towards #GIRLBOSS.

Before I start going into the nitty gritty of the book I want to say one thing: I liked the book.

Four out of Five Stars in my library

I thoroughly enjoyed the book for many reasons. It was incredibly easy to read, engaging, a wonderful length (about 200 pages), and relatable for any young woman trying to pave her own path.

I recently got off the phone with a close friend of mine in NJ and she asked me about the book and how I enjoyed it and overall it was a wonderfully inspiring read. Sophia knows how to uplift you and remind you’re a badass and to stay true to your own mission and business model.

I’ve always had a hard time relating to businesses that don’t work with perishable items mainly because I can’t imagine hoarding dozens of cookies for pre-sale or selling anything on Ebay or Amazon because of the niche that I’ve decided to make a business out of. So Sophia’s journey, how she began, where she came from, and how she continues to build her business and herself was incredibly inspirational because she could have been anyone.

Mind you, the biggest thing that stuck out to me was her circumstance. The circumstance in which the time and place and what resources were available to her had a lot to do with how she began but everything after that was all up to her and how determined she was to keep on keepin on.

Would I say this book gave me a lot of emotional inspiration? Yes!

Would I say this book gave me direction on my business or where to start? No. But that’s okay.

It’s important to recognize what was offered to you from the books or advice you are given and take it with a grain of salt. Sophia was emotionally inspirational despite the hard time I had relating to her.

Favorite Quotes

“The energy you’ll expend focusing on someone else’s life is better spent working on your own. Just be your own idol.”

“No matter where you are in life, you'll save a lot of time by not worrying too much about what other people think about you. The earlier in your life that you can learn that, the easier the rest of it will be.”

“Abandon anything about your life and habits that might be holding you back. Learn to create your own opportunities. Know that there is no finish line; fortune favors action. Race balls-out toward the extraordinary life that you’ve always dreamed of, or still haven’t had time to dream up. And prepare to have a hell of a lot of fun along the way.”

“Money looks better in the bank than on your feet.”

“Opinions are like assholes; everybody’s got one.”

“fortune favors action.”

What are you reading? Thoughts? Read on and Bake on <3

Rachel

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Book Review: The Defining Decade

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Book Review: The Defining Decade

 

Some of you may know this already, but I’m a book nerd. I spent most of my college years studying publishing and went on to get my Masters in Library and Information Sciences at St. John’s in Queens.

I’ve always been enamored by YA fiction, fantasy, and sci-fi. Recently I’ve decided to read more graphic novels and self-help books, which is a strange pair when you come to think of it. But the self-help books are a more recent discovery, thanks to my friend and roommate, Dan. He spends most of his reading time diving into books that question the way we think, act, and understand ourselves. At first I thought a lot of ‘those’ books are written by people who thought they were better than me (irrational…I know!) and that I didn’t ‘need’ those books, because who needs help? Am I right? I’m wrong guys. We all need help sometimes!

Anyway, I had just finished reading Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert and I was far from impressed. Her writing doesn’t resonate well with me and after that I thought this genre of literature was a loss to my interest, but I was wrong. Shortly thereafter I spoke with a close friend who told me about a Tedtalk done by Meg Jay. So obviously, I looked it up, watched it, and became immediately intrigued. And if you want to take a listen, check it out here!

I highly recommend watching the Ted talk to get a better idea of where Jay is coming from and what to expect if you plan on reading the book. But before I dive into my thoughts, opinions, and feelings I have surrounding this book there is a bit of information ya’ll should have before we get started.

The book is sectioned in three different areas: Work, Love, and The Brain and The Body.

These sections are very important to understand for any twenty something out there, but I felt that the last two sections (Love and The Brain and The Body) geared more towards single, flighty, and non-committal individuals. Mind you, it did really help verify and clarify a few things in my romantic life and the relationships I maintain, but overall I wasn’t moved or felt as thought provoked as I did in the first section.

So in reality this is really 1/3 of a book review because I’ll mainly be talking about: WORK. (insert that Rihanna song that gets stuck in your head)

Work happened later, marriage happened later, and death happened later, so why rush, twentysomethings had nothing but time! ß this was pretty much the gist of the Ted talk by Jay and this statement resonated well with me. I’m 25 years old and am the most confused I have ever been in my entire life. Since I could remember I’ve had some sort of direction, whether that be with school, or part-time jobs, or traveling, but ever since I finished my graduate program I’ve been at a total loss as to how to proceed. It became less about ‘just’ saving money and working a lame job and more about working a fulfilling job with purpose and satisfaction and making enough money to be a responsible young adult. Doing both of those things with one career is very hard to do, especially in the Bay Area where my boyfriend and I decided to move to from NJ.

Jay talks about the idea of identity capital, which is a collection of personal assets that we acquire over time. They aren’t necessarily physical objects or bullet points on a resume, but more tangible experiences that shape our perception of the outside world. It’s how we speak, how we solve problems, and how we look. But in order to get more identity capital you need to invest in yourself. The things we do well enough, or long enough become part of who we are, apart of our identity capital.

This was a huge deal to me after I read this section! We are not only at an age where we are confused, but more confused at what direction to take. Do I get the coffee shop job so I can support my passion project? Do I intern and struggle for an income all while learning from the best? Some of us are amped with a ton of educational experience and some of us aren’t, but either way we are all at an age where we lack enough tangible experiences to get us the career we really strive for.

Another fantastic topic that I’d love to hear your thoughts about is the Urban Tribe. Jay talks about this idea of an urban tribe, which I believe I’m apart of many, and how this sense of community is misleading.

The urban tribe is overrated. It helps us survive, it does not help us thrive. She states.

And I’m not sure I totally agree. I love not always knowing if I disagree with an author or not, it’s sort of like an informal debate. Anyways, I’ve never understood the idea of an urban tribe until I came out to San Francisco and I believe the biggest reason for so many urban tribes in this area is because so many of us are expats. Our families aren’t here, our networks are across the country, and we don’t tend to go ‘home’ too often.

Where I see Jay’s point that some tribes may spend too much time patting each other on the backs and less trying to push our peers I also see where urban tribes can benefit those without nearby family ties.

Another topic Jay describes is the “my life should look better on Facebook” conundrum. When I began reading this section of the book I was thrilled to know that I wasn’t totally alone in thinking that my life SHOULD in fact look better online. It shouldn’t, but it does. I spend so much time on social media for Rachel’s Bake Lab that I wonder less about what people think of me and more about what people think of my business and brand! Which in retrospect feels a lot better to me. I can control how people view my brand, but I can not control how people see my life. While so many of my friends are having babies and getting married and posting a bajillion photos of themselves at yoga or doing something cool I wallow in the mud that is self-questioning. Am I on the right path? Should I be doing something else? And I shouldn’t be. I’m doing everything I can to make this a business and run it the way I see fit.

Lastly, Jay mentions the radical idea of owning a customized life. It’s not really radical as we all want to be different, unique, and to stand out in a certain way, but the manner in which Jay describes the want and need to have everything in our life customized is new, especially for our generation. We don’t just want a bike to get around, we want a custom bike. We want customization in almost everything we do. But with understanding what we don’t want from the normal pack or the everyday person or experience, we need to make it clearer as to what we DO want. Jay states, ‘a braver form of self-definition dares to be affirmative…what are you for?’ And that statement also rang true for me. We live in a world where we say so often what we hate or dislike about something, but frankly, it’s best to understand what we are for in order to get to the root of what we want for our futures. Simply stating you don’t want to live in the city is fine, but where do you want to live? What kind of neighborhood? What kind of climate or country?

We don’t need all the answers now but : Life does not need to be linear, but it does need to make sense.

And making sense of life is hard, but making sense of ourselves really isn’t.

If you’re 19 or 33 or even 45 I’d give this book a read. It’s 200 pages of wonderful and you may not agree with everything, but you may find yourself asking those important questions that no one seemed to ask you yet.

Meg Jay is a wonderful writer and author and her ability to take fact and science and make it relatable is impeccable and applaudable.

In a time where I constantly feel overwhelmed about many things in my life and large judgemental statements seem to arise way too often, this book left me with a calm that there are parks of me I need to work on and other parts I simply don’t need to worry about at this moment.

I’d give this a 4 out of 5 !

Be sure to comment and discuss! I’d love to hear what YOU have to say!

Read on !

Rachel

 

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Becoming a Professional...One Day

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Becoming a Professional...One Day

I write to you from a couch in which I am seated upon with the help from a heating pad and back pillow. The past three days have been slow, difficult, and painful. Three days ago my back spasmed while I was working out and again this morning while making the bed (yes, I make my bed, it calms me!).

Back spasms used to occur more frequently in my college years when I was overweight, lacked the will to work out, and could eat entire jars of nacho cheese. The spasms were so bad I couldn’t walk, sit up, or go to class, and it always left me feeling confused because I always thought I was doing right by my body. Today has brought up some painful and quit frustrating emotions. When my back spasmed today I had an overwhelming feeling that all the healthy eating, working out, weight loss, that has been occurring was for nothing. This is an irrational thought because we all know that it was for something and all that resulted in a much happier and focused me, but this one tiny spasm reeled back all the past emotion of self-doubt, self-pity, self-loathing, and one really big question: what the heck is happening to my body!?

I could probably spend hours on the internet trying to figure out how to cure or get rid of this pain, but let’s be frank only professionals really know what they are talking about. No amount of medicinal herbal nonsense is going to make my spasms go away and it sure won’t educate me on how to get rid of them forever. And while I won’t bore you with more back pain details I did realize that at the end of the day being able to know someone who knows your body, medically, not sexually, is really important and comforting.

And then that got me thinking: professionals are those that we seek out when we need answers (yes I know this is all very logical), but how many of us feel that we are professionals in our field?

  • Do you believe you’re a professional?
  • And if we don’t feel like we are professionals when do we start feeling like we are?
  • Is it some sort of educational status? Years of experience?
  • When you feel like you’ve learned all that you’ve learned in your chosen field?

I am not a professional. Not in baking, not in librarianship, not in adult-ing. Nothing. I’m still learning so much and although I’d love to consider myself a professional something or other, doing so would result in a lie.

In order to become a professional you need tools. Some are physical tools, some are books, some are classes and courses and webinars and seminars, but regardless of what you do for a living almost everything around us was or is a tool for someone to enhance their knowledge of their professional liking. And perhaps that’s why I’m not a professional yet, I still do not know exactly what my tools are and how to utilize them to grow.

And with that I will leave you to ponder the great questions of the world and consider where you stand in the professional spectrum. 

What are some tools you use to hence your knowledge in what you love?

I hope this sparks some conversation within yourself or with your loved ones!

Bake On <3

Rachel

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Keeping it Small in Silicon Valley

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Keeping it Small in Silicon Valley

Every week I try to reflect and look back on my progress, set-backs, and conflicts that arise while being a young small business owner. And I know I’ve said this before, but reflecting in any manner is difficult for me as I tend to live very much in the moment. And it wasn’t until yesterday morning that a friend of mine reminded me of feelings that I had unknowingly suppressed since I was laid off. I was feeling envy and jealously, two feelings I hate and I assume, everyone else does as well. But instead of rushing to the feelings that came back in wave, I took a day to sit with those emotions and ask myself why I was feeling these things.

 

I was comparing my day-to-day activities and accomplishments with my significant other, people I’ve never met on Instagram and Facebook, and other small business owners. Frankly it was getting to the point where every single ‘like’ or ‘follow’ determined my mood. Which is INSANE!! All this insanity and irrational rollercoaster of emotions came from the source of it all: my constant fear that I wasn’t doing enough for my business, for success. That somehow the number of followers I had on Instagram would indicate whether or not I was being a lazy shop owner. I wonder if other people, shop owners or not, have ever felt that way? Either way, it’s irrational and I hate it, so I made a conscious decision to continue to remind myself every morning that my success is not based on numbers, it is based on every effort I take to move my personal and professional life forward. Sometimes that means reading a book and taking a bath and other times that means going to very business in Downtown to hand out flyers for local free delivery on cookies.

So I’ll stop comparing myself and enjoy the slow days and busy days for what they are, individually beautiful and unexpected.

Starting a small business in Silicon Valley is not only the most wonderful experience I’ve had since moving here, but equally the most complicated experience as well. It seems anyone in a hoodie, sneakers, and that’s probably between the ages of 20-30 are either CEO’s or startup entrepreneurs. There is a lot of grey in the Bay and although many people come to make it big here, there is undoubtedly a lot of pressure on all businesses to grow in rapid succession.

What happened to keeping it small? One reason why I love Redwood City so much is because of their ability to manage big companies, small businesses, and a thriving downtown community. But overall when people ask how my business is doing, which is already a very complicated question that many people wants small and short answers to, it’s difficult to determine what they are really asking. Are they asking: Am I growing? How big? Are you doing well? Is this still your passion? What new and exciting projects do you have lined up? How are you doing financially?

So many questions! But just this one: How is the business? And it’s good. But I always feel people are really asking the bigger question. Are you growing? And the best, most true, answer I can give is, I don’t want to grow. I enjoy working on this passion project, this business, and this dream all by myself and with the occasional help from Rob.

I love doing this entire thing by myself. I’m able to control every aspect of the operation and for now I am so happy with maintaining this wonderful point in my baking career. Perhaps in the future it will grow and I’ll hire a few folks, but perhaps it’s OK to just keep something sacred, keep it small in Silicon Valley. 

And perhaps it’s okay to keep it small without the pressure of starting an app or turning a business into a franchise. Perhaps it’s okay to keep it local and authentic without having to ‘impress’ the venture capital firms or investors. And with that being said for now I shall keep this Lab small and manageable, all the while keeping up with other projects, new projects, and new adventures, and self-care.

So folks, be prepared for some kick-ass Valentines Day sales, a literal adventure involving a close artist friend, and my new venture: finding another job (rent is expensive guys!).

Stay tuned and like always I want to hear from YOU!

Have you experienced anything like this?

<3 Rachel

 

 

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The Pressure of a Resolution

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The Pressure of a Resolution

Every year for the last few years I remember my new year resolutions resulting in me either wanting to lose weight, eat healthier, or work out more. It was never anything really mentally challenging, only physical and self-pitying.

This year was a strange year for resolutions because I decided I wasn’t going to have one. And then when I had decided that for myself it was as if everyone around me had made a conscience decision to have well thought out resolutions and stick to them (so far). I was astounded, frustrated, and suddenly felt an increasing volume of pressure standing over me.

Do I need a resolution? What if I don’t have one? What does it say about me if I don’t want one?

My mind was rattling with questions and self-doubt. I was judging myself because I didn’t do this arbitrary task that everyone partook in.

But as the days progressed and as my unemployment settled in I felt a blanket of worry gobble me up. And because I felt everyone had this new take on 2016, I felt stuck and confused about the direction I was going in. In the past I would disappoint myself by trying to predict the future, declare an early outcome, and try to get ready for something that inevitably left me wanting more. So as I grew older I decided to have less expectation, more preparedness, and allow my mind to come back to the present when it so often wanted to race to the future.

And it wasn’t until last night that it dawned on me. All of it.

  • I was allowing myself to feel overwhelmed because I decided not to join the crowd.
  • I was allowing myself to feel bombarded with issues that didn’t pertain to me so I could feel important and busy while in reality I didn’t have to do anything. I chose to do it.

  • I unintentionally refocused my schedule to reflect my wants for The Bake Lab without putting some grand pressure on myself to ‘succeed’ in any particular manner.

  • I am moving forward and working on my small business without the fear of ‘am I doing enough?’ looming over my head.

You might think this is a lot for one person to feel, but I can say this safely, I feel a lot often and in rapid succession.

Although I started 2016 on a rather emotionally draining foot and with no resolution in for the foreseeable future, without a singular doubt, I am doing very well. My business is booming. I have redirected my need for consistent orders for cafes and small restaurant businesses to corporate accounts where I can meet the needs of catering, events, and weekly pantry orders. Not only am I meeting more friendly and beautiful faces in my new hometown, Redwood City, but I’m getting to know my community on a much deeper level. In addition to the corporate accounts (which I’ll make public soon!) I am also working with a delivery service to put more cookies into the hands of San Francisco and Bay Area Residents!

There are some amazing things happening at The Bake Lab and I’m so thankful for being able to take this time to fully reflect, engage, and learn from all of these experiences.

I can’t guarantee I’ll have a resolution anytime soon, but I can tell you that whatever happens next...won’t be boring.

*** 

What are some of your goals for this year?

Do you also think resolutions are silly?

Bake On!

Rachel

 

 

 

 

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Unexpectedly Laid Off

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Unexpectedly Laid Off

Most of the magic that happens in my life come unexpectedly. My best friends are those that I met in airport security lines, online dating sites, or simply those that I met living so very close to me. The best decisions in my life came from random college dining hall posters, traveling around the world to countries I never had any interest in, or taking the jump to move across the country with the man I love. 

The magic is what we remember, but sometimes we forget (especially me) that there are positive outcomes to the not-so-magical moments that come in unexpected ways. I mean it's rare we think of the act of breaking up with anyone can lead to you finding the one true love that you wouldn't have otherwise met if you didn't break up with your previous man or lady. 

Well, something unexpected happened and last Tuesday at approximately 8:30am PST I was laid off from my 9-5. Needless to say, I wasn't very happy with my position, the company I worked with and it wasn't because either of those were bad, but I wanted to be a leader and that was almost impossible if I was going to continue working for them. So, at about 9:30am PST I had packed my things, said goodbye to the very few people that were in the office, and drove home.

That was it. 1 hour and my life I had planned so diligently around had changed. BAM!

So now what? 

Once the silence settled in that's when the thoughts came rushing forward. I was relieved. I wanted to leave, but felt trapped due to finances and unnecessary obligations. And as I was pulling onto 280 North to head back home, the first thought came stumbling into my head... oh my goodness, I no longer have to wear business casual anymore! And I smiled and laughed. 

And that was when I decided that this was a blessing. I wasn't going to spend my time being mad, pissed, angry, or depressed. I wasn't going to waste my days sitting in front of my TV or trying to grasp some sense of reality while trolling Facebook. 

I called Rob, told him the news, took a fine tooth comb to my finances, and figured out that everything was going to be okay. Everything was going to be alright. And the only way it was going to be better than alright was if I spent my everything, my time, and my passion, on what satisfies me, inspires me, and challenges me. If I didn't see this as the best opportunity anyone could have given me, then I was blind to any possibility of pursing my dream and passion, of owning my own venture. 

Rachel's Bake Lab was and is going to soar. Wasn't and still not sure how, but it will and I'll hustle all the way. It will take a lot of coffee, a lot of love and support, some struggle and frustration, and a lot of baking. 

It won't be easy, but it will be worth it. I'll struggle and that's okay. Although some days it won't seem like it. And other days I'll be pissed that I can't 'just' work a normal work schedule. But then I'll remember that I'm the boss. 

That's right. I'm the Boss. No one can dictate what I wear to work. No one can tell me when to take lunch or when to show up to work. And I LOVE IT!! 

So as I think back on the last few days I am simply relieved by all of it.

Everyday feels like a Friday!

I can not take all of the credit for this energy and happiness I feel. Sure, I choose to feel happy, but it derives from the unconditional love and support from my parents, Rob, and my friends. 

Because I know this is magic and I feel lifted and blessed. 

 

Now, your turn. Tell me about some magic in your life. Past? Present? 

<3 Happy Friday 

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What I Learned Being a Craft Show Vendor

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What I Learned Being a Craft Show Vendor

Right after Thanksgiving I had the amazing opportunity to be a first time vendor at the SF Etsy Indie Holiday Emporium on Pier 35! It was, to say the least, quit an experience. 

The two-day event was amazing, but the process to prepare was a rather difficult road to walk on. I'll explain. It was no one particular person's fault, if anything, it was my fault that I hadn't asked all the questions, even the ones I didn't even know to ask. 

If you've never done a Craft Show and want to there are a few things to ask yourself before you dive in head first.

Do you have the money to invest in a bunch of stuff that you'll use for a long time?

Have a clear image of how you want your booth to be set-up (color scheme, measurements, organizational techniques and ideas) and once you purchase all of the items make sure to do a pre-display before the show so you get an idea of how everything fits on your table and take photos! 

Another fabulous idea is to keep all of your items in one place in your home. If you start separating things, the day before you will quickly find yourself running around the house/apartment looking for all of our booth materials! 

Always remember: not all of your ideas will come to fruition. And that is OK. Especially for your first time. Practice makes perfect and the more shows you do the easier it will get to read the crowd, figure out your booth design, and get into a set-up/break-down rhythm that will seem crazy at first, but will get easier the more shows you do. 

Have an objective (make sure it is a positive one!): What do I mean by this? Most people are craft show vendors because this is their biggest source of income/revenue. Which is awesome, but for most of us this is about getting our name out, meeting our community, and sell sell selling our craft! Preparing for a show (big or small) WILL be stressful to some degree, but make sure you have a clear objective as to WHY you are doing this. Because let's face it, some days when we work on our passion it's gold, and others it feels like we are trying to run in the mud! When you have that objective make sure to remind yourself of why you do what you do when all the stress comes roaring in a few hours before the event. This will help you stay sane. Trust me. 

Stay organized and talk to your friends. First, write all the things and sketch out all the things you need. Make sure you follow up with whoever is hosting the event, and if you are a food vendor, make sure you get the A-OK by all parties so you aren't scrambling to scan your certificates the night before and patiently (not) waiting for your final approval. And only talk to friends that are truly invested in your mission, your idea, and care about you. Most of my friends are amazing people, but they don't understand or know the day-to-day struggle it is to keep your head above water when you work a 9-5 job and maintain a passion on the side. The people I talk to most about my Bake Lab are those that live with me. Rob and Dan are my team of awesome. So when its time to figure out what or how you are selling it's always good to talk to those people instead of the masses or general public. Less opinions can be a good thing. 

If you aren't a good project manager, find one. I'm not and I admit it. For others I can be, but for myself I'm usually a hot mess. It helps to have someone that has these skills work with you on planning, scheming, and perfecting the art of being a craft show vendor. A great example was Rob helped me more than I could have imagined, and not because he's an amazing human, but mainly because his brain works way differently than mine. He was able to break down the amount of cookies I had to bake, how much time I had, the amount of time it would take for me to package everything and how many samples I would need. All things I was too busy and too flustered to think about. All I knew was I had to bake a lot of things. By myself. Somehow. But when you partner with people that have magical powers it can really help you in ways you may not have imagined. 

Which goes into my next suggestions / piece of advice: ask for help. <-- I'm very very bad at taking this piece of advice. But most of us are doing this solo and because of that we genuinely think that asking others for helps either means we need to pay them or it means we are a burden on their social life.  Either way all of those assumptions are false. Ask for help, but make sure you know exactly what you need help in. I can't ask people to bake for me, but I can ask people to put nutrition labels on the cookies. I may not be able to ask people to help me create recipes, but I can ask Rob and Dan to help me build a pvc pipe to hold up my bad ass banner.

You may not know how to delegate, but it's important that you learn because as a Manager, Boss Lady, CEO, or High Priestess to your own company, you'll have people that look to you for guidance. So be transparent in your vision, listen to others, ask for assistance, and be okay with the idea that you'll never stop learning. 

And be okay with not being as prepared as you wanted to be for your first show. I thought 500 cookies was going to be enough for 2 days. Sadly, and happily, it was far from okay. I sold out of all 500 cookies in 4 HOURS of the FIRST DAY! It was amazing and I couldn't have been more happy, but I was not prepared for the second day at the show. What was I going to do? I had never considered I'd sell out, I'd only consider the complete opposite.

What if I failed and I didn't sell anything?! But what I should have been asking myself was, "What if I succeed and run out of cookies!"  

Okay, enough of this preparing nonsense (:P). Let's get down to the real stuff. What is going to happen on the day of the event? I can not stress this enough. If you have a normal size table (6ft x 2.5 ft) you're going to want another person with you at the booth. Maybe even two people. This is super helpful for many reasons!

Regardless if there are volunteers, don't trust them with your product and your money. It's best to have people that you trust with you when you have a crowd of thousands at a craft fair. If you need to pee, you have someone to watch your table. 

Not feeling super energetic? That's okay, your team of people, like mine, were super energetic the entire time! This energy transferred to me and I felt on fire during the 2-day event! My guys were so charismatic and on top of it all that everything flowed and everything came together so beautifully.

And I can not stress this enough, do not, do not, be that vendor that sits behind their table waiting for customers to come to them. They won't. They have no reason to unless your product is super compelling. If you look bored, then it becomes incredibly awkward for the customer to want to approach you or your booth. Be welcoming, offer them something free like samples, or cards, and say hello to everyone that walks by. Ask them questions and be engaging. They will WANT to stop by and say hi and even if they don't purchase anything you never know who they might know or what they do and how that could help you in the future. 

Be excited to be there! Be excited about your product! And be knowledgeable and flexible! Know your product and be able and willing to talk a lot about it to a lot of people. And be flexible in many ways. By this I mean have a lot of pricing options, low range, medium, and high. We all love options! 

Some customers want to spend $1.50 and some are ready to spend $70. So be prepared for both customers! Why limit yourself when you can broaden your horizons!

Lastly, get to know your booth neighbors! This amazing woman who owns Cranberry Crunch Tarts and Pies (pictured above) was my booth neighbor and I was so lucky to have her! When you are surrounded by supporting, helpful, community oriented, and passionate people then all we ever want to do is help one another succeed. 

If you're following your passion then be sure to stay authentic to yourself; listen to others, but sparingly, and get ready for a lot of change.

I can't wait to do another craft show and I can't wait to see what happens next. Taking time to sit in your accomplishments is important and that weekend I sold more than I could have ever imagined. And if you find yourself loving what you do, remember to stop and take some time to reflect on how boss you are! And be sure to take your crew out to dinner or drinks. 

Share your experiences with me in the comments section! I'd love to hear how you follow your passion!

<3 get baking!

Rachel 

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Neglecting Yourself and How to Stop Doing That

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Neglecting Yourself and How to Stop Doing That

When you're starting a new adventure the last thing you want to do is stop and go slow. At least for me. I love the rush of it all, sometimes a bit too much, and when I'm really passionate about something I dive head first into the great big vastness of wanting to succeed and achieve! And sometimes that adventure is temporary and there is an end in sight, and other times there isn't an end, not quit outlined. When the end isn't in sight and this adventure seems to be taking hold of more than just a Sunday afternoon or saying no to a friend because you can't have brunch every weekend, it becomes part of your life. Like a job. Or taking a shower. It must be done and usually is done everyday for the far foreseeable future. 

So what happens when your adventure is now your project and this project takes up a lot of your time? 

What happens when you find yourself forgetting your other hobbies and other creative outlets and surprisingly this project has become a chore, sometimes? 

What do you do then?!? 

For me, I read. I used to devour books one by one in a day or two. And I haven't done that in a very very long time. I don't even remember when the last time I thoroughly enjoyed reading a book so much that I had to stop doing everything I planned and just sit and not be bothered. To feel so incredibly engulfed in a piece of fiction or non-fiction is a wonderful feeling. It takes you away from the anxiety and stress of your 'real life' and takes you to a place of your choosing. 

I recently started reading Tina Fey's BossyPants, The Girl on the Train, and Dumplin'. All pretty amazing reads! Needless to say, I've read all of those in just a few days and feel that this mini-vacation from my work-life, professional life, and honestly, from any and all projects I'm currently invested in. 

It took me a bit to realize how much of myself I have lost since starting The Bake Lab. I have gained a tremendous amount of knowledge and have achieved a brilliant amount of work. But at the end of the day I wasn't taking care of myself. I wasn't allowing myself to breathe the way I needed to. I didn't make time for myself and I felt obligated to do so much, none of which was benefiting me personally. I was neglecting myself and if I was going to stop stunting my own creative process and stop holding myself back I also needed to revisit my other tiny micro-passions. 

Reading has brought me back to life and put a lot of things into perspective. I've realized my level of anxiety is out of control and I've become immersed in the small mundane things that rule my life rather than focusing on the big picture. 

This week I've had ZERO sales and although I feel disappointed in myself for this fact I know it's not entirely my fault I didn't have a single order come in. The pressure to constantly perform is always in the back of my head and shushing that voice can be hard. But Fiction usually helps. 

I've also started to go running every morning. And by running I mean a light jog and sometimes a fast walk. Let's be real here, how often do people really mean 'going for a run' as a literal phrase? Working out has helped me stay focused on my eating and my physical well-being, although I've been experiencing some intense ankle/foot pain lately. The reading has helped me stay sane and less anxious when I can't talk to anyone about my fears. And traveling has always helped me reflect, stay centered, and really admire where I am in my life. 

Tomorrow I leave for Lake Tahoe for a long weekend. We splurged to stay at a nice resort up in the North West side of the lake surrounded by trees and free continental breakfast. 

I'm hoping for some clarity. Possibly an incredibly expensive massage? But more importantly I'm hoping to use that dope sauna they keep advertising on their website. 

Remember where you are in your life. Are you happy with how you've been living? Can you make simple and small changes to better center yourself and allow yourself to enjoy those micro-passions? Have you forgotten what joy felt like? 

These may seem like LARGE questions, but we often are our biggest problem. Go to your library, learn a craft, read a book, learn a new recipe, and go for that long bike ride. Clear your head however you need to do it. But do it. It's important to be kind to yourself. 

Be kind and stay lovely <3

 

 

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START & REFLECT

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START & REFLECT

As some of you may know I attended a 3-Day Conference in San Francisco hosted by The Passion Company. The conference was called Start Conference and it mainly focused on how to simply start your passion project. It was a magnificent gathering of over 300 folks from all over the country, but mostly from the SF area. 

I heard about the conference through a co-worker who then told me about an award I could apply for. So my thought was well I can go for the first day or the second and get an idea of the company, the theme, and the feel of the conference, but I quickly found myself applying to the Passion Project Award and little did I know I was one of 9 other projects to get picked to pitch at the conference. So, I was in a panic. I had no idea what to do, what a pitch was, or even what I was doing. Let's be honest I'm just as new to this idea of me being my own boss as anyone. This entire ordeal is freaky. BUT! I got the courage, started writing, and later found out that MY story was unique, interesting, and I kick-ass! I came to this realization out of a result of me not reflecting...at all. I rarely stop and smell the cookies when I've hit a milestone, got an order, or made a new friend out of networking. So of course after I wrote my 4 minute pitch and started sharing it with friends, loved ones, and co-workers I was becoming more and more confident that I had a shot at winning! 

Day 1 started on a Friday and little did I know it was the start to a very very busy weekend. I met with my Tribe, all awesome inspiring, and vulnerable humans. I had made it just in time for lunch so we sat outside in the deliciously crisp air and we spent some time learning about one another. Our thoughts. Our passions. Our fears and successes. Our projects! 

One thing that really resonated with me during this lunch was my realization over how afraid I am of my success rather than my fear of failure. I consistently doubt myself in everything I do, wondering if it's the right choice and if I'm doing the right thing. I try my hardest in everything I do, but in the back of my head I am always certain I'll fail at it. That someone will do it better. And that comes naturally to me. So when we discussed fear, I wasn't afraid of failure, I was more afraid of the success that would come if I really shined and I stopped getting in my own way.

This realization was the precursor to a very very emotionally charged weekend. I'll spare you all the gory, teary, salty experiences and give you the gist of what went down. 

**Day 1: Speakers; Day 2: Workshops; Day 3: Pitch Event and Brunch**

Day 1 ended with some amazing new friendships and some insights to how I want to go about growing my business and IF I want to grow my business. A lot of what I've felt during this conference was the sudden urge/need/pressure to grow something to make it bigger and better. But in reality just because it's big doesn't mean it's better. And this pressure isn't coming from one particular source, I believe it originated in myself, but also in the environment in which I currently live in. I live in Silicon Valley and everything here, that seems to be worth talking about, is big and better and 'amazing' and blah blah blah. Don't get me wrong, I want to stay passionate about my venture for a long long time, but right now, as a 25 year old woman who is the most confused she has ever been, I doubt that what I want or need right now is big and better. I make cookies, not electric cars.

Saturday morning was an early, long, late, and emotional day. I was incredibly anxious. Mainly because Day 2 was the day I was going to practice, refine, and prepare for the Pitch Event. I spent most of the morning prepping and practicing and felt really good about the pitch I had written. Mind you, I didn't memorize it but I did have note cards I was planning on bringing up to the stage. It wasn't until the last workshop session that the other candidates and I met to practice, share our stories, and get a better understanding of what was going to be asked of us after the pitch and during the pitch. And that's when I hit my limit. I was so tired, so stressed, nervous, and my boyfriend had just left that morning for work in Pittsburgh that I was already distraught he wouldn't be here to see me pitch. The woman running the Pitch Event brutally told me I wasn't 'allowed' to bring anything up with me while I pitched. She then proceeded to tell me how to give a pitch, that I couldn't read my current pitch I had spent so long writing, and that I had to flatly wing it while I was up there. Saying I was furious is an understatement. I hate it when anyone tells me what to do, one. I had worked so  hard on writing my pitch that I was so sad she didn't even want to hear it first, two. And she then wanted me to try winging it in front of 8 complete strangers, three. No. I asked her to move onto someone else. When I get furious, angry, pissed, I tend to openly cry instead of burst out into an angry rant and start cursing off anyone I see. People are sympathetic to tears, people are not sympathetic when you scream 'f**k you' in their faces. So of course when it was my time to present in front of only 8 people, I broke down and cried. I'm a crier. I cry everywhere, especially in public places. I used to be shy about it, ashamed of my tears, but now that I'm more older, I give close to ZERO f**ks. When the feeling of needing to cry occurs I let it flow! And boy did I cry for most of that evening. On and off, and thankfully I had a few really wonderful friends with me to help me and cheer me on all the way. After some much needed pizza, lots and lots of breathing, cursing, and crying, I was able to compose a rather well thought out 3 minute speech. 

Good morning Day 3: My friend Dan and I got up early, had some coffee, and went about our way assuming this so called brunch was going to happen before our pitch event. We were wrong. As soon as we got there I made a mad dash to find a fig bar, shove it in my face, and continue to practice my speech. I was really hoping for some bottomless mimosas before I gave my pitch, but you know, we can't always win.

Then it happened. I relaxed. I screamed into the infinite abyss of the universe how much I don't care and that whatever happens was always going to be what happened. I just needed to roll with it (which is really hard for me to do). But when I got up there, on that stage, in front of 300+ people, I just began to talk. Like I would with anyone. A little bit of this, a bit of that, some data and revenue sprinkled into the mix and then BAM. It was over. I nailed it and I was so happy with myself! 

All my fears and anxiety just went away. I felt awesome because I am awesome. We ALL are!

Me and some awesome Passion Project Award Candidates! 

Me and some awesome Passion Project Award Candidates! 

And after all of that I didn't win the pitch event. But I did win at life. I realized that what I'm doing is HARD and what I need to do is reflect more, do less, and take it all in one milestone at a time.

I'll get to where I'm going even though I'm not sure where that is yet. 

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Tis the Season for... New Cookies!

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Tis the Season for... New Cookies!

When things get going they sure do move FAST! 

OH MY GOSH I'M GOING TO BE A VENDOR!

I was accepted to be a vendor (first time vendor,too!) for the SF Etsy Indie Holiday Emporium in San Francisco on November 28-29! If you are in the area feel free to stop by and say hello! I'll be selling a variety of cookies, but more specifically, fall and winter inspired cookies! You'll also be able to mix-n-match cookies to create your very own custom dozen! And of course, samples samples samples everywhere! 

Speaking of Fall and Winter Cookies...

I've been doing some wonderful recipe creation at The Lab recently and am proud to welcome two wonderfully scrumptious cookies! 

The Organic Chewy Ginger Molasses Cookie

The Organic Chewy Ginger Molasses Cookie

The White Chocolate Pumpkin Snickerdoodle Cookie

The White Chocolate Pumpkin Snickerdoodle Cookie

Feeling very inspired by this time of year, despite it being in the mid-80's in Northern California. This is a particularly nostalgic time for me as I grew up in New Jersey where Fall meant crunchy leaves on the pavement, knitted scarves, sweaters sweaters sweaters, and the ever so gloomy gray clouds that just seem to always hang out right above above your head.

This season I'll be bringing in new cookies on a weekly basis so keep staying tuned and let me know what cookies remind you of this time of year and why you love them?! 

Remember to check out my etsy page: www.rachelsbakelab.etsy.com 

 

 

 

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Moving On Up!

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Moving On Up!

Celebrating the small things are really important. I mean REALLY important.

If you're anything like me there are times when I feel like I've made no improvement on my situation, haven't taken any steps forward, and constantly feel like the road ahead has taken a high leap off the horizon. Needless to say I'm very hard on myself. But after 5 months of owning and running this business with the help of some truly fabulous friends, I've realized that the small things are really important and should be celebrated often. OFTEN! 

With that being said I'd like to celebrate with all of you and share some of The Bake Lab's accomplishments over these past few weeks! 

In 3 weeks I'll (Rachel) be pitching our company to over 300+ people at the Start Conference in San Francisco! This is very exciting considering I've never pitched anything to anyone, so this entire experience is incredible and terrifying! Luckily, besides pitching The Bake Lab, I'll have the marvelous opportunity to meet folks from all over the Bay Area, particularly those that work in industries I could learn from. And I'll be sure to update The Blog after the conference with some photos and insight (and hopefully some prizes if I win!). 

Just yesterday I signed up to be a food vendor at the SF Etsy Holiday Emporium at Pier 35 on Thanksgiving weekend! If I'm chosen this will be the first time I've ever been a vendor before! YAY new things! So exciting! 

Along with many many other things like: possible new logo change, an idea for a subscription box, book clubs?, and pairing up with a local coffee company to bring everyone yummy cookies and coffee nationwide! 

The joy of owning your own project (business/life-dream/headache) is that at the end of the day, you're the boss. We all work at our own speed and we scale differently. I might fail, and that's okay. I might make millions, and let's be honest, who wouldn't be okay with that?! 

New things are on the horizon.

The road is long, but at least we can take a few stops to celebrate how far we've come! 

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Questions for YOU (yes, you beautiful human you!) !

Would you sign up for a box that included 1 adult fiction book, 12 cookies, and a 12oz bag of coffee? Once a month you'd also have the ability to participate in the Book Club at The Lab! 

Comment. Share. Like. Call out into the infinite abyss. 

 

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