About Susan

Susie’s Set

CV abridged: because everybody’s in such a hurry

-travels, travels, travels

-baker for private clients and as a vendor for The Land of Goshen Community Market

-involved in a multitude of baking and cooking classes, both as a teacher and a student

-stages in pastry, apprentices to baking grandmothers

-loves a good story

-member of St. Louis Metropolitan Sugar Arts Guild

-trained as a master gardener

-an advocate for trees

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Costa Rica Rocks

CV  unabridged:  pull up a chair, a scone, and a cup of foamy coffee

My first jet ride was on Northwest Airlines to Honolulu as a high school graduation gift to myself, and there has been no stopping me ever since. I have degrees in the Earth sciences and environmental studies, but my love of baking goes back even further than my love of geography and travel.  In the kitchen of my mother I was a little witness to the alchemy of baking, and I have been spellbound ever since.

I have been a long-time baker at The Land of Goshen Community Market in, Edwardsville, Illinois, where I have a faithful and encouraging following.  On many Saturday mornings I have been met with smiles and hugs for creating customer favorites, and I have even been met by tears when I have run out of a cherished treat.  I have had chocolate Guinness cake marriage proposals.

I have worked for several years at the foh in one of  St. Louis’ best restaurants and staged at another in their pastry department, where I learned plating of artful desserts brought together with multiple components and finished with a flourish.  I have taken many baking and cooking classes, including classes in:  cake construction (using the smallest construction level I could find with the bubble thing and miniature Doric columns), artisan bread baking (have blown out my oven element with 500 degree heat and steam on several occasions), decorated cookie creations, Southern foods, including pralines (say praw-leens) in New Orleans, Indian cooking in Chicago, including a lecture by expert Madhur Jaffrey, goat cheese making in exotic Webster Groves, Missouri, and have had several all-day sessions in learning the art of apple streusel, utilizing the slicing mandolin brought to the U.S.A. in the luggage of a great grandmother to slice paper thin apples (she had her priorities), and a Czech poppy seed roll tutorial flavoring yeast dough with potatoes.  Observing, documenting family culinary history.

I am a member of  the St. Louis Metropolitan Sugar Arts Guild, and I have taught a diverse range of baking classes, including, hand-formed truffles, fruit and maple scones, Finnish braided cardamom bread, farmhouse whole wheat bread, double-sized blueberry muffins, choux pastry cream puffs.

For my private baking clients I have created holiday cookie treasure boxes, simple outdoor wedding layer cakes adorned with fresh, organically grown flowers from my garden, and trays covered with Italian almond shortbread and layered walnut squares, and boxes of authentic Mississippi pound cakes.

I collect and read cookbooks, as if they were novels.  I also collect memories as I collect copper pots and rolling pins from E. Dehillerin in Paris, where I chatted with a young student attending Le Cordon Bleu who was preparing to stuff a rabbit, and where I still regret not buying the $300 copper rooster, Opinel knives in a Loire Valley shop on a sunny afternoon taking a break from my bicycle, a grinder for herbes de Provence, layer cake pans at Bridge Kitchen Supply in New York City.  Both E. Dehillerin and Bridge were favorites of Julia Child.  Julia’s donated her kitchen to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History where you can view her favorite gadgets, and where I saw a pound of Plugra butter (unsalted) left behind in worship, as if leaving an offering at a shrine.  Seeing her famous kitchen at the Smithsonian just reinforced for me the fact that we all need to create a food space that makes us feel relaxed and at home. My own kitchen is full of Plugra butter, as I purchase thirty-six pounds at a time, and I am content to be in my kitchen surrounded by my own collection of kitchen gadgets: a little metal scoop from Zabars in New York, cookie molds from Amsterdam flea markets, handmade pottery from Portugal and the el Rastro market in Madrid, and my brass coffee grinder from the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul.

The amalgam of years of interest, classes, traveling, and sampling have coalesced into who I am today and my passion for all things of the road and all things of the baking world.

If you don’t find me in my kitchen or at the market, then look for me in one of my usual international haunts: cathedrals, cooking stores, gardens, boulangeries, pasticcerias, or other people’s kitchens.

Or walking down a winter street in Brussels securely clutching a clear, little box containing a chocolate fir tree dusted with powdered sugar snow.

 

 

Just did an extremely quick count of my cookbooks, not counting those wonderful cooking and baking pamphlets and booklets.  I have approximately 329 cookbooks in my collection now.  I have not counted my cooking magazines or those booklets, I spoke about.  If I count those, I probably have well over 800 cooking publications.  Some of my newest finds:  Rose’s heavenly Cakes, Chocolate Obsession, Maida Heatter’s Book of Great Desserts.  I love being surrounded by such inspiration.
oopps!  Just bought two more.  331

 

 

2 Responses to About Susan

  1. Kathryn says:

    I was right on target when I suggested you check out the website 101cookbooks. I imagine the two of you would get along well. Glad your sight is working. Please make some shortbread for the market. I can’t eat Guinness cake EVERY week 😉

  2. Susan says:

    Hi Kathryn,

    You are right. I loved the idea of getting out all those cookbooks and just diving in. I probably have over 200 cookbooks, if you don’t count my other collection of cooking magazines, then I am sure it would be approaching 1000. Will work on the Italian almond shortbread this week. I have two other reminders for ideas this week, so I will be busy. Yummy! Glad to hear from you here. See you soon.

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