Feature: The Tummy Train

Baking and cooking are just two things from my top 10 list of “frustrations in life”. Even though I have lived on my own during my later years in college (which were very fun because I learned a LOT about life and dishes.. and dusts), I’ve never really “cooked”. If you consider frying canned tunas (hi hot and spicy century tuna) as “cooking”.. well I’m an experienced “cook” then, haha!

I never thought of having a “feature” feature (that’s just me, trying to be funny) here in my blog but I think people whom I look up to (and the stuff they’re good in) should be “shared” with other people. I want others to be inspired, like how these people (who are/will be featured here) continue to inspire me through their blogs.

I was just checking my (private) twitter when I saw a friend / blockmate’s tweet about her blog. And to my delight and surprise, I found out this pretty blog cutely named “The Tummy Train” with amazing food photography and creative writing. Indeed, this is Clarisse’s!

After spending quite a long time just clicking links around her blog and agonizing at the sight of those mouth-watering pastries.. I knew I just had to message her on facebook. So lucky to have her on my blog~!

 

And now, may we all be inspired by her love for baking.. : )

 

The Tummy Train

1. Who is the person running The Tummy Train?

My first love is actually writing, but when I started appreciating food more, it only seemed natural to start writing about it. Aside from baking and cooking, I have also loved art and literature since the beginning of time, along with a bazillion other things I hope to fit into my other blog. I have to warn you I’m very talkative when it comes to written interviews like these, but hopefully my answers won’t be too long or boring. ^.^

You can find out more about me here.

 

2. When did you start baking? How did it become a hobby? Is this self-taught?

I’ve always been an artsy person. I guess I’ve always really loved making things with my hands, and baking presented another kind of challenge for me.

It makes it really interesting for me. Similar with almost all of the other things I love doing, I have never really attended any formal classes or training for baking or cooking. I just rely on books, but I think trial and error are the most important teachers.

I started baking around 2007, when I was 16. At first it was just for fun, making almost purely cupcakes and decorating them with differently colored frosting. I remember baking about 200 cupcakes that year because I got orders for Christmas cupcakes. It was a tiring but great experience! Then college came and my baking and cooking stopped altogether. Until recently, I got back into it because I was really inspired by all the wonderful Food Bloggers out there. The love never really went away, I just needed a push to get back on track.

 

3. When did you start on blogging about your baking adventures? Is “The Tummy Train” your first food blog?

I have thought of blogging about food for a while, not just my own cooking adventures but also the discoveries of delicious treats from restaurants, or even street food especially in other places since my family and I love to travel, but I’ve always had excuses not to do it (too busy with school, etc.). I remember reading the profiles of the food bloggers I follow and all of them seem like they’re all pretty busy (one’s a doctor, one a financial analyst, and the like) and I thought, “Hey, if they can do it, why can’t I?” I mean, compared to them, how busy am I really? So one day I just decided to go for it! In fact my first post on the blog was on the exact day of my graduation [last February], where I featured the food in the restaurant my Mother and Father took me for lunch! I guess it’s kind of symbolic, because it’s like I’m starting afresh, embracing something I’ve always loved but “sacrificed” for schoolwork. And yes, The Tummy Train is indeed my first Food Blog. I don’t post as much as I’d like, but I’m working on it because I want my blog to be a useful collection of recipes for others as well.

5. Your photos are saliva-dropping (a more appropriate adjective than jaw-dropping, haha). What’s your camera? Are you also into photography? 

Why thank you for the compliment! 🙂 Photography is a relatively new hobby for me compared to the others. I only started getting into it during college. I bought a Canon EOS 40D (which I named Comet for some strange reason) during my freshman year. At first it was because I knew it would be a requirement later on, but when I started taking photos it was hard to stop. My camera and I have been together for about 5 years now, I think, and I’ve been collecting more lenses and equipment. I hope to get to buy a pro camera like the Canon Mark II if I feel like I’ve become good enough to deserve it. Nowadays everyone is suddenly a “photographer” because people can buy SLRs for a cheaper price, but I always try to challenge myself to find that certain perspective that can make my photos different from all the others out there. I still have a long way to go though.

6. Who are your inspirations? Also, do you plan to take this to a more professional level in the future (like starting on your own business)?

I have dreams about opening a cozy European style patisserie someday, but mostly I want to be professional in a field that involves both writing and cooking, and maybe even traveling and photography. I’m not saying I want to write a cookbook, but I would like to write about food in general, and also get to make it and take photos of it. It’s like a package for me. Sometimes I dream about being the host of one of those food and travel shows. Who knows, right? HAHAHA! I don’t mind doing a lot of work as long as it’s for something I love.

I take my inspirations from everywhere! There are a lot of really great chefs out there who have interesting stories of how they started and eventually became figures in the culinary world. The likes of Julia Child, Dorie Greenspan, David Lebovitz, and the list goes on. I also admire food bloggers like Joy The Baker (http://joythebaker.com) and Annie of Annie’s Eats (http://annies-eats.com) for going out of their way to do something they really love. And some of the Bloggers out there have such amazing photos! (I’ll share the links below) But I was more inspired by the story of the aunt of one of my college friends living in Virginia, who is now a super macaron maker. She has been featured in several magazines and on TV already. Her blog is called Kitchen Musings (http://kitchenmusings.com) and she does everything straight from home. I think it’s admirable how she went from unknown to famous because she just kept learning to perfect her craft. She shows me that hard work and the right amount of ambition goes a long way.

7. Do you also cook recipes?

I like both baking and cooking, but so far I’ve featured baked goods in my blog because I haven’t gotten round to buying real cookbooks yet. All I have are books about baking, which are all wonderful. You see, it’s a long process for me when I pick cookbooks/baking books to purchase, because those hard-cover, full-color books aren’t exactly cheap! I like to research about a certain book and check other people’s feedback before I list it down on my growing wishlist on my blog. But I will get cooking soon!

8. Please share some Baking 101 websites you usually browse. ^^

Here are my favorite food blogs I visit on a regular basis:

  • Annie’s Eats
  • Cook Your Dream (AMAZING PHOTOGRAPHY)
  • David Lebovitz
  • Dorie Greenspan
  • Indian Simmer (AMAZING PHOTOGRAPHY)
  • Joy The Baker
  • Love & Olive Oil
  • My Baking Addiction
  • Smells Like Home
  • Technicolor Kitchen
  • The Kitchen Sink Recipes
  • Tracey’s Culinary Adventures
  • White On Rice Couple (AMAZING PHOTOGRAPHY)

But you can find the complete list of Food Blogs I like here.

 

9. Are you a sweet tooth?

My confectionery weakness is dark chocolate with 70% cacao, which is not sweet at all! Sometimes I think my tongue is too sensitive to sweets. They become amplified when I eat sweets so I don’t eat much, except when the pastry is really irresistible. Haha! After I bake something, I usually just taste for rightness in flavor, take my photos, and then give the pastries to my brothers. 😛 At first it was hard to taste to test the pastries because they were always “too sweet” for me, but I’ve learned to adapt since then.

10. What’s your favorite recipe in baking? And why?

It’s really hard to pick a single favorite, but I am especially fond of baking bread. It’s challenging, but not really that difficult once you begin to understand the basics. And maybe the fact that I like bread plays a huge factor. Bread isn’t as sweet as most other baked goods, and as I mentioned, I’m not really a sweets-lover. Right now my family and I are hooked on this particular bread recipe, but my favorite changes from time to time.

11. For a beginner, what baking materials are essential?

Aside from investing on a good oven, I would say invest on good measuring equipment (metal cups and spoons), and also good pans (loaf pans, cake pans, etc.) They may be a little expensive, but they save you the trouble of having to buy new ones often. And also I think they help you more in making your pastries successful. Also I think when it comes to ingredients, don’t be such a scrooge. If a recipe calls for good-quality chocolate, then buy good-quality chocolate. After all, the better the ingredients, the more enjoyable and impressive the pastry becomes.

 

12. Why did you name your blog “The Tummy Train”?

Because I like alliterations? Haha! Actually I have this little brother who shares the same birthdate as I do although he’s 5 years younger than me. Our interests are very similar and he also happens to like food a lot. We were brainstorming for possible titles, then I started mentioning alliterations, and he just kind of blurted this out. I liked the sound of it and so I went with it. Besides, I like trains (the ones that go Choo! Choo!). Call me old-fashioned, but for me they represent a very long journey, but a fruitful one. You know how in movies the main characters always seem to board trains to get away from their old life and travel to a new place where they can start over? My interpretation is less dramatic than that of course.

Hopefully I’ll get to a point where I can be confident enough to create my own recipes. 🙂

 

 

Well.. that probably got you hungry like what it did to me ;_;

Amazing feature is amazing,

カイラ

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