School, Seattle, The Northwest… The World?

October 9, 2009 at 10:40 am 1,581 comments

I think the first time it happened was near the end of April last year.

I was standing in line for lunch, feeling bored and hungry and a little irritated, when someone tapped me on the shoulder. I turned around and faced a girl I didn’t recognize, whom I’d never met before. She looked a little nervous and said, “Sorry, I just had to ask – are you the girl with the food blog? My mom and I really like your photography.”

It was such a strange feeling and such an unexpected moment, to be recognized. It didn’t feel like fame, but I had no idea how else to put it. I thanked her, gave a real smile because I was grateful and honored, and went on with my day in a much better mood. But it’s happened over and over again since then.

On Facebook, I have an album called “Food Photography.” It has around 250 comments and is “liked” by 40 people, many of whom I never talked to until they complimented me on my baking. I’ll be sitting in environmental science when someone will quietly complain, “I’m so hungry!” and give me a meaningful look. The sophomores who ride my bus smile at me and ask if I’ve made anything neat recently. And teachers stop me in the hallway to say they’ve heard about my blog, and could I please write down the address for them?

Even though I’m a senior and my high school is relatively small, I’m not well known. I have classes with the same people over and over, and I’ve never been much of a social butterfly. And I know I’ve said this before, but it’s true – when I first created 17 and Baking I didn’t tell anyone about it because I thought it was embarrassing. I didn’t think it would be cool to have a food blog. I thought people would think I was weird. So I kept it to myself and tried to hide it from the world.

I only showed it to one of my friends when I’d written about him, and I thought he would get a kick out of seeing it. To my surprise he ended up making a blog of his own (suited to his own interests) and linked to mine. Unlike me, though, he wasn’t shy about sharing, and soon many of my classmates had seen his blog – and through it, mine. (If you are interested, he has a great economics blog called the Marginalist.)

To my surprise, people didn’t think it was uncool or strange. Food is universal. Food brings people together. Because really, when it comes down to it, who can resist anything warm and fresh from the oven, whether a sweet chocolatey cookie or a soft chive-studded cream cheese biscuit?

As I began to write this post this morning, I received a message on Facebook from an old friend I haven’t talked to in four years, N-. “Hi Elissa,” she wrote. “I don’t know if I’ve told you this before, but my big sister goes to Berkeley and she loves to bake, and she likes your blog.” N- continued on to tell me that her sister decided to have a bake off with her new roommates. One of them suggested a certain cookie recipe from “this blog… seventeen something…” to which N-‘s sister (whom I’ve never met) exclaimed, “That’s Elissa!”

It was one of the most incredible things I’ve ever heard, to have spread not only through school and the food blogging world but to college students in California simply having a bake-off. It lifts me off my feet and makes the sun shine out of my heart. Thank you for reading my blog – thank you, thank you, thank you!

Normally I wouldn’t, but I’ve got to ask – if you’re reading this, please leave a comment! Whether it’s your first time visiting or I’m welcoming you back, I’d really appreciate it if you left your location. I’m just curious to know where my readers are. I’ll start… Seattle, WA!

I don’t often opt for savory over sweet, but breakfast is one of those things where I crave salt over sugar. I’d had my eye on these Chive Biscuits for a while when I decided to make them. Part of the appeal was the inclusion of buttermilk and cream cheese. More than anything, that made me think of soft, flaky, and savory biscuits. They didn’t get as tall as I expected, but with chives from our own backyard and a squiggle of clover honey, they felt like home.

Cream Cheese and Chive Biscuits
From Martha Stewart’s Baking Handbook
Makes 12 biscuits

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh chives
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, cold, cut into small pieces
4 ounces cream cheese, cold, cut into small pieces
1 1/4 cup buttermilk

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, sugar, and chives. Using a pastry blender, cut in the butter and cream cheese until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs with a few larger clumps remaining.

Pour in the buttermilk; using a fork, mix in buttermilk until incorporated and the dough just comes together. The dough will be slightly sticky; do not overmix.

Turn dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. With floured fingers, gently knead about four times, until all the crumbs are incorporated and the dough is smooth. With a lightly floured rolling pin, gently roll the dough to a 8-b-11-inch rectangle, about 1 inch thick. Using a bench scraper or long offset spatula to lift the ends of the dough, fold the rectangle into thirds (like a business letter). Give the dough a quarter turn. Roll out the dough again (to the same dimensions), and repeat the folding process. Wrap in plastic, and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Return the dough to the work surface. Roll out as before, and repeat the folding process. Give the dough another quarter turn; roll out dough one more time, again into a rectangle about 1 inch thick. Using a sharp knife, divide the rectangle into 12 equal squares or rectangles. Place on prepared sheet about 1 1/2 inches apart. Refrigerate for 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Bake, rotating the sheet halfway through, until the biscuits are golden and flecked with brown spots, 15 to 18 minutes. Transfer the biscuits to a wire rack to cool.

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1,581 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Ling  |  February 6, 2012 at 5:11 am

    Hello from Melbourne, Australia! Love your blog! I’m a year older than you and also born in April yaaaay :):)

    Reply
  • 2. Jessica  |  February 6, 2012 at 9:17 pm

    Greetings from California’s beautiful Central Coast. I am a transplant from the San Juan Islands and know how lovely the Pacific Northwest is, but as a native Californian, I am happy to be back home and baking with my granddaughter. I learned of your blog via Food and Wine magazine and was thrilled to see someone as charming as you leading the next wave of food adventures for your generation. I am off to bake peanutbutter cookies with your blessing- Jessica

    Reply
  • 3. Sarah  |  February 7, 2012 at 11:23 pm

    Elissa,

    Hello from middle of nowhere Ottumwa, Iowa.
    I’m completely addicted to your blog, your writing and pictures are beautiful and truly inspiring. You’ve even gotten me to try making some of the recipes for myself which is a feat in and of itself because I suck at baking lol. Thanks for blogging and keep up the good work!

    Reply
  • 4. Debby  |  February 8, 2012 at 7:46 pm

    Phoenix here!

    What an amazingly talented woman you are! You have such a bright future with the gifts you possess. Your parents did a wonderful job raising you into such a remarkable person.

    Reply
  • 5. Joy  |  February 9, 2012 at 2:28 am

    Long Beach, CA!

    Reply
  • 6. Flora Veszpremi  |  February 11, 2012 at 9:25 am

    Hi Elissa!
    I’m Hungarian but I live in Paris right now, I’m also 19 years old and big fun of gastronomy. I love your blog, you are doing a great job!
    Best!
    Flora :)

    Reply
  • 7. Marina  |  February 12, 2012 at 1:52 pm

    Hi Elissa,

    I stumbled upon your blog when I was searching for different recipes for Brigadeiros and boy did I hit the jackpot! I currently live in Monza, Italy where I teach middle school English and Humanities, but moved here from Oregon, my one true home! Thanks for sharing your passion for food and photography with the rest of the world.

    Take Care,

    Marina

    Reply
  • 8. Laura  |  February 12, 2012 at 9:29 pm

    Chicago, IL

    Reply
  • 9. Magnoia Mom  |  February 14, 2012 at 11:31 pm

    Auburn, AL: 1st time visiting but will be back! :)

    Reply
  • 10. Kel  |  February 15, 2012 at 12:27 pm

    lovely pictures, writing, and food
    Elissa, i wish you the best in your endeavors.

    Bloomington, IN

    Reply
  • 11. Katy  |  February 15, 2012 at 5:20 pm

    Waupun, WI! I really enjoy your blog – thank you for writing :)

    Reply
  • 12. Jan Wiesenfeld  |  February 22, 2012 at 12:35 pm

    So refreshing. your writing and photography are equally wonderful.

    Reply
  • 13. Jan Wiesenfeld  |  February 22, 2012 at 12:36 pm

    Forgot to say I’m from Sacramento, CA

    Reply
  • 14. Anne  |  February 22, 2012 at 3:59 pm

    Lyon, France

    Reply
  • 15. polly  |  February 23, 2012 at 10:05 am

    TAIPEI, TAIWAN

    Reply
  • 16. darkvistasway  |  February 23, 2012 at 4:41 pm

    Dubai, United Arab Emirates!

    Reply
  • 17. John  |  February 24, 2012 at 3:20 am

    Seoul, South Korea!

    Yeah, never imagined that did you.:) Just stumbled upon your blog and as soon as I read through the first page, I went *click* and subscribed by email.

    I’m 20 and a future world-class pastry chef.
    Nice to meet you.

    Reply
  • 18. Tine  |  February 28, 2012 at 5:20 am

    Heidelberg, Germany :-)

    Reply
  • 19. kellysawriter  |  February 28, 2012 at 11:10 pm

    Love your writing, recipes, and photography! =)

    I’m from Reno, NV

    Reply
  • 20. Stacey Burdine  |  March 7, 2012 at 9:21 pm

    Ocala, FL

    Reply
  • 21. yonghui  |  March 8, 2012 at 5:16 am

    Singapore :)
    (no we’re not in China)

    Reply
  • 22. Lizz Cosgrove  |  March 10, 2012 at 1:40 am

    Ran across your blog through Pinterest. Love your photos but was really impressed by your writing!

    Corpus Christi, TX

    Reply
  • 23. katie  |  March 10, 2012 at 9:21 pm

    Boulder, Co

    Reply
  • 24. melinda dean  |  March 12, 2012 at 10:10 pm

    i like your site. i will tell my friends in Seattle about the restaurant you talk about. i live in a small town in california called Monrovia. Keep up the good work!

    Reply
  • 25. Lisa  |  March 13, 2012 at 6:29 am

    Melbourne, Australia!

    I’m originally from Vancouver, Canada, but living in Melbourne for a year to work and experience the Aussie life. I make pastries and chocolates for a living :)

    I adore your blog. You’ve captivated me through your writing. It’s honest, funny, you somehow paint pictures through your words, and just a dash of vulnerability that makes your stories so relatable.

    I’m 30 and I admire your work! Don’t ever stop writing, you really have a talent for it.

    Lots of love from down under xoxo

    Reply
  • 26. Jo Dee  |  March 13, 2012 at 2:23 pm

    Hi from Charlotte, NC!! Just found your blog through Pinterest. Will be reading from now on :)

    Reply
  • 27. justonepeach  |  March 13, 2012 at 7:34 pm

    Seattle, WA!
    What a beautiful blog – and AMAZING recipes! Keep up the great work. :D

    Reply
  • 28. Jillian margiotta  |  March 15, 2012 at 12:30 am

    Encinitas,Ca
    Hi!!! I found your site from a magazine that my mom showed me. Guess what! I’m 17 and a baker! I found my love for baking at an early age and love the art of it. Many people ask me where I am going for college or what I’m gonna do with my life and my response always surprises them! I’m so glad I found your site and can’t wait to share it with otherS.

    Reply
  • 29. Frances  |  March 18, 2012 at 10:12 pm

    Marlborough, MA.

    Reply
  • 30. rohina  |  March 21, 2012 at 7:51 am

    Lucknow, India!
    just came across your blog while looking for recipes and fell in love with it! :D

    Reply
  • 31. eyra  |  March 29, 2012 at 5:36 am

    I’ve just discovered you amazing blog!!!
    I’m from Italy :-D
    Have a nice day!!!

    Reply
  • 32. Vivi  |  March 29, 2012 at 10:51 am

    this is my first time reading your blog, but it looks awesome!
    i’m from toronto, Canada :)

    Reply
  • 33. Indah  |  March 30, 2012 at 4:36 am

    Hi, I’m from Indonesia.
    I love your wonderful blog. Thanks for sharing.

    Reply
  • 34. Betsy Vose  |  March 31, 2012 at 6:43 pm

    Love your blog! I’ve started mine own and plan on making your raspberry oat crumble bars soon for a post. Thanks for being such an inspiration for both food photography (I define a ‘beginner’) and baking. Thanks!

    Betsy @ spatulasandbuttons.wordpress.com

    Minneapolis, MN

    Reply
  • 35. Cici  |  April 1, 2012 at 8:31 am

    Kakuma RefugeeCamp, Kenya.

    Hi, i love ur blog, will be trying a few recipes soon. check out mine foodieinthedesert.tumblr.com

    Reply
  • 36. yangamira  |  April 4, 2012 at 6:27 am

    hello , gorgeous elisa. I’m mia and I’m from malaysia.
    we share the same passion =) nice to meet you !

    Reply
  • 37. Ola  |  April 4, 2012 at 4:46 pm

    from Rotherham in UK but orginally from beautiful Malbork in Poland. Little older then 17 ;(

    Reply
  • 38. readeral  |  April 5, 2012 at 4:19 am

    I’m from Hobart. It’s a city in the Australian state of Tasmania. Very beautiful here! Soooooo worth a visit if you come to Australia (seriously, Sydney is overrated)

    Reply
  • 39. Meagan  |  April 10, 2012 at 1:48 am

    I’m 17 & baking! From Perth, Australia :)

    Reply
  • 40. Katharine  |  April 15, 2012 at 9:31 am

    61 and still baking- now in Midlothian VA

    Reply
  • 41. precious  |  April 19, 2012 at 11:42 am

    Austin and heard from about you here: http://www.365daysofbaking.blogspot.com/p/delicious-blogs.html

    Reply
  • 42. Cindy  |  April 24, 2012 at 2:01 pm

    greetings from Switzerland ^^

    i turned 16 yesterday and baking haha ^^
    love your website :D I made my own website like a Month ago :)

    Good luck with your future baking! ^^

    Reply
  • 43. Kristen Klomp  |  May 20, 2012 at 5:09 pm

    Pocatello, Idaho (soon to be Portland, Oregon) Love your blog!

    Reply
  • 44. Becky  |  May 22, 2012 at 2:23 pm

    Hi from Reynoldsburg, OHIO (a suburb of Columbus). I enjoy your blog.

    Reply
  • 45. Tazz  |  May 25, 2012 at 3:41 pm

    Tazz from Malaysia. I made an American Flag cake today!

    Saw your post around 4th of July last year, was so taken by it that I vowed to someday make it! My fiance is American and he’s in the military so I know he’d get a kick if I make it. We had our first date on Memorial Day in 2008 and so I thought it’s only apt I make the cake to commemorate that. Might even make it for our wedding cake – we’re getting married in July!

    Love your blog, you’re one dedicated girl :)

    Reply
  • 46. Kathryn  |  May 27, 2012 at 11:58 am

    Kathryn from Australia. Your writing is delightful.

    Reply
  • 47. Sandie  |  May 27, 2012 at 9:09 pm

    St. Joseph, Michigan. Your recipes look de-lish!

    Reply
  • 48. Yasmina  |  May 29, 2012 at 3:59 pm

    Lille, France.
    Your recipes look good! I’ll definetely have to try some of them!

    Reply
  • 49. Carrie Kindred  |  June 1, 2012 at 2:06 pm

    Mannheim, Germany
    (But originally from a tiny town in Kentucky.)

    Reply
  • 50. Fernanda  |  June 13, 2012 at 4:34 pm

    Monterrey, Mexico… born and raised

    Reply

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Elissa Bernstein



I'm Elissa: a 17 (now 21) year old baker in Seattle Boston juggling creative nonfiction workshops, subway maps, and my passions for writing, baking, and photography. Photo above © Michelle Moore

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I want to read everything. #TheStrand Mmmmm... Green tea chocolate lava cake! #spotdessertbar Last night I sat in @StephenColbert's chair. My life is now complete. AHHHHHHHHH! #ColbertAudience Yay! Spontaneous mid afternoon macaron break. @bouchonbakeryrc Ohmygosh! Strawberry and tarragon gelato! FAO Schwartz is equal parts chaos, commercialization, and crazy happy joy About to eat my first Pink Lady apple! (More like Red Red Red Lady.)

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