School, Seattle, The Northwest… The World?

October 9, 2009 at 10:40 am 1,582 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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1,582 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Robyn  |  January 27, 2013 at 10:48 am

    Im from Johanesburg, South Africa :)

    Reply
  • 2. Liz  |  January 28, 2013 at 3:15 pm

    Arizona

    Reply
  • 3. Sonia JS  |  January 28, 2013 at 9:01 pm

    Guatemala City, Guatemala

    Reply
  • 4. Julia S.  |  February 7, 2013 at 5:46 pm

    New York City

    Reply
  • [...] Check out this blog for a delicious recipe for cream cheese and chive biscuits! Note: Click here to see the original [...]

    Reply
  • 6. Emily  |  February 16, 2013 at 9:31 pm

    Minneapolis, MN

    Saw the link to your blog on http://www.topwithcinnamon.com!

    Reply
  • 7. Donna - Tempe, Arizona  |  February 22, 2013 at 6:08 pm

    I just found your blog, and OMG, the photos are amazing and your writing is excellent!

    Reply
  • 8. Ellen Stevens  |  February 26, 2013 at 6:17 pm

    I love your recipes and your blog. I’m from Sherwood, OR. You are amazing.

    Reply
  • 9. Angela Li  |  March 10, 2013 at 12:26 pm

    Princeton, NJ

    Reply
  • 10. Paulinha Sousa  |  March 14, 2013 at 5:37 pm

    Hello from Portugal, on the other side of the Ocean!! Will start reading you Bllog now that I found it ;) Keep on!!!

    Reply
  • 11. Nancy Baker-Krofft  |  March 25, 2013 at 2:07 pm

    I know what you mean about being overly sensitive, and a baker! Researching a pot de la creme recipe I came across your blog, and you are a sister of the heart. Logging in here on your former coast, down at the 45 th parallel in the capitol city of Oregon, Salem.

    Reply
  • 12. Tali Simon  |  March 28, 2013 at 5:15 am

    Kochav HaShachar, Israel. Can’t remember how I found your blog, but I was immediately impressed.

    Reply
  • 13. Ida  |  April 17, 2013 at 5:15 am

    Salam from Malaysia. Just found out about your blog from Inspired By Charm. Love your recipe collection and dying to start doing one this weekend

    Reply
  • 14. Martina  |  April 19, 2013 at 2:12 am

    Costa Mesa, California. Can’t wait to try your dark chocolate cake with raspberry ganache for my mum’s bday :)

    Reply
  • 15. Gena Hrbek  |  April 23, 2013 at 4:42 pm

    Orlando, Florida. Just found your blog – via another food blog though I can’t remember which one. I was very excited to find the recipe for cornmeal lime cookies, both for the recipe in general, and because I just came back from Barca mysef! Thanks for a well-written, beautifully photographed blog.

    Reply
  • 16. Sally-Ann  |  May 2, 2013 at 11:11 am

    Canmore, Alberta, Canada

    Reply
  • 17. Alison  |  May 9, 2013 at 11:59 pm

    Olympia, WA
    This is only my second blog I have subscribed to. I love how you write your stories, and incorporating family and food- you are right, it does bring us together! The pictures are beautiful and I look forward to reading more. :-)

    Reply
  • 18. Dana  |  June 1, 2013 at 9:35 am

    Hollywood Ca

    Reply
  • 19. Kat  |  June 24, 2013 at 2:26 pm

    London, England.

    Reply
  • 20. Gabi  |  June 26, 2013 at 10:08 pm

    Portland, OR

    Reply
  • 21. quiltingdaisy  |  June 27, 2013 at 2:50 pm

    Palatine Illinois, a NW suburb of Chicago

    Reply
  • 22. Sarafina  |  June 28, 2013 at 12:03 am

    Mountain View, CA, near San Francisco

    Reply
  • 23. alex  |  June 30, 2013 at 8:25 pm

    Tamaulipas, Mexico

    Reply
  • 24. lindsaymartinnez  |  July 3, 2013 at 12:40 pm

    Jackson, MS

    Reply
  • 25. Cynthia  |  July 3, 2013 at 3:46 pm

    love your blog!

    Reply
  • 26. Beth  |  July 4, 2013 at 6:28 am

    Miyazaki, Japan

    Reply
  • 27. jenny  |  July 4, 2013 at 3:07 pm

    los Angeles, CA

    Reply
  • 28. ricardo  |  July 6, 2013 at 2:30 pm

    How did you know i’m 17? i’m from zulia, venezuela

    cheers

    Reply
  • 29. Grace  |  July 11, 2013 at 1:05 pm

    Maastricht, Limburg, the Netherlands! :)

    Reply
  • 30. sam  |  July 17, 2013 at 9:56 am

    york, maine! love your photos!

    Reply
  • 31. Marge Quaadman  |  July 19, 2013 at 6:55 am

    Safety Harbor, FL near Cleawater and St. Petersburg in the Tampa Bay Area. Great article today……..I sent it on to a friend who needed it..

    Reply
  • 32. Manon  |  July 19, 2013 at 12:14 pm

    Bordeaux, France !

    Reply
  • 33. Jessica Ewen Kahan  |  July 26, 2013 at 9:43 am

    Good morning, Elissa! Your beautiful photos of sumptuous delicacies makes my mouth water! Most moving, however is your heartfelt insights into defining moments of your life, which you share with such candor and insight! You are a beautiful writer and a beautiful person, and I greatly enjoy reading your blogs! Miss you and love you! Jessica

    Reply
  • 34. Ally  |  July 30, 2013 at 3:52 am

    Singapore! :)

    Reply
  • 35. Teri  |  August 11, 2013 at 3:02 am

    Honolulu, Hawaii :)
    Aloha :)

    Reply
  • 36. Emma  |  August 14, 2013 at 4:38 pm

    Rochester Hills, MI; Albion, MI; Peoria, AZ (right outside of Pheonix)

    Reply
  • 37. Rose S.  |  August 14, 2013 at 4:52 pm

    Madison, WI

    My goodness I am so very jealous of your 17th birthday party and I love your raspberry ganache cake

    Reply
  • 38. rose c.  |  September 3, 2013 at 8:47 am

    San Antonio, Tx

    I love your blog and writing style, you are very talented.

    Reply
  • 39. Xixi  |  September 4, 2013 at 2:26 am

    Seattle, WA – Rocking the purple and gold and completely adoring your blog!

    Art shines through its every facet; you’re absolutely brilliant with your written voice, everything just pulls so well together. I really admire it, and wish you all the best on forging your life on the East Coast.

    Reply
  • 40. ramblinglitchi  |  September 4, 2013 at 11:48 am

    Cape Town, South Africa

    Reply
  • 41. Jeffro  |  September 7, 2013 at 10:15 am

    From Plymouth, Devon, England. “Stumbled” across your blog. Think it’s brilliant.

    Reply
  • 42. Katrina  |  September 10, 2013 at 2:04 am

    Wonderful blog. Beautiful pictures and stunningly enjoyable to read. Thank you.
    Albany Western Australia!

    Reply
  • 43. Xuan  |  September 10, 2013 at 4:37 am

    UC Davis, CA. Will definitely try some of your recipes! I love that you incorporate memories and stories into them :)

    Reply
  • 44. Leilaton  |  September 22, 2013 at 11:24 pm

    Greetings and salam from sunny Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia! Came across your blog 2 years ago and have been coming back to check out your adventures ever since! (my heart broke when your stuff got stolen in Rome :( I felt just as violated….) I love your writing and photography! And wish I could take pictures like you. Thank you for sharing your stories and recipes!

    Reply
  • 45. lmccarty11  |  October 2, 2013 at 5:55 pm

    Anchorage, Alaska. Just a wife looking for more great recipes!

    Reply
  • 46. Eddie  |  October 27, 2013 at 2:09 pm

    Oxford, England. Love your breaking bad cake!

    Reply
  • 47. Dimsum  |  October 29, 2013 at 3:48 am

    Kailua, HI Love this blog! Love your beautiful pics and recipes.

    Reply
  • 48. Brooke  |  November 1, 2013 at 4:49 pm

    Originally from Iowa, then Seattle, now Vancouver, WA. :)

    Reply
  • 49. josipa  |  November 5, 2013 at 5:59 am

    trogir,Croatia

    Reply
  • 50. taffysea  |  November 11, 2013 at 1:34 am

    Oregon and Minnesota.

    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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