Meet the Baker

Hello. Hello. Welcome to my blog! Une Gamine dans la Cuisine published its first awkward recipe and fuzzy photo on a cold Spring day in 2009. When I began blogging I knew very little about what it meant to actually 'blog.' All I knew was that I wanted to share my jaunty kitchen melodrama with fellow food lovers.

I want this to be a friendly place where everyone who visits feels relaxed, hungry, comfortable and cheeky. It's difficult to feel relaxed, let alone comfortable enough to be cheeky, when you don't know anything about your host, so please allow me to introduce myself and answer a few of the questions I've been asked, and maybe some you were curious about (or not?). I Am the Boss of run-on sentences. Misspelled words keep me up at night, long after they've been corrected. I throw commas around like mad, homicidal, butterflies.
My name is Valerie. I'm 30...early mid-something, and I love the alchemy of baking.

What is the title of this blog? And what does it mean?
My father was French and I lived in Europe until I was six. As a child, my hair was always cut very short and I somehow always managed to rip or muddy-up the beautiful dresses that my mom forced me into wearing. (I couldn't sit still for too long!) By the end of the day, or second, she said I looked like a street urchin. Gamine was a term of endearment frustration; a way to describe someone who gets into/causes trouble. (I am the youngest, according to my sister, that means I was able to get away with more.) 
My other nickname is Cricket, but gamine is less cringe-inducing. Plus it's a lovely tribute to my dad.♥

Where did the idea for this blog begin?
Growing up I was fascinated with food. Because he traveled frequently, my dad experienced a smorgasbord of cuisines. When he finally came home from some exotic local he would often try to prepare the dishes he had sampled. Once he served us calf's brain, on another occasion it was some "part" of an alligator. But he was wickedly sneaky...he wouldn't tell us what we were eating until half-way through the meal. Desserts became my happy place. 
As teen, I worked in a cosy local bakery. When I was in college I frolicked in a blithe little pastry shop (where my love for baking and red wine became forged in stone). Since I was in the very lucrative Shakespearean lit and Anthropology fields of study, it wasn't long before I ended up working in yet another bakery. After a few years of baking at home and getting brilliant ideas from online bloggers, I finally decided that I should just start my own food blog. I love/hate writing without the pressure of a deadline or the worry of red marks scattered around a sheet of paper. Plus, anyone who knows me will tell you that I am reticent. Writing online is a good way to express myself without becoming too tangled in my own surreal, fickle, thoughts. 

What kind of camera do I use?
Up until November 2010, I used a Canon Powershot A430. But after two years of snapping, a few tumbles and an unfortunate fall into a wayward bowl of frosting, the beloved camera could not go on any longer. I now use her slightly upgraded cousin, the A520.

Why do I moderate comments?
I didn't always screen comments but after several spamming incidents and a few not-so-friendly remarks, I felt it was best to protect my blog and its readers from anything annoying and/or negative. I know that recipes fail on occasion and ovens are notoriously temperamental. I'm more than happy to hear questions or concerns, as long as they're delivered in a diplomatic manner. xo 

 Do I actually eat everything I bake?
Of course. Just not too too much. (I would never make something without trying it first.) I don't think we should deprive ourselves of anything in life as long as "certain" indiscretions are done in moderation. Oddly enough, I don't crave something right after it's made. I love the process and the seemingly-frivolous steps of baking, but the true reward comes from watching people take pleasure in eating something that I made from scratch.

Reads (in random order)
 A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith 
The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
Doctor Zhivago by Boris Pasternak 
Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH by Robert C. O'Brien 
The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett 
Les Misérables by Victor Hugo 
The Law of Love by Laura Esquivel
Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel 
The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory 
Out of Africa by Isak Dinesen 
The Great Gatsby by  F. Scott Fitzgerald 
One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez 
The Tempest by William Shakespeare 
Breakfast at Tiffany's by Truman Capote 
The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

30 Rock 
Boardwalk Empire
Arrested Development
Top Chef
The Office (BBC style)
House M.D.
Modern Family 
No Reservations 
Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown 
Game of Thrones 
Barefoot Contessa 
Twin Peaks

Cat Power
Fiona Apple
Keren Ann
Françoise Hardy
Yann Tiersen
Azure Ray
Nouvelle Vague
Charlotte Gainsbourg
Mazzy Star
Leonard Cohen (I'll never get sick of "Famous Blue Raincoat")
Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová
Regina Spektor
Katie Melua
Lenny Kravitz
Emiliana Torrini
Massive Attack
Pink Martini

Popeye (à la Robin Williams & Shelley Duvall)
Another Earth
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
Practical Magic
500 Days of Summer
Good Bye Lenin!
Moonrise Kingdom
The Lion in Winter
Immortal Beloved
Il Postino
Midnight in Paris
Big Fish 
The Royal Tenenbaums
Much Ado About Nothing
Lost in Translation 
Step Up 3 (please don't judge, I adore dance movies.)
Out of Africa 
Roman Holiday
What About Bob? 
The Saint
Pan's Labyrinth  

The sound of a cello
Baking (shocking, I know)
Grey shirts and sweaters
Warm, humid rainy days when everything is lush and green
My cat/pseudo child, Niles. Aka Poopie (a nickname from a scene with Gérard Depardieu in 102 Dalmations)
Fedoras (I think it's great that they're making a come-back)
Crossword puzzles (especially those that I can do with a pen)
My camera (even though because it's crusted with frosting and crumbs)
Listening to seagulls
That feeling you have after a great early-morning workout. (If only that could be bottled up somehow.)

Ventriloquist dummies
Winter driving
empty cookie jars
The way a room feels after everyone has left the party
That seemingly endless, empty stretch of time between January 2nd and April.
Those days/nights spent obsessing over lost opportunities

Things I would like to do someday
1)  Get my pilot's license (think Maggie, from 'Northern Exposure') :D
2)  Learn how to speak Italian
3)  Try out for, and ultimately land, a role in a Shakespearean play (Miranda from The Tempest, Ophelia from Hamlet or, Hamlet himself)
4)  Learn how to play the cello
5)  Travel more (I've always wanted to go to London, Cape Town, Corfu, and Barbados.)
6)  Master the art of making symmetrical layer cakes.
7)  Figure out how to live in the moment and stop over-thinking 
8) Say "oh, hello." to Tom Hiddleston (In a pseudo blasé tone.)


Why is there a 'u' in the word favourite?
Because that's the way my dad spelled it. :-)

Favourite Colours

Foods that I actually don't like
Brussels sprouts
Lima beans
Butter mints
Brussels sprouts
Banana peppers
Popcorn shrimp (there was an incident at a Red Lobster when I was little)
Black licorice
licorice in general
and Brussels sprouts


Leah said...

What a great list!
I haven't seen something like it on a blog and it was really heartwarming to read- especially when I smiled at your choices, which would be mine too (A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, Big Fish, Fiona Apple). I just discovered your blog, and I'm glad I did!

Aurelia said...

I loved reading your blog entry.
Lemons are my very favorite dessert but brussels sprouts are on top of my veggie list. I look forward to following your blog and baking experiences.

Anonymous said...

What a beautiful, peaceful, and serene site.

You've created a special place; a haven for those of us obsessed with recipes and baking.

Thanks for sharing.

Gloria Baker said...

haha I know now you dont like brussels sprouts and Im sure my kids maybe they wouldn't like too.

Many times I see you blog and love your récipes! but now I bookmarked you and some of your récipes when I try I will tell you, I have a blog récipes too, ! Love your blog!xo

Cheryl said...

I just found your blog from Instagram and I am really enjoying browsing around, but I would like to receive email updates when you post a new recipe. Will you be enabling this option at any time? I tried through the Feedburner link on your webpage but it said it's not available..

Valerie Gamine said...

@Cheryl, Sorry about the broken Feedburner link - it's been slightly temperamental but it should be working now. I'm on Bloglovin' too (upper right link, just below the title). :)

Thanks for visiting! xo

LOONA said...

you should check out a band/singer called FEIST

Valerie Gamine said...

LOONA, How on earth did I leave out Feist! Thanks for the reminder. :D

ambrosia @ figandpie said...

Yes! me too, I enjoy watching people eating my dishes, especially desserts. I will have a bite, but that's not why I cook - I cook & create to make people happy :)

Anonymous said...

I just made a couple of your recipes today. I live in Maine and it was an overcast and rainy afternoon/evening. Perfect for turning on the oven and listening to drops fall outside. I am so glad that I found your recipes. The cake is already gone...I'm hoping the cookies will still be there when I wake up tomorrow.

Valerie Gamine said...

duckets23, I envy you! My family vacationed in Maine several times while I was a child, it's rugged + epically gorgeous!!
Thanks for dropping by and leaving a note. I hope the cake set a blithe ambiance for your rainy afternoon in windswept Maine. xo

C. Whitney-Ward said...

V.I subscribe to your charming blog...and I have to admit, that until yesterday, I have zipped straight down to the recipe - ogling at the photo
graphs, of course - but without reading your tantalizing and deliciously-written stories...BUT...that all stopped yesterday when I began to enjoy your blog posts from top to bottom. You have a beautiful way with words. Very special. I'm a writer & photographer and know my way around food and words that
try to describe the wonder of it all. You do this perfectly.If you aren't in the process of creating a book, please entertain the idea... And, have you seen the movie "DROP DEAD FRED" I think you'll love it! I have a Maine Coon Cat as well...Noah. Best, Cynthia

Valerie Gamine said...

Wow. Thank you, Cynthia! I'm *blushing.* :D
Please excuse my older posts, the photos are not very appealing + I relied too heavily on auto correct (and the occasional gin & tonic). It's been eons since I last watched Drop Dead Fred, I'll add it to my Netflix order.

Aren't Maine Coon cats brilliant! I have two other cats (Tabbies) but Niles is my buddy. He always looks as though he just went mouse hunting through a Norwegian forest - I'm consonantly brushing out errant knots (a labor of love). Maine Coons have a tender awareness that other cats seem to lack. :)

cavoletto said...

Okay, so basically, I'm on your 'dislikes' list :-) But, hey, i speak italian! :-) Et français! (et je me sens très gamine, aussi, inside). Love your blog, anyways, will come back :-)

Post a Comment

Thanks for visiting, and for taking the time to read through my ramblings!
If you have a recipe comment or question, I'd love to hear from you.

Happy Baking!
♥ Valerie


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