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Wednesday, October 31, 2007

The Birth of the Phrecipe Project

Six times in the past two months I have received emails from people mentioning that I was in their dream and I was teaching them how to bake bread (Maybe I'm doing other things in other people's dreams, but I only seem to receive notes about the bread baking). I must talk about bagels and whole wheat honey loaves a lot if I am showing up still speaking about these things in someone else's unconscious mind.

I have a cake decorating degree (thank you, infertility, for providing me with many potentially-useful hobbies). Whenever this comes up in conversation, it invariably leads to others saying they'd love to learn how to make icing flowers or sugar pomegranates. If we were face-to-face, I could teach you in a couple of hours. But on paper? It's really hard to explain consistency or texture. Which means that things like bread baking or cake decorating don't translate well on a flat page. Plus, black and white recipes aren't a lot of fun.

I asked Josh if he would film me baking bagels so I could upload it to Youtube, but he pointed out that this was (1) time consuming on his end since I don't know how to use video editing software, (2) not very easily usable since people would need to keep pausing the movie and coming back into the kitchen to do the next step and (3) did I really need one more project?

Um...the answer to the last one is yes.

It came to me a few hours later that it would be more useful to provide still-pictures that could be printed out and brought into the kitchen along with the recipe. And then, it would be as if you were standing next to me in the kitchen with the aid of visuals and words and we could bake together, albeit sometimes thousands of miles apart. The Internet is good for many things. Think of it as the same thing as My First Picture Dictionary--the visuals explain the words.

I'm calling them phrecipes (pronounced "fres-i-pees"): photo-supported recipes. Get it? So you'll see how each dough should look at every step of the way.

So, if you were looking for a new distraction, as the next installment on my quest to make myself happier this year, I am inviting you along to do some baking and cake decorating projects. I'll teach you how I make my pie crusts and pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving as well as how I make nut brittles around Christmas. We can bake muffins and breads together. Create sugar flowers and icing roses. Everyone can do it at home, whenever it's convenient rather than at a preset class time. And if you do end up trying the recipe, I would love you to blog about it and send me a link so I can go back into the recipe and add other people's experiences onto the main post so others can find your post and read it in the future.

I have some breads I'd like to show first because, as I said during my book club post, there is something about bread that touches the same place in my heart that needs to nurture a child. Bread dough is warm and light and smells good. And it is something I sometimes cry making, but it always makes me feel better in the end. But I would like to take any requests (I can make hundreds of baked goods and candies) for future lessons. Email me your requests at

If you think this is a good idea, let me know so I'm not shouting bagel recipes into the ether for no reason (if I'm the only person who wants to make bagels, let me know). If you don't want to bake or read along, I'll clearly mark the posts so you can skip over them whenever I post them. But you don't have to let me know that this idea is lame. Just click away--bakers have sensitive feelings...


Unknown said...

I Love, Love, Love, Love this idea!!! Phrecipes is a great term, too. I love to cook, but baking/pastry is not my thing. I love to eat them though!! You mentioned "brittles" probably my favorite thing in the world. Can't wait for that one! Thanks for doing this!!! (Yes, can you tell I am excited?!?!?!

Anonymous said...


are you on If you are then we could recipe swap :D

Anonymous said...

I'm going to make this on sat pm/sunday morning and get back to you.

Anonymous said...

I frickin LOVE this idea.

I was just thinking that I needed to have something to get me through the hell of the holidays and baking sounds like a perfect solution.

I will give this a try this weekend. THANK YOU

Mommy Someday said...

This is an AWESOME idea!!! I can't wait to bake some bagels!!!

PCOSMama said...

Do you by chance know how to make that wonderful fudge that melts in your mouth? I mean, it quite literally melts in your mouth. The mom of an ex of mine made it and she said it was a little complicated - something about getting it to and/or maintaining a certain temperature or something, but I'll tell you that when that stuff came out of the oven, it flew out of the pan it was so good! Never lasted a day...

I can bake, but nothing really complicated so I'm afraid to attempt this myself. I stick to the fudge you make with marshmallow fluff and it just can't compare.

So, I'd love a good melt-in-your-mouth fudge recipe with a walk-through!

Sherry said...

Mel - COMPLETELY fantastic idea. I'm already trying to carve out time from my weekend to make bagels - I've always wanted to do it!


E. Phantzi said...

I looked up "Baking" and "bread" and "baking bread" on a couple online dream dictionaries, and this is the one I like best:

Bread: Basic nourishment (physical, emotional, mental), or the means by which nourishment is provided to you. To dream you only have bread to eat can mean that only your most basic needs are being met - or that's the way it feels to you.

Cooking (I decided that was close enough): Cooking could could have many meanings, depending on context:

Preparing or obtaining physical, emotional, mental, or spiritual nourishment or inspiration.
Nurturing, motherly love, devotion to family.
Creating or creativity.
A process or project.
The idea of heat, hot, or burning.

You nurture and mother us through your creative blog!

Apropos of nothing, my word verification is: fkdpeat. Poor peat.

K said...

Oh Mel, I love you!
When I kinda first started reading your blog you did a post on baking bagels and I always wanted to try it but never did. I'm glad you're doing this!

Samantha said...

You always have fun ideas, Mel!

deanna said...

Holey-moley, those bagels are Beautiful!!!
Such talent!!!

Here's a question, though---I don't have a fancy mixer. Can I use simple electric hand-mixer, or should I mix manually by hand? Or, are both of those bad options?

Anonymous said...

Heaven!! I'm in heaven! A fellow IF baker! You know why baking bread is good? Because it's creating something that is part of life. I love to imagine one day I will teach my daughters to bake. :)

This is a FANTASTIC idea.

Um, did I say how much I love it?

TeamWinks said...

Excellent idea!

Esperanza said...

Love this idea :). Could you teach me how to bake bread? Any kind. :)

Jendeis said...

This sounds like a wonderful idea! If you need any guidance, Carolyn at Juggling Frogs has wonderful posts with pictures on how to make all kinds of things, including a virtual challah lesson.