Sixty Acre Baker

Many of the stories and recipes on this site were migrated in 2014 from a blog started in 2008. I began a blog to have a place to store my recipes and share them with family and friends. I thought I was saving trees! When my husband (Mike) and I bought a piece of land on the central coast of California, my dreams of animating my food memories and yearnings began to be realized. We started with 60 acres, which is how the moniker came to be.

Before this, my life was whole but different. I was a hard-charging city girl who loved my heritage and delicious food. I came into business the old-fashioned way; I was born into it.  Family meals were Italian feasts structured around problem-solving and news of the day.  My sister and I made holiday chocolates late into the evening for our small candy business when I was still in grammar school.  By high school, I worked an office job, a fun weekend job at a local boutique, and the candy business.  A reluctant student, I found hard work a practical teacher.  I began my business career post-university as a receptionist in a mortgage office with a very busy 30-line phone bank, one of the most fun positions I have held.  I worked in this same organization, progressing through roles from branch manager to director of an international joint venture; and was seconded in London, England, for a few years with a leading mortgage bank. I retired from the business at age 35, eventually slowing down enough to nurture a relationship and marry the most solid human being I have ever known. We moved to our small farmstead on the central coast of California about a dozen years ago and have learned a lot by doing. 

I grew up cooking, as many also have, at the knee of the generations of women before me. I threw my first solo dinner party at eight years old, serving chicken cacciatore with chocolate mousse for dessert. After leaving the world of finance, I earned my pastry certification from Le Cordon Bleu. I consider myself an accomplished cook who could make a “silk purse from a sow’s ear.” I don’t panic in the kitchen, and I love to experiment. I can be frustrating to many because I don’t always follow recipes; exact duplication of something I’ve made before is rare.

Ingredients change. Plums don’t carry the same sweetness from week to week; cheese ages in varying ways. Sometimes, heat and humidity change the course of rising dough, and proteins vary from feed. Since moving to the ranch/farm (we use both terms depending on what time of year it is), we’ve grown or raised much of the food we eat. This makes ingredient access a wild card. Much like the tale of Goldilocks, sometimes we have too much, sometimes too little, and occasionally it is just right. Weather, Seasonality, Infestation, and Wildlife greatly affect what goes on my table. We are not off the grid; we shop at farmer’s markets and grocery stores, but we try to eat seasonally. I don’t buy tomatoes out of season; I have only purchased eggs a handful of times in a dozen years. I preserve as much as possible when the produce is fresh and make cheese, bread, and pasta in my kitchen. For many years, we raised our meat and milked our goats, but we have taken a bit of a break from that for now. Farm living is long hours that tether you to the land, limiting freedom for other pursuits and travel. We have dialed back a bit to allow for more breathing room in that arena.

I am so pleased you found my little blog. I try and cram a lot of things into this one little book. Truth be told, it is as much for me (and my memory) as it is for you. I hope you enjoy this journey with me and practice the art of moving on if you are looking for a place to deposit ugliness.