Sharing our Strength Spirit

Bakesale for Japan

Do you remember where you were when 9/11 happened? How about the Indonesia earthquake and the ensuing tsunami? Haiti? Chile? Japan?

In my job I have the fortunate opportunity to listen to and talk with customers curious about our products.  What I’ve begun to hear is a rising fear and panic in some of their voices even if it’s just a slight shift in tone.

Are you worried about radiation in your water and food?
Are you worried about an earthquake?

While I think it’s natural to wonder about these things for a moment especially given living in California, hanging out there for long stretches of time is dangerous. And really, it’s kind of beside the point.

I happened to be in Anaheim for a gigantic natural foods trade show when the headline appeared on my computer about an earthquake in Japan. The findings were still preliminary and I remembered how surreal it had been to watch the headlines unfold during the massive quake and tsunami that struck Indonesia and Thailand, sometimes the headlines anticipating oncoming devastation with its matter-of-fact, in print facts and summations.

The next morning, I turned on the news in that hotel room and began seeing footage of the tsunami, seeing a wall of black water and debris devour whatever was in its path. We watch sometimes unseeing. It didn’t look real and yet at breakfast, all eyes were glued on the television, even as we prepared for our first day at this important trade show. I emailed my friend in Fukuoka to see if he and his family were alright and then went on to greet people and encourage them to try our products.

In the wake of natural disaster, it’s always surreal to somehow continue on your normal way. You can’t necessarily go to each afflicted country and help the people first-hand. You have to find a way to respond that fits, but responding is not a question either. The how is really the question.

This year I’ve been in a runner’s mark of readiness. Two opportunities arose that not only gave me a way to naturally give back to Japan and get involved but really take on solidarity with the ravaged country with a host of other people who felt a call to action.


Bakesale for Japan

I had the sincere pleasure and pride to watch people from the foodservice industry come together with home bakers, food bloggers and people wanting to contribute in this past weekend’s Bakesale for Japan. Pizzaiolo pastry chef Samin Nosrat organized this one day Bay Area event with all proceeds going to Peace Winds Japan that then grew to various cities around the country this past Saturday, April 2nd.

What touched me to the core and continues to are the restaurants wanting to share what they do best and help this cause. This was quite evident as SPQR shuttered service until 3 p.m. letting the Bakesale create a pop-up store inside the restaurant. We moved tables and received baked goods from Arizmendi, Sweet Jo’s, Citizen Cake, Out the Door, Telltale Preserve Co., SPQR, A16 and Blue Bottle to name a few foodservice operators that got involved. Starter Bakery sent along goodies for the bakesale to be sold and also sent over a box for the volunteers- a nice touch.

The staff at SPQR had baked up some chocolate buttercreme cupcakes with peanut butter centers and other treats the night before the bakesale. In their spare time from cooking, they were baking up goodies to contribute. This act really reverberated in me and reminded me how much I love working in the foodservice industry.

I volunteered Saturday morning and part of the afternoon to help out at SPQR and while there, reconnected with friend Laiko and Ariel and met new friends Monica, Marissa and Silvana. Together we can make a difference. We put on our marketing hats and issued short-timed promotions throughout our stint on-site. Two tables hosted origami lessons, making cranes.

I posted photos of goodies to buy up on my food photo album to entice and lure friends checking it out to head over to SPQR as well as hitting the street with Ariel and Nader to invite people to head over to the bakesale. We sold through most of the homemade treats and there were many!

Initially, I’d thought to make Raisin Bran Bread, but with shortbread still on the brain, I composed some shortbread that looked a bit like the Japanese flag that I called “Rooibos Rising Sun Shortbread.”

Check out some of the cupcakes, cookies and other treats below. Want more, go here to see the full spectrum of goodies available that day that I photographed.


Online Bakesale for Japan

I also participated in an Online Bakesale for Japan, where 90 food bloggers from different parts of the world offered to bake and ship some of their morsels to the highest bidder with all proceeds going to Second Harvest Japan. Irvin told me about this and I contacted organizer Sabrina to see how I could help out and get involved.

Late Sunday night, I took a taxi from the airport to style the tea and photograph it for her that I would be baking with and then a few nights later finished experimenting with the baked Tea Shortbread. Beck supported my baking and made dinner that night as we had a movie on in the background.

Sabrina pulled off this feat within a short amount of time and while she had set the goal of raising $2500 for Japan, we superceded that over threefold, as final sales brought in around $8000 for this one day event. I bid on some Sour Cream Chocolate Cake in a Jar and put my own Menagerie of Tea Shortbread up for sale (recipe coming soon).

Menagerie of Tea Shortbread

This past year has had me at its mercy, living through my own personal tragedy. I feel emotionally spent and physically beleaguered. As I’ve been volunteering, I think of my dad’s memory and can’t think of a more fitting tribute than doing my part to help others devastated in a small way. I tire myself on behalf of my Father, doing His work and being His hands.

What I think both of these day-long fundraisers have in common is a lot of heart and shared action. Through the inspiration of the organizers, Samin, a pastry chef and Sabrina, a food blogger, set up different ways to address the same issue at hand. One person can make a difference because that first voice has power to call others alongside. Together we can.


Sharing our Strength Spirit

Menagerie of Tea Shortbread & Japan Relief Support

Menagerie of Tea Shortbread

See these beauties? They can be yours!

On Wednesday, March 30th and for one day only, you can bid on them over at the Online Bake Sale for Japan where all of the proceeds from this one day online auction are going to benefit Second Harvest Japan. I will bake & ship them well wrapped for freshness to the bidder (US only).

I’m putting my baking chops to aid and do a small part to support relief in that beleaguered country.

If you bid on my tea shortbread, here’s what you will get. Drumroll, please…

  • 1/2 dozen Lapsang Souchong Peppered Bacon Shortbread
  • 1/2 dozen Matcha Chipped Chocolate Shortbread
  • 1/2 dozen Rooibos Clementine Shortbread
  • 1/2 dozen Spiced Chai Shortbread
  • 1/2 dozen Gyokuro Walnut Shortbread

See below for a description of each flavor.

Lapsang Souchong Peppered Bacon Shortbread
This Chinese black tea is smoked over fir tree root and a favorite of chefs to add smoke to their duck dishes. It lends a smoky note to black pepper flecked bacon bits in this rich almost savory take on a shortbread.

Lapsang Souchong Peppered Bacon Tea Shortbread


Matcha Chipped Chocolate Shortbread
Matcha, a beloved tea of Japan is green tea that’s actually pulverized with deep earthy notes. Paired with chipped dark Scharffen Berger chocolate, this is one decadent cookie.

Matcha Chipped Chocolate Tea Shortbread


Rooibos Clementine Shortbread
Initially, this was going to be Rooibos Yuzu, but I became enamored of the idea of the naturally honeyed notes of rooibos playing with the bright citrus of the clementine and thus, this marbled cookie was meant to be. Rooibos hails from South Africa and this herbal “tea” means “red bush,” aptly named for its color and relaxing elixir.

Rooibos Clementine Tea Shortbread


Spiced Chai Shortbread
I’m a sucker for a spiced tea, so a spiced tea cookie- what could be better. I used an English Breakfast tea as the base for this one and had my way with ginger, cardamom, cinnamon and a few cracks of finely ground pepper. Spicy and sweet!

Spiced Chai Tea Shortbread


Gyokuro Walnut Shortbread
This might be my favorite of the bunch. Gyokuro could be considered the royalty of Japanese green tea. The green leaves have a bluish tint to them and a nutty flavor that is particularly noticeable when paired with the walnuts. A refined tea, this commemorative collection would be remiss without them.

Gyokuro Walnut Tea Shortbread

So what are you waiting for? Get to it and start bidding over at the Online Bake Sale for Japan hosted by the Tomato Tart. After all, doesn’t it feel sweet to give money to a good cause and reap the sweet benefits of solidarity?

These guys are waiting for a good home…

tea shortbread