Journey of real homebaked goods with Fiona

With our new branding, we've started a new project to interview and share stories of people who inspired our everyday life. They might be our neighbour who take good care of their garden, our family member who cook heart-felt meals just to warm our stomach, a barista who insist on making good coffee, or a frontliner who's in the battle everyday. The whole idea is that... if you keep doing what you enjoy, you are inspiring. 
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"Energy and persistence conquer all things." - Benjamin Franklin
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How did I get to know Fiona? Well... it was almost 8 years ago and she was one of my first friend who I met on Facebook. I remember that we quickly "connected" since both of us share the same interests of baking, tableware, stationery, and gardening. I've always impressed by how good she can cook and bake, as well as how well she take care of her garden. Not only that, the way she present them on her Instagram is brilliantly attractive!
When I decided to start on this project, she was the first person that comes in my mind. I would really love to share about her passion, and her perseverance when it comes to food, everyday life, good habit and many more. Her baking journey is just simply inspiring, and I've been learning endlessly from her. I know, we all who are reading this, can feel her passion too. Please enjoy!

Q1: Could you please tell us a little bit about yourself? What do you do for living and how does your baking journey start? 

Hello! This is Fiona, originally from Perak and has been living in KL for over 10 years now. I’m an ordinary salaried employee on the weekday, a home cook and an adventurous homebaker on the weekend! I have always been passionate about home made food as I have fond memories of my mom and grandma cooking delicious food using just a few simple humble ingredients.

We (me and my 2 brothers) grew up at my grandparents' old homestead bakery in my hometown ‘Sitiawan’ in the 80s. Well, growing up in a bakery, we have to help out on the routine task and when you do the same thing over and over, eventually unconscious learning occurs. A little knowledge goes a long way, and my mom is a great homebaker. I managed to pick up some baking skills from her too! I would say my baking journey started from a young age and got very into it in my late 20s until now. I bake because it brings joy and happiness to myself and to others!

Q2: I really enjoy the cooking/ baking process that you always share on your Instagram, is there something that you always “insist” when you do baking?

Thank you for loving what i’ve shared. Yes, there are 3 things I insist on when it comes to baking.

1st - ‘No artificial preservative, colouring or additives’. My sole purpose is to bring you fresh, healthy, wholesome, tasty bread & cake.

2nd - ‘Always use the fresh ingredients’. Nothing gives more flavor to your food than fresh ingredients.

3rd - ‘Bake with heart.’ When you cook or bake with love, the food just tastes better!

Q3: I remember once I visited your house and was totally amazed by all of your cutlery collection. How do you maintain or declutter them since “minimalist” is an on-going trend now.

In my humble opinion, I think minimalism is a state of mind, and not a set of rules. It doesn’t mean you have to get rid of everything you own. Minimalism means being intentional about what you keep. I love old things with stories, therefore over 60% of my kitchenware, baking tools & equipment are either pre-owned (vintage), thrifted or passed down from my mom, my mom-in-law & my brother (yes, he loves to cook too). I was lucky enough to inherit most of my mom’s tableware from the 70-80s.

I had open shelving in the kitchen, and I love to place things I use everyday on the open shelves. I organise my kitchen stuff by zone, things I use less go on higher shelves or inside the cabinet while frequently used items go on the lower shelf. I like that things are within reach when you’re bleary-eyed in the morning and rushing to get dinner ready in the evening. We do food plans every week so we are unlikely to over-purchase groceries. I use and wash my everyday plates, mugs & glasses frequently, so they don’t have much opportunity to gather dust. Of course some parts in the kitchen will still get dusty, I usually give them a sweep & wipe about every two to three weeks to keep them clean. If I discover something I haven't been using for a long time, i’ll either ask if my family/friends need it or donate if they are functional/usable.

I love bringing some personality into the kitchen by displaying some plants, artwork, cookbooks or treasured objects that bring me joy when I see them. It will make being in the kitchen feel like less of a chore to have touches of items we love, isn’t it? ^^

Q4: You have started taking orders finally! Do you plan to pursue a career in baking? Or baking during non-working days is something that you enjoy doing right now. 

Yes, i have to say i’m baking through this coronavirus pandemic, i baked a lot during the lockdown; especially in baking sourdough bread, the process of making sourdough is very long but i really enjoyed the process and started making lots of loaf, buns and had so much of breads in the end, then i started to share with our neighbours and friends, they loved it and ask if i’m taking any orders. Yep, that’s how I got started! ^^

Well, my dream is to own a little bakery, not sure if it will happen but i’ll try. Meanwhile, baking during non-working days and lockdown days is quite enjoyable too, starting my day with positive energy as I start prepping early in the morning and filling up my day with the joy of baking. Sometimes i feel tired but very fulfilled.

Q5: Which has been your most popular item?

The most popular item would be Pandan Chiffon Cake & Sourdough Cinnamon Rolls, they are best-seller! I guess people couldn’t resist that subtle grassy-nutty flavor of pandan in soft pillowy chiffon cake and scent of fresh sticky ooey-gooey cinnamon rolls with soft, airy, slightly chewy texture.


Q6: I know you are a stationery/ journal lover too. Is there a way to record your recipe? 

Yes, I am a stationery/journal lover. I used to collect different types of stationery like paper ephemera, postal stamps, washi tapes, scissors, decorative stickers for my snail mail project and also to send to my pen pals! When I came across an online recipe I want to try, I jotted down in my Traveler's Notebook. Sometimes I love to illustrate my favorite recipes although I'm not very good at drawing, but illustrated recipes inspire me to cook and create! Oh, also l like to write down my all-time best dinner recipes on a sticky note and paste on the kitchen wall.

Q7: What words would you use to describe your baking style?

comforting

inspiring

healthful

flexible 

creative

enthusiastic

Q8: Many people couldn’t find a balance between their actual life and things they love to do. Do you have any advice for them? 

I think the most important thing is to find your own balance. Getting your priorities right, meaning what's more important for you at the moment. Working a full-time job occupies so much of the daytime, so finding a time during weekday night or weekend when I can incorporate my passion or hobby is both enjoyable and sustainable.

There is no right or wrong answer here, for example I hardly binge watching tv shows or dramas, I rather do or learn something i’m interested in, trying new recipes, learning new baking technique, repotting plants, read a book or yoga practice, which i think those are on the top of my priority list; I feel happy after i’ve accomplished one of those task, even it's just a simple thing. Then, I limit myself on social media usage, because there are 100 things you can do instead of mindlessly scrolling through social media. After reducing social media usage, you’ll have free up time to spend on other things you’ve been wanting to do. And also, you can adjust your daily routine by waking up earlier than usual. I find that early morning hours tend to be the most productive time of the day and you can use this peaceful time to plan your day ahead or do whatever you have in mind.

Don't underestimate the importance of making time for things that you enjoy, that you love to do, it is more important than you might think!

Where she recorded her recipe:

- Traveler's Notebook (Regular Size)

- 001 Refill Lined Notebook (Regular Size)

- 003 Refill Blank Notebook (Regular Size)

Where to find Fiona:

Instagram: @fiona_lovestocook @fiona_lovestobake

Blog: soul recipes for sweet people

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