Saturday, September 22, 2012

Cooking for Cheeseboard

Have I ever told you about my love-love-LOVE relationship with Cheeseboard? It's a very special bond that warrants its very own long, detailed post.

Cheeseboard is my all-time, hands down favorite place to eat in Berkeley. Not just for its divine tasting pizza, but for the entire experience: the unique flavors, median seating, coop business model, and the people who work there too.

This story actually starts with a younger Jennifer, who always dreamed of becoming a cool "regular" like she always saw on TV. You know, those people who come into a cafe every morning, order "the regular" at the counter, and then continue to converse with the waiter as if they were the best of friends? I wanted that soooo bad, it was up there with "have a gay best friend" on the list of things I really needed so I could lead a better life. I clearly have my priorities in order.

Years later, and it finally happened. And like most things in life, it happened when I was least expecting it and when I wasn't explicitly trying. Some coy smiles, a friendly albeit upfront and quirky demeanor, and some cheerful conversation later, and all the sudden I began solidifying a relationship with CHEESEBOARD, of all places. Cheeseboard.

And from then on, the relationship just grew. And flourished. And equated to copious amounts of free, delicious, mouthwatering pizza. Sometimes I still can't believe that this is my life. I haven't walked away from Cheeseboard without something unpaid for this entire semester so far! And they say there is no such thing as free lunch...?

I'm in love.

My friends who work there are Louie and Pierre. They spoil me like the little princess that I really should be trying to curb more often. But then I start getting free pies and bags of cookies from my favorite restaurant...<3 and I am in heaven.  Whyyyyyy are they so good to meeeeeee? :)

My gratitude towards them cannot be fully encompassed in words. I wonder if they will fully realize just how much happiness they have added to the over-all quality of my life. Occasionally, I would buy them cupcakes from the awesome store Love at First Bite to thank them. A small cupcake in exchange for an entire pizza is hardly a fair trade, but this somehow further reinforced my status as the Cheeseboard Girl, and rewarded me with even MORE free food. I swear, this was not my intention at all. But it was kind of the engagement ring that tied the knot I think.

Fast forward to today. I decided to spontaneously bake some HOME MADE goodies for Cheeseboard instead of buying cupcakes for them. I figured that this would be more meaningful, and it says a lot coming from me, because I am pretty adamant against baking in college.

But for Cheeseboard? Anything.

To the point where I had to make TWO baking attempts before I created a product worth delivering to Cheeseboard. I figured if I baked the night before, then if things went wrong (perhaps from experience...? Haha, #summerfun) I would have the next day to put something together.

For once, I actually had spot-on foresight...


The title sounds weird, yes. But I found this recipe on Pinterest (READ: Spent insane hours beyond 2am on Pinterest obsessively searching for THE PERFECT baking recipe for Cheeseboard) that looked so easy to make, and required very few ingredients that I did not already have.

Long story short, they turned out as weird as they sounded.

^the batter though, was pretty flippin' delish

The texture was cakey, and the bake time was so exact to the point that leaving them in the oven for 2 minutes extra made them brown already.



Lets be real, this does not look appetizing at all.

Taste wise, they were okay. It's hard to royally screw up baking, because anything with sugar/butter/marshmallows/cream is edible in my book.

^the inside texture was literally just cake. Hence, cake cookies.

But these were not even close to Cheeseboard worthy. So they never left my kitchen.

Difficulty: 1 (easiest thing I've ever baked)
Willingness to make again: 5 (if I never need a quick, go-to baked good and am seriously screwed on time)
Over-all: 7
1. Do NOT bake over 10 minutes exactly
2. Good base recipe: can add marshmallows/nuts/chocolate
3. Make a tad sweeter with either more additives or more sugar.



I decided on making rice krispies the next day because they required me to only buy the cereal and let me use up the rest of the marshmallows I had bought. Also, krispies are hard to screw up, and are always delicious.

^so. much. chocolate.

Too bad this turned out to be the most stressful, exhausting, and horrifying baking experience of my life. (You can tell because I barely took any pictures)

It was a combination of a long day of classes, having to work through sticky rice krispies with my bare hands, having to rush to the dollar store and buy more emergency chocolate bars, and then realizing I didn't leave enough time for the chocolate to cool and having to shove all of them in the freezer (which worked! Btdubs), and finishing everything VERY last minute and booking it to Cheeseboard so I could also make my ph116 meeting on time.

Very. Stressful.

But, so so so worth it.

^notice how I did not have nearly enough chocolate spread. This was when I ran to the dollar store and back in 5 minutes and the cashier looked at me like a crazy person because I bought 10 giant chocolate bars while heaving like the obese person she probably thought I was.

My favorite workers were not working at the time I delivered my goodies, but this was okay with me. I needed to buy 3 pizzas for my meeting, and was very happy to pay for it. After all, my favorite local business deserves my financial contributions, and I am more than willing to give it.  I left my bag of treats with a note attached to one of the other workers, so that they would see it the next day. The idea of them receiving such an awesome morning surprise warms me inside.

Though I haven't seen them since, knowing me and my obsession with their won't take long.

Difficulty: 4.5 (it isn't the actual making part that is hard, but the part where you have to use your hands to mold the krispies)
Willingness to make again: In general? 4. In college? 0. Never baking in college again unless absolutely necessary, like this occasion.
Over-all: 9

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