Vanillekipferl

If I could give these heart cookies that I have baked, who would I give ethereal pieces to?

Well surely to my crew and few close people who have been instrumental to my career switch, from being a chief stewardess to a chef.

Did I say chef?

Chef.. did I actually say that?
Who would have thought a Political Science/ International Relations graduate would end up cooking?
Did I not have my ideals to change the world?

But I ended having a job that changed my life. A passion that led me to enjoy and love what I am doing right now.


As I looked at my resume spanning from my private teaching and short stint at a newspaper to being a junior crew, then a chief stewardess to a chef, I felt my life made a jump.

I always wanted to do baking or be a pastry chef. But coming from a family of doctors, engineers, lawyer and teachers, in our Filipino culture. in not so long ago, doing something with your hands , having practical skills was not acceptable.
I was expected to follow my father’s footsteps in law but I know it was not for me.

It was a chance that I was in Antigua in early 1998 where I saw all the gleaming boats that gave me my start in becoming a crew.

On most boats I have been , I always offered to help chefs clean the galley or do some prep work for them. I enjoy helping as I learn while I help. This led to ex captains entrusting me with the galley when the boats had no chefs.

It did not take long for me to start cooking for my ex bosses too. One particular ex boss asked my captain if I could go to their house to help cook for the Thanksgiving or other occasions.

It was in April 2010 when I was in Florida and our boat was heading for New York when came a call from another ex captain.
I had worked with him on two boats first as his junior stew then as his chief stewardess.

A chef?
Kidding me?
He replied: Would I offer you the job if I knew that you could not do it?

That was it. For two hectic seasons I cooked, provisioned the boat, fed the crew, cleaned the galley and had my chance to let my creativity go on unbounded infinity.

I am actually cooking professionally in the high seas from Spain, Italy, Greece, Turkey and France… and discovered enthralling markets and immersed myself to different culture through my stomach.

As I write this, my cookbooks are already in a box shipped home and soon I will leave this job. A job that has given me a chance to switch career and has given me a brighter future.

While baking some Vanillekipferln cookies last week with Holly, I felt a sadness knowing I will be going home soon and leave this lovely boat I have called home for almost two years.

As for home… a quote from a 12th century monk, Hugo of St Victor, perfectly describes my life right now.

“The person who finds his homeland sweet is still a tender beginner,
The person to whom every soil is a native one is already strong;
But he is perfect to whom every soil is a foreign land.”


(Capri , Italy on our last leg of the trip)

This cookie is of Austrian origin but at “home” we baked this as part of our Christmas tradition, a part of me is blended with Swiss culture. Traditionally these are shaped into crescents but I left Holly play around with the cookie cutters. She shaped them into hearts, crowns, fish, lobsters and even a letter H.

I truly want to thank the crew for the wonderful time and being such a part of my life.

As a dear friend of mine, another chef, Victoria, who has been such a support , says : “To the future.”

My recipe of this cookie is at home so I searched online the closest I could find and it’s from from Simply Recipes

Almond Crescent Cookies Recipe
INGREDIENTS
1 cup of butter, room temperature
2/3 cup of sugar
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
1 teaspoon of almond extract
2 1/2 cups of flour
1 cup of almond flour (can substitute ground almonds*)
1/4 cup of powdered sugar for sprinkling

*You can use slivered, blanched almonds and grind them up, but you will have a very crumbly, hard to work with dough. It’ll still taste good though.

METHOD
1 Cream the butter and the sugar together until light and fluffy. Add the extracts and mix.
2 Add the flour and almond flour. Mix thoroughly.
3 Take generous tablespoons of the dough (it will be slightly crumbly) and roll it into a small ball, about an inch in diameter, and then shape into a crescent shape. Place onto parchment paper and bake at 350°F for 15-20 minutes or until a light golden brown.
4 Dust with powdered sugar.

6 Comments

  1. Victoria Allman November 25, 2011 at 12:47 am #

    To the Future, indeed!
    My future now includes baking these cookies on Monday. Thanks for the recipe!
    Until the next adventure…

  2. Perry Joseph November 25, 2011 at 1:24 am #

    You are truly an inspiration, Shal. I love the passion and heart that you put into your life. Thanks for sharing notes and photography with us. It is truly appreciated.

    Love / Perry

  3. kayni November 25, 2011 at 1:37 am #

    What a journey you had and another one is starting…

  4. Karl Hentchel November 25, 2011 at 1:43 am #

    Delicious blog…poignant, too.

  5. matt November 25, 2011 at 4:38 am #

    bless you Sha, you’re a beautiful soul

  6. Carmen December 31, 2011 at 6:40 pm #

    I wish you a Happy New Year,and a lot of more chef experience.

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