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Welcome to Miss Strawberry's Cafe

Monday, May 23, 2011

Call it a comeback!

It has been SO long since my last post!

There has been a LOT that's happened since I last posted, but unfortunately, not much has happened at all in my kitchen over the last several months. :(

A number of things have happened that's pulled me away from my baking that I don't have the time to get into fully right now at this moment, but these were some of the major things that took away my time in the kitchen:

- Going to school full-time during the day
- Getting a full-time evening job working as a restaurant hostess
- Community/social organizing via a group I created called Pittsburgh Asian Network
- Falling in love!

I promise to give further details in a later post and catch everyone up, but the real reason for this teaser comeback post is to make an awesometaculous announcement:

Miss Strawberry is now hired at a REAL bakery!

My first day on the job is TOMORROW!

This sweet little bakery just recently opened in Aspinwall, PA, and I am so excited to be part of their team and look forward to learning new ideas and techniques in their kitchen while honing my own culinary creativity! Follow them on Facebook by liking their fan page and peep some of their amazing confectionary creations! Tell them Miss Strawberry sent you! ;)

A revival of posts to follow shortly!!

P.S. I missed you all ><

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Sunday, December 12, 2010

Video Game Treats for Genre's Kids with Cancer

In support of Genre's Kids with Cancer Fund, I pulled an all nighter in the kitchen baking 50 cupcakes and 50 cookies based on a variety of children's video games.

Why video games?

Genre loves them. He particularly realized how helpful playing his Nintendo DS system helped him through his initial 14-day hospital stay when he was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) last year when he was 8 years old.

Inspired by this very simple thing, Genre wanted to make sure all the children at the Children's Hospital (Pittsburgh) could have a video game system to help them pull through the long hours of chemotherapy and hospitalization. This is how Genre's Kids with Cancer Fund was born in Fall of 2009.

Meet Genre and watch for more info

Genre's Kids with Cancer Fund works to provide a handheld video game system for every child diagnosed with cancer at the Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh but also works to provide help to families living through childhood cancer in a variety of ways financially, emotionally, and spiritually.

Just yesterday, Saturday, Dec. 11th, the Pittsburgh Chapter of the International Game Developers Association (PIGDA) hosted their 4th Annual Gamers Give Back event and held a charity auction to support Genre's Kids with Cancer Fund. I was asked to bake video game cupcakes and treats for the event.

I decided to post the event on Facebook to raise awareness and ask for the support of friends and family, and only after two days of posting the event, $100 was raised to cover the costs for the treats! We raised a total of $120 to support Genre's Kids with Cancer thanks to Liam from the United Kingdom, Chris from California, and Ivy from New Mexico!

Mrs. Baker, Genre's mother, told me some of Genre's favorite video games - he especially loves anything Super Marios Bros. and Lego Star Wars. I also got tons of feedback from friends and fans on various nonviolent, child-friendly video games to help me make these!:

Clockwise starting from left: Princess Peach cupcakes were chocolate with buttercream frosting tinted pink and a mini sugar cookie crown decorated with blue and red mini M&Ms. Mushroom cupcakes were vanilla with buttercream frosting tinted light blue; mushroom face is a marshmallow dipped in vanilla candy coating tinted light peach, and its head is made from shaped hazelnut cake dipped in red candy coating and dotted with white candy coating (both vanilla flavor); the mushroom is standing up by the support of a chocolate Pocky stick in the middle! Luigi cupcakes were vanilla with green-tinted buttercream frosting; mustache made from dark chocolate and Luigi logo made with white candy and piped buttercream. Mario cupcakes were chocolate with red-tinted buttercream frosting, and the Mario logo was piped with red icing.

I got the inspiration for the Princess Peach, Mario, and Luigi cupcakes from some absolutely adorable items on an Etsy store by creator The Bird & The Bee

Lego Star Wars cupcakes were all chocolate with buttercream tinted gray. I drew and cut out the face shapes on cardstock to use as stencils to make mini sugar cookies piped with tinted royal icing for each character. The light sabers are soda flavored candy sticks I found at a local Japanese foods store; I googled and saw that you can get them here - Soda Kendo Candy Sticks.

I got the lovely brown cupcake wrappers from Simply Caked - I highly recommend their site for baking supplies; their customer service is excellent

Disney's Epic Mickey cupcakes were also chocolate cupcakes with buttercream frosting. The Mickey heads were made by halving regular-sized Oreo cookies, and the ears were made with leftover Mini Oreo halves I had from a bunch of owl cupcakes I made the day before. The paintbrushes were made with dark chocolate and painted with white, yellow, and blue candy melts. I got the inspiration for decorating these cupcakes here.

These Pokeball cupcakes were also inspired by an item I saw on The Bird & The Bee Etsy Store. Vanilla cupcakes with red-tinted buttercream; base iced with Wilton Black Icing and circle is a Mini Oreo half. (For anything black on my treats, I tend to always use the Wilton Black Icing both to save time and because the taste and piping consistency are great. I found that trying to tint my own icing black takes a whole lot of time and food coloring!!)

The Petz cupcakes were vanilla with the same gray-tinted buttercream frosting I used for the Lego Star Wars cupcakes. The ears were mini cookies that I made with mini Christmas cookie cutters I found at my local Michaels store (that I shop at ALL THE TIME) and iced with tinted royal icing. The dog ears are mini stocking-shaped cutters, and the cat/bunny ears are made from mini Christmas light-shaped cutters! You never know what you can do if you just use your imagination and think outside the box a little!

I originally planned to be just as elaborate with the cookies, but I unfortunately had a setback after falling under the weather health-wise and only got to make Super Mario Bros. stars and coins:

These were sugar cookies (different recipe from the mini ones I made for the cupcakes) with yellow-tinted royal icing and the same Wilton Black Icing I used on some of the cupcakes. 

Even though I loved how they all turned out, I was super disappointed that I didn't get to complete all the treats that I had sketched and planned for. So, I'm hoping to still follow through with the rest of the cookies and cake pops I originally wanted to make by taking them on a visit to the Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh as a Christmas gift to the children and families there.

Miss Strawberry's Cafe sweets on display at PIGDA's 4th Annual Gamers Give Back event

Thank you so much to everyone who showed their support in the smallest and largest of ways!! None of these treats would have been possible without everyone's encouragement and participation! A very special thank you especially to Jia who made this opportunity possible!

If you'd like to support Genre's Kids with Cancer Fund, you can make donations directly on their site!


For more pictures, please join my Facebook Fan Page!

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Friday, December 3, 2010

"Whoooo doesn't love a baby?"

Several weeks ago, I received my very first official order requesting green and yellow owl cupcakes for a baby shower. The soon-to-be mother briefly explained that she was doing all she could to keep her costs as low as possible, especially since she was working to fund the celebration on her own.

This got me thinking about all those mothers out there who are in similar or worse situations and struggle financially to prepare for their babies let alone be able to afford a baby shower celebration for the coming of their child with their friends, family, and loved ones.

I love that I'm not the only one who thinks of these things and that there are people who take action and do something to make change.

Stuart and Laurie Marson of Onesie Twosie

I google-hunted "nonprofit baby showers" and was instantly filled with warm fuzzy feelings to see that there were several efforts existing that support expectant parents by specifically fulfilling the wish of holding a special baby shower. There are, of course, also tons of organizations that support a variety of other related issues with family planning, like the couple pictured above who founded Onesie Twosie.

I read about them in this article and learned that they were inspired to establish Onesie Twosie after attending a baby shower and seeing the amount of items new babies received. They created Onesie Twosie as a means of locally supporting five different nonprofits in their area with material goods that needy families could find useful in raising their child(ren). Onesie Twosie supports and donates to the Perinatal AIDS Center, Homeless Prenatal Program, the Children's Hospital newborn intensive care unit, Project Pride of the East Bay Community Recovery Project, and Planned Parenthood (all local branches in the San Francisco Bay Area of California). They also work with diaper wholesalers to reduce retail prices by a third - diapers are by far the greatest need for new parents.

I also saw large support networks specifically for military wives and mothers expecting a child. There is a lovely nonprofit called Operation Showers that provide "extravagant baby showers" for those military mothers who struggle managing to care for their family because of their own deployment and/or face the difficulties of pregnancy alone while their military husbands are deployed.

I think it is a wonderful thing that such a nonprofit was started to help give all mothers a chance to enjoy the same luxury of celebrating the birth of a child in such a nice way. Extravagant baby showers aren't necessary, but helping to ensure the equal opportunity for all mothers to celebrate in meaningful ways is what I believe is important.

In order to show you how I constructed the owl cupcakes for the mother-to-be who ordered from me, I made this ingredient "chart" that you can follow:

These few I took photographs of were made as samples. I'll be making 5-6 dozen of these hoots next week!

Since she wanted green and yellow owls, I tinted vanilla buttercream frosting accordingly, but I prefer Nutella for the Almond Hazelnut Cupcakes. I'll be making half hazelnut and half vanilla cupcakes for the baby shower next weekend, and I can't wait! I'm hoping they'll turn out scrumpdiddlyumptious and will help make this soon-to-be-mother's baby shower memorable.

Speaking of babies and baby showers, I want to take a quick moment to congratulate my cousin Christine who just gave birth yesterday to her first son! I can't wait to see baby Joseph, and I still can't believe she's now officially a mom! Honestly, I don't think I still got over the fact that she was a Mrs., and her wedding was already two years ago!

Congratulations unnie!! I can't wait to meet Joseph!
Love you!!

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Friday, November 12, 2010

KoreAm stands for Korean American :)

Quick excited announcement: *My "Delicious Kpop Battle" video made it as one of the 10 semi-finalists for KoreAm Magazine's Krazy Kpop Video Contest!* If you like my video, please vote for me! You can vote once every 12 hours from now until Nov. 17th!


I wanted this post to be a recap of the scenes from my video and also have it dedicated to KoreAm Magazine, of which I am a personal fan.

KoreAm stands for "Korean American." I am KoreAm.

For a Korean American like me that was stripped from a community that I could identify with culturally, a magazine like KoreAm became a medium that's helped me reconnect to that community and quench my otherwise parched need for that connection.

I am all about diversity - it's one of the values my blog supports and promotes! At the same time, it's empowering to have friends and a support system of people who can understand the unique struggles and celebrations you experience that stem from your culture and ethnicity. Knowing that you can connect with someone who understands you without having to explain anything is what helps empower you through the building of community. These connections can be found in a variety of dimensions that transcend gender, ethnicity, age, etc., but I think we also need to recognize the fact that there's also special connections made when you share the same language, upbringing, and the cultural values associated with these.

To be brutally honest, even sharing a similar ethnic physical appearance can be meaningful, especially if you're a minority that's seen as the token (intentionally or unintentionally). I feel like by saying we can connect with people because we share a similar "face" can come off as bordering racism, but being frank, I can at least speak from my own experience from living in cities that have small representations of (engaged) Asians and Asian Americans, that when I do see other Asians and/or other Asian Americans in spheres where I normally don't see them, I get excited. And I hope that doesn't mean I'm racist. :P

"Secret Asian Man" is the first nationally syndicated comic strip that features an Asian American lead character.

Now, let me further explain what I mean by getting excited.

I get excited when I see Asian representation in social spheres where I normally don't see them, and part of that excitement comes from feeling like I am part of that representation (of course, I'm speaking of positive representation). For instance, I never had any teacher who was Asian or Asian American growing up until I saw one in middle school (and I grew up in Los Angeles). I remember when I did see that one Asian teacher as a kid, it was totally meaningful to me! I thought, "Wow, look it's an Asian teacher! I've never seen one before!" As a kid, you then also think, "Wow, maybe I can be a teacher too like her then!"

That's another reason why I appreciate KoreAm so much. It brings attention to not just Koreans and Korean Americans but Asian Americans in general who are engaged in their local communities. In very much the same way I was so inspired as a kid, I do feel the same type of inspiration when I see positive Asian and Asian American representation in our larger society, which is also what KoreAm Magazine promotes.

Visit Secret Asian Man's website for more
According to the 2000 Census, Asians make up a little over 4% of the population in the United States. We are minorities, and our struggles haven't come out as forward as other ethnic minority populations. But I see our community on the rise - what I mean by that is I see them slowly being further and not so stereotypically represented in popular media, and I see more and more actively engaged in a wide diversity of fields. I get excited not necessarily with a "Yah, go Asians!!" type of mentality. It has everything to do with being included in the portrait of the country that I live in and having our part of the portrait painted fairly.

Resources like KoreAm and a plethora of blogs on Asian and Asian American culture help build my own personal awareness of the larger Asian community that I feel pretty separated from living here in Pittsburgh. In essence, it broadens my world and scope outside of the physical boundaries of where I live.

You can tune into KoreAm through their website.

Media like KoreAm helps connect Asians and Asian Americans to one another, but more importantly, it also connects us to the greater social sphere.

Now, I do also want to further clarify that my excitement when I see Asians and Asian Americans being included and being positively represented in larger spheres for these reasons is very different from how I'll feel when I'm being subjected to people's Orientalist presumptions and generalizations.What I mean is:

Just because I am Asian does not mean I am timid.
Just because I am Asian does not mean I'll know how to read Japanese.
Just because I am Asian does not mean I look like Lucy Liu.
Just because I am Asian does not mean I understand the entire Asian struggle.

Diversity is something that not only pertains to different races; there's immense diversity within the multitude of different Asian and Asian American communities too that also needs to be recognized and celebrated. At least from several of the experiences I've had living in cities where there aren't many Asians, I feel I've been more regularly subject to these stereotypes without the perpetrators even realizing at all what they're really saying to me.

Part of Wayne Chan's Soy Sauce Series

In one of my classes yesterday, somehow my professor looked over the fact that I was Asian and said we had all white students and only 1 black student. I said,  "What about me?"

KoreAm helps answer that question.


Onto my "Delicious Kpop Battle"!

2PM action sequence

When I initially had this idea, I had complete confidence in the creativity and originality of the work it would take to make it happen, not so confident.

I knew it would take me tedious planning, because the only way I knew how to make dancing and lipsyncing cookies was through stop motion, and that also meant I'd have to make a cookie for each action motion I wanted to display.

2PM "Again and Again" MV screenshot I used to create my cookie sequence

I also knew that no matter what, my video would also take it back to the early days of Kpop. When I think of Kpop, I think of Seotaiji & the Boys. Seotaiji and his group are considered as the Michael Jackson(s) of Korea who really started off the whole Kpop era and would continue to take it to different levels. When KoreAm said Kpop "Battle," I thought...yes, between the 90s and today.

You can see I messed up

I piped and iced everything freehand, and since you can't really "erase" piping or icing, all I could really do was scrape off any mistakes with a toothpick. Fortunately, the shots in the video are all relatively quick so you don't really catch the errors.

The easiest cookies to do for me were the H.O.T. and the Turbo cookies. Easy meaning, they were easier to draw. Turbo was relatively time-consuming because of all the different actions I had to make of them.

I was a diehard fan of H.O.T. in middle school, so I got in a lot of practice drawing them since childhood lol.

H.O.T.'s "Candy" MV screenshot (but I knew the dance from middle/early highschool too haha)

I knew a "Candy" scene would be incomplete without HeeJun's signature butt hopping move.

Turbo's "Love is" song performance screenshot; visit my YouTube Channel to view the full video.

Fun Fact: Turbo's first album was the first CD I ever had!

The more difficult cookies to make were pretty much all the girl group cookies. For the 2NE1 group members, I wanted to make sure I captured their wild costumes, which totally distinguishes them from the other girl group cookies:

Even as a 90s Kpop fan, I still love the newer stuff too, and I especially love 2NE1!

2NE1's "Fire" MV screenshot, which I used for inspiration.

The Wonder Girls cookies took me FOREVER. Consequently, their "Nobody" sequence in my video is my personal fave. :)

Wonder Girls "Nobody" MV screenshot

I want nobody, nobody, but you~~

The S.E.S. cookies actually drove me insane. Since their outfits are pretty much completely white, I wanted to use black icing to outline them, and that ended up taking me almost as long as the Wonder Girls cookies but was a more painful experience.

S.E.S.'s "Cause I'm Your Girl" live performance screen shot

And finally, the Kpop kings who reign supreme: Seotaiji & The Boys:

I remember completely wigging out as a kid when I first saw them do these robot dance moves.

Seotaiji & The Boys "환상속에 그대" ("Hwan Sang Sok Ae Geu Dae") live performance screenshot

This group always bounced back with hit songs and dance moves that would end up revolutionizing and directing the subsequent changes in Kpop music. Their "Come Back Home" song even made snowboarding winter gear fashionable.

I drew these scenes with a black edible marker on white fondant that I rolled and cut out.

I knew this signature "Come Back Home" dance sequence also had to be included in my video. You can watch their actual live performance here to see what I based these off of:


Phew! So yes, all in all, this project WAS a lot of work.

I almost abandoned the idea altogether at first, because it just seemed like too much work! I ended up taking on the project, because after sharing the idea with a couple friends, I ended up convicing myself that it was still worth taking it up as a personal challenge. I wanted to carry out and accomplish a creative idea that I had in my mind into reality, and in this respect, I guess I have already won. :)

But I'd still appreciate your votes!! *wink wink*


Please do join up on my Facebook fan page, as I will post up these and more photos that I don't include in this post. Also, subscribe to my YouTube, because I'll be making more videos too! Thanks everyone!

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Tuesday, November 9, 2010

K-pop stands for Korean Pop (music) ^^

This is just a super short mini-post to let you all know about my second video! It's entitled, "Delicious Kpop Battle." :)

This is my entry into KoreAm Magazine's Krazy K-pop Video contest. You can find out more about the contest here.

Keep your eye out for a post to follow with more on KoreAm! :)

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