Joy the Baker

A Little Fresh Air

November 13, 2013


There’s a weird thing that happens when what you love to do becomes what you must do.  The blessing of full-time content creation stays a blessing (totally stays a blessing), but it’s also work (aka werk). I feel the need, every once in a while, to slow to a simmer.

I’ve been in the kitchen most of the year.  There is zero complaint in that sentence.  I’ve mostly been working on my next cookbook (October 2014!), making tripods out of stacks of cookbooks (totally professional), and washing a lot of dishes.

This Fall I gave myself some fresh air in a place I’d never been.  I spent a few glorious days in North Carolina, and I’m not sure exactly how I made it on the plane back to California because I’m sure my heart is still in Asheville.


Original photography shot with the Canon EOS 5D Mark III digital SLR. The filmmaker’s camera.

The sky is big.  The trees are generous.  The people are easy to laugh and kind.  The mountains are blue, and green, and orange, and deep.  Such a great place!

Let me show you!


I started my little journey in the Outer Banks of North Carolina.

Have you been there?  It’s incredible!  The beach is literally covered is shells.  In California, you’d be hard pressed to find just one of these shells.  On the Outer Banks this is just the ground!


The closer you walk to the water, the smaller and smoother the shells get.


Smooth little seashell stones!  You can dig and dig and still find these smooth shell pieces.

This is where I just sat on the ground and stared at these waves.


I feel like east coast waves have a different rhythm than west coast waves.  They’re deeper and darker.

I want to walk into these waves forever.  It’s like a siren song.


Beach stairway (to heaven).


This is where we stayed in the Outer Banks.

Uh huh. Four floors and multiple decks.  I mean…

I was here to teach a few pie baking and food styling workshops.  If going to a beach house is work, then I’ll work forever and always.


I drove from the Outer Banks to Asheville, North Carolina.

I only killed two squirrels on the drive.  I feel really bad about it.

I made my way to visit Ashley, Glenn, and Huxley.  Do you know Ashley from Small Measure?  She and her family live in a beautifully cozy home just outside of Asheville.  They walked me around the garden and chicken coop surrounded by trees and falling leaves.  Even though we’re new friends, we cozied up in the living room and chatted about what is good and big in life.  Glenn made us the sort of meal that I never even knew I was missing: ham and apples, kimchi, eggs, and fresh cider.

Theirs is the kind of home that feels like a warm, welcome hug (with really good snacks).


I stopped the car to take some walks.


I watched my friend Tyler throw a boomerang.

I learned that it’s either harder than it looks, or I throw like a girl (both).


Up in the mountains I found a… I want to call this dude a Forest Police Officer, but I know that can’t be right.

I’m sorry. I live in a city.


I really needed to see some green.


And eat some green.  I made this Mushroom and Brussels Sprout Hash for breakfast.

It seems I never miss an opportunity to take pictures of my food.


I cooked in a lot, but I also ate at some really wonderful places in Asheville.

Tulepo Honey Cafe, Curate, and French Broad Chocolate were my favorite!


There always comes the day the pack up and ship out.  It’s hard to say goodbye to a place with so much fresh air, inspiration, falling leaves, and good light. Asheville, I’ll be back.

Pumpkin Pecan Scones with Brown Butter Glaze

I eventually made my way home, found my way back into the kitchen, and make these (self-proclaimed) incredible Pumpkin Pecan Scones.  If you want to make Stella Got Her Groove Back jokes… now would be a fantastic time for that.

Tomorrow we’re talking about DIY gift giving.  We’re in the holiday game!  I hope we can all find some time for deep breathing in it.  I love you, byebye!

104 Comments Add A Comment

  • Wow, that’s a really beautiful place! :) I would love to go there

  • Hello Joy. This is my first time commenting here although I have been following your blog on google reader and now on feedly for more than a year. North Carolina looks beautiful. And I have a question to make about your mushroom brussel sprouts hash – I don’t have brussels sprouts in my refrigerator but have sweet potatoes instead. And button mushrooms. Can I make a hash with that? And add in the egg to it? Or do you recommend frying the egg separately and laying it on top like in your recipe?
    Thanks for all the wonderful recipes you post and for your cheery outlook on life. It always makes me feel good about life. :)

    • hi deb! sweet potatoes will be delicious. if they’re raw, dice them small and cook them in the pan until mostly softened. remove from the pan, add more oil, and cook down the mushrooms. bring everything together in the pan and cook until potatoes are completely soft. yes. i fry the egg in a separate small pan then layer everything together!

      hope this helps! best to you!

      • Hey Joy, I made the hash. With the egg thrown on top. Mushrooms browned perfectly. So did the sweet potatoes. I added a splash of balsamic instead of the lemon juice and added some oregano. Otherwise left it the same. Came out great. :)
        I gotta try one of your simplest cakes soon on my convection microwave. I don’t own an oven. You got any tips for that?

  • I cannot tell you how happy this post make me! I’ve lived in North Carolina since I was 7 and am so lucky to call it my home. Seeing others fall in love with the beautiful beaches, mountains, and people reminds me just how fortunate I am.

  • It’s lovely to see a lifestyle post from you, Joy. Your photography is just wonderful inside and outside of the kitchen. I hope get enough time to breathe whilst working on your new book. xx

  • absolutely gorgeous photos! what a lovely break away – I love the photos of the stairs down to the beach! xx

  • This post makes me so happy because I live in NC a couple of hours from Asheville! I lived here almost my whole life except for 6 years in Italy. You got the best of Carolina. The most beautiful and mystically beach and the wounderous nature of our mountains! So I can relate to how you may have felt!!

  • That house! I can’t handle it.

  • I love this post! What beautiful photos. I’ve always wanted to go to Asheville. Oh! And the Forrest police officer? Probably a Ranger…. Thanks for sharing. And I made those scones with GF flour. They were amazing. Perfect, in fact!

  • I’m so glad you got to experience the beauty that is North Carolina. It is a very special place. My grandmother was born on the southern end of the Outer Banks and my family is blessed to have a home there now. So much history, so much beauty, so much magic. And Asheville! Like Austin, but better :)

  • Years ago my husband went to Asheville on a busines trip, when he called that evening the first thing out of his mouth was you will love this place. His description of the place, people and the art show she was smack in the middle of made me jealous. So I vowed to put Asheville on my bucket list. Sad to say I never got there. So Joy thanks for reminding me that every once and a while we must stop turn down the burner within and slow it down to that simmer you talk about. Thanks Paulette

  • Sunless but gorgeous views!

  • I used to live on the beach in NC. I lived right on the water there for a few years and the memories are so cherished. While I love San Diego, there’s something so special and quaint about the NC beaches and the whole vibe. And I love Asheville, too. When I lived in NC over 10 years ago, it was THE place to go for yoga and the whole yoga scene. I love this post, Joy. Thanks for sharing your pics and your trip!

  • You write beautifully Joy, I really appreciate your words.

  • these photos are really beautiful. i used to live in NC and i miss the trips to asheville.

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