Chef Linda's Confection Commentary

Tag: poetry

The Pi Day – Pie Day Quandary

The third month; the fourteenth day. Pi Day! Pie Day! March 14 is the annual, worldwide celebration of the mathematical constant, pi.

NASA scientists and engineers use pi to solve problems and explore the universe. The constant is used to send spacecraft to other planets; to drive rovers on Mars; to find out what other planets are made of; or to determine how deep alien oceans are. NASA issues yearly math challenges to students and amateur explorers to critically inquire the way they do in solving questions about, say, density and volume of rock samples on Mars that the Perseverance Rover will one day bring back to Earth.

Though pi’s decimals are limitless and non-repeating, JPL, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory at the California Institute of Technology, uses 15 decimal places to calculate interplanetary navigation.


Simple creatures like pastry chefs use 3.14 to scale related baking formulae up and down. Satisfying a common need to calculate the volume of one pan vs the volume of another requires little effort with the use of pi.

And… there’s comfort in the constancy of feeling you can exercise a bit of control over a domain that morphs endlessly. (Liquid : dry ingredient ratios vary with the freshness of the ingredient; humidity in the baking environment quickly transforms a tried-and-true recipe into a seized mess, etc.)

Costing recipes – using the metric system, of course – to four decimal places allows us to be reasonably precise about our profit margins. High school math, in action every work day.


We also love supporting other creative, adventurous confectionery souls who have beauty and love to spread. (Check out Salvatore Hall’s launch of #oneeightyconfections with four kicking pieces of artisan chocolate. He partnered with super-cake maven Johannah Zuniga, owner of Dream Cakes on Valentine’s Day, and we we lucky enough to snag their offering.)


As a poet, I love the rhythm of 3.14159. Last year in the “Voraciously” column of the Washington Post, Aaron Hutcherson wrote the following little ditty, explaining it as “the cheer used at the math and science high school” he attended during sports games:

Secant, tangent, cosine, sine


We all have ways of amusing ourselves…


Pi Day – Pie Day

Here’s a snippet of a poem I wrote to new bakers that will be the intro to my e-book, published later this year:

“Science, now the clever, stealthy patron

lays in wait, tugging at the baker’s imagination; no mercy.


Raise the hem of mystery

to reveal the cook’s

new nourishment.

Curtsy to

The Light:



All of this is to say that we’re celebrating Pi Day – Pie Day, too. We’re making four, 6” (only) pies available to our Portland Metro customers for pickup or delivery on or before March 14. Essential Apple. Essential Oregon Cherry-Berry. Essential Shaker Lemon. Essential Cranberry-Citrus. All restaurant-quality. As we approach the end of the glorious Q124 citrus season, any excuse to use exquisite tangerine-essence Meyer lemons and luscious, sweet Mandarins is excuse enough.


This whole exercise falls into the category of “a little bit of something special” but mostly, it’s just fun.

We look for things that offer comfort and humor. I hope you’re looking, too.







The True Cost of Cheap Food

Ruminating on the extraordinary bounty and accessibility of food in this country, I reflected on how locked-down consumers’ buying habits might bring about significant – and needed – change in the American food system.

Consumers’ increasing practice of buying local fresh fruit and vegetables – supporting local farmers – is leading governments to increase localization of their food supplies to decrease dependence on global food chains. It needs to be a sustainable transition – and sustainability is a big subject.

The flip side of the food equation is that many agri-businesses’ overuse of the land benefits their bottom lines but damages local air, water and soil systems. Sustainable practices to restore and perpetuate these systems are critical.

As a confection company owner, I’ve made commitments to purchase key staples from regional suppliers:

We have the luxury of accessibility and opportunity; that is, the wealth of high-quality regional products and the resources to purchase them. I have the added benefit of using these quality staples in our home kitchen at ~60% of the cost of grocery store retail.

Purchasing regionally strengthens local economies and reduces transportation cost – food miles – so companies, consumers and the environment benefit. In all honesty, these are easy choices.

Ruminating again on the luxury of accessibility and the true cost of cheap food…


The ear of Nature

listens to what is asked of it.

It must be the same act of intense and unfettered listening

as when one discloses her deepest secret.

Is holding the health of the land naïve?


This is a conversation about quality. We each have the power to create profound and large-scale change in our food systems by supporting regional companies whose commitment is already to us.

The quality of Essential Confection products reflects these choices. Mini Essential Butter Cake, showcasing local European-style butter, is a perfect finish or gift for the upcoming spring holiday season. Order here:

How has your commitment to sourcing food changed? What action will you take to promote the best products and growing practices you know about?

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