(COURTESY WATSENNIIOSTHA & KAHSENNINE NELSON)
During the pandemic, cooking has become a common cure for stress and a useful survival skill.
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There is no better season than fall, for cooking.
The weather has cooled down. The air is crisp. Mother Nature encourages us to stay at home, where we can enjoy a warm meal. After all, the oven can finally be hot without causing heatstroke. And what pairs perfectly with a hot oven? You guessed it – dessert.
There it is. The simple whiff of cinnamon and nutmeg bursting out of a fresh pastry, filling a treat beloved by all. An instant return to childhood.
With Thanksgiving just around the corner, the idea of finishing family dinner without a pie is simply sacrilegious.
Sweet or savoury, decadent or healthy; everyone has a favourite. For Watsenniiostha Nelson of Kanesatake, the woman behind Desserts by Babito, it’s all about the sugary goodness.
Nelson was around eightyears-old when she first learned how to cook in her tota’s kitchen. Her education didn’t start with pies, but rather with breakfast items.
“I remember hating to cook bacon because it would splash me,” said the 25-year-old baker.
As she grew up, Nelson continued to learn from the women in her family and developed a passion for baking.
She turned her sweet tooth into a business four years ago. Desserts by Babito initially started with Nelson making all sorts of desserts, whether it meant a pie, a cake, or cookies. It rapidly became too much to handle. In other words, her family couldn’t eat it all.
This pushed Nelson to start selling her goodies. Her first few months were successful, yet cut short as she got a new job.
This July, Nelson decided to fire up her oven after a three-year break as the pandemic started to take a toll on her mental health.
“Doing the things that make me happy, like cooking, baking and spending time outdoors, has helped me get through this weird time,” said Nelson who decided to focus strictly on pies this time around.
Nelson said she re-taught herself everything as she also revealed that some of her pies were too juicy or not thick enough at first. There is something different about this particular dessert, explained Nelson. It is similar to a form of art.
“If you think about the ways you can design the dough, you can really make the top of the pies stand out and look pretty,” she said.
Nelson shares posts about her pies on social media where she does most of her business.
She explained that her inspiration comes from either the Internet or simply going out to restaurants and “seeing what other people are whipping up.” But, while it can be tempting to explore and create something new, Nelson knows better than to go off-road when it comes to baking.
“You really need to follow the recipe precisely and try not to switch anything up or else you could end up with a disaster,” said Nelson.
She makes her own dough and uses local products to support farmers’ markets.
With Thanksgiving around the corner, she knew her pies would sell like hotcakes. While she normally has a “first come, first served” policy, she decided to take orders to assure that people would have freshly made pies for their dinner.
Although this year’s Thanksgiving will not look the same, Nelson hopes to add a little happiness to families that are disappointed by the cancellation of the big gatherings.
The Dessert by Babito chef, who hosted her first Friendsgiving last year (a Friends-themed Thanksgiving) will be spending an intimate holiday with her sister Kahsennine and their parents.