These days, Doris Ho-Kane is constantly filling cookie tins with confections featuring coconut pandan, black sesame ube and tamarind cacao nib. In 2019, Ms. Ho-Kane, a pastry chef who used to work in fashion, started selling Vietnamese treats she made in her home kitchen through an Instagram business called Bạn Bè. “It just blew up from there,” she said.
By the following year, she had secured a storefront with a kitchen in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn. While Ms. Ho-Kane is still “in very heavy tin production,” she said, she also likes to create a different dessert, like a sticky rice banana cake or a dessert soup, which customers can sample at the store or sometimes pre-order on Instagram, every other weekend.
Ms. Ho-Kane, 41, also runs the online archive 17.21women, which celebrates Asian and Pacific Islander women past and present, and is working on a book based on the project. She lives in Cobble Hill, Brooklyn, with her husband, Mark Ho-Kane, 43, an artist and composer, and their three children, ages 2, 6 and 8.
BREAKFAST BUFFET I usually wake up an hour before I know my kids will be up. I’ll do, like, a light scroll through Instagram, but I won’t answer anything. It’s the day where I take off from technology. We usually do something like a more traditional breakfast, which is like a buffet with condensed milk and fruit where we’ll have things like oatmeal or cereal. It’s very light and very fast because I usually have people picking up cookie tins or shipments going out on Sundays. So it’s a very much blended day of family and work.
FAMILY BUSINESS We live only a few blocks away from the bakery, so we’ll head there, and if it’s like a cookie tin pickup, my kids will stay in the back. If it’s a shipment week, then we’ll all help ship. We’ll set up their little station in the back, and I’ll be up front either doing cookie tin pickups or shipments.
MARKET RUN We’ll usually go to the Greenmarket, and we’ll get apples and baked goods and then we’ll drop treats off at like friends’ houses — usually parents of our kids’ friends — and then we’ll head to the playground across the street. We’ll spend a couple of hours there, and they’ll run around. There’s this old humongous tree there, and my husband and I always like to sit there, and we just absorb that tree’s energy because it’s so old. Something about that tree that draws my family to that playground.
BOOK BREAK Next up is our favorite bookstore, Books Are Magic. It’s a good time for my husband and I to collect our thoughts and be with ourselves, and our children run off to see what books are there. My husband’s a graphic designer and illustrator, so he loves checking out book cover design. I’ll look at cookbooks and see what’s out there. If there’s a read-aloud my husband and I will stay in the back and we’ll sneak in hand-holding or something not including the kids.
BACK TO THE PLAYGROUND It sounds intense, but we go to another playground that is across from Books Are Magic. It’s these incredible colors, fuchsia and electric blue. It’s very 1990s, so it reminds me and my husband of our childhood. The kids will swing for an hour, and they get really tired by then.
WEEKLY FEAST We’ll head back to the bakery, and we always like to make a light Vietnamese feast there. We’ll use ingredients that I’ve gathered throughout the week and that are left over so we don’t waste it before we compost. Or, if we’re feeling really tired, we’ll order Chinese takeout from Ling Ling Kitchen, up the street, which is a no-frills, very cute Chinese restaurant that’s been in the neighborhood for decades. We are vegetarian, so we’ll order the veggie egg rolls, the veggie chow fun, fried rice for the kids, sesame bean curd and those fried noodles that you dip in duck sauce. Everything there is really fresh, and I love supporting an older family establishment in the neighborhood.
NIGHTTIME RITUAL I usually make a light, fruity dessert soup for the kids, and then they’ll go to bed. Because we have our three kids, and we don’t have a nanny, our time is usually from 9 p.m. until 3 a.m. When the kids are asleep my husband and I will put on a pot of Vietnamese coffee. It’s a very special routine. We’ll choose a random documentary; I’ll usually lean toward fashion or food, and my husband, Mark, leans toward music or paranormal history.
POETIC ENDING My favorite thing to do before I go to bed is kind of weird. I go to PoetryFoundation.org, and I’ll look up Asian American poets. I’ll read through Ocean Vuong or Mei-mei Berssenbrugge. It really relaxes me and makes me think in a very soft, lyrical way. I have really good dreams when I am able to absorb more of those poems.
Sunday Routine readers can follow Doris Ho-Kane on Instagram @doris.hokane, her baking @ban__be and her archiving @17.21women.