When we arrived to our cozy cottage in Keene, New York, right smack in the center of the Adirondacks High Peaks, I found myself at a loss of words. The silence was not from the sheer beauty of the place (it was plain, but cute and cozy, serving our hiking needs perfectly) but due to the size of the kitchen. I never really thought of myself as a kitchen snob, but somehow in that moment, knowing I’d be here for a week, it all became clear. I guess you can say I have certain standards. I would gladly trade in my queen sized pillow-top bed for a generic branded air mattress every night for the opportunity to cook in a chef’s kitchen daily. It also makes me wonder if my snobbishness has anything to do with our 3-year quest to find a suitable apartment. Maybe just a tiny bit…
I know, I’ve been MIA for a bit. I’ve been up to my elbows in tomatoes, literally. September is looking like a pretty hectic month and I needed to make sure I got my tomato canning in. With the next three weekends booked, last Saturday seemed like my only option so I headed down to the Fort Greene Greenmarket and my favorite farm, Wilklow Orchards, to pick up 50 pounds. Where they sat, all weekend while we visited family in Jersey. Part of me hoped we’d return to find them magically transformed into chopped and sauced tomatoes, but alas, these weren’t the self canning variety. Instead, I’ve spent the past three nights canning. Coming home around 5pm, and peeling, cutting and canning until near midnight each evening.
It’s the peeling that really gets me, a step required for chopped or whole tomatoes. For marinara sauce, you can leave them unpeeled and push everything through a food mill before cooking it down to a thicker sauce. Though if you’ve ever messed around with a food mill in tomatoes, it’s not the easiest or cleanest job. I feel like I loose half my tomatoes with the skin and end up with a fraction of the yield promised. BUT this year I discovered the secret to easy sauce, higher yield and less skin problems.
This month I was assigned to send to a reader, Jayme from Tennessee. Jayme is super sweet and very involved with children. She is the children’s minister at her church and participates in the local Big Sister’s program. I give Jayme so much credit and admire the work she does. I’ve spent a lot of time in children’s media and education, because it’s something I believe in but know I don’t have the strength or patience to work with children directly. So I do what I can in my own way.
Since Jayme doesn’t have a blog, she agreed to do a guest post for my blog. I’m always a bit disappointed when I get a reader as a penpal. Nothing against them, but I really like reading about everyone’s packages and especially want to make sure what I sent was good enough! I’m always on pins and needles wondering–did she really like it?? So when a reader like Jayme agrees to do a guest post I’m super excited because I still get that reading experience. Plus, I get to cheat a little by reading it before the reveal day. Of course, if it wasn’t all smiles and praises, I could just rewrite it…just kidding! Take it Jayme!
Month two of Bakin’ Friends and no disappointment to report here! This time I got paired with Christine from California. I was beyond excited. I know what you’re thinking. Christine? From California? Hmm…sounds a bit familiar. Well, Christine just happened to be the lovely lady that introduced me to Bakin’ Friends. She was my Foodie Penpal back in June (and wrote a wonderful guest post for me). When Christine mentioned she was also part of a baking penpal program, I pressed her for details immediately. What are the chances of getting paired with the same program in two different programs?! Plus, I knew all about Christine’s small bakery business. Secretly I was hoping I’d get the chance to taste some of her delicious treats. Can you guess the secret ingredient?
Bread pudding has always been a favorite of mine. Petit Oven makes the most amazing bread pudding I’ve ever tasted. Warm and spongy, swimming in a pool of salted caramel sauce. I sometimes joke, just give me a bowl of caramel! Their dessert menu is small, usually the bread pudding and one other item, though with to items of near perfection, what else would you want. I always consider bread pudding as an option to bring to family meals, but it’s not really an option. On one side, I have bread pudding haters (I know, I don’t really understand either), and on the other side I have gluten-free eaters. Considering I’ve never made one regular bread pudding, I was not about to start with a gluten-free version. And considering a recipe requires a full loaf of Italian bread, it’s not something my husband and I alone
could should eat. So it’s true. I’ve never had the opportunity to make a bread pudding. Until a few weekends ago.