Sunday, August 31, 2008

An explanation

Okay, so I know I haven't been posting all that often, and that there hasn't been a book update in over a month, but I have a really good excuse! My thoughts and time have been completely wrapped up in my new big plans! 

I've been spending ALL of my time working towards a teaching certification in English as a second language, and once I'm done in the next two or three days, I will be getting ready to move abroad to teach! I've always wanted to live overseas and travel and see the world, and this is the perfect way for me to start my adventure. I'm not sure where I will end up living, but my thoughts and intentions are focused on Thailand, so think Thailand thoughts for me! 

No worries, the book is still one of my top priorities, it has just been pushed to the back burner so that I can get myself set to move. Once things settle in, I will get back to writing every day and posting updates when I can! 


Daring Bakers Challenge

This months Challenge was hosted by MeetaK of What's for Lunch Honey & Tony, who kindly choose Chocolate Eclairs! I'm a big fan, so I was excited about this challenge to say the least. 

I decided to wait until all of my family was having our annual end of summer gathering, mainly so that I wouldn't eat them all myself. The recipe we used comes from Pierre Herme, a famous French baker. Well as luck would have it, my brother-in-law has actually eaten Chocolate Eclairs in Paris at Pierre Herme's patisserie ! Why does this always happen to me? When we were making Dorie Greenspans Perfect Party Cake, which requires a French Meringue Buttercream icing, a family friend who just happens to also be a French pastry chef (!) stopped by that day! I mean really, can't a girl get a break! 

So I made the Pate a Choux which turned out wonderfully, and was remarkably easy as far as I am concerned. My eclairs baked up perfectly, but they required more time than the recipe called for, which always seems to happen to me. I decided to make a typical vanilla pastry cream, which I adore, and to top them with the traditional chocolate sauce. 

I enjoyed making the eclairs a lot, and I'm thankful to Meeta & Tony for picking such a great recipe so that I could test my baking skills yet again! Check out Meeta's blog for the recipe! 

Addtion: I was doing too many things yesterday while posting my challenge, and I totally forgot to put in that my brother-in-law loved my eclairs! He said they were just as good as any others that he has had, even in Paris - but I think he was just being nice!!  

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Operation August!

It's time again for Operation Baking GALS! This month there were lots of different soldiers to choose from! Susan's blog was littered with great posts about several different soldiers - the host for that soldier would provide some background info on their choice, and then we could pick who we wanted to bake for. Susan herself was baking for a group of six soldiers who have been stationed in Fallujah for some time and who don't really get any love from back home, so I decided to join her group, Team DoughMessTic! 

As usual, I sent along some butter press cookies because they are one of my absolute favorites. And this month I also sent along some yummy swirl brownies, which I hope make it to Iraq in edible condition! 

As always, if you're interested in baking for our brave men and women serving in Iraq & Afghanistan, check out Susan Wetzel's blog Operation Baking GALS - it's really easy to get started, and there's still time to bake in August, so go check it out! Things are really exploding for this group, which is really wonderful! It's such a great way to feel like you are making a difference for our troops! 

Monday, August 11, 2008

A big thanks from Iraq!

I got an email from Jason in Iraq today, and since I promised to share, here it is – 


I wanted to send a quick note to say 'THANK YOU' for sending us some homemade goodies! You folks will never realize how much Soldiers appreciate your kind gestures. Just the simple act of baking goodies and mailing them across the world means more to us than you'll ever know.

Also, I very much appreciate you taking the time to write me a note. Your nephew is very lucky to have such a great aunt in his life. I promise you that we Soldiers will do our very best to protect him from the dangerous men who wish harm on the American People. I assure you that under our watch your nephew has nothing to be afraid of. I am fortunate enough to serve alongside men and woman who value Duty, Honor, and Country, more than their own lives. Each day I am humbled and amazed at the heroics of American Soldiers.

Thanks again. Please take care of that nephew of yours. I know he has a bright future.

Best wishes,

We're gearing up for round two in the next few weeks, so if your interested in baking, click on the Operation Baking GALS picture in the sidebar and it will take you to the blog where you sign up to help out! I'm baking for a group of six soldiers outside of Fallujah and I'm really happy to send them some yummy treats!! 

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

My first package for the troops!

I sent out my first Operation Baking GALS package to Jason and friends in Iraq today and it felt really good! I made about nine dozen cookies, but only around seven would fit into the containers I had, so poor little me, I've got some extra cookies to eat. 

I made pecan nut balls that are yummy mainly because they have a thick outer coating of powdered sugar. I also made butter cookies with my handy dandy cookie press, which are sweet, vanilla-y and buttery - who could ask for more! 

The woman at the post office said it could take four days to two weeks for the cookies to get there, so obviously I'm praying for the earlier delivery. I'm not sure exactly where our cookie man is stationed, but hopefully he's close to one of the air bases and not too far out in the middle of nowhere. 

If I hear anything back I'll be sure to post it! 

Pecan nut balls

Butter cookies