Monday, December 25, 2006

Merry Christmas Bakery Hunters!

Ah, the obligatory Christmas post. Today was a gorgeous Christmas day in Southern California, and I had plenty to be thankful for-- I was surrounded by my whole family and an excess of baked goods.

My family was more than generous in their holiday giving, and many of their gifts will help me to contribute more content to The Great American Bakery Hunt in the future. I acquired an entire library of treasures including:
  • A 2-year subscription to Nordic Reach, a magazine dedicated to Scandinavian culture. (In its own words, Nordic Reach "covers people, places, and stories of interest to everyone with a foot-or soul- in both the Scandinavian and American cultures, as well as to those who wish to appreciate them more deeply.") With articles like "In Cod We Trust", how can I go wrong?
  • A selection of expatriate novels, including Peter Mayle's Provence A-Z (I really enjoyed reading his book French Lessons because of all of his adventures with French food, so I'm hoping it will be another good read)
  • Not one, but three, repeat three books about the greatness of cheese! My selection includes The Cheese Plate, Cheese: A Connoisseur's Guide to the World's Best, and The Cheese Board: Collective Works. Oh happy day! (Side note: The great thing about a cheese book is that it will always pick you up when you're feeling down. A good friend of mine once mailed me "The Cheese Companion" after I suffered a break-up. Since she had temporarily relocated and couldn't provide a shoulder to cry on, she sent the Companion to me as a substitute. Perhaps the healing power of cheese doesn't work for everyone, but that cheese companion sure saw me through some tough times. God knows my Connoisseur's Guide will come in handy one of these days!)
  • The Cake Bible. I have been wanting to get the Cake Bible ever since acquiring the Bread Bible about a year ago. Clearly they belong sitting side by side on my bookshelf, in holy baking communion with one another.
  • A pastry cookbook from the La Brea Bakery
  • A cupcake cookbook, titled "Crazy about Cupcakes"-- Just how crazy will it get? Only time will tell.
  • the Tartine cookbook, from the San Francisco bakery I have been dying to try- one of the bakery's founders has Scandinavian (Swedish) roots, so I am already a fan...
  • The 3rd edition Food Lover's Companion, an alphabetized culinary reference book from which I have already learned that "Abbacchio" is Italian for a very young lamb. I sneaked a peak at the end of the book, confirming that exciting discoveries await me throughout the whole reference guide. Zwieback, my friends, is a "twice-baked" German bread often served to people with digestive problems. Who knew?

Aside from all this reading, I really do need to make more time to bake, especially because my parents also got me three silicone Le Creuset pastry brushes! They are so adorable, and go perfectly with my new "drop, smidge, pinch, and hint" measuring spoons. A new whisk, measuring cups, and ceramic pie weights will also be welcome additions to the kitchen.

As we approach the New Year, I am armed with plenty of reading materials and baking tools to aid me in future bakery hunts and baking endeavors. Time to get to work! Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good pastry...
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