Thursday, November 22, 2007

Non-partisan Cookie Brigade sends cookies to American troops

The Cookie Brigade defines itself as an independent, non-partisan organization of bakers who volunteer time and donate supplies to bake cookies for America's troops. It was founded in 2006 by Susan Hager of Frederic, Wisconsin, and Yolanda Segovia of Riverdale, New York. According to this article, Cookie Brigade's members are neither anti-war nor pro-war. There are currently three chapters of Cookie Brigade and more than 25,000 cookies have been shipped to troops. For information about volunteering to bake, starting a local chapter, or to request cookies for a deployed soldier or convalescing service man or woman, visit

A day in the life of a baker...

BBC News recently covered a day in the life of a baker in this article. The baker explained that he is now immune to the smell of baked goods, leading me to confirm why I could not ever be an official baker: I would miss the loveliness of those smells drifting through the space of an apartment, or invading my nostrils as I step into a household. I would miss that far too much.

Pie-wranglin' for a good cause

This woman in Connecticut calls herself the pie-wrangler, and helped to lead the "Night of 1,000 pies" to benefit a program that helps working families of moderate means to own a home. The money from the event will go towards purchasing land for this program, reminding us that nonprofit organizations and excessive amounts of pie is a combination The Great American Bakery Hunt fully endorses and celebrates.

And speaking of pie, has anyone been watching the ABC show Pushing Daisies? The Great American Bakery Hunt is definitely a fan of "The Piemaker" character, and has been wanting to try a pie with Gruyere on top ever since that one episode...

Does anyone know where to obtain such a pie, or a good recipe for one?

Turkey trotting to the bakery...

After participating in the Dana Point coastal Turkey Trot this morning, I was ready to gain those lost calories back with a little bakery hunting.

Imagine my delight when I came across a delicious chocolate chip walnut cookie at the race festival: this cookie had a perfectly gooey center and a crispy outer ring, made by one of the restaurant/bakeries in Dana Marina Center. I transported it to a nearby Starbucks, where I shared it with an old coworker and friend who had also raced that day. Among other conversations exchanged over coffee, we talked about how thankful we are to have had experiences in the nonprofit sector early in our professional careers.

I am thankful for many things and people in my life, but one thing out of the many that stands out to me is how fortunate I am to work towards causes that I believe in, and with others who believe in the same things.

Happy Thanksgiving!

p.s. Another cookie tip on the L.A. County side: Check out Schmerty's cookies over on Ocean Park in Santa Monica if you have a sudden cookie craving. This Mom and Pop cookie shop offers an assortment of delicious cookie treats...

Additionally, rumor has it that Jamaica's Cakes over on Pico might have some seasonal items to check out during the holidays...I seem to recall a conversation back in October about appealing sounding molasses cookies that may appear in a few months. Although beware, Jamaica's Cakes offers many items only if you order them first, and has a more limited daily selection of counter goods on display. Another note about this bakery is that it offers vegan and vegetarian options for cake fillings and other items.

Monday, November 12, 2007

infatuated with Simplicity

It is sometimes unreal to me how the simple things in life can make me so happy. For example: the wedge of Humboldt fog cheese I am currently snacking on, a great run, or laughing so hard that my stomach might explode. It is with this in mind that I would like to thank the folks at Yummy Cupcakes. I was strolling along Santa Monica's 3rd street with a few friends when I suggested we wander over to get some cupcakes. As we walked up to Yummy Cupcakes, we spotted a table in front of the store that read "FREE CUPCAKES: Take 1, take 2, just enjoy." We gathered some cakes just as a crowd started to form, right before the cakes disappeared in a flash! What are the odds that The Great American Bakery Hunt would stumble onto this?

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Santa Monica: The bakery hunt begins!

After my all too prolonged separation from the hunt, I'm back to posting regularly. I had the day off today and explored a few local bakeries in the Santa Monica area. I started off at breakfast with a kiwi, raspberry, and strawberry fruit tart at Le Marmiton on Montana Avenue. Le Marmiton is owned by Jean-Marc Kiffer, who also began running a restaurant in Marina Del Rey following the success of his first operation. While usually I am partial to fruit tarts with minimal custard, the vanilla custard in this fruit tart complimented the fruit beautifully. Now, I wouldn't say that ordering a tart here is easy on the billfold, but to be fair, the fruit portion is quite generous and is clearly very high in quality. Plus, I firmly believe that you can't put a price on a good, authentic French tart these days. There was also a savory onion tart in the display case that looked delicious, but I have to save that one for another day.

My second bakery stop for the day was in the late afternoon, at Yummy Cupcakes on Wilshire (right near the 3rd street promenade). I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised by this cupcake shop. The plump cakes had the taste and feel of the much- praised Magnolia Bakery cupcakes: honest, simple, warm creations that hold universal appeal and keep people coming back for more. Yummy cupcakes wears its heart on its sleeve: it wasn't trying to sell me based on fancy shmancy imported ingredients. In an age where each trendy cupcake shop seems to resemble the next, Yummy cupcakes feels like more. It has more of that friendly neighborhood quality to it. When I stood there deciding what to order, I could watch them frosting and making the cupcakes right in front of me. And as I left the shop, there was no branded box to carry my cakes in as I strolled down the promenade- only a simple, unpretentious brown paper bag. As Yummy's finger lickin' super sugary icing coursed through my veins, I experienced pure unfiltered joy! (My only gripe is that this bakery, along with so many others, sells clothing for dogs, an exercise in cross-promotional absurdity I will never comprehend.) Yummy, please keep Santa Monica honest: If you don't, who will?

This just in: studio apartments are perfect for baking

The Great American Bakery Hunt is finally settling in to its new digs: a tiny studio apartment in Santa Monica. It turns out that studio apartments are ideal for the baking enthusiast. For my inaugural apartment bake, I started off with a classic: chocolate chip cookies. The smell of the cookies wafted throughout my entire living space, lingering around each corner (all two of them). Home sweet home!