I Bake, You Bid!

… And together we help end cancer! Okay, okay — maybe that was a little cheesy, but it’s all for a great cause. My friend Amanda, over at Tales from a Kitchen Misfit, is training to run the Boston Marathon to benefit The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society with Team in Training.

You see, bloggers — especially food bloggers — tend to do things a little bit differently in general and this is no different. Amanda has decided that the best way to bring us together, satisfy some sweet tooths (teeth?), and raise some money all at the same time is by putting together a virtual bake sale featuring goodies from some of her (and my) favorite bloggers out there. And what a bake sale it is: Salted Chocolate Chip Cookies, Cinnamon Apple Peanut Butter, Double Chocolate Velvet Cake, Fudgy Brownies with a Swirl, and my own — now award-winning (seriously!) — Pear Bread with Vanilla and Ginger.

So how this works is that you go check out the full list of treats up for grabs, pick your favorite (or favorites), and leave a comment with your bid. Bidding will end on January 28th, at which time Amanda will reach out to the winning bidder and the blogger/baker to coordinate delivery of the goods. Once the winning bidder has made their donation directly on Amanda’s fundraising page, the blogger/baker responsible will whip up a batch of the winning item(s) and send them on their way.

What are you waiting for?! Go get your bid on!

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Food Swapping and Nerves

This one day, on Twitter, I heard something really cool. There was a “Food Swap” movement coming to Boston. My interest in Boston Food Swappers was piqued. If there’s one thing I love more than cooking, it’s being able to share my treats with others. And of course, knowing that they love what I’ve made, but discussion of that little bit of ego-tripping is for another time.

After the initial excitement over the news, I got nervous. The rules were simple & clear: bring something that you’ve grown, made or foraged (yes, foraged) to swap. No restrictions on amount or size of items. Like I said, simple. Right? Yeah, right.

My first swap event had me in all sorts of anxiety and panic. It’s such a great concept: trading amongst neighbors, building a community of food lovers, being able to get rid of your garden excess without going to waste, and exploring new recipes and culinary opportunities.

But… what if no one likes what I make? What if my poor friends and family members that I force my cooking on have just been faking it?!

Pickles (Recipe from: Eat.Live.Blog)

So I put on my big girl apron and got it together. I had a foolproof pickle recipe from Eat. Live. Blog and then some brown bananas, organic apples and carrots that I could turn into some kind of sweet bread as my “Hail Mary”, just in case the pickles didn’t work. Six loaves of vegan carrot-apple bread and six jars of spicy dill pickles later and I was ready to go. Still nervous but on my way.

Vegan Carrot-Apple Bread

Once at the swap, the anxiety started to disappear bit by bit. First, I wasn’t the only one with that completely insane fear. Second, the selection of foods to sample and “bid” on was unreal. And last, the chance to talk recipes, canning tricks and growing garlic? I was in food geek heaven.

An hour or so later, the actual swapping took place, a little bit of silent auction and a little bit of bartering. And at the end of it all, there were no pickles or bread left. It was all gone and my bag was filled with a whole new set of treats: fudgy brownies, lemon meringue tarts, blueberry caramel sauce, lemon curd, mini lemon muffins, strawberry jam, Irish stout, raspberry jam, mint chutney, fresh baked bread and homegrown garlic, cinnamon sugar muffins and scones.

One thing’s for sure, I better pick up my running mileage. Because I know I’m going back for more swapping fun.

Stout and Pickles -- Dinner is served!

Could It Be? Who Knows?

Yes, I’m humming along to a song out of West Side Story, to myself. And that may be one of the least crazy things I’ve done this weekend.

There is so much running through my mind, I’ve been doing everything imaginable to wrap my head around it.

  • Thursday — I decided to give up coffee. Cold turkey. And I’ve surprisingly not killed anybody. So far.
  • Friday — I gave myself a Picasso-worthy sunburn sitting in my beach chair for the first time this season with some girlfriends trying to talk out some of the issues. Followed by a 3 mile + walk with 3 very energetic Italian greyhounds.
  • Saturday — I tried to beat it all into making sense by doing my Pilates class, followed by a kickboxing class, followed by a 1 mile walk home, followed by a 5 mile bike ride which was then followed by an hour of restorative yoga. Which was all followed by a verrrrry long nap.
  • Sunday — I opted/tried for a more zen approach. I had a leisurely morning, enjoyed a very healthy breakfast, a relaxing walk to get a manicure, a chance run-in with an old friend who I haven’t seen in over a year, another walk along the water to meet another friend on the beach, followed by a relaxing dinner at home – tucked comfortably in a pair of sweats and my Boston sweatshirt and a Red Sox game on in the background.

And through all of this I’m weighing my decision to go up to Boston on Tuesday in pursuit of what very likely could be a dream opportunity for me. There aren’t many days that go by that I don’t wonder what my life would be like if I was in Boston right now, as I had planned to be last winter. But at the same time that would mean letting go of my life here in New York. A life I love living. A beach outside my front door, friends all around, with Manhattan just a few miles away. And the thought of giving this up leaves me more than a little bit apprehensive.

I remember when I was first working on putting together my move to Boston, I had begged my dad to come out here to help with the drive up. Not so much for the physical loading, unloading, etc. but to help me leave this part of my life behind. Even moving from Chicago didn’t cause that much emotional effort, not beyond the usual settling in that is normal. But leaving New York? This was my life. I have been on my own 100%, no safety nets, all by myself from the beginning. I had to figure out my place all on my own. So am I now ready to leave it all behind?

I knew last fall that moving to Boston would be a move like none other. Right now I imagine that I will be back in New York (on the beach, of course) in the matter of 5-10 years. But really? Who knows?

Right now all I am I really convinced of is that something is on the verge of happening. And as anxious as I am about the implications, I am also finding it hard not to jump out of my skin waiting to find out what’s next.

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