Friday, December 30, 2005

BBM3 - Mickey's Package from Shelley Arrives

Far away in The Netherlands, another BBM3 package finally finds its way...

hi Cathy,

I received the most wonderful package from Shelly, packed with local goodies from Virginia!

There was Virginia wine, chocolate, bbq-sauce, mustard, honey, lemon curd. There was a mix to make my own bread from a local historical tavern (loved that!). Ginger snaps, pecan blend coffee. A wonderful hot jalapeno pepper jelly, a can of 'brunswick stew', traditionally that contains squirrel, this one, thank god, is chicken :-). Then there was a herb-and-salt mix, a Virginia ham paté and lots of peanuts.

And local papers and a magnet and recipes and-and-and...I just received THE best parcel!!!

It took 7 weeks to reach me, but boy, was it worth the wait!


You can see photos and more details about the package on Shelley's blog.

Monday, December 26, 2005

Mondays with Maida - Christmas Fruitcake Bars

Page 97 in the old book / page 139 in the new book

I realize I am in the minority, but I like fruitcake. No, not those horrid plastic-like things sold in the grocery store (though, Whole Foods has a fruitcake that has sorely tempted me all season with apricots, prunes, and a couple of pounds of other dried fruits), but the one my Mom used to make every year and ration out in slim little slices. I admit that those tubs of neon-colored candied fruits sold for the purpose of making fruitcake hold less appeal for me now than they did in those days of blissful-ignorance many moons ago, but I still have a soft spot in my heart for fruitcake.

For most of the rest of the world, it seems that any variety of fruitcake is automatically regarded with deep suspicion. Consequently, this cookie came out of the gates with one big strike against it. In spite of that, all the cookie panelists and many others in my office gave them a chance and tasted them without too much arm-twisting. No one came away from the experience a fruitcake convert, but just about everyone commented to me that they liked the cookies much more than they expected to.

A small amount of thin, orange-scented batter holds together copious amounts of candied fruits, dates, raisins, and walnuts. Maida notes that candied cherries may be used, or a mixture of candied pineapple and candied cherries, or the prepared mixed fruits can be used. I used the mixed fruits (orange rind, lemon rind, citron, cherries, and pineapple). If you like fruitcake, you're bound to like these.

Here's the panel...

Suzanne: "I'm not a fan of fruitcake, but this was probably the best fruitcake I've had. The dates and loads of nuts saved this cake; and it was actually moist. Rating - 2.5"

Denny: "Very high potential. Should have liked it more, but tasted like fruitcake! Rating - 3.0"

Terri: "I don't usually care for fruitcake, but these are delicious. Not too fruity, but crunchy and sweet. Very moist and chewy with fruit pieces being just the right size. Rating - 4.0"

Phil: "While this lighter and powdery version is better than the traditional cake, it still triggers those longstanding questions about its remarkable shelf life - is there really only one cake that keeps getting passed around in different forms? Can a covering of cheesecloth doused with a good shot of brandy help revive it? Was it fruitcake that sustained a musher fighting a blizzard during a prior Iditarod competition? Rating - 3.0"

Overall rating by the panel - 3.1

Next week - Hermit Bars

Nutrition Facts

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Meeting Nupur

A week ago Sunday I had the priviledge of meeting Nupur, her fiance V., and their beloved Dale. If you read Nupur's blog or have come to know her through her comments on other blogs, you probably already have an idea of what a nice person she is... and so did I. But I had no idea as I approached her apartment in New York City of how much I would enjoy our visit, how easy our conversation would be, or how warm her welcome would be.

I had contacted Nupur a few weeks back when I knew I'd be spending a day or so in New York on the way up to Vermont. I suggested we meet for coffee or something, but Nupur immediately extended an invitation to me to have tea with her in her home. As the date approached she sent me another email and suggested that I select a recipe from her blog for something I'd like to try during my visit. Of course, I had trouble narrowing it down to a single recipe and I wound up listing several that appealed to me. Deep down though, I knew which one I was hoping she'd make - her Batata Vadas, potato fritters with chiles, onions, and many other wonderful flavors. To my delight, the fritters are what Nupur decided to make! I wasn't the only one thrilled at the prospect of eating them - V. was pretty happy as well. He said they reminded him of college where these treats, readily available from street carts, were always just a few steps and a small amount of money away.

Needless to say, the fritters were incredible. Nupur had prepared the potato mixture and the chickpea flour batter ahead of time, but shaped and cooked them as I watched. She made the assembly and frying of the fritters look so easy that I am determined to make them myself, even if it does involve deep fat frying! Nupur also served a couple of other things which I'm afraid I don't have names for. The first was a mixture of rice flakes (sort of like rolled oats, only rice), peanuts and raisins (if I'm remembering right). This was also seasoned with some spices. A very tasty and addictive snack! She also served me a sweet which she characterized as a "dry pudding". It was a sweetened mixture of cream of wheat, nuts, and I'm not sure what else. It was just moist enough so that when lightly pressed into a cup, it held its shape when turned out onto a plate. It was delicious. Finally we had tea - a sweet milky tea with ginger and I think some other spices - yum!

While the food was fantastic, it is the opportunity I had to talk with Nupur and get to know her a little better that I will treasure most. What a kind, generous, and intelligent woman she is! I instantly felt at ease talking with her and really got a kick out of comparing notes with a fellow food blogger. As I was about to leave, Nupur gave me a gift from India - the beautiful bag you see pictured above. Meeting Nupur was a wonderful, wonderful experience.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Mondays with Maida - Palm Beach Pineapple Squares

Page 96 in the old book / page 138 in the new book

These cookies were actually made the week before I left on vacation and I'm afraid my memories of them are dim. I do recall that I wasn't really wowed by them and that they were cakey with neither the chocolate nor pineapple especially pronounced.

For these cookies, you prepare a plain vanilla batter which is divided into two portions. To the larger portion, melted chocolate and walnuts are added, and to the smaller portion, lemon rind and drained pineapple are added. Chocolate and pineapple may seem an odd combination, but in this cookie they are quite compatible.

Here's the panel...

Suzanne: "Chocolate cake bottom, a yellow cake top and pineapple make this a yummy cookie. Rating - 4.0"

Denny: "Very good. Rating - 4.0"

Laura: "Tasty and sweet topping, but not really my cup o' tea. Rating - 2.0"

Phil: "This unusual looking blond on brown layered transplant was not the most inviting among the bar crowd yet the different forms of sweetness seemed to work with a little added moistness from the pineapple. Rating - 3.9"

Overall rating by the panel - 3.5

Next week - Christmas Fruitcake Bars

Nutrition Facts

Friday, December 09, 2005

Mondays without Maida

I'm headed out of town tomorrow morning... I'm making a brief stop in New York (and will get to meet Nupur!!) and from there it's on to Vermont with Bob and Chuck (yay!). I'll be back here on the 19th with the next installment of Mondays with Maida. In the meantime, I leave you with this...

I had a dentist appointment last Monday and didn't get in to the office until close to noon. Meanwhile, Phil and Suzanne came to the conclusion that there would be no cookies that day and Phil sent this out to the cookie panel:

From: Phil
Sent: Monday, December 05, 2005 10:26 AM
To: Suzanne; Laura; Denny; Terri
Cc: Cathy
Subject: Mondays without Maida

Wondering where that next Monday morning fix will come from?

Feeling confused or irritable? You may have CFS!

Cookie Fatigue Syndrome

How do I know if I might have cookie fatigue syndrome?
If you answer yes to any of the questions listed below, you may have cookie fatigue syndrome (CFS), which is also called cookie fatigue immune dysfunction syndrome (CFIDS).

1. Have you missed your weekly feeding of those Monday with Maida cookies?

2. Are you able to do less than half of what you used to do because you feel tired or cranky?

3. Have you had problems that keep coming back or don't go away with any of the following signs and symptoms?

* Confusion or irritability
* Shakiness followed by a tendency to pace back an forth in your cube
* Trouble with short-term memory or concentration
* Trouble composing meaningful emails or in badgering your coworkers

People with CFS may have other symptoms as well.

What causes cookie fatigue syndrome?
No one is certain about what causes CFS. Although a chemical dependency on large quantities of sugars and fats may be contributory factors. Researchers are still looking for the cause of CFS.

How is cookie fatigue syndrome treated?
The first step is to eat a cookie and preferably several – but not just any cookie. Your doctor will probably want to review your symptoms and medical history, and give you a physical exam. Your doctor may also want to do some blood tests, but lab testing is not often helpful.

Some of the symptoms, such as anxiety, depression, or excessive mumbling can be treated with Maida cookies. Although dose response studies have not yet been completed on the appropriate number of cookies required. So far, there is no other treatment for this chronic condition.

How can I help myself?
* Keep a daily diary to identify times when you have the most energy. Plan your activities for these times.
* Give yourself permission to recognize and express your feelings, such as sadness, anger and frustration. You need to grieve for the energy you have lost.
* Ask for support from family and friends. Look for cookie support groups or counseling in your community.

How can my doctor help?
Your doctor can work with you but only a good long term relationship with a competent cookie chef can really help.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

BBM3: Chiara's Package from Mickey Arrives

Hi Cathy,

finally I got my BBM3 from Mickey from Amsterdam! Fabulous, thanks a lot Mickey! She sent everything to celebrate Sinter Klaas (ST. Nicholas feastday): the instructions to celebrate well, Peppernoten (cookies with spices), chocolate letters, almond marzipan, chocolate sinter klaas, spekulass, cinnamon candles and a fantastic cinnamon mustard. But most of all I liked a very dutch magnet. If you want to know all about Sinter Klaas - and on my italian blog


Tuesday, December 06, 2005

BBM3: Nancy's Package from Ruth Arrives

Hi Cathy,

I got my package from Ruth in Philadelphia- thanks Ruth! She sent a few bottles of Olde Philadelphia Ben Franklin Black Cherry Soda, a can of snapper soup from Bookbinders in Philly, some delicious raw Delaware honey (I love this with some hot water and a slice or two of a meyer lemon-yum!), a bag of Herr's chips, and Tastykakes, which apparently are rare here on the west coast. All this AND a jar of home made peach melba jam. Thanks again Ruth, this was so much fun to recieve!


Monday, December 05, 2005

Mondays with Maida - Florida Lemon Squares

Page 94 in the old book / page 137 in the new book

OK, these are the cookies Niki made a month or so ago and my pastry mixture did turn out crumbly, so I stand by my theory that it has something to do with the temperature of the butter. After all, it is nearly summer down under and verging on winter in these parts. As I typically do, I started with cold butter. This is due as much to my failure to plan ahead as any method on my part. My mother taught me to take the butter out ahead to soften, but my mixer has a paddle which I've found is capable of creaming cold butter with little difficulty (but with a considerable racket). Of course, I haven't checked with Niki to see if she did soften her butter, so I could be completely wrong.

Most everyone liked these better than last week's cookies. The cookie base was much more interesting - sweet with a higher proportion of dark brown sugar, and nutty with the addition of oatmeal. The filling was equally good and even more lemony than the cream cheese filling of last week. As Niki mentioned and Maida suggests, these are best served cold.

Suzanne: "The best part of the cookie was the crunchy topping. The cookie was too lemony for my taste. To use Phil's word from last week, it was too "puckerable." Rating - 2.5"

Denny: "Very good, crunchy and lemony, but could have used a touch of cream cheese. Rating - 4.0"

Laura: "Tasty and crunchy... with just the right amount of lemon! Rating - 4.0"

Phil: "Comparable to last week's Florida cream-cheese squares with a slightly thicker crust and tarter filling. As with key lime pie, the tart/sweet contrast really works, although key limes seem to offer the ultimate in pucker. Rating - 4.3"

Overall rating by the panel - 3.7

In two weeks - Palm Beach Pineapple Squares

Nutrition Facts

Friday, December 02, 2005

BBM3: Kim's Package from Stephanie Arrives

There have been some interesting stories behind the scenes at BBM3 central and Kim's was certainly among the most interesting...

Kim was in Albania when BBM3 started, but the situation with the power there got so bad (a severe drought disrupted the operation of hydro power plants resulting in daily blackouts of 4 to 18 hours), that she decided to pay an extended visit to her family in Canada. Unfortunately, Stephanie had already mailed her BBM3 package, so most of the contents will be enjoyed by Kim's husband who is still in Albania.

Hi Cathy!

I can't send a picture because I'm not at home (but I did see the contents via my webcam), so here is the list:

A big bag of various Halloween Candy (Halloween is Stephanie's favourite holiday!)
Halloween Glowsticks
Skull wine goblets (these are so weird! haha!)
A lovely jar of Stephanie's own homemade Lemon Marmalade
A big bag of M & M's
2 CD's of Stephanie's favourite music (I can't wait to listen to these!)
and Flyers from her local shops.

Quite an interesting package and a surprise for me since I just assumed everyone's favourite holiday would be Christmas (silly me!)!

Thanks Stephanie- my hubby will make short order of all the edible goodies I'm sure!


BBM3: Lauren's Package from Lisa Arrives

Hi Cathy,

I loved everything Lisa sent me. She wrote that she put together a package intended to get me through the stress of the holidays. It got me through one holiday at least--nearly everything is already eaten! She purchased chocolate bars, toffee, holiday-flavored Luna and Cliff bars (always a welcome addition!), plaintain chips, biscotti, apple-cranberry tea and dried cranberries (soon to become rugelach) at Trader Joe's. She also sent a bag and a recipe for her favorite homemade granola, and a recipe for brownies. It was all wonderful--I couldn't have chosen better myself. Here's a picture.

Thanks for organizing!


Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Dining with the Bloggers - November 30th

This week I want to tip my hat to my partner in this little venture, Zarah. I don't know how that girl does it all - studying, working and blogging. My guess is she does each exceedingly well too. I know she keeps a mighty fine food blog!

Not too long ago, Zarah gave her blog a new look and set up some categorized archives which are a huge aid in browsing the many recipes she has posted on her blog. This week I spent some time looking through those recipes and picked out a couple to try. I was sorely tempted by many of the great looking sweets and baked goods I found at Food and Thoughts, but after dallying in the bakery for much too long and sneaking a quick look at the sweeties, I started perusing the savory bits. And there I found my dinner: Mormor salat and vegetarian meatballs.

Both were very easy, though I managed to over-process the bean mixture for the meatballs. Even so, they tasted great, and it's obvious if I hadn't been so heavy-handed on the pulse button, they would have had a really nice texture. Even in their less-than-chunky state, the firm little bits of green bean provided a nice contrast to the rest of the ingredients. I went for quick and easy, so I just spooned the mixture directly into the hot frying pan (the same one where I had sauteed the pepper, garlic, and smoked paprika), forming little patties. On Zarah's recommendation, I used smoked paprika rather than chili powder and she's right - it has a wonderful smoky flavor that is just perfect for these "meat" balls.

The salad is as simple as simple can be - heavy cream, sugar, lemon juice, salt, and pepper tossed with a delicate lettuce. I used a red Boston lettuce and (I'm with M. on this...) threw in some cherry tomatoes. It was very, very good! If I hadn't cut the recipe in half, I expect I would have consumed the entire head of lettuce. I'll bet this dressing would be nice on a fruit salad too.

It's been a pleasure dining with Zarah - I hope there will be a day, not too far off, when we can really and truly dine together. I'll keep my fingers crossed!

This is my last weekly Dining with the Bloggers post. I am finding a weekly schedule for something like this leaves little time for the more creative aspects of food blogging. I will certainly continue to try recipes from many different food blogs, and I'm sure there will be times where I'll want to share what I've found, but it will be when the spirit moves me, rather than every Wednesday!

Monday, November 28, 2005

Mondays with Maida - Florida Cream-Cheese Squares

Page 93 in the old book / page 136 in the new book

You know, the whole time I was making these and up until just a few minutes ago, I was thinking they were the cookies Niki had made a month or so ago. Since my cookie dough came out crumbly and hers didn't I was going to talk about that (I figured it had to do with my butter being cold and possibly hers wasn't). Then I went back to that post and saw how thick and creamy her filling looked and got a little envious. Then I saw in her post she was talking about using oats and... Hey, there are no oats in this cookie!

Well, turns out the cookies Niki made are the Florida Lemon Squares (they're next week), but both cookies are assembled in a similar fashion. A crumbly mixture is pressed into the pan, then a lemony filling is placed over that, and then more of the crumbly mixture is sprinkled over the top. These were good, but not great. The filling is nice and tangy with lots of lemon flavor, but the cookie base is not very interesting and just so-so.

Nobody got too excited about these one way or another. These cookies were clearly just average...

Suzanne: "This cookie was almost as lemony as a lemon meringue pie. The nutty topping was crunchy and crumbly. This would be a good cookie to eat with a cup of hot tea. Rating - 3.0"

Denny: "My expectations went up when I heard their name. They went down with my first bite. I'd rate them about 3 because they were sweet and a little crunchy. I thought they were fairly non-descript with too little cream cheese. More cream cheese and nuts would easily make them a 4. Rating - 3.0"

Laura: "Lemony & Yummy! Rating - 4.0"

Phil: "A good reminder that one can (should) not live on chocolate alone. Not quite key lime pie puckerable but these citrus flavored cheese squares sandwiched between slightly crusty, sugary, nutty layers make for an interesting mix. Rating - 4.1"

Overall rating by the panel - 3.5

Next week - Florida Lemon Squares

Nutrition Facts

Sunday, November 27, 2005

BBM3: Eva's Package from Chiara Arrives

Hello Cathy!

I received my parcel a few days ago, it came from Chiara at The parcel was filled with Italian delicacies, and I am so looking forward to trying it all out.

First there is an Italian cake, a panettone, will keep this for Christmas since Chiara wrote that it is traditionally eaten at Christmas in Italy.

Then there are 3 jars of Sardinian honey (eucalyptus, orange and daffodil), since Chiara often spends summers on Sardinia.

A huge block of white nougat was also in the box, Torrone a speciality from north Italy and also eaten at Christmas (doubt that it will last that long with me...!).

Chiara has also included a jar of her homemade preserved peppers (for those of you who understand Italian the recipe can be found on

Finally there was a Christmas decoration, a delicious card from a chocolaterie in Milan, some food pages from her newspaper, and a beautifully handwritten letter (in French) which I will reply to soon. Thanks Chiara!

Looking forward to BBM4!!


Saturday, November 26, 2005

Lentil Soup with Spinach and Pasta

I made this lentil soup a couple of weeks ago. I'd been in the mood for lentil soup for a little while and had just paid a visit to my eye doctor who reminded me I should eat five servings of leafy green vegetables a week.

Generally when I make lentil soup, I use one of two recipes in Good & Garlicky, Thick & Hearty, Soul-Satisfying, More-Than-Minestrone Italian Soup Cookbook (a wonderful book, despite its title). So I was, no doubt, strongly influenced by this book in coming up with my own recipe. For one, this book introduced me to pancetta - something I now consider a staple and keep on hand in the freezer (it's easier to chop when frozen anyway).

While I didn't consult the book in throwing together this soup, the ingredients are similar (except for the spinach - see above). The proportions however, were purely for convenience. I hate having small amounts of tomato or stock leftover. It seems I never get around to using them and they inevitably wind up in the trash or down the drain (I know I should be whipping up some little masterpiece a la Paper Chef, but it just never happens).

The other thing that's a little different about this soup is that I used these Umbrian lentils that I bought on sale a while back. They're sort of like the French green lentils in that they maintain their shape and don't fall apart when cooked. They're smoother than the French lentils though, and uncooked come in a seemingly endless variety of shades of brown and green.

I loved the soup, but then I always love lentil soup. This is such a slap dash recipe, I'm afraid it proves nothing about my competence in the kitchen. It only proves you can't go wrong with lentils.

Lentil Soup with Spinach and Pasta

3-4 tbs olive oil
1 thick slice of pancetta (about 1 ounce), finely diced
1 small onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 cups lentils
2 quarts (8 cups) chicken stock (I used Whole Foods)
28 oz can of Italian plum tomatoes (I broke out the can of real San Marzano DOP tomatoes that I'd been saving for a rainy day) , roughly chopped & with juice
1 1/2 cups small pasta
1 bunch spinach, heavy stems removed and coarsely chopped
salt and pepper to taste

Heat the olive oil in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add the pancetta and cook a couple of minutes until the fat is rendered (you probably shouldn't brown it, but seems I always do). Add the onion and garlic and cook a few minutes more until the onions are translucent. Stir the lentils into the mixture and cook for a minute or so then add the stock. Cover the pot and raise the heat to high. Bring to a boil then reduce the heat to low (just high enough to maintain a simmer) and cook for 30 minutes. Add the tomatoes and cook for another 10 minutes. Add the pasta and cook until al dente. Add the spinach and cook for a minute or two longer. Season to taste. Makes lots.

Friday, November 25, 2005

BBM3 - My package from Ann is here!

Actually, it arrived a couple of days ago, but with the holiday bustle and all I'm just getting around to posting about it. Ann of let me eat bread (aka starchmouse) sent me a really wonderful package filled with things that she and her family have enjoyed over the holidays or anytime they're together.

As I sifted through the contents of the package I saw teabags of every shape and loose tea as well. Ann explained in her letter that her family loves tea and that when she visits her parents, who live nearby, they always catch up over a pot of tea. I love tea too, though for me tea drinking is usually a solitary activity. It's a pleasure for the senses and it's a comfort from the cold. I recognized the round bags immediately - they're my favorite: Typhoo. The square bags are Jasmine green tea, which I just tried tonight. I'm not much good at describing flavors, but this was really nice - floral and delicate and very good. I haven't tried the pyramid shaped bags yet. They contain PG Tips. The last of the teas is Ann's own version of chai tea. I tried this right away, as I'm becoming something of a chai fiend. It was very good, though next time I must remember to follow the directions that Ann included!

Ann also enclosed a bag of chestnuts. She explained that her parents always roast chestnuts in the fireplace at home, but when they went to Korea for Christmas last year they missed out on this tradition. In Seoul they found these bagged roasted and shelled chestnuts and bought a box. I have a fondness for chestnuts as well. Chuck first introduced me to chestnuts one Christmas a few years back when I was visiting him and Bob in New York. Later I enjoyed the best ones I've ever had in Rome with Bob and Chuck. So, I think I will save these and bring them with me to Vermont to share with Bob and Chuck this Christmas.

I also got not one, but two jars of Ann's homemade cranberry sauce and the recipe! I'm used to the plain-Jane-back-of-the-cranberry-bag sauce (i.e. cranberries, sugar and water). Ann's has vanilla, citrus, spices, and golden raisins and it is so good! Not nearly as sweet as the one I'm used to, it is tart and spicy. I'm done with plain-Jane cranberry sauce!

The other recipe Ann gave me is one for her family's favorite Thanksgiving dessert: Pumpkin Bread Pudding with Caramel Sauce. Wow. This thing sounds incredible! I really, really want to try this - maybe this Christmas. It's incredibly rich, but I love bread pudding, and I love pumpkin, and then there's that caramel sauce...

Finally, Ann enclosed the food and wine sections from the San Francisco Chronicle, a Trader Joe fearless flyer, a chocolate bar and some "Airwaves" gum. Ann didn't mention the gum, so I'm not sure if it's something she picked up in San Francisco or elsewhere (most of the labelling is not English). It is powerfully minty gum. After I tried a piece I had an inkling where the name came from - it feels like there's a breeze coming out your nose! I've enjoyed sharing this gum with other people and just watching their reaction!

Ann - thank you so very much! I am really enjoying everything you sent me and especially enjoyed your letter and recipes!!

UPDATE: Ann has posted her Cranberry Sauce Recipe - yum!

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Happy Thanksgiving!

A couple of weeks ago my sister-in-law Stephanie mentioned a pie she'd heard advertised on the radio that really appealed to her. It was an Apple Pear Chardonnary Pie. A week or so later when I was planning what to bring to their house for Thanksgiving dessert, I decided I would look for a recipe for something similar. Only problem was, what I remembered her saying was pear and hazelnut.

So I went looking on the web and found a number of recipes for pear and hazelnut tarts. I was thinking, "boy, this seems to be the flavor pairing of the moment". In fact, I found a bakery review that talked about the most popular item being the pear and hazelnut tart. I settled on a recipe for Hazelnut Frangipane Pear Tart which I originally found on an Australian recipe site, but I've linked to the Food Network recipe, which I found when looking for the Pate Sable recipe and which I think is the original.

As Bob said, when I was describing what had happened, this was serendipity. I went looking for something I thought I'd remembered (but I hadn't) and never would have dreamed up on my own (but I did) and found a really wonderful recipe that I will surely make again.

The recipe is not that difficult. The pate sable is easy to work with and making the frangipane is a snap. The hardest part is neatly slicing the pears and the most nerve-wracking part is removing the still hot tart from the pan (you must remove the ring and the bottom). I did lose one good-sized chunk of crust during this exercise, but I stuck it back on with a little jam and you could hardly tell.

This was my first experience with frangipane and I am sold! This variation using hazelnuts is really wonderful - the toasted hazelnuts are so fragrant and the roasted pears on top are the perfect complement to the sweet, nutty confection below. A nice little touch in this recipe is the thin layer of raspberry jam between the crust and the frangipane.

You know what the best part was? Stephanie bought that Apple Pear Chardonnary Pie - but she liked my tart better! :)

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Dining with the Bloggers - November 23rd

When I started thinking about what I wanted to make for Dining with the Bloggers this week, bread came immediately to mind. The only problem was I didn't start thinking about it until Monday night and there simply wasn't enough time to make a yeast bread, which is what I really had my heart set on. In any case, when I thought of bread I thought of Kelli at Culinary Epiphanies. With her "BOTW" or Bread of the Week posts, it's a natural place to go looking for a bread recipe. She also seems to favor whole grains, which appeals to me.

I found a yeast bread I really wanted to try, but started doing the math and realized I would be up all night. So, I searched on "quick" to see what kind of quick breads I might turn up and found a recipe for Spiced Applesauce Bread which sounded pretty great. I didn't have any applesauce on hand, but did have a three Ginger Gold apples that had been hanging out in the refrigerator a little too long. Tuesday morning I quickly pared the apples and cooked them with just a bit of water. After a few minutes I mashed them with a potato masher and measured out the amount needed for the recipe. There was a little extra sauce which I polished off (I believe that's referred to as the cook's reward?) . It was surprisingly sweet, despite the fact that I hadn't added any sugar.

I made the bread Tuesday evening after work. Such a simple recipe! The wet ingredients are mixed together in a bowl, the dry ingredients are sifted in and then blended in. I used a cup of whole wheat flour as Kelli suggested, but forgot to add the pecans. The bread was beautiful and really good. I love raisins in quick breads, so I'd be very tempted to add them (as well as the pecans) another time.

Old apples may not turn black and ugly like old bananas, but I do find myself avoiding them as they get older. I like crisp, juicy apples, and I think apples tend to get mealy and mushy the longer they sit. Anyway, I think this bread may be the answer to that problem! Of course, plain old applesauce is another great alternative, but this bread is a real treat - thanks Kelli!

Be sure to stop by Zarah's and see what she's cooked up!

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Mondays with Maida - Butterscotch Brownies

Page 92 in the old book / page 135 in the new book

These brownies smelled so good while baking! They were good too... though I'd be inclined to tweak the recipe a little next time.

These are not the typical "blondies" you may be accustomed to. There are no chocolate chips in these, but with dark brown sugar and molasses, they have a richer flavor than those other "unchocolate" brownies. The texture was wonderful and very much like a good chocolate brownie. They had a little crunch on the outside, while the inside was moist and chewy.

When I tasted one I had a moment of panic. I was afraid I had left the salt out, but I checked the recipe and discovered it didn't call for salt. That seems odd to me. When I think of butterscotch, I think buttery, caramelly, and yes... salty! Next time I would add 1/4 to 1/2 a teaspoon of salt.

I think everyone liked these. The main problem was they weren't chocolate...

Suzanne: "Delicious! These made my mouth water for more. I think it was the extra molasses that made these so tasty. Rating - 4.0"

Denny: "They were good & I'm not much for butterscotch. I'd rate them a 3. Rating - 3.0"

Laura: "While I don't usually care for "non-chocolate" brownies, these were de-lish! Rating - 4.0"

Phil: "Nicely textured brownie with a moist, firm, almost chewy center. A buttery subtle taste of butterscotch which runs a bit counter to whatI'm programmed to expect in a brownie – chocolate. Rating - 3.3"

Overall rating by the panel - 3.6

Next week - Florida Cream-Cheese Squares

Nutrition Facts

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Beth's BBM3 Package

Look what Beth got...

Hi Cathy:

I received my BBM3 package from Hannah of In her letter she told me that her favorite holiday is definitely Christmas, and the contents of the package certainly reflected that! She included yummy chocolate meringue cookies, a recipe for her grandmother's squash, a copy of Southern Living's Christmas issue (she lives in Georgia), a cute snowman cookie and fancy scented handsoap.

I'm attaching a picture.

Thanks for setting up such a fun swap!


Saturday, November 19, 2005

Mari's BBM3 Package

Mari has a website where she sells her amazing cookies, but not a blog. So here's the note and photo she sent me about her package...

Dear Cathy,

I just received my most excellent package from Mia of "Knit and Play with Fire." I wish I knew Mia when I was a college student (although it's quite possible she wasn't around yet...) because this is the kind of care package I always yearned for.

I received:

- A Rescue Company 24 Cookbook. It's a compilation of recipes by members and friends of the Walkersville Volunteer Rescue Co in Frederick County, Maryland.
- Hermits cookies; spicy, with nuts and raisins. They taste great!
- Pumpkin bread. I have not tried this yet. But it smells gooooood.
- Recipes for the aforementioned, as well as recipes for her favorite Cinnamon Jumbles cookies and her all-time favorite recipe, Cuban Arrox ConLeche (Cuban Rice Pudding).
- A lovely card in which she told me about her Cuban and American roots andtraditions.
- Her local newspaper and grocery store flyer.

Thank you Mia!

Another BBM3 Package Arrives

Here's a note from Helen in Ohio...

Hi Cathy! Yesterday I received a package from Alanna of Kitchen Parade/A Veggie Venture. She included a nice long letter, her local newpaper (including the food section, written by Alanna herself), lots of cookie recipes that will be perfect for the holidays, and some delicious shortbread cookies. Here are a couple of photos of the cookies, taken just minutes before they were devoured by my family and me! Thanks Alanna!


Friday, November 18, 2005

Another BBM3 Arrival...

Hi Cathy
I just got my package from Carol Hsih (celedoncupcake) which included a sticky rice cake and fascinating childhood memories of Lunar New Year in Taiwan, the CSA newsletter she belongs to, and the food section of the San Francisco Chronicle........many thanks for such a different "Home for the Holidays"!

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Dining with the Bloggers - November 16th

Another busy week and another hasty entry for Dining with the Bloggers... I'm so sorry!! I'm especially sorry because this week I am Dining with Niki at Esurientes - The Comfort Zone, and there are so many tempting options that I must forgo for now due to time (and calorie) constraints: Flourless Chocolate Orange Cake, Chocolate Hazelnut Fudge Cake, Dutch Honeycake (I came so close to making this), Armenian Nutmeg & Walnut Cake... You get the idea. Someday soon I hope to get around to each and every one! Niki has such a beautiful blog with great photos and entertaining writing. It is truly a pleasure when a new post shows up!

Now you needn't feel too sorry for me. I may have chosen one of the simplest of recipes from Niki's blog, but it is still one that caught my eye right when she posted it - Honeyed Figs. The recipe is designed for those hard, withered, organic figs (see below - do you think mine qualify?) rather than the moist ones put up in sealed packets by Sunmaid and the like.

I ended up with Black Mission figs which I had not tried before. They're smaller and not as fleshy as the Calimyrna figs with which I am acquainted. The small size of the Black Mission figs is nice, but I think I prefer the consistency of the Calimyrna figs.

The figs are simmered in a honey syrup that is flavored with orange, cardamom pods and bay leaves. I followed Niki's advice and upped the number of cardamom pods to 4. Once cooked, those "kangaroo poo looking pellets" (as Niki referred to her figs) are transformed into tender, sweet morsels. There's a hint of orange and I suspect that a better trained palate would discern the tastes of cardomom and bay as well. Like Niki, I am now left with the "problem" of how to make the best use of these figs. The recipe recommends serving them with yogurt or creme fraiche and pistachios. I also think the figs with a little of the syrup would be very nice on top of some ice cream. But, just now, popping them in my mouth one by one works for me.

Zarah is working like crazy to finish up her assignment for school, so I'm not sure if she's going to get a chance to Dine with the Bloggers. She may post a little later, so you could stop by and check. While you're there, maybe you could leave her an encouraging word or two.

UPDATE: Bless her heart, Zarah managed to squeeze in some time for Dining with the Bloggers. She found a really lovely blog that's new to me and made some delicious apple scones. Mmmm...

Monday, November 14, 2005

Mondays with Maida - Light Rocky Roads

Page 90 in the old book / page 134 in the new book

Light Rocky Roads consist of a thin brown sugar cookie with nuts (I used walnuts) topped much like the Dark Rocky Roads with marshmallow, chocolate, and more nuts. The Light Rocky Roads have a thinner layer of marshmallow than the Dark Rocky Roads, which I preferred. I also preferred the consistency of the marshmallow, which was a little gooier - probably because I let it go a little too long in the oven.

For some reason I had this idea before making these that the base would be crisp and almost sugary, but it was not. Neither was it cakey or chewy - maybe crumbly best describes it. I didn't think the base added much at all to these cookies. If sometime in the future I found myself wanting a Rocky Road, I'd probably use the brownie base from the Dark Rocky Roads and the topping (a thinner layer of marshmallow and chocolate rather than chocolate icing) from these.

The reviews were sort of a mixed bag for Light Rocky Roads...

Suzanne: "Don't be fooled by the word "Light". This cookie (brownie) was sweeter than the "Dark" Rocky Road cookie. Rating - 3.0"

Denny: "Very good and awfully chocolatey. Rating - 4.0"

Laura: "Tasty, yummy, gooey - Delicious! Rating - 4.0"

Phil: "A strange combination of textures and flavors which tasted a bit like a tollhouse cookie with marshmallow on top. Esthetically not particularly enticing and a bit too sugary even for this sweet tooth. For Rocky Road adventurers stay on the dark side. Rating - 3.3"

Overall rating by the panel - 3.6

Next week - Butterscotch Brownies

Nutrition Facts

Saturday, November 12, 2005

BBM3 Arrivals

Here's some news about a couple of BBM3 arrivals from participants without blogs...

From Lisa in New York:

Hey There!
Just got my package (am sending mine this weekend) and I love it! The only thing is, my sendee didn't put her email or anything in the package and I'd love to get in touch and thank her. Would you mind passing her email on to me so that I can thank her properly?
All best,

P.S. Thanks so much for hosting the BBM--I'm a complete convert!

Lisa's package was sent by Kat in New Hampshire, who sent me a description and a photo when she mailed the package:

Hi Cathy

Kat here, about to mail my package to Lisa in NYC!
I love herbs and spices - to me that's what cooking is all about - so I made her gingerbread hearts and biscotti, and cut some rosemary and thyme from the garden.( and made her a tiny little oak leaf magnet)
Sunny and beautiful here in NH!


And from Jocelyn in California:


I received a terrific package from Raquel ( yesterday.

It contained Mexican Wedding cookies, Rocky Ledge bars, Snickerdoodles, Craisins, Maple syrup, and a wonderful letter, photos of her kitchen, recipes, a refrigerator magnet and a supermarket flyer. So generous!

I’ve attached a couple of photos, but as it turns out, I’m a pretty lousy photographer.

I hope everyone else is having as great an experience as I am.

Take care, and happy holidays!

Thank you for coordinating this.


WCB23 - Be Well Clare

Clare - hope you're home now, eating good food, and feeling better every day! Best wishes to you, Casey and Kiri - Leo and Cathy

(See all the other get well wishes for Clare at Boo's. Boo is pinch-hitting as Weekend Cat Blogging host this weekend for Clare, who is recuperating from her injuries.)

Friday, November 11, 2005

BBM3 Reminders

They're on their way... on march, on wing, or as Jason said, "the packages are rolling across the world..." (which was the inspiration for my little doodle above).

You can keep abreast of the comings and goings of all the BBM3 packages at the BBM3 round-up post. If you drop me a note or leave a comment when you mail out your package, or if I happen to see a mention on your blog, I'll update the round-up with that information. Most importantly, please let me know when you receive a package and send me a link to the write-up on your blog. If you have contact information for the person who sent you the package, it's always nice to let them know it arrived safely as well.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Dining with the Bloggers - November 9th

Oh dear, I don't know where my head is... I almost forgot about Dining with the Bloggers! No, no, I didn't forget to eat (never!), it just slipped my mind to post... well almost.

For a busier-than-usual week I found an easier-than-usual recipe - Chubby Cat's Chicken Parcels with Ginger and Garlic. I haven't been eating chicken as much as usual lately, but generally it is one of my stand-bys, so a new recipe is always welcome. I think you could just as easily use a boneless chicken breast for this, but I used a regular, bone-in one. This method of cooking - en papillote - is so easy and versatile and the end result is meat that is especially moist. Chubby Cat's ginger and garlic marinade is super easy - especially if you cheat and use bottled minced ginger as I did. That leaves very little chopping to do - just enough to make you feel like you're cooking!

As I said, the chicken came out very moist and tender. Lightly scented with ginger and garlic, leftovers would be lovely sliced for a sandwich. I stuffed my leftovers into the freezer, but with the Christmas frenzy close upon us, I'm sure I'll be pulling them out very soon!

Chubby Cat's blog, chubby cat cooks, is loaded with equally good looking recipes. It is well organized with various recipe categories (meat recipes, pasta recipes, poultry recipes...) and has a spare, clean look. Most posts have a recipe and each recipe is accompanied by some personal notes giving a little context. It is definitely a good place to look when you're in a hurry to find something tasty for dinner!

Zarah's had a week even crazier than mine, but I think we can count on her to still come up with something delicious to share!

Monday, November 07, 2005

Mondays with Maida - Dark Rocky Roads

Page 88 in the old book / page 132 in the new book

I thought I would enjoy these cookies more than I did - another one that was a little too sweet for me. The cookie consists of a brownie base topped with marshmallows, pecans and a chocolate glaze. I think I would have preferred semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate drizzled on top, rather than the very sweet chocolate glaze that was used.

These are quite easy to make, the only difficulty being that they're a little sticky to cut. Which brings me to what is possibly the best thing about the recipe - this quote from Maida: "Cutting these into bars is liable to be a little messy and frustrating even after letting them stand. Just be brave and remember that you're the boss."

Even though I was slightly disappointed with these cookies, they disappeared quickly and were well received...

Suzanne: "This was delicious or maybe decadent is the correct word. The brownie was a true brownie with nuts and not fudgy. It was topped with marshmallow, pecan and a drizzle of chocolate icing. Rating - 5.0"

Denny: "Very good, I give them a 4. Rating - 4.0"

Laura: "Deliciously moist, chewy, and chocolatey. Very yummy! Rating - 4.0"

Phil: "Nothing subtle about these gooey, sugary sweet, May West type brownies - big, bold, and over the top. And just in time for Halloween. Rating - 4.3"

Overall rating by the panel - 4.3

Next week - Light Rocky Roads

Nutrition Facts

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Dining with the Bloggers - November 2nd

In case you hadn't guessed, I am completely smitten with Italy. I'm not alone - it's a common affliction among Americans. Anyway, when I come across a food blog written in English by someone living in Italy, I stop and take notice. And when that food blog has gorgeous photos of the countryside and the food, I'm a happy camper. And when that food blog has delicious recipes, I am positively gleeful.

The blog of which I speak, Lucullian delights - an Italian experience, belongs to Ilva, a Swedish woman who lives in northern Tuscany with her Italian husband, three children, and Japanese dog. She started her English blog just a couple of months ago, but she also has a parallel Swedish blog that she started in June - Aglio e olio - en utflykt i det italienska köket.

I've bookmarked a number of Ilva's very tempting recipes, but this week finally got around to trying one of them - Schiacciata con l'uva. Schiacciata is the Tuscan version of focaccia, but this particular schiacciata is more of a dessert. Ilva didn't know what the grapes she uses for the schiacciata are called in English, but based on her description (small, blue, and very sweet), a commenter suggested they might be Concord grapes.

I don't see Concord grapes very often, but this past week I found them at both my regular grocery store and Trader Joe's. It was a sign - time to try Schiacciata con l'uva! The grapes were $5 a box, so I decided I would make do with a single box (about a pound), rather than the kilogram (2.2 pounds) called for by the recipe. Since I decided to seed them, I was glad to have the smaller amount of grapes. I also substituted a packet of dry yeast for the 25g of fresh yeast.

I had not cooked with Concord grapes before and I don't think I had ever tasted a Concord grape before. When I tasted one, I was a little worried about cooking with them. Though sweet with a pleasant taste, they have heavy skins, 1 - 4 big seeds in each, and jellyfish-like insides - quite different from the green and red seedless grapes I'm accustomed to eating. But after baking, they were transformed. The unpleasant texture was gone and they became deep purple and even sweeter - like the grape jelly we all grew up with.

The schiacciata was very good. Of course, I didn't heed Ilva's warning and tried some soon after it came out of the oven. Not only did I burn the roof of my mouth, I found it really does taste better once it has cooled down - the grape flavor is much more pronounced. Now let me give you another reason to let it cool before you cut into it - those grape juices stain! For a couple of panicky moments I thought I was going to have to live with a large grape stain on my counter. Fortunately, a little cleanser with bleach took it out.

I was perfectly happy with the ratio of bread to grapes and wouldn't have wanted to seed more grapes than I did, but I'm tempted to try this recipe with red seedless grapes, and I would use the full amount of grapes. Another time I would also cut back on the olive oil. The quarter cup used in the dough was fine, but the quarter cup drizzled over the grapes was too much - perhaps one or two tablespoons would be sufficient. All in all, though, this is a wonderful recipe and a nice introduction to Concord grapes!

Be sure to stop by Zarah's and see what she's prepared for you!

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Blogging by Mail - Surprise from Nic!

I happened to be home today when the postman knocked on the door. Since I've been doing some Christmas shopping on-line, I assumed I would find one of my purchases on the front step. But when I opened the door and saw the package, I realized this had not come from any mail-order outfit. I picked it up and glanced at the return address and then I knew I was in for a real treat - a package from Nic!

Now, I did the matching for BBM3, so I know that Nic is not my swap partner this time around. This was, I suppose, a hostess gift of sorts. But mostly, it was Nic being sweet and generous. She sent not just one, but two home-baked treats - a beautiful loaf of pumpkin gingerbread, and some gigantic salty oat cookies. Despite the fact that these goodies arrived on my step just hours ago, I have already sampled both of them. I love oatmeal cookies, but adore salty oat cookies. There is a place not too far from where I work that makes them, but unfortunately I haven't been able to get over there in quite some time. Those salty oat cookies taste great, but don't have the chewy center I love. Nic's cookies have it all - they are crunchy, chewy, buttery and salty - just wonderful! I also tried some of the pumpkin gingerbread which was delicious - it is spicy and studded with golden raisins. Nic hinted that she would be posting the recipe for the salty oat cookies soon... maybe the pumpkin gingerbread too?

As if the cookies and gingerbread weren't enough, Nic also enclosed a beautiful little cookbook with brunch recipes, some ginger chips (little bits of crystalized Australian ginger - yum!), and a Green & Black's almond and milk chocolate bar. All things that I know I'm going to really enjoy. Thank you Nic so very much!!

Monday, October 31, 2005

Mondays with Maida - Supremes

Page 86 in the old book / page 129 in the new book

These cookies have a crumbly oatmeal walnut base, a sweet chocolate middle, and more of the oatmeal mixture on top, as well as an added sprinkling of walnuts. They're good, but too sweet for my taste.

This recipe, as do a number of Maida Heatter's cookie recipes, calls for instant coffee. On the other occasions when I've used it, I couldn't identify the flavor in the finished cookie and just presumed it added to the overall effect. In these cookies, though, I felt there was a harsh (instant) coffee flavor that even rose above the excessive sweetness. No one else commented on it, so it may not have been noticeable to anyone but me.

I didn't get Phils comments before he left on vacation, but the opinions of the rest of the panel varied widely...

Suzanne: "I'll be on a sugar high all day. The cookie was extremely sweet. So sweet, that I found it hard to eat. Rating - 2.0"

Denny: "Best Oatmeal cookies ever! Really. Rating - 5.0"

Laura: "Tasty... but not sure how well I care for the combination of the oatmeal/walnut with the chocolate. Rating - 3.0"

Overall rating by the panel - 3.3

Next week - Dark Rocky Roads

Nutrition Facts

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Prune Blogging Thursday - Prune Bread

Yes, that's right - didn't you see the announcement? I couldn't resist participating (even if I am a little late)... such an unfairly maligned little fruit. This one time event was proposed by David Lebovitz and believe it or not, he's already written the round-up. I hesitated to post my homely little entry after seeing David's heroic efforts making chocolate macarons with prune filling (7 batches!), but I must show my support for the prune - however humbly...

I've always liked prunes, but I've never been crazy about prune juice. When I was a kid, my Mom often served a mixture of orange and prune juice at breakfast. I'm not sure if the reason was economy, nutrition, or just plain preference. Since I favored unadulterated orange juice, I always assumed that the orange juice was the scarce commodity and prune juice was her way of stretching it out. These days, with orange essence prunes in every grocery store, I'm thinking maybe she was ahead of her time.

I don't know the origin of this recipe, which uses both prunes and prune juice, but it is one my Mom grew up with. I've turned the tables on her, and have swapped orange juice for some of the prune juice. I also threw in a little orange zest for good measure. With whole wheat flour and prunes, there can be no doubt about the motives behind this recipe!

Prune Bread

The texture of this loaf is surprisingly light for a whole grain bread and the orange really is a nice complement. If I remember right, I believe we sometimes had this with baked beans rather than brown bread.

1 cup pitted prunes (I used bite size and left them whole, but it might be better to cut them up)
1/2 cup prune juice
1/2 cup orange juice
1 tbs butter
1 egg, beaten slightly
1 cup sugar
2 cups whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
zest from one orange

Warm the juices and butter together until the butter melts. Put the prunes and juice mixture in a mixing bowl. Add egg and sugar. Add dry ingredients and orange zest. Bake in greased loaf tin for one hour at 350 F.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Dining with the Bloggers - October 26th

It's been a little busy around here lately and I've been eating from the freezer rather than cooking (unless reheating leftover beans and heating up burritos in the microwave counts as cooking?) It doesn't help that my kitchen hasn't recovered yet from this week's cookies...

I'm playing hooky from Dining with the Bloggers this week, but Zarah's not, so go have a taste of what she's cooked up. I'll be back on schedule next week!

Monday, October 24, 2005

Mondays with Maida - Viennese Chocolate-Walnut Bars

Page 84 in the old book / page 130 in the new book

This cookie is one of the reasons I love Maida Heatter. The recipe is an old favorite of mine, though I hadn't made it in several years. It seems complicated when you first read through it, but actually it's quite simple to make. First comes a shortbread base, a little jam is spread over that, then there's a chocolate walnut layer, then some rich chocolate icing, and finally a sprinkling of walnuts. It's a masterpiece.

The recipe calls for apricot jam, but some time back I began substituting seedless red raspberry jam. The apricot jam is good, but not at all noticeable. I love chocolate and raspberry and the seedless raspberry jam has the added advantage that it isn't lumpy, so it's easy to spread in a thin, uniform layer.

I've never tasted the middle layer in these cookies all by itself, and I'm wishing now I had. It's interesting because it has no flour. It consists of ground walnuts, eggs, dark brown sugar, cocoa, vanilla, and salt. It has surprisingly little cocoa in it, but gives the impression of being quite fudgy. I expect this is due in part to the thick layer of near-solid chocolate icing that sits atop. The amount of brown sugar in the layer and its appearance probably contribute as well.

Overall, the cookies are not overly sweet, but are quite chocolatey, with an occasional, brief burst of raspberry. They have a lovely mix of textures and are pretty to look at (my photo doesn't do them justice).

I got a chuckle when I read Suzanne's comment. I delivered her cookie to her (she was out the first day I brought them in) in a plastic baggie which I plunked on her desk so that the cookie wasn't even standing upright...

Suzanne: "These cookies/bars looked as if they should be served on a silver tray. They looked elegant and were delicious. Rating - 5.0"

Denny: "Excellent, but I couldn't taste the raspberry. Rating - 5.0!"

Laura: "Yummy shortbread coupled with chocolate and walnuts - a delicious combination! Rating - 4.0"

Phil: "A distinctive, titillating combination of flavors and textures tempered by a shortbread base. Looks great and tastes even better. Not a dessert to be served to just anyone. Rating - 5.0"

Overall rating by the panel - 4.8

Next week - Viennese Chocolate-Walnut Bars

Nutrition Facts

Blogging by Mail 3 - The Round-up

The packages have landed...

*** 110 Packages arrived *** 8 Packages in the mail ***

Nearly all the package have arrived. There are a few more that hopefully will find there way soon. Be sure to let me know of any late arrivals - I'll happily update the list!

In other news: BBM4 has been announced!

Here's the list of BBM3 participants with the latest on package departures and arrivals...

Kim of Stepping Stones >>pkg in the mail
>> Kim's package from Stephanie arrived in Albania, but unfortunately Kim is temporarily in Canada so her husband is home enjoying its contents. The package was loaded with Halloween candy and also included skull wine goblets, homemade lemon marmelade, and 2 CD's of Stephanie's favorite music (Stephanie must have been reading Jason's mind!).

Clare of eat stuff - New South Wales >>pkg arrived
>> Clare's package from Ruth arrived - details soon!
Niki of Esurientes - The Comfort Zone - Victoria >>pkg arrived
>> Niki's package from Jocelyn arrived with homemade rum-soaked cranberry muffins, Mexican wedding cookies, and Thanksgiving-themed chocolates from Joseph Schmidt.
Cindy of A Few of My Favourite Things! - Victoria >>pkg arrived
>> Cindy's package from Mari arrived with the most amazing cookies you've ever seen - you must take a look!
Ed of Tomato - Victoria >>pkg arrived
>> Ed's package from Sue arrived with Scharffen Berger chocolate, US-themed cookie cutters, Chick-O-Sticks candy, and a cocktail book.

Eva >>pkg arrived
>> Eva's package from Chiara arrived with Pannetone, Torrone, Sardinian honeys, and homemade preserved peppers.

Jason (aka Templar) of Food Ninja - Manitoba >>pkg arrived
>> Jason's package from Nico arrived with Belgian chocolate, BBQ sauce, an Almond filled cake, spice bread, and a wonderful stew recipe.
Ana of Pumpkin Pie Bungalow - Ontario >>pkg arrived
>> Ana's package from Kristina arrived with wonderful Swedish holiday treats including home baked Nut Tops and Lussekatter and much, much more!
Christine of Occasionally Christine - Ontario >>pkg arrived
>> Christine's package from Robin arrived with yummy homemade Mexican Wedding Cookies (and recipe) and several varieties of chocolate bars.
Nadine of that's real life - Saskatchewan >>pkg in the mail
>> Nadine's package from Bev arrived, after a little delay in customs, with some potent chili powder, a cookbook, cowpie, mango pear salsa, and lots more!

Krista of The Stichin' Sheep >>pkg arrived
>> Krista's package from Cindy arrived and as Krista put it, Cindy pretty much cleared out the candy aisle of some local candy store! Cindy also told Krista about how she celebrates her favorite holiday, the Chinese New Year. She also included some yarn in the package!
Melissa of Banlieue Blog >>pkg arrived

Kriszti >>pkg arrived
>>Kriszti's package from Karen arrived with a cut little teddy bear and all the fixin's for a real American Thanksgiving!

Chiara of la cuoca petulante >>pkg arrived
>> Chiara's package from Mickey arrived with everything one might need to celebrate Sinter Klaas, including chocolate, marzipan, cinnamon candles, and even cinnamon mustard!
Winnie of get in my head. or my belly. same thing. >>pkg arrived
>> Winnie's package from Mari arrive - more details soon!
Pascale >>pkg in the mail

Viviene of Sweets for My Sweet Tooth >>pkg arrived
>> Viviene's package from Niki arrived with all kinds of goodies - homemade plum & nectarine jam (mmmm... I know that's good!), home baked Anzac biscuits, all sorts of Australian candies, a Donna Hay magazine, and lots more!
Swee of Just Heavenly >>pkg arrived
>> Swee's package from Michelle arrived with a Pennsylvania Dutch cookbook, souvenirs from Disney World, chocolate chip banana bread, lemon almond biscotti, and recipes.
Twink >>pkg arrived

Karen of bucaio >>pkg arrived
>> Karen's package from Celeste arrived with homemade Butterball cookies, Tootsie Rolls, Tazo teas, and Ghiradelli chocolates.

Cheryl of she bakes and she cooks >>pkg arrived
>> Cheryl's package from Sarah arrived with all sorts of Christmas goodies and surprises. Best of all were homebaked cookies - Schiklosch and Coconut macaroons - and the Martha Stewart Holiday Cookies magazine.
Ruth of my little cyberspot >>pkg arrived
>> Ruth's package from Michelle arrived with Christmas candy, homemade candied walnuts, and family recipes for brownies and corn bread.
Kai of cooking baking eating enjoying - all about food >>pkg arrived
Debbie of Debbie's Multiply Site >>pkg arrived
>> Debbie's package from Lisette arrived and includes some yummy cookies and other goodies as well.
Cass of chef cass loves to cook >>pkg arrived
>> Cass' package from Christine arrived with lots of yummy chocolate and a food magazine.
Mumu of acuriousmix >>pkg arrived

South Korea
Jenn of I Got Two Shoes >>pkg arrived
>> Jenn's package from Eva arrived and was enjoyed by Jenn and her students! The package was loaded with all sorts of interesting and wonderful Swedish and Belgian treats from Reindeer salami to a gingerbread house kit. Surprise! A second package arrived from Eva with yet more treats including more Reindeer salami and Elk salami too!

Tracey of Tracey Marshall Knows Swedish >>pkg arrived
>> Tracey's package from Molly arrived with homemade chocolate and walnut cookies, pumpkin butter, Tazo tea, and the Thanksgiving issue of Food and Wine magazine.
Kristina of Clivia's cuisine >>pkg arrived
>> Kristina's package from Cass arrived Cass told Kristina about the Dragonboat festival and included makings for dumplings, dried limes and plums, laksa mix, and more!

The Netherlands
Lisette of drakakoe's love for food >>pkg arrived
>> Lisette's package from Sandra arrived with homemade citrus-pistachio cookies, candy, cookie cutter and tea towel, Christmas ornament, and much more!
Mari of Mevrouw Cupcake >>pkg arrived
>> Mari's package from Keri arrived - should hear more soon!
Mickey >>pkg arrived
>> Mickey's package from Shelley arrived with lots of goodies from Virginia, including a bread mix from a local tavern, Brunswick stew, ham paté, and peanuts. More details here.

Jess of Scarf-o-matic - England >>pkg arrived
>> Jess' package from Caryn arrived with homemade foodbars, Sharffen Berger chocolate bars, dried fruits, trail mix, and seeds for a plant that attract hummingbirds.
Vivian A Life in Food - England >>pkg arrived
>> Vivian's package from Gabrielle arrived with fig and ginger jam (ooh, that sounds good!), See's Candies, Green Tea Mints, and food sections, catalogues, and flyers galore!

Kitty of KittyBean - Pacific Northwest >>pkg arrived
>> Kitty's package from Nupur arrived...details to follow!
Leslie of unlikely domesticate - Alaska >>pkg arrived
>> Leslie's package from Kari arrived!
Robin - Arizona >>pkg arrived
>> Robin's package from Michelle arrived with homemade snickerdoodles and more!
Rainey of Making Myself a Garden - California >>pkg arrived
>> Rainey's package from Lisa arrived - more details later!
Janis of Yarn! - California >>pkg arrived
>> Janis' package from Andrea arrived with a bounty of Philly junk food and homemade macaroons!
Carrie - California >>pkg arrived
>> Carrie's package from Lindy arrived - should hear more soon!
Gabrielle of - California >>pkg arrived
>> Gabrielle's package from Amy arrived - details soon!
Mare of Marezone - California >>pkg arrived
>> Mare's package from Amy arrived with homemade pumpkin bread and spicy treats from Texas - Chipolte peppers and Razzpotle sauce.
Karen - California >>pkg arrived
>> Karen's package from Krista arrived and according to Karen it included "some very different things for a holiday we do not celebrate in [the US]." Karen enjoyed the experience and enjoyed getting to know Krista a little better through their emails.
Carol of Celadon Cupcake - California >>pkg arrived
>> Carol's package from Vivian arrived with some homemade shortbread and goodies from Marks & Spencer!
Lori & Evan of lorispeak - California >>pkg arrived
>> Lori & Evan's package from Stef with two Filipino breads - Pan de Sal and Ensaymada Espesyal.
Anne of let me eat bread - California >>pkg arrived
>> Anne's package from Jenn arrived with all sorts of interesting Korean treats - chocolate covered sunflower seeds, "health" rice, cheese rice flavoring, "smart" herb tea, and lots more!
Nic of bakingsheet - California >>pkg arrived
Sue - California >>pkg arrived
>> Sue's package from Julie arrived - details soon!
Robyn (aka Chronicler) of Food Chronicles - California >>pkg arrived
>> Robyn's package from Mumu arrived and included all sorts of goodies for celebrating the Chinese New Year - sauce mixes, dried guava, a food and wine magazine from Singapore, and recipes.
Celeste of Chopstick Cinema - California >>pkg arrived
>> Celeste's package from Lauren arrived with a candle, brownies, local creamed blackberry honey, and (of course) chopsticks!
Sima of daydreamr's photos - California >>pkg arrived
>> Sima's package from Grace arrived with delicious southern specialties including Brunswick stew, peanuts, and homemade pecan pie bars.
Mari of mischeif mari cookies - California >>pkg arrived
>> Mari's package from Mia arrived with a local cookbook, home baked hermit cookies, and pumpkin bread.
Kristy of Chef Kristy - California >>pkg arrived
>> Kristy's package from Jennifer arrived and included homebaked Spicy Sweet Potato Cookies and homemade Christmas Cracker Candies, as well as coffee and beignet mix.
Caryn of Delicious! Delicious! - California >>pkg arrived
>> Caryn's package from Amy arrived - did she share it with Mr. R? Stay tuned!
Nancy - California >>pkg in the mail
>> Nancy's package from Ruth arrived with foods from Philly including Herr's potato chips, Tastykakes, Ben Franklin Black Cherry Soda, Bookbinders snapper soup, and homemade Peach Melba jam!
Lisa of Comfort Food - California >>pkg arrived
>> Lisa's package from Viviene arrived with all sorts of sweets from Malaysia - chocolate, candies (including some Coconut/Durian Dudol mini candies), several kinds of cookies (including homemade cornflake cookies), and recipes too!
Jocelyn - California >>pkg arrived
>> Jocelyn's package from Raquel arrived and included homemade cookies, maple syrup and a magnet
Diane - TheUltimateTofu - California >>pkg in the mail
>> Diane's package from Heather arrived - details to follow!
Deborah - Colorado >>pkg arrived
>> Deborah's package from Swee arrived - details coming soon!
Samantha of The Samantha Files - Connecticut
>> Samantha's package from Kristy arrived - hope to hear more soon!
Jess of Snail Mail Creations - Connecticut >>pkg arrived
>> Jess' package from Dixie arrived with Smoky Mountain taffy, homegrown and home canned peaches (yum!), smoked sausage, and blackberry preserves from the Loveless Cafe in Nashville. Katherine of ToastPoint - Washington, DC >>pkg arrived
>> Katherine's package from Janis arrived with "purse" Tabasco sauce, homemade garlicky cranberry chutney, Ghiradelli chocolate, lemon-stuffed olives, fortune cookies and more!
Amy of Beauty Joy Food - Florida >>pkg arrived
>> Amy's package from Deb arrived with delicious chocolates (made by Deb!), her Mom's recipe for potato latkes, some sugarless bar cookies, and a package of menorah candles.
Cindy - Florida
>> According to the USPS, Cindy's package from Alice arrived. Alice included homebaked maple date bars and mocha-cappucino chip cookies, a Christmas cookbook, a Christmas tea towel, a set of citrus oils to use in baking, and a veggie dip mix.
Hannah of - Georgia >>pkg arrived
>> Hannah's package from Melissa arrived with mustard, caramels, vanilla sugar, chocolate cake, a French cooking magazine, recipes, and more!
Debbie of Puanani - Hawaii >>pkg arrived
>> Debbie's package from Lori & Evan arrived with dried beancurd sticks and a recipe that makes use of them, almond crunch, and even some yarn!
Reid of 'Ono Kine Grindz - Hawaii >>pkg in the mail
Lauren - Indiana >>pkg arrived
>> Lauren's package from Lisa arrived with a variety of indulgent sweets and treats selected by Lisa to help relieve the stress of the holiday season: candy, tea, biscotti, dried fruit, energy bars, and homemade granola. Ahhh....
Sarah of Cooking with The Headhunter - Indiana >>pkg arrived
>> Sarah's package from Tracey arrived with much anticipated Swedish goodies - homemade pepparkakor, Swedish candies, the cutest marzipan pig ever, all the makings for Glogg, and a Christmas magazine.
Heather of Eating for One - Kansas >>pkg arrived
>> Heather's package from Deborah arrived with homemade oatmeal cookies, candy, Vegemite, candy, double Deveon cream, scone mix, golden syrup, and more!
Ann - Kansas
>> Ann's package from Mare arrived - hope to hear more later!
Jennifer of Weekly Dish - Louisiana >>pkg arrived
>> Jennifer's package from Heather arrived with homemade Monster Cookies, sunflower dishtowels, an orange-scented candle, and yummy homemade pumpkin bread!
Raquel of Raquel's Box of Chocolate - Massachusetts >>pkg arrived
>> Raquels' package from Ed arrived with all sorts of Australian goodies: Anzac biscuits, Red Hill golden ale, Murray salt, and copies of the magazine he publishes.
Molly of my madeleine - Massachusetts >>pkg arrived
>> Molly's package from Rainey arrived and she LOVES it! It included delicious cheeses, babka, pumpkin apple bread, chocolates and other amazing things.
Jan - Massachusetts >>pkg arrived
>> Jan's package from Jessica arrived - details soon!
Cathy of my little kitchen - Maryland >>pkg arrived
>> My package from Ann arrived with lots of wonderful goodies - homemade cranberry sauce, several varieties of tea, candy, chestnuts, and the recipe for a fantastic sounding pumpkin bread pudding with caramel sauce.
Mia of Knit & Play with Fire - Maryland >>pkg arrived
>> Mia's package from Jess arrived with some Christmas pudding, tea, and chocolate. And, since they're both knitters, a skein of Colinette's Enigma yarn.
Kari The Power of Cheese - Maryland >>pkg in the mail
>> Kari's package from Jason arrived and I suspect it was the most unusual package in BBM3 - Jason filled a shipping tube with homemade oatmeal cookies and other treats, but the package was designed to resemble a Christmas cracker, complete with strings to pull on either end!
Randi of Culinary Adventures - Michigan >>pkg arrived
>> Randi's package from Stephanie arrived with rice crispie treats, apple pepper jelly, and some yummy chocolate sauce.
Heidi of Step Into My Thimble - Michigan >>pkg arrived
>> Heidi's package from Beth arrived with some fun foods associated with family traditions: chocolate easter eggs, spray cheese, Life Savers, and best of all, homemade Coconut Rum Diamonds!
Lisa Knitted and Purled - Minnesota >>pkg arrived
>> Lisa's package from Jan arrived after one false start (that leaking sourdough starter must have sent the post office into a tizzy!), but it was worth the wait. Filled with home cardamom cookies, spiced nuts, paradise jelly and much more!
Alanna of A Veggie Venture - Missouri >>pkg arrived
Beth - Missouri >>pkg arrived
>> Beth's package from Hannah arrived and included some yummy chocolate meringue cookies, a recipe for her grandmother's squash, and a really cute snowman cookie!
Jennifer of BeastlySum - Missouri >>pkg arrived
Kat - New Hampshire >>pkg arrived
>> Kat's package from Carol arrived with sticky rice cake and childhood memories of the Lunar New Year in Taiwan.
Amy of - New Jersey >>pkg arrived
>> Amy's package from Helen arrived with yummy ginger snaps, minced meat pies, and a recipe and rice to make baked rice pudding.
Debra of Here and There - New Jersey >>pkg arrived
>> Debra's package from Ana arrived - she says it was a huge box of veggie friendly and non-sugary stuff and well worth the wait!
Andrea of Tenacious Flog - New Mexico >>pkg in the mail
>> Andrea's package from Leslie arrived with a huge package of addictive "kitchen sink" cookies (plus the recipe), as well as a photo of Leslie's kitchen, a letter about her holiday traditions and a recipe for Holiday Yams, and a package of Alaskan hot cocoa mix.
Nupur of One Hot Stove - New York >>pkg arrived
>> Nupur's package from Sima arrived with a wonderful home baked buttermilk pound cake (and the recipe!) and foods reflecting both her Korean and Persian family traditions.
Heather of What She's Eating - New York >>pkg arrived
>> Heather's package from Mariko arrived - hope to hear more soon!
Lisa - New York >>pkg arrived
>> Lisa's package from Kat arrived and she loves it! Fresh herbs from Kat's garden, homemade cookies, and more...
Andrea of Sugar Substitute - New York >>pkg arrived
>> Andrea's package from Cheryl arrived with delicious homemade chocolate chunk cookies and the best caramel corn ever. Cheryl also included a variety of Singaporean treats including: dried cuttlefish shreds, fish strips, chocolate covered strawberry gummies, hawthorne flakes, Hall's Tangerine Soda candy, and laksa paste.
Jessica of Su Good Eats - New York >>pkg arrived
>> Jessica's package from Jennifer arrived with all sorts of homemade treats: her grandmother's Five-Flavor Pound Cake, Lemon Pound Cake, and Cranberry Biscotti. But wait, there's more! Homemade Strawberry Jam, and homemade Hot Pepper Jam - just amazing!
Stephanie of moschop knitting haven - New York >>pkg arrived
>> Stephanie's package from Jenn arrived with homemade pepper jelly, family recipes, fresh roasted coffee and much more!
Julie of A Finger in Every Pie - New York >>pkg arrived
>> Julie's package from Kriszti arrived with paprika in almost every form - pickled, powdered, and paste. There was also a salami, some Hungarian chocolate, and recipes.
Jennifer of Fallen Souffle - North Carolina >>pkg arrived
>> Jennifer's package from me arrived with date nut bread, cookies, US Senate bean soup, and a few more goodies.
Nico of NICO GALOPPO - North Carolina >>pkg arrived
>> Nico's package from Kim arrived with Albanian specialties, along with some Italian chocolates, and even Dutch ‘drop’ (black licorice candy). There was also an Albanian (but English-written) newspaper and two little cooking books about Albanian food.
Alice of My Adventures in the Breadbox - Ohio >>pkg arrived
>> Alice's package from Nic arrived with yummy baked goods and a bread book!
Holly of Craving Cleveland - Ohio >>pkg arrived
>> Holly's package from Twink arrived with a letter from Twink explaining how she was just about to celebrate Hari Raya and a number of foods representative of multi-cultural Malaysia.
Keri - Ohio >>pkg arrived
>> Keri's package from Stella arrived with some well-timed and much needed chocolate!
Helen - Ohio >>pkg arrived
>> Helen's package from Alanna arrived with gorgeous shortbread cookies and lots of cookie recipes.
Bev of Days of Yarn & Roses - Oklahoma >>pkg arrived
>> Bev's package from Lisa arrived with a lovely handknit dishcloth, muffins and cookies.
Mariko of super eggplant - Oregon >>pkg arrived
>> Mariko's package from Randi arrived filled with Canadian goodies such as Tim Horton's hot chocolate, chocolate bars and handmade dishcloths.
Michelle of the accidental scientist - Oregon >>pkg arrived
>> Michelle's package from Clare arrived with homemade cookies, Tim Tams, Cadbury chocolates, salt flakes, wasabi noodle snacks, Indian seasoning mixes, and decorative sprinkles for holiday baking.
Michelle - Pennsylvania >>pkg arrived
>> Michelle's package from Carrie arrived - details to follow!
Stella of StellaBites - Pennsylvania >>pkg arrived
>> Stella's package from Heidi arrived with homemade cookies, grape juice, soup, and jam - WOW!
Christiane of 24 Knits - Pennsylvania
Lindy of Toast - Pennsylvania >>pkg arrived
>> Lindy's package from Winnie arrived with regional treats from Italy - luscious chocolates, rich hazelnut spread, Bottarga di Orbetello, and a family recipe for potstickers.
Ruth - Pennsylvania >>pkg arrived
>> Ruth's package from Kitty arrived with some salad dressing, local honey and marmalade, BBQ sauce, chocolate, and family recipes.
Stephanie of - Pennsylvania >>pkg arrived
>> Stephanie's package from Kai finally arrived after a difficult journey - it was misdirected to her neighbor's house (who was out of town on vacation), then Stephanie moved to another state before her neighbor returned from vacation, finally Stephanie met up with her old neighbor on a return visit in March and received the package. Unfortunately, it was too late to enjoy most of the contents, but the thought and effort behind it was appreciated nonetheless!
Stephanie of Dispensing Happiness - Tennessee >>pkg arrived
>> Stephanie's package from Robin arrived and stirred up memories of California for Stephanie. It included some Chinese Fried Walnuts along with the recipe and a cute little pumpkin box.
Dixie of Dixie's Dragon - Tennessee >>pkg arrived
>> Dixie's package from Debbie arrived - yay! It included a Rendang sauce spice package, two peanut sauce spice packages, prawn crackers, agar agar, a Nestle Milo bar, and a slew of recipe cards.
Susan of Kawaii K-nitting - Tennessee >>pkg arrived
>> Susan's package from Debbie arrived with a Hawaiian dessert cookbook, guava jelly, crushed macadamia nuts, coffee, and a Hawaiian Christmas CD!
Michelle of The Baker's Rack - Texas >>pkg arrived
Diane of Bitchin' in the Kitchen - Texas >>pkg arrived
>> Diane's package from Stephanie arrived with almond pudding mix, ginger candies, chocolate that came with reproductions of art from Stephanie's local art museum, and Diane's new favorite - roasted pumpkin seed oil.
Amy of Not As Good As Pork Cracklins - Texas >>pkg arrived
>> Amy's package from Katherine arrived with homemade onion relish, homemade fudge, and a variety of spices.
Shelley of s'kat and the food - Virginia >>pkg in the mail
>> Shelley's package from Jess arrived with homemade treats reminiscent of home - rice crispy squares and M&M cookies - as well as some family recipes.
Grace of Virginia Food Lovers - Virginia >>pkg arrived
>> Grace's package from Karen arrived with delicious tropical fruit candies and Philipino sauces. Grace is especially excited about the crab fat that Kai sent and plans to make pansit palabok with it.
Sandra - Washington >>pkg arrived
Gaile of FidgetyBudgie - Washington >>pkg in the mail
>> Gaile's package from Diane arrived - a "lovely box of happiness" according to Gaile, with homemade strawberry jam, cheese wafers, spicy pecans... mmm!
Stephanie of da*xiang - Washington >>pkg arrived
>> Stef's package from Holly arrived with delicious homemade Kolache cookies and all sorts of cookie-making supplies - cookie cutters, sprinkles, and a sugar cookie recipe.
Shauna of Gluten-free Girl - Washington >>pkg in the mail
>> Shauna's package from Susan arrived - should hear more soon!