King Arthur Flour Baking School

nissa scocca

nissa socca

If you love to bake as much as I do or are interested in learning how to bake a trip to the King Arthur Flour Baking School in Norwich, Vermont should be on your bucket list. Last week, my Caitlin and I spent a few days exploring the Green Mountain state and learning how to bake everything from flatbreads to European tarts and pastries compliments of the sponsors of the National Festival of Breads.

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The class schedule offers a great variety of hands-on baking experiences for the home baker as well as the professional chef. There are classes for everyone and they do fill up quickly. Some of the classes are taught by celebrity chefs like the famous Gale Gand. I did get a glimpse of her teaching a class on cinnamon rolls as the kitchens are easily observed through large glass windows. This state of the art facility also includes a large retail bakery, a café and a most beautiful store. The store is a baker’s paradise.

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and

the store has everything from appliances to extracts and all gadgets and ingredients in between

the store has everything from appliances to extracts and all gadgets and ingredients in between

and

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Flour Matters–use the best

Back to baking, I especially loved the class on flat breads because I learned a few new scientific things. First, I never baked with a mix of yeast and baking powder before. This extra leavening creates so much carbon dioxide that it actually causes the bread to deflate and bake to the perfect flatness. Brushed with egg white and sprinkled with a little nigella and sesame seed this bread is perfect for scooping up hummus.

northwest India naan

northwest India naan ready for the oven

In this class we also baked a spelt pita (check out goodgriefcook on Instagram to watch it puff) and a bread I had never heard of before, nissa socca. Nissa socca is a morning snack sold by vendors in the south of France. This recipe, made from gluten-free chickpea flour reminded me more of a polenta than a bread. Warm from the oven and cut into small squares or wedges it will make a terrific holiday party appetizer.

nissa socca hot from these amazing ovens

nissa socca hot from these amazing ovens

Vermont in October is lovely. The air is crisp and the leaves are just beginning to turn. Fresh apples are plentiful and make the perfect seasonal filling for a buttery rustic tart. In fact, most of our fresh baking ingredients like the apples, butter, cream and eggs are sourced from local farms. In addition, we are instructed to drop our egg shells and apple peels in a green compost bucket. The philosophy is clear: flour matters, the farmer matters and the environment matters. It all adds up to naturally delicious baked goods.

European tart class

European tart class

In between our classes we visit some of our old stomping grounds including the old Sugar Bush Farm which inspired my winning National Festival of Breads recipe. The old farm hasn’t changed a bit in 30 years and is still handing out samples of its delicious smoked cheeses and sweet maple syrup. Caitlin and I stocked up and I am thankful to have re-lived some old memories while creating some new ones with my daughter.

one of many old barns at Sugar Bush Farms

one of many old barns at Sugar Bush Farms

By the way, everything we baked we could take home. My innkeeper was very happy and especially loved the chocolate hazelnut ganache tart. A few of the other guests indulged in these from our Mille Feuille (homemade puff pastry) class.

Napoleons really do have 1000 layers of pastry

Napoleons really do have 1000 layers of pastry

The Pippin Inn

The Pippin Inn, Quechee, VT is where we stayed

One day I hope to return to the baking school for more classes. The perfect plan would be to grab a couple of girlfriends and make a long weekend of it. Put it on your Christmas list. If you can’t get there any time soon than shopping their on-line store is the next best thing. Here is a recipe from the far flung flatbread class. I hope it inspires you to enter the National Festival of Breads come 2017.

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Thank you Kansas Wheat and King Arthur Flour for a great weekend and making me feel like a queen.

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Mystery Solved with a Frozen Treat

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On the banks of Lake Elise

I saw you on a lily pad

Smiling, sitting Indian style

With your arms reaching up and out

I reached to you and was happy

But then the sun rose

To tear-filled eyes

Dreaming again

thank you for the whoosh moment Kathy Adamson Romaniello

thank you for the Lake elise whoosh moment Kathy Adamson Romaniello

on the happy banks

on the happy banks

It remains a bit of a mystery how my son died that night and it’s a mystery how one can be happy and sad at the same time. It’s complicated and twisted when it comes to grief. The obvious is that one who has lost their person will always have a sense of sadness. That cannot be changed. With time, however, the sadness becomes more manageable and doesn’t interfere with day-to-day activities. Is there an occasional meltdown? You betcha, but those episodes are much more short-lived and usually triggered by, at least in my case, fatigue. A good night’s sleep and coping skills are restored. What’s your trigger? Identify it and try to avoid it.

so unlike him this photo always cracks me up

so unlike him this photo always cracks me up…thank you Van Sant family for this photo

Welcome happiness. It’s a choice. It’s all around us. See it in a stranger’s smile, smell it in the garden, feel it in a warm embrace, hear it in a song. To choose happiness and to feel joy is an option we all have. It celebrates your person. Reach up and out and embrace it.

a typical day at the beach with Andrew, Tyler and William

a typical day at the beach with Andrew, Tyler and William

And speaking of a meltdown, what a warm summer it has been. Want to know what makes me happy this time of year? It’s ice cream, gelato, sorbet, sherbet and well you get the picture….oh, wait-did I say frozen snicker bars? Yes, all kinds of frozen treats put a smile on my face. It’s no mystery that to make a tasty freeze only a blender is required.

Vitamix frozen beauty

Vitamix frozen beauty

My garden (which always makes me happy) is overgrown with cucumbers. Did you know that cucumbers have a prickly surface? I had no idea until I grew my own. Ouch-really prickly! And did you know that the borage flower tastes like cucumbers? How convenient that they are both ready for picking and eating at the same time (as long as you don’t use chemicals on your plants). Add some fresh pineapple, a few fridge staples and a high speed blender and we are in sweet frozen heaven. Happy summer-no ice cream maker necessary.

fresh cucumbers from the garden

fresh cucumbers from the garden

Fresh Pineapple Cucumber Sorbet

2 cups fresh pineapple chunks, frozen

1 cucumber, peeled, seeded, cut into chunks, frozen

½ cup silken tofu

½ cup plain Greek yogurt

2 tablespoons agave (adjust to your own desired sweetness)

1-teaspoon fresh lime juice

1 or 2 leaves fresh mint, optional

Place all ingredients into blender* in order given. Start on low speed and increase until mixture is smooth and well blended. Serve immediately.

Note: If you own a Vitamix use the Frozen Dessert setting

Note #2: if you prefer to drink your frozen concoctions just add some soy milk or juice to the blender and mix to your favorite consistency

no borage-use mint and another pretty flower for garnish

no borage-use mint and another pretty flower for garnish

Resurrection & A New Old Recipe

lemon almond cookie cups

“Imagine the Impossible” is the byline of a new show premiering next month on ABC. Now imagine deceased loved ones returning home. This is “Resurrection”. If there ever was a show to mess with the mind of a griever then this is it.

Naturally, what every griever wants more than anything else in the world is to have their loved one back with them safe and sound. It seems that is what the show promises. The TV trailer features a mom greeting her son who died 30 years earlier. The joy on her face is like what you would imagine. It’s like her heart is jumping out of her chest as she cups his face in her hands. Don’t I wish I could do the same, but I know better.

William in NC

To suggest even the remote possibility of our deceased being resurrected from the dead creates a kind of hope that surely complicates the grief process. It’s already hard to accept and let go. This only will make it harder for those who will see the story for something other than the fiction it is.

Now imagine a delicious new life for an old cookie. For all my gluten-free readers this one is for you. Hard to believe gluten-free is so easy and delicious.  No weird ingredients or special mixes required.

Frangipane Cookie Cups

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

¼ cup sugar

1 teaspoon grated lemon zest

2 eggs

1 tablespoon honey

¼ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon almond extract

1 ¼ cups almond meal flour

24 whole almonds

powdered sugar

Heat oven 350F. Line 24 mini muffin cups with paper liners. In a mixing bowl, beat butter and sugar until light and creamy. Add zest, eggs, honey, salt and almond extract; blend well. Add almond meal flour; blend well. Divide batter among prepared cups. Top each with 1 almond. . Bake 12 minutes or until puffed and golden brown.  Cool. Dust with powdered sugar.