Operation Baking GALS, Round 4 Recap

As you probably know at this point, I participated in Round 4 of Operation Baking GALS. Our team was hosted by Cat of The Cat’s Pajamas and she did an awesome job! Team Cat’s Pajamas hosted Cat’s brother Daniel, a Marine serving on the 26th MEU. I sent over the shortbread and the snickerdoodles you see in the previous two posts, as well as two kinds of beef jerky, some instant tea and drink mixes, baby wipes and trail mix. I wanted to bake up some chocolate chip cookies (Daniel’s favorite) but I didn’t have time. Murphy’s Law, the whole week turned into one big hurry and mess, and I just couldn’t muster up the time to make another batch of cookies. Sadly, in my rush, I also forgot to pack the card I had prepared for Daniel and his buddies – sad!

I’d never shipped anything international, or flatrate, before. Luckily, I live in a small town with a small town post office. Mr. Kelley (the man behind the counter) helped me with everything that Cat didn’t tell me, and we had boxes on the way in no time. Mr. Kelley is a Navy veteran currently in the Reserves, and was more than pleased to help me send some goodies to the men and women overseas. I’ll have to bring him some Christmas treats when Round 5 rolls around. :)

Cat did a post-up over at her blog – hop over there and check out what everyone else sent to the unit!

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Questing for the right shortbread.

I grew up with one type of shortbread at one time in the season. ‘Daddy Bob,’ patriarch of my mom’s best friend’s family, made shortbread every Christmas season. It was buttery, super rich and sweet. It flaked just right in your mouth, but it was cakey, too. There was nothing to it, but the recipe is still a secret. It makes me think of Christmas at home every time I think about it.

So for Operation: Baking GALS I wanted to send a part of home over to the Marines on a float, but I had no recipe from Daddy Bob. I would have to make my own. Generally, I’d go to the Joy of Cooking, my catch-all resource, but it’s at Momma’s and that’s two hours away and she’s sick. So I had to search. Would you believe the amount of shortbread recipes there are on the Internet, with no accompanying pictures? Unbelievable.

I decided to try the perfect shortbread recipe from bread & honey. It looked like the right thing. It really did. And in the right context, probably with smaller pans (shortbread tarts, anyone?), it would probably have worked. Not in this case. Don’t get me wrong – it was good shortbread. But good shortbread for something other than just plain shortbread. More like a short dough type shortbread, which I nonetheless love. It was fall-apart flaky and melt-in-your-mouth, naturally. It was good. But it was also a little too dry for my taste, and a little too flaky to hold up in transit.

Given, I did double the recipe, and I didn’t have any rosewater, so I had to add plain water – much more than I thought I’d need, as in a whole teaspoon (as opposed to the half teaspoon I should’ve needed). The dough came out lovely, though, and it kneaded quite well. It was elastic and smooth and it pressed down well, held its shape in the pan. It even cooked pretty, the way I think shortbread should come out looking – golden around the edges and bottom, but barely cooked (to the eye) on top. It came out nicely, I was proud, and it cut cleanly. But it just wasn’t what I was looking for this time around. I am planning on using it for a pie of some sort for an early Thanksgiving get-together next week, though, so thank you, Summer and Alice!

Instead, I’m going to try a Scottish shortbread recipe I found off About.com that is purportedly from Joy of Cooking. For some reason, just reading it made me feel like it was the right recipe, so I’m going to try another test batch and see what happens. Ever had a hunch like that? Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t… I’ve learned to trust myself when it comes to this, though, so hopefully my hunch is on the mark. I’ll definitely let you know what comes of it!

p.s. I also promise that eventually, I will stop changing my blog layout and just stick to one. I swear. Eventually.

A weekend in Augusta, and Round Four OBG Ship!

Last Friday, I went to Augusta for my last remaining grandparent’s 92nd birthday. We had a lovely ol’ time in Augusta, sampling the buffet at the Partridge Inn (the chicken and the key lime pie was good, but the cheesecake left something to be desired) and taking a family ‘tour,’ with my grandfather as guide, through the parts of Augusta that he grew up in and around. It was a good time to be had, with our dysfunctional convoy of midrange SUVs and towncars, hollering and pointing out windows, stealing handmade bricks from the sidewalk and generally having a good time while onlookers asked themselves ‘what in the world are those crazy-ass white people doing?‘ Ah, family.

Now I’m back in the real world, sadly, and dropped myself unwittingly into the midst of what can only be described as Baking Timecrunch Hellweek. Why, you ask? Well…

  1. Thursday, I plan on baking two kinds of cupcakes for my dojo ‘family’ in honor of Halloween: devil’s food with chocolate (whipped cream?) frosting and spiced pumpkin with caramel or dulce de leche frosting, both with appropriate sprinkles/decor. (I may be baking a batch of devil’s food with red and/or white whipped cream frosting for our Halloween tailgate party on Friday afternoon as well – Go Dawgs!)
  2. Thursday also marks the beginning of Operation Baking GALS Ship Week, which lasts until November 10. I’m planning on sending a batch of shortbread, some snickerdoodles, puppy chow (a UGA tradition) and maybe tiny pound cakes from my homemade stores, as well as some purchased stuff that I’m sure our men and women overseas would like. (Oorah, Marines!) Honestly I’ve got so many ideas for baked goods that I’d like to send, but I know there’s no way that I’d ever get them all baked.
  3. Friday is the Halloween Tailgate event at work (mentioned above). Since we’re playing UF this weekend, and that’s basically the biggest game of the season, especially after UF stomped a couple of mudholes in UK last weekend (63-5? Honestly! C’mon, Wildcats – ‘best defense in the nation,’ my ass!), then this will be a big tailgate day for everyone who is an uberhuge Dawg football fan. That does not include me, but hey, a girl’s gotta fit in.
  4. Also, I may be baking for myself and my flatemate, Chels, since the work environment at home is getting increasingly hostile for us (but not the other one). We don’t know why or what’s causing our asses to get chewed so badly, but we are aware that we’re quite stressed out by it. Baking always helps, right? Must be the carbs. Or the sugar. Or both.

So, you see, Baking Timecrunch Hellweek. But it can’t be all bad – at least I’ll have accomplished something by the end of the week. Who needs sleep, anyway?