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Hey guys.  If you haven’t been watching the Holiday Baking Championship, week 2 started off with making 2 different, Grandma inspired, holiday cookies.  One needed to be a sandwich cookie.  45 minutes on the clock.

I don’t remember my dad’s mom baking.  And my mom’s mom gave us ice cream when we stayed over.  But when my dad’s mom passed and we cleaned out her house, I kept a springerle rolling pin that I thought looked cool, but had yet to use.  Cookie number 1, german springerle cookies.

This dough was not hard to make.  The challenge was rolling them out and baking them for 25 minutes.  Not a quick bake, that’s for sure.  And they also say to dry the cookies for 8 hours or overnight before baking.

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The 2nd cookie I made was a linzer.  Delicious, buttery, lemon cookies sandwiched together with raspberry jam.  Also a cookie I have never made before but always wanted to.  The hard part for me was finding a cookie cutter small enough to cut out a hole for the top.  The snowflake cutter didn’t leave enough dough left to transfer to a cookie sheet without breaking.  I eventually had to take a teaspoon and scoop out a small hole.  Got those cookies baking 3 minutes before time was up.

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Needless to say, I failed at baking these within 45 minutes.  I bit off more than I could chew.  I wanted to make cookies I’ve never made before, both of which required rolling out dough.  Not smart for a timed challenge.  Total elapsed time was 70 minutes.

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The main event was to make a pie by hand, no electrical equipment, except the oven.  And the twist was to make a 2nd mini pie for the picky eater who doesn’t like the 1st.  90 minutes, go!

Once again, I decided to make pies I had never made before.  Started by making the dough with my pastry blender.  To be honest, I normally make the dough by hand because I don’t like cleaning my food processor.  So that was the easy part.  My trick to rolling out the dough is to do it between two pieces of wax paper, remove one side and replace, then remove the other side, fit the dough in the pan and remove the top piece of wax paper again.

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The 1st pie I chose to make was a maple walnut.  While the crust was blind baking, I started to make the filling.  The most important thing was getting this pie baking as soon as possible as it would take 45+ minutes.

I imagined that I was in the competition and didn’t have enough dough leftover for the mini pie.  But a graham cracker crust would be much easier to make than more dough.  What flavors go well with graham cracker?  Well, a lot.  I chose a peanut butter pie.  Only takes 15 minutes to bake after making the filling on the stove, which takes about 14 minutes.  I was determined to beat the clock on this challenge.

The crust was done and filled and pie #1 was in the oven.  Deep breath and onto the filling for pie #2.  No problems there, filled the graham cracker crust that I whipped up and got that in the oven with 20 minutes to go.

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Finally, a little bit of down time.  What would go really well with both of these pies is whipped cream.  And what would be really nice to use is a hand mixer.  But alas, that wasn’t part of the challenge.  So I got out a whisk and went to town on some cream.  My arm got sore pretty quickly, but I kept at it and had a lovely, thick cream that my great grandmother (who used to make meringue by hand) would have been proud of.

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The maple walnut pie was still a bit wobbly with 5 minutes to go.  I was basically done with the challenge so the pies came out as the timer ticked down to 0.

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I think I redeemed myself from the cookie challenge with these pies.  The taste test was a success though I’m not sure I would make the maple walnut pie again without some modifications.  Too much nut flavor, not enough sweetness.

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And with a sink full of dishes, the ceiling started raining.  Roof rats have invaded our attic and helped themselves to water by eating up the pipes.  Had to shut the water off and leave the dishes until repairs could be done.  Oh, the excitement never ends!

 

 

Recipes:

Springerle Cookies

1 1/2 Tbs crushed anise seeds
3 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
4 eggs
2 cups sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/4 cup powdered sugar

Lightly grease cookie sheets. Sprinkle with anise seeds. Set aside until needed.

Mix the flour and baking powder together in a bowl until well blended. Beat the eggs, sugar, and vanilla in a large bowl until light and frothy, 5 to 8 minutes. Slowly stir in the flour mixture until a thick dough forms.

Working with handfuls of dough, roll out the dough onto a lightly floured surface until 1/4 inch thick. Lightly sift confectioners’ sugar over the dough. Place springerle molds onto the dough; press down hard and evenly until the mold’s design registers in the dough. Remove the mold. Use a small knife to cut around each cookie, and place on prepared cookie sheets. Repeat, until all dough has been used. Cover the cookies with a lightweight cotton cloth and allow to dry 8 hours or overnight. Or bake immediately if doing a timed challenge.

Preheat oven to 250°F.

Bake cookies in preheated oven until tops are pale brown and set, 25 to 30 minutes. Cool on a rack. Store in an airtight container.

Linzer Cookies

3/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
grated zest of 1 lemon, or 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 large egg yolk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup almond flour
1/4 tsp salt
raspberry jam for filling
powdered sugar for dusting

Beat the butter, sugar, and zest until light and fluffy, scraping the bowl as needed, about 3 minutes. Add the yolk and vanilla and beat until combined.

Meanwhile, whisk together the flour, almond flour, and salt. Add the flour mixture to the egg mixture and mix until just combined.

Divide the dough in half, and pat each half into a disc. Wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour.

On a lightly floured surface, roll one disc of dough out about 1/4 inch thick. Using the desired cookie cutter, cut out cookies. Transfer to a baking sheet. Gather the scrap dough, roll, and repeat. Place the cut cookies in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

While the first half of cookies is chilling, cut out the remaining dough. Once you’ve transferred these cookies to a baking sheet, use a small cookie cutter to make a peekaboo cutout in the center of each. Place cookies in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to chill.

Bake all of the cookies for 8 to 10 minutes, or until the edges are just beginning to turn brown. Let them cool for 5 minutes on the pan, then transfer to a rack to cool completely.

Place the cookies with the holes in them on a cookie sheet and sift powdered sugar over the top. Turn the remaining cookies flat side up and spoon 1/2 teaspoon of jam into the center, spreading it slightly. Top with the sugar-dusted cookies.

Maple Walnut Pie

3 eggs
1/8 tsp salt
1/4 cup sugar
4 Tbs butter, melted
1 cup pure maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract
2/3 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat the oven to 375°F.

In a bowl, whisk the eggs, salt, and sugar together.  Stir in the butter, maple syrup, and vanilla.

Poor the filling in a prebaked pie crust and sprinkle the nuts on top.

Bake until just set, about 40 minutes.  Cool on a rack.  Decorate with whipped cream if desired.

Peanut Butter Pie

3 egg yolks
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/3 cup cornstarch
1/8 tsp salt
600 ml evaporated milk
2 Tbs unsalted butter
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup chunky peanut butter
3/4 cup powdered sugar
1/2 cup chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Combine the egg yolks, sugars, cornstarch, and salt in a heavy saucepan.  Slowly whisk in the milk.  Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens.  Reduce the heat to low and continue cooking for 3-4 minutes.

Remove from heat.  Stir in the butter and vanilla.

In a small bowl, combine the peanut butter and powdered sugar.  Work with your fingers to blend together until a consistency of fine crumbs.

Sprinkle the chocolate chips and all but 3 Tbs of the crumbs evenly over crust (graham cracker or prebaked pie dough).  Pour in the filling and sprinkle with remaining crumbs.  Bake for 15 minutes.

Let the pie cool for an hour and serve with whipped cream or ice cream.

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Well folks, 2013 has arrived; the year that has me saying goodbye to my 20’s.  I don’t feel old, and I certainly don’t look old, so all that’s left to do is get my lie straight.  I am 27 years old.  Yeah, not too old, not too young.  27 is good.

I’m sorry it has once again been awhile since my last update.  I can say I was busy, which is true, but I’ll stop making excuses now.  Here’s what I’ve been up to:

November . . .

Thanksgiving!  I took the reigns and co-cooked the meal alongside my mother.  I usually bake a couple pies and maybe bring a side or two along, but I decided that 2013’s Thanksgiving Dinner is going to be made by me and me alone.  So 2012 was the dress rehearsal.

It went very well.  I made corn muffins, rolls, cranberry sauce, and a chocolate pecan pie (using Alton Brown’s recipe with normal pecans, and adding chocolate chips) the day before.  Then I went to my parents house and prepared the stuffing and sweet potato casserole with my mom.  Woke up bright and early Thanksgiving Day to make a derby pie and Thanksgiving brunch, cranberry/orange nut bread.  Back over to my parents house to get everything else cooking.

I kept a list of when everything needed to go in the oven so that I wouldn’t get flustered with the timing of it all.  The only thing I didn’t end up having a hand in cooking was the actual turkey.  My dad smoked it.  Then he carved it up using his new ceramic knives from Costco.  Big mistake.  The knife broke and we ended up spending half an hour looking for sharp white knife shards.

Throughout 2013, I’ll need to remake all of our standard (and experiment with new) dishes, and cook a whole turkey, so I’m ready to go for my big day.  My mom always does a great job and I hope I can live up to it!

      

December . . .

Started out the month with a quick hop to Las Vegas to see the Script.  Fourth show in 6 weeks, not bad!  They were playing a gig with Train and Better Than Ezra.  My friend Jessica and I almost didn’t get into the show because we had trouble with our tickets, but with determination, we managed to find tickets for $10 each.  Got in the venue just as the Script took the stage, timing couldn’t have been better.  And of course I brought them some goodies: chocolate cake balls and pecan pie bars.

Then started the crazy holiday baking frenzy.  In the course of a week, I make 8 different varieties of cookies/bars, totaling 315 pieces.  They were then boxed up and shipped to a lucky list of friends around the country, and the rest were bagged for local friends and coworkers.  I’m not a fan of freezing cookies which is why I ended up doing everything in one week, but next year I’m going to spread it out and use my freezer more.  I was insanely tired after all that baking.

      

The night before Christmas, I made homemade cinnamon rolls.  Woke up early the next day to frost them before heading over to my parents for the festivities.  They were delicious, mainly because I didn’t skimp on the cream cheese frosting.  I was rewarded for being such a good little baker with more cooking/baking items from Santa.

    

Last bit of baking in 2012 was a mini chocolate chip cake for a friend.  His birthday is New Year’s Eve Eve and it had been a long time since he had had a birthday cake.  I was a day late in giving it to him, but we celebrated on New Year’s Eve in Vegas.  Still can’t tell you how it was because we haven’t eaten it yet.  Unfortunately he got food poisoning and was unable to eat for the next couple of days.  It went in my freezer and we haven’t found the time to enjoy it yet.  Hopefully it still tastes good!

January . . .

I haven’t worked up the energy to bake, except for a half batch of brownies.  My Christmas tree is still up (being pitched tomorrow) and I feel like the holidays blew by.  The baking will resume again once I’ve caught my breath.

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So it’s been kind of an Irish month.  Okay, not really.  But I went to Globe, AZ in September and came across a bunch of cookbooks in an antique store.  I could have browsed for hours, but unfortunately didn’t have the time.  I did manage to find a sourdough book with a whole bunch of recipes using sourdough starter, which strangely enough is difficult to find online.  So I took my “friend” Paddy out of the refrigerator, freshened him up a bit, and made some sourdough bagels.

I’ve never made bagels before.  Using my starter had me worried as well since Paddy doesn’t seem to produce consistent results.  But at least this recipe didn’t require a 12+ hour rise, so if the end product wasn’t perfect, I wouldn’t be too disappointed.

So you boil and then bake bagels, eh?  Nifty process and it all went quite well.  I let my Kitchenaid mixer do the kneading, then left the dough to rise for about 3 hours.  Shaping the bagels was a cinch, then they rose for another 30 minutes before taking a boiling water bath.  I think the heat activated the yeast because they seemed to swell up well during the boil.  Then popped in the oven to finish before eating.  Texture wasn’t quite like I thought it would be for bagels, but they certainly made amazing ham, cheese, and avocado sandwiches.

A few weeks ago was my grandpa’s birthday.  His favorite cake is either chocolate with white frosting, or white with chocolate frosting.  I get kind of bored always doing the same kind of cakes, so I decided to experiment and make it a cookies and cream cake.  Chocolate cake and vanilla frosting would still be involved, but mixed in the frosting would be Oreos for a bit of a crunch.

Note to anyone wanting to try this: mix the Oreos in the frosting to help it all stick together.  I spread the frosting between the layers and then sprinkled cookie crumbs over it.  When cut, the layers didn’t hold together very well.  Overall, not my favorite cake.  I think the cookies just made me overly thirsty, so have a glass of milk nearby.  But a cookie crumb around the sides is a good solution when running out of frosting.

Just this past weekend, I went to see my good friends the Script (okay, they probably consider me more of a crazy fan) in San Diego and LA with my concert partner in crime, Jessica.  As always, I couldn’t show up empty handed.  But what kind of cookies should I make this time?  The list was long, but I settled on french macarons (now that I seem to have the hang of them), white chocolate dipped chocolate chip cookies, and sugar cookies (to get creative with).

The macarons turned out well, except the vanilla ones had to bake quite a bit longer because the bottoms kept sticking to the parchment.  I’m not done learning about these delicate and frustrating cookies yet, but they were definitely more than presentable.  I realized for the chocolate macarons, I didn’t have any heavy cream to make chocolate ganache.  I took a chance (because I didn’t want to go to the store) and tried a heavy cream substitute comprised of milk and butter and by George, it worked!  I think I actually liked the ganache better with the heavy cream substitute because… duh!  Butter makes everything better.

The chocolate chip cookies were delish!  I still go with the good ol’ Toll House recipe on the chocolate chip bag.  I’ve found that as long as you take them out of the oven when they’re just slightly browned and let them finish baking on the cookie sheet, they’re perfect.  If you let them bake too long, they seem to be a bit dry.

Now for the sugar cookie fun.  I’ve done the band’s instruments before, meticulously hand painted with food coloring, so I didn’t want to do that again.  Seeing as how their new record #3 just came out (you can buy it here or on iTunes), I went with a #3 song theme.  Millionaires translated into round cookies with a gold Euro and writing underneath.  Six Degrees of Separation was done by making cookies in the shape of thermometers that measured six degrees.  Hall of Fame was done with Hollywood Star cookies with the band members names on them.  A hand cookie cutter folding the outside fingers down created the 3 fingers up cookies.  And Broken Arrow were also round cookies with a sky background and painted broken arrows flying across.  I wanted to do Kaleidoscope cookies but figured each one would take about 30 minutes to hand paint.

The cookie drop didn’t go as well as hoped.  Jessica and I went to the venue early to try to catch one of the guys.  We saw the tour manager so should have just given them to him, but he seemed busy.  After soundcheck, a guy who works at the venue said they were sitting down for dinner so probably wouldn’t be out for awhile.  I almost gave them to him to see if he’d take them back, but doubted they’d be delivered.  When I told Jessica this, she said “You don’t give your cookies to just any one.”  And my response was “no, just musicians.”  Ladies and gentlemen, my new slogan was born.  Ha!

Fortunately a few minutes later, one of the band’s crew members walked out to the buses and took the cookies.  I’m still not sure if the band ever saw them though since they went on the crew bus.  Oh well.

Was a great couple of shows and so good to see those guys back at it.  Now my count is 10 Script shows and I’m eagerly awaiting the next one, which will most likely be Atlanta in a couple weeks or Vegas in a month and a half.  No, I don’t have a live music problem . . .

 

 

Sourdough Bagels:

  • 1 cup sourdough starter
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 tablespoons cooking oil
  • 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 gallon water plus 2 tablespoons sugar

In a large mixing bowl combine sourdough starter with eggs and oil.  Mix together flour, salt, and sugar. Add to starter mixture.  Add enough additional flour for the dough to leave the sides of the bowl.  Turn out onto lightly floured surface and knead for 8-10 minutes or until smooth and elastic, adding more flour if necessary.  Cover with a cloth.  Set in warm place free from drafts until doubled in size, about 3 hours.

Turn out onto floured surface and divide into 8-10 pieces; shape into balls.  Punch a hole in center with a floured finger.  Form a doughnut shape by gently enlarging hole, working each bagel into uniform shape.  Cover and let rise for 30 minutes.

Add sugar to water and bring to a boil.  Drop each bagel into the boiling water one at a time.  Boil only 4-5 bagels at a time.  Cook for 7 minutes, turning once.  Drain; place on greased cookie sheets.  Bake at 375F for 25-35 minutes.  Bagels should be golden brown and crusty.

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I’m starting to think about my future in baking.  Will it always be just a hobby?  Or should I try to make something more out of it?  I’d like to try for the latter, but then I get discouraged when I see what other people make.  My decorated cookies/cakes start to look very amateur.  So would I really be able to make a profit by selling my goodies?

Right now, I’m just baking for the fun of it.  But I end up spending quite a bit of money on ingredients and either need to slow down or start charging.  I made a cake earlier this month for a friend.  Took it to karaoke and fed the bar.  A few weeks later, I made a cake for a coworkers mother.  He worked a couple days for me that I had needed off so I offered to make him a cake.  More time and money.

The next few birthdays/events, I’ll just whip up a batch of chocolate chip cookies instead.  They’re a bit cheaper but mostly they’re quicker.  Well, except the cookies I make for bands.

The Script is in town tonight.  Of course I have to bring them cookies.  So I made chocolate chip (with two different kinds of chocolate), snickerdoodles, and sugar cookie instruments.  Combined time to make/decorate = 14 hours.  I decided to make the sugar cookies into the band’s instruments that they use on stage.  Danny’s and Glen’s, piece of cake.  Mark’s and Ben’s . . . well, each cookie probably took about 15 minutes.  Multiply that by 10.  The reason they take so long, besides the fact that I hand painted them with food color, is because I frost them twice, first with a buttercream and then with an icing that hardens slightly and dries shiny.  I’ve found that if I don’t do the coat of icing, the buttercream melts and the cookies stick together and lose their decoration.  And I don’t skip the buttercream because it’s much tastier than the icing.  I’m happy with the way the cookies turned out.  I just hope they hold up in transport and also in the Arizona heat.

                  

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Sadly, I didn’t have time to do May’s Daring Bakers Challenge.  But my kitchen has still been busy.  I had an Easter cake to whip up (when I say “whip,” I mean 12 hours of work) and another cake a couple weeks later for my dad’s birthday/mother’s day.  Also attended a couple concerts.  Busy busy busy.

First was the Easter cake.  I’ve had a duck cake pan for quite some time and never used it.  So I decided to make the duck cake (chocolate) and decorate it in flowers to look Easter-y.  But it couldn’t just stand alone, so I put it on a yellow cake lake with a couple rice crispy ducklings.  Turned out quite well, though there were a couple details I would have liked to add but didn’t have time.

The next cake was dual purpose that fairly seamlessly worked together.  Half was for my dad’s birthday that featured a modeling chocolate dinosaur, which in no way was a reference to that fact that he just turned 60.  The other half was flowery for Mother’s Day.  A blue sky with scattered clouds was above both scenes.  The idea was good, but I only spent about 4 hours decorating it.  It could definitely have been more professional, but I also didn’t want to use fondant.  It’s not my favorite medium.

Other than that, I’ve still been churning out cookies.  Ari Hest and Matt Wertz each were in town, so I took them some goodies and guitar picks.  I flew to Minneapolis to see Bob Schneider and his fantastic band/crew with a few Bob Bars and derby pie bars since it was Kentucky Derby Day.  And a couple days ago I went to see the Script in Los Angeles so I made them my renown fortune cookies with personalized fortunes for the band members.  One of Danny’s cookies simply had my phone number in it.  He hasn’t called yet, by the way.  I didn’t have enough time to personalize fortunes for the crew too.  Those things take long enough to make as it is.  They also got Bob Bars (no fail) and white chocolate chip craisin cookies.

Right now, there are no concerts on the calendar for the next two months.  That will probably change, but in the meantime, I’m going to try to come up with some signature recipes.  Will probably focus on the standard chocolate chip cookie first.  Usually I just make the recipe from the nestle bag.  But I’d like to see what I can do with making my own recipes.  Will take some time and I’m sure there will be several taste-testers involved, but we’ll see if I can create the most delicious cookie.

              

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Cookie Kelly, Cookie Monster, or Mecker Homewrecker.  Who do you know me as?  I’d probably prefer the first, tolerate the second depending on who you are, and laugh at the third, which is not altogether false, but definitely blown out of proportion.  And the last weekend of October, I was all three.

I went to Florida with a friend recently to see the Script.  I had it all worked out:  free lodging at the JW Marriott Orlando, free flight, discounted car rental… all thanks to the perks that come from my job.  However, the free flight was on standby and became a pain in the ass.  We managed to make it to Florida, but had to change our car rental and drive a bit extra because the only city we could get to was Tampa.  First show in our mini tour was in Orlando.

It all worked out, though I was worried for a bit.  The concert was sold out and the couple connections that I have were no longer affiliated or couldn’t help.  A very nice guy saw our distress and gave us an extra ticket that he had.  A girl saw that go down and she sold us her extra ticket, which was a bit higher than face value, but worth it to see the show.

As usual, I had cookies for the band.  Lead singer and hottest man on the planet Danny O’Donoghue recognized us from the Arizona show, but I’m sure me holding cookies helped put the pieces together.  Bummed that we hadn’t gotten a picture with him in AZ, that was the first thing we asked him for.  Well, that was basically the only thing we asked him for.  I didn’t have the guts to ask the other question of “Will you marry me?”

We were also reunited with the rest of the band and crew to continue what we started in AZ, a drink-fest!  And where do you think we went?  That’s right, an Irish pub!  There we were joined by the opening band sans lead singer Joshua Radin.  Though he didn’t come out to party, I’ve seen him many times so he received cookies as well.

The night was definitely entertaining and ended around 4 am when we finally left to check in at the hotel.  After a bit of sleep and coffee, I was off to Universal Studios to experience the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.  Unfortunately, not much could be done in three hours there, but at least I got to see it.  Back in the car and a two hour drive to Tampa for round two.

Tampa was definitely interesting.  We basically saw a different side to everyone.  It was odd, but explained later.  And no, I’m not going to explain it to you.  But I’d say the craziest part of the night was seeing a friend and being accused by his girlfriend of flying to Tampa to see said guy.  Dating musicians (or crew, for that matter) takes a very self-assured woman.  Not all of them are bad, but most of them . . . indulge in the lifestyle.  That being said, I’m sure some are just fine with monogamy when in a relationship.  And the woman just needs to realize that they have a past and have put the others in their past.  Unless they haven’t put the others in the past, which Mecker Homewrecker has seen quite a bit of.  The aforementioned woman did send me an apology.  And I sincerely hope that they can work things out.

The Script had to take off pretty early that night so we sought them out to say goodbye.  When sexiest-man-in-the-universe Danny saw me, he said “Hey Cookie Monster!”  I tried to correct him and say it’s “Cookie Kelly,” but he said “no, it’s Cookie Monster.  Wait, I guess I’m the Cookie Monster.  Had three of those bar cookies for breakfast.”  Umm . . . if Danny O’Donoghue wants to call me Cookie Monster, with an Irish accent no-less, or really anything, that’s fine by me!

So how does this entry pertain to learning new baking skills?  It doesn’t.  Oh wait!  I do have a new one.  I wouldn’t say it’s a skill really, but I did make a new recipe for Matt the Electrician last week.  He has gluten allergies and I felt that I needed to make something other than chocolate chip meringues, like I’ve made him the last couple times.  So I whipped up a flourless chocolate cake, which is basically a rich, dense brownie.  And his guitarist Jud Newcomb (AKA Scrappy) got chocolate chip walnut cookies.  Always nice when they come through town.

On a slightly random note, okay, really random note, I got to sing a little bit on a local musician’s new EP.  J.D. Stooks – Shutterbug.  Check it out.  I’m on track 5.  Probably the closest I’ll ever be to releasing music publicly.

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I am not learning any new skills lately.  Rather, I’m working on the ones I already have.  And let this be a lesson to you… networking is a very important tool.  I’m using my cookie skills to get my name out there.  Like I’ve mentioned before, I will write a book at some point about my experiences traveling around, following bands.  Until then, here’s a tip to being a good groupie, I mean fan.  Consistency is key.  You can meet a band, but they won’t have a clue who you are if the next time you see them is 1+ years.  They remember me, but it also helps that I bring baked goods.

My kitchen’s been pretty busy the last couple of months making cookies for rockstars.  Athlete was here and I was so excited because it had been way too long (2+ years) since I’d seen them.  They remembered me only after I mentioned making them fortune cookies way back when.  See, it works!

Then my friend Jason Kanakis was in town playing for Angel Taylor.  They shared their dose of cookies with Kris Allen and crew.  Shortly after, Tony Lucca and Ernie Halter rolled through town.  Lovely guys, great show.

I had a brief intermission to hop across the pond to my more favored part of the world, Europe, to visit my sister and her family in France.  I baked my sister a Domo-kun cake for her 30th birthday.  A side trip to Belgium was taken, so don’t be surprised if you see my experimentations making Belgian waffles soon.  So delicious!

I hate pie!  Kind of randomly thrown in there, but after I got back from France, my friend Nick (Nickstar) had a birthday and had been requesting pie for a couple months.  So I figured I’d make some rather than the traditional birthday cake.  What a bitch!  Fifth time was the charm with the pie crusts.  They stuck to the rolling pin, shrunk in the over, burnt, etc.  I even got angry with the kitchen, though it was clearly not the kitchen’s fault.  A heated argument lead to blood (pumpkin) stains on the carpet (tile) and an injured chef.  I still have a scar from the burn the oven inflicted upon me.  I know that I should tackle (literally) pie again since it appears that I have a serious weakness there, but I hate pie!

Back to cookies. Next was a failed mission to deliver cookies to Gavin DeGraw.  My friend and I went on a man-hunt the night before his concert to a hotel he had stayed at before.  We thought we hit the jackpot when we saw a tour bus outside, but it turned out to be the bus for DJ ATB.  The next day, after Gavin’s show, the same friend and I walked around and even hung out at the Hyatt downtown hoping that Gavin would be sighted.  No such luck.  I hate failed missions, but his loss was my coworkers gain.

Then the King of kings rolled through town with a great big grin and some good cocaine, Jesus by his side in the pouring rain.  **Alert – Bob Schneider reference**  Okay, I didn’t see cocaine or Jesus, but it did pour that day.  I worked on his cookies all weekend.  They were very special cookies.  No, not like that!  I just spent a lot more time on them and even designed special guitar sugar cookies that had the artwork on them that his guitar has.  He got the motherload:  sugar cookies, Bob bars (AKA magic cookie bars), chocolate chip, vanilla macarons, and snickerdoodles.  Everyone in the band/crew enjoyed them, except Bob who notified me that he’s on a diet.  Stop dieting Bob, you look hot!

The opening band, Bascom Hill, was a bit jealous of Bob’s cookies.  So I decided it was time I took my cookies on the road (or in the air) and went to see the two bands a week and a half later in Salt Lake City.  Both bands got chocolate chip and oatmeal raisin cookies.  I had neither the time nor money to bake a lot.  Traveling with cookies can get annoying too.

In between the Bob shows, I was also asked by a friend to make her cupcakes for her birthday.  A paying gig!  I just made her a dozen and a couple special ones for her and another girl whose birthday was just beforehand.  I had an idea to make them like little tiered birthday cakes.  Big cupcake on bottom, medium in the middle, and a small on top.  They turned out really cute, but decorating small things is probably harder than larger models.  After the money on ingredients, I probably made 25 cents per hour that I worked on those cupcakes.  But I wasn’t really doing it for the money.  Networking!

Five For Fighting (John) was here so he got cookies too, then winding down the concert marathon, the Script was in town last weekend playing a show at the Fair.  I’ve been a fan of theirs for about a year, after I saw The Man Who Can’t Be Moved video on VH1.  The song is good and the lead singer looked hot, so I grabbed their record and really dug it.  And they get MAJOR bonus points because they’re from Dublin.  Awww… Ireland, I miss you!

So I was really excited to see them, but didn’t know if I’d have a shot at meeting them.  It’s a bit different at a bigger venue.  I whipped up some chocolate chip and oatmeal raisin cookies just in case.  And luck would have it, I spotted a friend of mine on stage before the show.  Connections from networking!  I texted him to see about a possible meet and greet, but they had already done them.  The quest was not over, and after the band took the stage, I knew I had to meet them.  It was love at first sight.  Yeah, I’m geeking out a little.  But I think Danny O’Donoghue has to be the sexiest man I’ve ever seen in my life.  My friend Jessica and I were smitten… I think I could triumph over her in a battle.

After the show, I got a text from my buddy of a possible lead to where the band was going to go party.  We went to bar #1 and spent an hour and a half there.  No signs of hot Irish men (except the bartender who was actually quite cute, but a bit older), so we moved on to the other possible bar.  Score!  Walked in the door and almost into Danny.  He’s hot on stage, but even hotter in person.  Good Lord, I’m smitten.  I handed him the pink box (that sounds dirty… I wish it was) of cookies and introduced myself.  They all really enjoyed them which totally makes me happy.  And of course, I threw in guitar picks, just like I had with all the other cookies.  Those guitar picks are probably some of the best networking tools I have.  It’s something they can keep even after the cookies are gone and it definitely helps my name get out there.  At some point, I think I’d like to have a cookie bake shop.  Until then, I want Cookie Kelly to be spread around as much as possible (that sounds dirty too).

There’s a few more concerts coming up soon.  Tony Lucca will be back, Griffin House is playing that same night.  I’d like to try to see both.  Then I may try to see the Script in Orlando next weekend.  After that is Tyler Hilton.  My oven will stay busy, but I love baking cookies for bands.  And the way musicians light up when they see homemade cookies being brought to them makes my day.

I will hopefully have more updates for you shortly.  I’ve been a bad blogger, but I promise I’ve been a good baker.  Until next time, stay sweet!

I did not get a picture with Danny, sadly.

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