Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Wednesday Guest Blog by Ann

4-20-11 absence brain
I'm was off the last two days attending State meetings for work, so Thanks to Ann for doing another Guest Blog. - Judy

A Girl Can Learn A Lot From Two Chicks:
News hound I am, I ran across an article in the paper this March about Two Iowa ladies writing a cookbook. What intrigued me was the name of their blog/business “Two Chicks From the Sticks”. It’s not all about location, location, location … uniqueness is just as important.

What hooked me was the story behind their blog, which is more than a blog. A story about two friends and it reminded me of Judy and her many friends, me included.

Jill and Jamie are the “Two Chicks” and they grew up in the “Sticks” of Southern Iowa. They are also best friends otherwise called BFF. They have a wonderful story of baking and cooking on the farm. To them, homemade does not come in a box or in a tube, but from ingredients you cut, chop, measure, mix, form, bake and frost. Jill lives in Des Moines and Jamie lives in Atlanta, and while they live hundreds of miles apart, they have kept their friendship alive. And in the age of facebook, twitter and blogs, they have developed a business using all three. To boot, they landed a contract to write a cookbook. I say … sweet!

Their book and blog is about baking, baking the way mom and grandma baked. They take turns writing the blog and they sign off with “Jill from the North or Jamie from the South”.
Way cool and very cute.

So in honor of St. Patrick’s Day, they were cooking Beef Braised in Stout and baking Irish Soda Bread at a local kitchen store, Kitchen Collage. I’ve never been to a cooking demonstration on purpose, so I went to learn and taste the Irish Soda Bread as the recipe reminded me of a bread from Trinidad.

I arrived at 11 am with a cup of McCafe (my treat on the weekend) and bowl of oatmeal (save your money, oatmeal from a package) to keep me company while watching the Chicks cook and bake. Jamie (from the South) was making the Irish Soda Bread and Jill (from the North) was making the Beef Braised in Stout. And as a way to support “Buy Fresh Buy Local” all ingredients for the beef dish was from Central Iowa. Kudos to the Chicks and Kitchen Collage.

As the Chicks were cutting and mixing, I had a ton of questions (Judy knows I am full of questions) like ….

Is buttermilk important in the recipe? (I have never cooked with buttermilk).

Can you use golden raisin instead of regular and can you substitute chocolate chips?

Is it important to use eggs and milk at room temperature?

Why can’t you find sugar crystals in the grocery store?

If it’s a bread, why do you make it in a cake pan and not a loaf pan?

For the Beef dish, stove top/oven or crockpot?

Convection setting, when to use and what foods are best to use it with?

Surprise, they answered all the questions and were quite chatty with the group. I left the demo with an admiration of their friendship, love of cooking and anticipation for their upcoming cookbook (due out August, 2011) which led me to make both dishes the next day. The Beef dish took a bit of work and the Guinness Stout made the dish. It so reminded me of the dish I had in Dublin last year. Yummy for sure!

The Irish Soda Bread was a breeze to make: measure, add, mix, combine and pour. But as I was mixing the dry ingredients, I wondered what was I suppose to do with the butter? I read and re-read the recipe and no mention of the butter. That’s when I had an “Aha” moment. I remembered Jamie cutting the butter in the flour and saying “if I was home, I’d be cutting with my hands”. See, going to the demonstration did pay off. Both dishes came out perfect and the bread did remind me of the bread I had at home.

Then I thought ….. I wonder if the Chicks were aware of the error, was it in the book too? I sent them a message and they thanked me for noticing the missing sentence. Sweet on both ends, they teach me something and I give something back. What more can a chick ask for!

Chat Later,

That Girl, Ann Marie

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