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31 December 2009

a glimpse of light for the new year

rainbow off the ferry dock

Sometimes, if you're standing in the right place, with your eyes open, you see something you never expected.

Every day, as we drive in the car, rounding the curve past that row of mailboxes, just before the entire Puget Sound opens up to our right, Danny and I talk about the day's meals, the merits of almond flour, the memories of dinners we have created together. When we walk through the door of our home, we put down the groceries, put Little Bean up on a chair at the countertops, and start cooking.

Danny and I are more in love than when I first gushed about him. It's just quiet now. Solid, like breath, and enduring.

This year, we have watched Little Bean grow into herself. She climbs chairs and laughs as they fall backwards. She gobbles up books, sitting in my lap on the end of the couch to hear Cowboy Small one more time. And then again. She's talking and babbling and cracking us up. The only time she stops moving is when she is asleep. She's a non-stop whirling dervish of climbing and marching, giggling and tickling, exploring and excitement. She is the most amazing being we have ever met.

When Little Bean stands beside me as I bake, I am at peace.

We are honored, beyond words, that anyone cares what we cook together in our kitchen. Thank you for all your comments, suggestions, questions, and conversations here (and on Twitter, Facebook, and other public places). I'm sorry that I can't answer all my emails anymore. My glass is always overflowing. But please know that you are part of our family. We love being here with you.

2009 has been one of the most complex, sometimes difficult, and consistently joyful years of our lives together. It has been action-packed: turning in the first draft of our book, moving to the island, enduring Little Bean's major surgery and slow recovery, making our way through final edits of the book, Danny starting a new job cooking (and he loves it), and a number of Big Adult Things (as my friend Tita likes to call them) that were clarifying and not for this site.

I have to say: I wouldn't mind if 2010 is a bit more mundane.

It's in these mundane moments that the light opens up.

Yesterday, I waited on the ferry dock for the next boat. Little Bean was asleep in her car seat. Danny was at work, pan-searing halibut and plating it with chickpea ragu and a curry vinaigrette. For a few moments, I had nothing to do, nowhere to go. I pulled out a book. (This is pretty rare these days, with a toddler who never stops moving.) Burrowing down into the words, I felt content. And then I noticed the light shift on my fingers.

I looked up. And then I grabbed the camera.

That's all I'm hoping for 2010: to be here, noticing.

Happy New Year, all. May your year be filled with health and happiness, belly laughter, and more good food than you could ever imagine.

Love. And unexpected light.

22 December 2009

gluten-free cinnamon rolls

hello, cinnamon rolls!

My friend John is a painter, an incredible painter who is not recognized in the established art world the way he should be. Whatever. That's not why he paints. (However, I hope the museums and art critics flock to his door when he is 94, the way they have with Carmen Herrera.)

He paints because he has to paint. He sees the world differently than I do and he has this relentless flushed urgency to try to capture what he sees in oil paints, thickly applied sometimes, on blank canvasses. Lately he has been sitting in his cold studio, hunched forward, working with these crazy translucent red paints (rose madder and alizarin crimson), this slash of red that stands out in winter grey around here. His art teacher 30 years ago told him that no one should ever use this particular red. So John bought a tube — expensive for 1979 — and saved it, all this time. He said he wasn't ready for it before. He didn't know enough yet. He opened the tube this winter.

I haven't seen this painting yet. I can't wait.

Forgive me. I know you loaded up this site hoping to find cinnamon rolls. And there they are! See them up there? Lush and delicious, soft and inviting. The recipe is at the bottom of this post. If you really can't stand it anymore, skip these words. Click on the part that says "Keep reading" and it will all be there. You don't have to read this at all.

But I have to write it.

You see, I can't draw stick figures in any recognizeable fashion. My mother bought me a set of paints or watercolors or oil crayons every Christmas, hoping that the artistic talent would bloom some late December. It never did. I'm no visual artist.

Lately, however, I gobble up light with my camera, not wondering if I'm a good photographer, just wanting to see. I write little messages on Twitter because my fingers twitch if I go more than a few hours without recording what I have noticed. I write letters to friends on small stationery cards and copy them before I tuck them into envelopes, saving the copies in a folder for sometime later, in case I ever wonder what I was doing this second day of winter, 2009.

I don't know what I call this. I just do this.

And I bake.

hello, cinnamon rolls (again

Nearly every afternoon, I open the cupboard with the gluten-free flours and grab corn flour or potato starch. Sometimes sorghum. Sea salt, baking powder, and xanthan gum are in the cupboard next to the dishwasher. I reach for the butter that has been softening on the counter so I can mix it with brown sugar and start the magic happening.

I never know what's going to happen next. I imagine it. I know the general structure. But lately, that countertop in front of the bay window, with Little Bean beside me, has become my blank canvas. I'm inventing as I go, trying to make the soft sweet treat I imagine happen underneath my hands.

gf cinnamon rolls III

For Christmas, I wanted cinnamon rolls. Tell truth, I have made them every Christmas for the past four years. The first year's were awful: gnarled at the edges, a bit burnt, and dry as insulation material. The second were from a mix. The third year...Did I make them the third Christmas? I was 8 weeks pregnant, sleeping and sick most of the time. It's a bit of a blur.

Last year, Danny and I proudly carried in the cinnamon rolls we had created for the first draft of our cookbook. And they were....good. I mean, really good. But not, great.

No, that's not it. They still didn't match the image I had in my mind of what a good cinnamon roll should be.

I want a soft, pliable dough, one that tastes good on its own. Yes, I love plump golden raisins, brown sugar almost melting, the ooze of cinnamon-scented butter on the edges, and cream cheese frosting. Really, how could you not love cream cheese frosting? But most of all, I want a cinnamon roll that stands up to the rush of Christmas morning, with a few stragglers left until the afternoon when we pick at the caramelized edges to stave off the hunger pains until dinner begins.

I want the cinnamon roll you see above. And I need it to be gluten-free.

A few days ago, I finally baked it.

gf cinnamon rolls II

As you may know, I have been baking cinnamon rolls non-stop for the past few weeks. I learned so much from every batch, from the botched to the beautiful, that none of it has been a waste. Seriously, though, I started growing close-throated at the idea of another cinnamon roll. Time to bake something else.

Tita's the one who did it. She, my dear friend for the past 18 years (and painter John's wife), knows her food. Tita's the one who gave me the cornbread recipe we have been making since. When I told her stories of making cinnamon rolls that begin by heating oil and milk, she made a face. "I've never done that. All you need is a white bread dough."

Oh. It never occurred to me, somehow, that a cinnamon roll dough is a white bread dough. (I've been studying cinnamon roll recipes like they are the Torah. No one mentioned this.) Strange as it may be for a gluten-free girl, the white bread dough didn't intimidate me. I've figured that out lately.

So I pulled out the scale, and measured out the ratio of flours to liquids to eggs I have figured out these past few months. I chose almond flour for its high protein and slightly sweet taste. Corn flour shows up in all the Italian gluten-free delicacies we ate on our honeymoon. And I pulled out potato starch, tapioca flour, and sweet rice flour, for the starchiness. I turned to Little Bean, babbling and banging the whisk on the countertop beside me, and said, "Let's begin."

I knew it under my hands as I mixed and rolled. This was the one.

You can see the pictures here. Let them be the judge if you would like to bake these cinnamon rolls too.

That's the thing. My cinnamon rolls may not be the ones you like best. That's okay. Not everyone loves John's paintings. (I don't understand those people, but fair enough.) There's not a single creative expression that will win universal approval. That's not why we do this.

Years ago, before I moved to New York, John and I talked about why we do what we do, this crazy passion and need to put things on blank canvases. He said something that has always stayed with me: "I just make the paintings I wish I could look at. You should write the books you want to read."

That's what I'm always doing, when I write, whether it's letters or books. I'm just sitting here trying to write what I wish I could read.

And now I've created the cinnamon rolls I wished I could eat.

If you enjoy them too, that's all the better.

Merry Christmas.

gf cinnamon rolls

Gluten-Free Cinnamon Rolls

You'll see that I have given the flour measurements here in ounces. I bake by weight, with a trusty scale, spooning out flours to exactly four ounces. It makes baking more precise, which is vital to gluten-free baking. It also, however, makes it liberating. Once you figure out the ratios, you don't need someone else's recipes. You can make it up on the spot.

That's my hope, that enough of you start baking by weight that you won't even need to look at my recipes. We can just have conversations instead.

I know that some of you will ask about substitutions. I don't know. If you can't eat almonds, or have an allergy to corn, or have just run out of potato starch, you can substitute other flours, if you use the same weight as the original.
I've used brown rice flour, sorghum, teff, and arrowroot powder successfully here too. The ratio is what really matters. Now, personally, I probably wouldn't use any of the bean flours in cinnamon rolls, or mesquite, or anything that smacks of healthy eating. It's a cinnamon roll. Let it be starchy and doughy for one day.

(I've put the flours into cups, which I measured after I baked these. Keep in mind that how you measure a cup may be different than how I do it here.)

These cinnamon rolls can be dairy-free, as well as gluten-free. In fact, the rolls you see here were made with goat's milk powder, so if you need to avoid cow's milk, this is your recipe. You could substitute soy milk powder or rice milk powder, if you can find it.

Other than that, I really don't know. I'm pretty darned happy with these cinnamon rolls. They're gluten-free. That's how I need to eat. If there are ingredients here you can't eat, then it's your turn to adapt this recipe and make these the best cinnamon rolls for your kitchen.

1 1/2 cups water
3 tablespoons sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons active-dry yeast
4 ounces almond flour (1 1/4 cup)
4 ounces corn flour (3/4 cup)
4 ounces sweet rice flour (3/4 cup)
4 ounces potato starch
(2/3 cup)
4 ounces tapioca flour (1 cup)
1 tablespoon xanthan gum
1 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup milk powder (we used goat milk powder in this batch)
2 large eggs, at room temperature

Filling for Cinnamon Rolls

4 ounces unsalted butter (1 stick or 8 tablespoons)
2/3 cup brown sugar
4 teaspoons cinnamon
3 tablespoons agave nectar (or maple syrup)
1/2 cup golden raisins
1/2 cup walnuts

Cream Cheese Frosting

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
4 tabelspoons cream cheese, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups powdered sugar

Activating the yeast. Bring 1 cup of the water to 115°. This is a good temperature for yeast — not too hot, not too cold. If you want to be particular about it, you can use a thermometer to measure the temperature. I like to turn on the tap water and run it over my wrist. When the water feels like the temperature of my skin (with no cold splashes or hot pockets), it's ready. Mix the water, yeast, and sugar in a medium-sized bowl. Set it aside to rise, about 15 minutes.

Mixing the dry ingredients. Combine the almond flour, corn flour, sweet rice flour, potato starch, tapioca flour, xanthan gum, and salt together. Whisk them together in a food processor, or in a stand mixer, or with a whisk. Combining them into one flour will help the final cinnamon rolls to be light, rather than dense and lumpy. Add the brown sugar and milk powder. Stir to combine.

Finishing the dough. Bring the remaining 1/2 cup of water to 110°. If you have a stand mixer, move the dry ingredients into the bowl of the stand mixer. (If not, you can make this dough with a hand mixer or by hand.) Turn the mixer on medium-low speed and add the yeasty water, then the eggs, 1 at a time, mixing in between.
Mix for a few minutes until the dough comes together. If the dough feels a bit too dry, add the remaining water. (I always seem to need it.) The dough should be soft and a bit shaggy but not soggy. It will NOT be as firm as you expect a gluten dough to be. Instead, you are aiming for pliable and a bit spongy, like a cookie dough.

Yeast doughs will vary in behavior depending on the weather. These measurements are a guide. If you find you need another splash of water to make the dough feel right, then go ahead. If the dough feels too wet (like you need to wipe your hands after touching it), then add a touch more potato starch. Start to trust your instincts.

Letting the dough rise. Move the dough to a large greased bowl. Cover with a clean tea towel and set the bowl in a warm place in the kitchen. Allow it to rise until it has doubled in size, about 1 hour. The dough will have become a bit more pliable, a little more like gluten dough, at this point.

Rolling out the dough. Grab a Silpat (or piece of parchment paper) and lay it on a large baking sheet. Move 1/2 of the dough onto the Silpat and cover it entirely with plastic wrap. Slowly, roll out the dough to the edge of the baking sheet. (You're rolling out its width, first.) I try to make the dough the width of the rolling pin. Next, spin around the baking sheet and roll out the dough lengthwise. You probably won't take it as far as the edge. Simply roll it out to about 1/2-inch thick. Take off the plastic wrap.

Making the filling. Melt the butter on the stove, on low heat. Put half the brown sugar, cinnamon, agave nectar, golden raisins, and walnuts onto the rolled-out dough. Drizzle 1/4 of the melted butter on top.

Rolling the dough. Here's the important part: go slowly. Grab the Silpat on the edge farthest from you and pull it up gently. The edge of the dough should start to roll away from the Silpat and toward the dough. If not, then nudge it with your fingers. Make tight rolls, moving slowly and patting the dough gently as you go. Roll the dough, then press it down with the Silpat, then roll some more, with the dough falling toward you, going slowly. If the filling oozes out as you reach the end, that's okay. It's a sign you're going to have good cinnamon rolls.

(Nothing of this should be about being perfect, anyway.)

Cutting the dough into rolls. Go grab your dental floss. Yes, your dental floss. Cut a long piece of it, longer than two hand widths apart. Slide the piece under the log of dough, then bring the two edges together to cross over the top. By doing this, you should be slicing a piece off the log. This makes for lovely, neat pieces, instead of jagged hunks. Make your way down the log of dough with the dental floss. You should end up with about 8 pieces, with ragged end bits as well.

(Sometimes I bake the ragged ends separately, as little cinnamon swirls. Sometimes I just throw them in.)

Preparing to rise the rolls again. Pour 2 tablespoons of the melted butter into the bottom of a pie pan. Place the sliced rolls into the buttered pan, tightening the rolls if they have begun to unravel. Set them aside to rise.

Repeat this process with the other half of the dough and remaining filling.

Allow the rolls to rise for 1 more hour. Gluten-free doughs do not rise as high as gluten doughs do on the second rise, but they do puff out nicely. It's worth it.

Baking the rolls. Preheat the oven to 350°. When the oven has come to temperature, slide in both pans. Bake until the rolls fill firm to the touch when you press on both sides of one, but still with some give, about 25 minutes.

Allow the rolls to cool for about 10 minutes, then invert them onto a plate.

Frosting the rolls. Put the butter and cream cheese into a food processor. Whirl them up. While that is mixing, pour in the vanilla extract. Add the powdered sugar in handfuls, looking at the texture of the frosting between batches. It usually takes about 2 cups for frosting to be thick and rich in our food processor, but you may like a different texture. This is only a guide.

Frost the rolls when they have reached room temperature.

Go at it.

Makes about 16 cinnamon rolls.

16 December 2009

gluten-free rugelach

gluten-free rugelach

I've been wanting for weeks to tell you about these cookies.

And now that it's time, I find that I don't want to say very much. You know how some meals deserve elaborate place settings, candles lit, and a hushed expectation so your guests will say ooh when you proffer the platter? Others taste best when two of you are standing in front of the stove, hips touching, fingers outstretched toward each other's mouths.

This is a stand-in-front-of-the-stove post.

I just want to race to the end, to the recipe, so you can start making these gluten-free rugelach.

gluten-free rugelach, batch #2

I mean, look at that flakiness! When I first started making these a few weeks ago, the sheet tray sat on the counter while the cookies cooled, and I stood above them, just gawking. I've never seen this kind of flake on a gluten-free anything. Dare I say it's a little like croissants? Or a touch like puff pastry?

Oh, I should back up just a bit. Some of you may be wondering: what the heck is rugelach?

I first ate rugelach in New York City. I'm pretty sure I bought it at Zabar's. One bite and I wanted more. Over those years, whenever I saw a rugelach offered, my hand grabbed for it. (I also ate my fair share of knishes, but that's another story.)

Rugelach are traditionally Jewish cookies, and the name in Yiddish seems to mean anything from creeping vine to little twists to rolled-up cookies. As the holidays approached this year, Danny and I lay out plans to develop some particularly good gluten-free holiday treats. Immediately, we wanted something for Hannukah, not just Christmas.

(I'm a Buddhist who celebrates Christmas and was often named an honorary Jew by my New York Jewish friends. Good pastries, it seems, is my religion.)

When I put up a note on Facebook, asking what people wanted to eat, I heard this chorus of voices: rugelach! rugelach! rugelach! The people spoke and I listened.

This lovely woman, Lisa Laudato, sent me her grandmother's recipe, along with this story:

"This recipe has been handed down to my sister and me from our grandmother. Sadly, she is longer living.

Our Nonny Edith made shoe boxes of this rugelach for my sister's Bat- Mitvah and brought them to Buffalo, NY on the airplane - all the way from Florida. Thinking they would be safe until the big day, our Mom put the boxes in the freezer in our basement. Well, what a surprise our Mom and Grandmother got a few weeks later when they opened the boxes. Almost all of the cookies were gone! Me and my sister had been sneaking down each day and eating them. Ha Ha! That was almost 26 years ago and still no one can resist these cookies.

I would be so happy if this recipe would be able to be converted to be GF! While I can no longer eat dairy, I hope that the recipe would bring as much joy to other's as it has brought to me in the past."

How could I not try to adapt this?

gf rugelach II

The traditional filling for these cookies seems to be apricot jam and walnuts, with a hint of cinnamon sugar. But once you start thinking of these cookies as a template, you can fill them with anything. Raisins. Raspberry jam. Cocoa powder. Kumquat chutney. Whatever the heck you want.

I have made at least a dozen batches of these (we've been working on these like we've been working on the cinnamon rolls) and every one of them left flaky sweetness on our lips. But my two favorite combinations were blueberry habanero chutney with golden raisins, and the one you see above — quince paste and bittersweet chocolate.

Yep. Yum.

Here's another present for you. The dough for these cookies doesn't have any sugar. They're more like a little pastry than a cookie. This means that those of you who have to avoid sugar can eat these cookies. Simply fill them with something sugar-free, a reliable favorite of yours, and you have a holiday treat.

Since the dough itself is not sweet, guess what else you can do? Make tiny crescent rolls. Can anyone say pigs in a blanket? (We are so having these for Christmas this year. I haven't eaten them in years!

Oh, and Lisa (and everyone else in the same boat), you can make these dairy free. We tried it, several times. Earth Balance buttery sticks in place of the butter and vegan cream cheese for the cream cheese. They weren't entirely the same but they were still flaky lovely winter holiday deliciousness.

Happy Hannukah, everyone.


I'm very much honored to be part of the 12 Days of Sharing, organized by one of my favorite food bloggers, Jennifer Perillo from In Jennie's Kitchen. For 12 days, numbers of us have been baking and sharing recipes, urging our readers to donate their recipes to the virtual cookie jar as a way of raising money for Share Our Strength.

I'll let Jennie explain it to you here:

"For the 12 days, we're baking our hearts out to make sure no kid goes hungry this holiday season. How can you help? It's easy. See that badge above? Click on it and make a donation. The feeling that will wash over you, knowing you've made a difference in a child's life, will be the best gift you get this season.

And because we can't thank you enough for your generosity, we've found some amazing corporate donors to help us. Each donation you make via the 12 Days of Sharing badge between today and December 18th equals a free entry into a giveaway for some pretty cool prizes. How cool? Well, let's start with a brand new Cuisinart Stand Mixer? Check out the complete list of giveaway prizes. How about setting a challenge for yourself, and pack breakfast or lunch for the next week? Use the money you'd normally spend and donate it to Share Our Strength each day."

I'm so happy that these gluten-free rugelach might be able to feed hungry kids, as well.

gf rugelach pinwheeled

Gluten-Free Rugelach, adapted from Lisa Laudato's Nonny Edith and Dorie Greenspan

Besides the flaky texture, the sweet pastry crust and sweet surprise of an inside, and the fact that these are so darned good, the thing I like best about this recipe is how easy it is. Simply gather your flours, some xanthan gum, salt, cream cheese, butter, and your food processor. That's it. Once I started making them, I stopped looking at the recipe. I had the ratio in my head.

I'm telling you now, if you are at all serious about gluten-free baking: buy a kitchen scale. These cookies work every time when I measure them out in ounces, instead of cups and tablespoons. And here's the best part — if you bake these cookies with 7 ounces of flours? You could almost use any flours. I have made these with teff, oat flours, tapioca, potato, almond flour, and sweet rice flour. They all worked. The combination I'm going to give you here is our favorite, the most supple and flaky. But as long as you measure out 7 ounces of flour, you could use the first three flours you have in your cupboard. Or a mix. You can substitute out the cornstarch, if you are allergic to corn, and put in arrowroot powder instead. It's that simple.

And, starting in January, we're going to be writing all of our baked goods recipes in ounces and grams. So get ready, people. Buy a scale. Believe me, these cookies alone make the purchase worth it.

4 ounces cream cheese (that's half of one package, in its usual form)
4 ounces unsalted butter (that's 1 stick)

2 ounces super-fine brown rice flour (1/3 cup)
2 ounces potato starch (1/4 cup)
3 ounces cornstarch (2/3 cup)
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
2 teaspoons xanthan gum
1 large egg
1 tablespoon water

Set the cream cheese and butter out on the counter about 10 minutes before you start working with them. Cut the cream cheese and the butter into 4 equal pieces. They should be starting to soften when you work with them.

Put the brown rice flour, potato starch, cornstarch, salt, and xanthan gum into a food processor. Run the processor until the flours are well mixed.

Drop the 4 cream cheese pieces and 4 butter pieces into the food processor. Pulse them 5 to 10 times, then turn on the processor full force. At first, the flours will spin round and round and you'll think you need some liquid to make them stick. Be patient. After a few moments, you'll see the forces start to gather. Watch carefully. Stop the processor when the dough looks like giant curds, before it has formed a solid ball.

Form the dough into two balls with your hands. Cover them in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 15 minutes, to allow them to rest and harden up just a touch.

Roll out the dough balls between two pieces of parchment paper. You want about a 10-inch circle at the end, as evenly round as you can. Peel off the top layer of parchment paper and spread your favorite fillings onto the dough, leaving at least 1 inch space around the edges. Using the bottom piece of parchment paper, nudge the edge of the dough forward until it begins to curl inward. Roll the dough, stopping after each turn to press down lightly. Keep the log of dough as tight as you can.

Or, if you want little crescents instead, spread the filling on the rolled-out dough and press it in with your fingers. Using a pizza cutter or knife, cut the dough into 8 triangles. Starting with the wide end, slowly roll up the triangle until you have a cresent roll. Voila!

Put the shaped dough back into the refrigerator for 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 350°.

Whip the egg and water together to form an egg wash. Brush the log or triangles of dough with an egg wash.

Bake in the oven until the crust is firm and golden brown, about 25 to 30 minutes. Allow them to cool to room temperature before cutting them up.

Makes about 2o cookies.

14 December 2009

Menu for Hope: Let the Bidding Begin

Menu for Hope 6

Finally. We're ready.

Let the bidding begin.

Food bloggers from the western half of the United States have been supremely generous with their time and talents. They donated in droves. I hope you have a few moments, because you're going to want to sit down and peruse these bid items for Menu for Hope.

There are some truly amazing offers here. For the sake of trying to remain unbiased, I have put them in order of the emails as they arrived. Whoever sent bid items descriptions and pictures to me first got the highest numbers! I am certain there is a photo workshop, a baking package, a set of books, or food sculpture that is right for someone in your life.

Remember, every $10 you donate to Menu for Hope gets you another chance to win, as well as more money for the UN World Food Purchase for Progress program.

Here are your directions for bidding:

1. Choose a bid item or bid items of your choice from our Menu for Hope main bid item list, when it's posted. (That will be up at Chez Pim.)

2. Go to the donation site at Firstgiving and make a donation.

3. Please specify which bid item you'd like in the 'Personal Message' section in the donation form when confirming your donation. You must write-in how many tickets per bid item, and please use the bid item code.

Each $10 you donate will give you one raffle ticket toward a bid item of your choice. For example, a donation of $50 can be 2 tickets for UW01 and 3 tickets for UW33.

4. If your company matches your charity donation, please check the box and fill in the information so we could claim the corporate match.

5. Please check the box to allow us to see your e-mail address so that we can contact you in case you win. Your e-mail address will not be shared with anyone.

Okay, there's more I could tell you, but that's the gist. You are raring to see the bid items in this raffle, aren't you?


UW01 Food Styling and Food Photography Workshop with Matt Armendariz

You're bidding on one Food Styling & Food Photography Workshop to be held in 2010. The class will be held at Matt Armendariz's studio in Long Beach, California, March 13 & 14. In this class you'll spend one day learning the ins and outs of food styling followed by a second day of hands-on photography with Matt. The workshops held thus far have been incredibly engaging, entertaining and packed full of practical information to help your food looks its best and ways to capture that beautiful image. Bring your camera and any questions you have!

This class is valued at $695.

The Fine Print: Winner is responsible for travel to Long Beach as well as accommodations. Lunch and class materials for you will be provided by Matt Armendariz. In lieu of class scheduling and winner's schedule a personal day of food styling instruction and food photography at the studio can be offered as an alternate. Same conditions apply.

UW02 Locavore Starter Kit

So many people tell us that they'd love to make the leap to eating local products, but they just don't know where to start. So we're making it simple with a Locavore Starter Kit: A trial membership to the Soul Food Farm chicken-and-egg CSA (or another CSA of your choice* if you live outside the Bay Area) and a farmer's market tour with breakfast and local treats.

Soul Food Farm and Married with Dinner are offering a $100 CSA credit toward the winner's choice of whole chickens, eggs, olive oil, and other farm-fresh goodies. Pick up your winnings all at once, or spread it over multiple pickups: It's up to you how to spend your CSA credit (subject to the usual order terms, naturally).

Plus, Soul Food Farm farmer Alexis Koefoed has offered a personal tour of Soul Food Farm for the prize winner and up to 3 guests at a mutually agreeable time in 2010.

We'll also include a personalized tour of the San Francisco Ferry Plaza Farmers Market, complete with breakfast or lunch for two, to help the winner find all the great foods they need to make the leap to la vida locavore.

And if that's not enough, we'll also bring along a bag full of local and homemade goodies for you to take home after your walk-around. The bag will include some of our own preserves, and an assortment of treats from local folks — including a bag of brown rice and a jar of almond butter from Massa Organics.

* A special note for non-Bay Area bidders: If the winner's residence is not located within 25 miles of a Soul Food Farm drop point, we'll pay the first month's box charges ($50 maximum) for any community supported agriculture program in the winner's area. And the market tour + breakfast portion of the prize is open to any winner, local or visitor, on any Saturday in 2010 (subject to Anita & Cameron's availability).

UW03 Coffee and Cake from Cucina Nicolina

This lovely package donated by Nicole at Cucina Nicolina includes:

- 1/2 lb. delicious, fresh-roasted Blue Bottle coffee beans
- a small cake/sweet bread or batch of cookies, depending on recipient preference (dietary needs? no problem!)
- a pretty new mug in which to enjoy the coffee

UWO4 Dinner for 2 at Manresa

This bid-item donated by Pim includes dinner for two people at Michelin 2-star restaurant Manresa, plus wine pairings, plus a tour of the restaurant's biodynamic garden at Love Apple Farm.

Gratuity is not included.

UWO5 Artisan Marmalade from Pim

This bid item offers a selection of six jars of Chez Pim’s artisan marmalade and jam, plus an autographed copy of Pim’s new book, The Foodie Handbook: The (Almost) Definitive Guide to Gastronomy.

UW06 Dinner for 2 at Coi in San Francisco

This bid item, donated by Pim, includes dinner for 2 people at Daniel Patterson's Michelin 2-star restaurant, Coi, in San Francisco.

Plus, the winner will also receive dinner for two at Daniel Patterson's more casual spot at the Ferry Plaza, Il Cane Rosso.

Beverages and gratuity are not included.

UW07 Four-Month Subscription to Citizen Bean

Citizen Bean offers 4-month subscription of their coffee-roasster of the month club that celebrates the best sustainable and complex roasts from small roasters all over the country. You'll also receive a Welcome Kit, with a 4-cup French Press, a timer, and other coffee essentials.

Shipping to U.S. only.

UW08 Emera Camera Bag

Get an Emera bag of your own - tote your favorite DSLR in style with Pim's favorite camera tote bag, the one and only Emera Bag!

UW10 Gift Certificate to Blurb to Make a Book from Your Blog

Donated by Faith Kramer at Blog Appetit, this $50 gift certificate allows you to make a book from your blog, through Blurb. Plus, if you wish, Faith will help you copy edit your new book.

UW11 Lowel Light Set for Food Photography

This Lowell Ego Two Light Set, donated by Kalyn's Kitchen, includes two stand lights with two bulbs in each light, bounce cards and backdrop. This will make your food photography much better, particularly in these long winter months.

This ships to US only.

This bid item, donated by BlogHer, is a free pass for admission to all conference sessions and events for the BlogHer Conference 2010 in New York.

(This does not include travel or hotel expenses, or meals other than those included with the conference. Men or women can attend BlogHer.)

Garrett at Vanilla Garlic has donated the ultimate vanilla prize package. Win 175 vanilla beans of 7 different varieties, plus ground vanilla, vanilla sugar, vanilla extract, 2 kinds of vanilla paste, and vanilla Fleur de Sel. This is enough vanilla to last you a lifetime, sponsored by Beanilla.

Shipping Restrictions: None

Romney Steele has written a lovely memoir about her family's time at Nepenthe Restaurant in Big Sur. She has donated a copy of My Nepenthe: Bohemian Tales of Food, Family, and Big Sur, along with one 8oz jar of her apple pear butter and 1 pound of Kevah Granola, both recipes in the book and reminiscent of home. Nepenthe Restaurant has also donated a $100 gift certificate so you can come in to enjoy dinner.

Denise and Laudalino, the couple who run Chez Us, have donated this truffle package.

The gift set includes 3 40-ml bottles of truffle honey, truffle balsamic vinegar, and truffle oil.

Ships to anywhere in the US.

Valentina Vitols is offering a two-hour long photo tour or Pike Place Market OR a two-hour in-studio photo session. The winner gets to choose.

And she is throwing in five 4 x 6 professional-quality prints.

You must be able to be in Seattle to win this bid item.

Elise from Simply Recipes has donated this humungous assortment of artisanal foods from (think Etsy for food), including Charles chocolates, Sweet Revolution caramel spread, Hawaiian honey, red onion confit, green tomato relish, Ethiopian coffee, and red currant jam.

This has over a $200 value.

Shipping to the US only.

Susan from Wild Yeast has donated a 2-day artisan baking class (or 40% off a 5-day class) at the San Francisco Baking Institute.

Choose from a variety of bread and pastry workshops.

You must be able to be in San Francisco to claim this bid item.

Susan from Wild Yeast has also donated a signed copy of Advanced Bread and Pastry by Michel Suas, the founder of the San Francisco Baking Institute.

Shipping to the US only.

Pack adorable lunches with unusual Winnie the Pooh food shaping tools and a banana-themed "Putifresh" bento set. The yellow bento set includes a watertight bento box, two matching bags, chopsticks, elastic bento belt and a Zespri "spife" (spoon/knife combo) for packing whole kiwifruit. The tools include a boiled egg shaper, sandwich cutter, onigiri rice ball shaper, vegetable cutter, pancake ring and silicone food cups, all shaped like Winnie the Pooh.

This bid item has been donated by Biggie at Lunch in a Box.

Season your way to good taste with Diamond Crystal® kosher, coarse and fine sea salt and put to use that iconic salt cellar you've seen Alton Brown using on Good Eats. Use a $25 CHEFS gift certificate to purchase anything else you might need, then cook like the chefs with signed copies of Michael Symon's Live to Cook and Top Chef: The Quickfire Cookbook (signed by chefs Jen Biesty, Jamie Lauren and Ryan Scott ). You'll also get a copy of Good Eats: The Early Years, Top Chef: The Cookbook and Top Chef Quickfire Challenge Game to keep you busy until next season.

This package has been donated by Amy Sherman at Cooking with Amy.

Jeanne at Four Chickens has donated signed copies of Thomas Keller's Ad Hoc at Home + Langdon Cook's Fat of the Land.

This ships to the US only.

Jen Yu, the amazing photographer who writes Use Real Butter, has donated one of her original photographs.

The winner has the choice of one 12x18-inch original photograph by Jen Yu, matted to 18x24 inches, with black or white matboard.

This ships anywhere.

Jen Yu of Use Real Butter has also donated a $100 gift certificate to The Culinary School of the Rockies in Boulder, Colorado. They offer professional programs and home cook classes throughout the year. Discover what's fresh. Discover CSR!

You must be in Boulder, Colorado to redeem this gift certificate.

Jen Yu of Use Real Butter has also donated a $100 gift certificate to SALT the Bistro on Pearl Street in beautiful downtown Boulder, Colorado. Recently featured in the Wall Street Journal, Bradford Heap's SALT serves up local and organic food. SALT: civilizing taste for over 6,000 years.

You must be in Boulder, Colorado to redeem this gift certificate.

Patricia Sharpley of Brownies for Dinner has donated this package. It includes a few of the essentials for you to make the perfect brownie: a box of Valhrona Dutch process cocoa powder, a bar of Scharfenberger 70% cocoa bittersweet chocolate, a Chicago Metallic Professional 9x9 square brownie and cake pan, and The Sweet Life in Paris by David Lebovitz which has in it the single best brownie recipe I’ve tried.

This package, donated by Arnold Gatilao of Inuyaki, means a dinner for 2 at Ad Hoc, as well as a signed copy of the Thomas Keller cookbook. (Beverages, tax, and gratuity are not included.)

You must be in Napa, California to redeem this bid item.

This bid item, donated by Arnold Gatilao of Inuyaki, is a copy of Ad Hoc at Home, signed by both Thomas Keller and Chef de Cuisine Dave Cruz.

This bid item, donated by Arnold Gatilao of Inuyaki, is a copy of Under Pressure, signed by Thomas Keller.

This bid item, donated by Arnold Gatilao of Inuyaki, is a copy of Momofuku, signed by David Chang and Peter Meehan.

The lovely Jessie Oleson, from Cakespy, has donated this 11x14 original watercolor / pen and ink drawing, which will come in an 11x14 black frame. It's entitled Bacon and Cupcakes Enjoying Cocktails, and it is ready to hang.

This would generally retail for $85.

UW32 Time to Shoot the Doughnuts

You have your choice in this bid item donated by Lara Ferroni of Cook and Eat.

Bid on a personal day of food photography & styling workshop in Lara's studio. We will tackle food styling, camera and light settings and spend the afternoon practicing! The winner is responsible for travel and lodging to Seattle, WA. Doughnuts, lunch and equipment will be provided.

OR The winner can choose a personalized doughnut kit, including a recipe of the winner's choice from Doughnuts before it is published, a doughnut cutter and mini doughnut baking sheet, the dry ingredients for the doughnut recipe of the winner's choice, and a signed copy of Doughnuts once it is released.

Ore Dagan of is offering an assortment of delicious Fra' Mani Salumi hand chosen by Paul Bertolli. Included will be a Fra' Mani 'Little Ham'; a Fra' Mani Pancetta; an extra-large Salame Gentile named 'Gentile Gigante' as well as some other items hand chosen at the time of delivery.

Shipping of these 12+ pounds of Salumi is included within the continental US (no PO Boxes).

Hobson of Hobson's Choice is offering a 7.75 lb. spallacia (prosciutto-esque front leg), salted and cured by the talented folks at La Quercia. It has been aged for one year and is now ready to eat and eat and eat. I It is is almost impossible to buy slices retail as there are only 100 or so Acorn Edition spallacias in the world. Here, the winner gets the whole leg, with instructions on how to store, slice and serve it.

Shipping is limited to those with US addresses.

Brooke Burton of Food Woolf is donating a food-inspired wire sculpture to Menu For Hope.

"I've been commissioned in the past to sculpt fish, violins, bikes, and now--cattle and bigs. I am attaching copies of some food sculptures I've done in the past week. I think it would be fun to have the bidder give me a genre and I'll create something just for them."

Ships to within the US.

This bid item from Tea at Tea and Cookies includes a signed early copy of her forthcoming book, The Butcher and The Vegetarian: One Woman's Romp Through a World of Men, Meat, and Moral Crisis. You'll be getting an advance copy, as the book isn't published until February, along with a collection of favorite artisanal food items picked by Tea (can be made vegetarian or meaty, on request). This will include local treats from Seattle and San Francisco, as well as her own homemade quince jam.

Ships to the US.

Dianne Jacob, author of Will Write for Food, is donating two hours of consulting time, plus a copy of her book. If you would benefit from coaching on writing a cookbook, travel book, food memoir; starting a food blog; improving your blog; writing freelance articles; or you'd like feedback on your writing, please bid on this prize.

Nurit of 1 Family. Friendly. Food has donated a package which includes a copy of the book Not Becoming My Mother by Ruth Reichl and a beautiful, green- lime colored Microplane Classic Series Premium Zester.
Dealing with Mother issues with a zester in hand? Well… zesting can be a great way to let out some of those repressed emotions. Or, you can start a book club after reading the book, then go to the kitchen and use your beautiful green zester to cook something fabulous for your newly found book club of people who are trying to resolve their mother issues.

The shipping of this bid item is limited to the US only.

The Breville Panini Duo Press provides a quick and easy way to make panini right on your countertop. It features a brushed stainless-steel exterior, ridged nonstick grill plates and an adjustable-height top plate. A floating hinge allows you to grill sandwiches of different thickness at the same time. Valued at US$69.95.

These ship to the US only.

UW40 An Afternoon of Foraging with Langdon Cook

Join author-forager Langdon Cook for a morning or afternoon of seeking out the Pacific Northwest's wild bounty. Perhaps you'll bushwhack through deep forests in search of edible mushrooms...or dig clams on the coast...or even scale mountains to pick sweet huckleberries. The choice is yours. Just bring a sense of adventure--the forager will take care of the rest.

UW41 Gluten-Free Goodness from The Gluten-Free Girl and the Chef

Danny and I are compiling a basket of goodies designed to make you happier in the kitchen: three of our favorite cookbooks from the last year; a necessary ingredient from each book; one of our favorite kitchen utensils; and a box full of fresh gluten-free baked goods.

Oh, and an autographed copy of our book, Gluten-Free Girl and the Chef, when it is published next fall.

Allison from Sushi Day has donated a signed copy of Sustainable Sushi: A Guide to Saving the Oceans One Bite at a Time by Casson Trenor, and a $50 gift certificate to Mashiko Sushi Restaurant in Seattle, WA.

Mashiko is one of the few sushi restaurants in the United States who have recently dedicated their menus to being completely sustainable, and they do it wonderfully.

You must be in Seattle to redeem the gift certificate.

Karen Coates of Rambling Spoon has donated this package of photographs and homemade treats.

Seven colorful prints, taken by Jerry Redfern, along our recent culinary journeys through Asia. These pictures, printed on 8 1/2 x 11 premium photo paper with archival inks, will take you to tea in India and Burma, and an onion market in Mandalay. They'll introduce you to a Mandalay man with his chicken; and they'll feed you momos in Darjeeling, a fish along the Mekong, and a glass of pomegranate juice in Kolkata.

Jerry's mother, Jenny Redfern, is offering six half-pint jars of her homemade Meyer lemon marmalade. No artificial sweeteners; only sugar, pectin and lemons straight from her backyard tree.

Finally, this is only one of many sites with bid items. You can also visit the following places to see more packages offered:

US: East Coast
Helen of Tartelette (mytartelette[at]gmail[dot]com)

Europe *and* the UK
David Lebovitz (david.lebovitz[at]yahoo[dot]com)

Tara of Seven Spoons (tara[at]sevenspoons[dot]net)

Asia Pacific, Australia, New Zealand
Ed Charles of Tomato (gastrotom[at]gmail[dot]com)

and, last but not least, our special Wine Blog Host
Alder of Vinography (alder[at]vinography[dot]com)

Event Co-ordinator
Chez Pim
(any further information about the event or questions about financing go here)

Whew! Those are a lot of possibilities, aren't they?

Don't be overwhelmed. Start bidding.