Based on the number of Amazon delivery truck sightings in and around my neighborhood, it appears much of the world shops online. I prefer to see and handle things up close and personal. On-line shopping gives me pause, unless I’m receiving support from one of the friendly phone operators on the other end of the 1-800 L. L. Bean telephone lines. They understand me, provide guidance, answer my questions, never force me to click that tiny little shopping cart that pops up in the right hand corner of the computer screen. That shopping cart icon causes me anxiety, never willing to accept one single item, always making additions. It loves to taunt with the promise of express check-out, only to leave me dazed, confused, and exiting the site having purchased 13 baking pans when all I want is one.
My housemates will tell you that I will never, ever, need to purchase another baking pan for the remainder of my baking days. From their perspective, they are constantly attempting to free a simple item from a cabinet, or a drawer, or a shelf, only to face an onslaught of bakeware. The pans range in size from diminutive tartlets to individual springforms to cavernous cake pans capable of easily feeding one hundred wedding guests. I have pans with removable bottoms that love to separate and crash to the floor, assorted cupcake pans of varying depths, and more than enough pie plates to satisfy a calendar’s worth of offerings.
The same can be said for the cabinet filled with sugars, flours, and extracts. Following a series of
interventions, it was suggested that my baking items be shifted from the entire kitchen to one substantial cabinet. It is a struggle that I have learned to acknowledge, re-aligning decorative sugars and quirky spices to accommodate various bags of flour and a wide assortment of sweeteners. Although one would think that I couldn’t possibly need to add to this baking pantry, I have recently, and joyfully, made room for a few additions.
A few weeks back, before the holiday craziness breezed through town, I received an extravagant package from the kind folks at Jones and Co. Flavorings. The company prides itself on sourcing vanilla from small-plot vanilla cultivators, local farmers often overlooked by large producers. In addition to vanilla, they offer many wonderful extracts, sugars, and flavorings from all over the world. My work and home kitchen environment is tethered to vanilla extract; it is an integral part of every baker’s pantry. It is the ingredient that is linked to our childhood baking memories, a small, red-capped bottle that when opened, unleashed a flood of baking possibilities.
I have made room in my chaotic baking pantry to welcome some beautiful sugars and extracts, just begging to be used. This week’s recipe takes advantage of January’s abundant citrus crop. Before the three-day weekend envelops us in snow, make a stop at your local grocer and pick up some lemons, limes, and oranges. In the midst of winter, we can all use a little sunshine and if you’re lucky, a very good bottle of vanilla.
Professional Pie-isms & Seasonal Sarcasm