Thing #27 – Quebec City

Most mornings we walk past our neighborhood bakery and I say, “Mmmm, smells like a train station!” Fresh bread floating in the morning air gives me memories of filling my purse with pastries in Munich.

The smell of a bakery instantly whooshes you into a memory. And it’s personal for everyone. Bakers have the magic power to transport you. And the stories behind their recipes are often rooted in something deeper than we realize. This is why I initially started my blog, after all.

I was reminded of this in Quebec City when I went into a bakery for a baguette and left with an education on French literature.

At Le Paingrüel, we had the treat of talking with the baker of arguably the best artisanal breads in town. He uses traditional baking practices and has committed to studying and perfecting them.

During our visit, we got a crash course on baguettes and learned the Swiss-style baguette was discovered as a result of a mistake. (A delicious one, incidentally.)

He stood alongside a rack … Read the rest

My new friends – Lewis and Clark


Lewis and Clark were two guys on the adventure of a lifetime. I can’t fathom the audacity it would take to head west for a couple years through unknown waterways and uncharted wilderness to the Pacific. President Jefferson essentially asked them to pioneer what would be the equivalent to a flight to Mars today. Sounds like a lot of work, not to mention, dangerous. I wonder if Meriwether Lewis was secretly like, “Egh, I really don’t want to, but Tommy and I have been friends since we were little, and I don’t want to be a pussy about it.” W
hile I generally knew about these guys, it wasn’t until recently that I dug in and got some details. Let me explain…

In effort to escape the city for a night, Huzzbot and I took a drive to Weston, MO, a town frozen in the late 1800s that charms the crap out of day trippers from throughout the region. Back in the day, it was the booming metropolis of the west, thanks to lush sprawling Read the rest

For the love of focaccia

Riomaggiore

I don’t typically regret things. I’ll critique myself mercilessly on how I could have done or said something differently, but ultimately, no regrets. However, there is one thing I’m borderline regretting…and it has to do with bread.

It’s been nearly two months since we returned from our trip to Italy, and while every place we visited cast a spell on me, I’ve been daydreaming about one thing. I wish I could rewind time and go back to Liguria – the northwest coast Italy- not just for the mountains, colorful villages and fresh fish, but for the focaccia. The folks in this part of Italy can bake the crap outta some focaccia, and I wish I spent more time eating it and learning the secret of what makes it so incredible.Breakfast focaccia

In our Cinque Terre wanderings, we passed countless storefronts showcasing the bumpy bread in their windows. Plain, tomato, olive, onion, pesto…they were pretty to look at, but not what our taste buds were pulling us toward. (Side note: My taste buds screamed for what I … Read the rest

Sprinkles

Sprinkle cookie

I live in fear of my life becoming too simple. Uninspired. Average. A sugar cookie life with cookie cutter constraints. I’ve fought relentlessly against this kind of life, surrounding myself with people and hobbies that reveal secret passageways into my creativity. I’ve prioritized it because it’s always been my sure-fire ticket to happiness.

For the past few months I’ve been feeling very cookie cutter. Uninspired. Average. Demands are high. My favorite people and hobbies have been far away, and I haven’t allowed myself the time or space to seek new ones. This is why you haven’t heard from me in awhile. Each time I’ve tried to write, it seems silly and I quit. My creative spark is barely flickering.

Recently on my way to work, I stopped by McLain’s Bakery in the Waldo neighborhood of KC. This is a gorgeous, spacious bakery with lots of seating and way too many choices. In the morning, the pastry case is steamy and chock-full of pillowy danishes, rolls and croissants. They also have a case of cookies, and … Read the rest

Moving to the bread basket of America

Bread basket of AmericaI don’t know if you heard the news, but this gypsy is wandering. I was recently presented with an outstanding career opportunity in Kansas City, and being a girl who has a hard time passing up an adventure, I jumped on it. To be honest, Huzzbot is the one who gave me the kick in the pants to do it. Another reason why he is the best.

After people share their excitement with me, the number one question I get is, “What about Sissy?!” I get concerned looks from people asking about her emotions and if she’ll move along with us. You guys, don’t worry about Sissy. We’ll miss each other terribly, but will find ways to hang out. She is actually coming in December for our annual cookie-baking extravaganza, and I know we’ll still have adventures to share with you.Sistaaahs

The second comment I receive is, “What about the blog? Are you going to find bakeries down there? You’re not gonna start blogging about BBQ, right?” Yes, I will be exploring a new world … Read the rest

Anoka – Halloween Capital of the World

I couldn’t think of a more appropriate time to visit Hans’ Bakery in Anoka than on Halloween. Why? Only because it’s the Halloween Capital of the WORLD!

Back in 1920, the good people of Anoka thought of a clever way to prevent those gosh darn kids from pulling despicable Halloween pranks. Civic leaders got together and threw a mega celebration, complete with a parade, to give the youth and their families something to do. Today the tradition has grown to include even more parades, costume contests, spooky tours, carnivals and other festivities.

The parade has happened every year since 1920, with the exception of 1942 and 1943 because of World War II. When Sissy, Cousin G and I arrived in Anoka, the sidewalks were lined for endless blocks with blankets, chairs and tarps saving spots along the parade route. It’s serious biz.

Before exploring town, we filled up on donuts. Hans’ Bakery is known for a couple key things – the Texas Donut (the size of an adult’s head), the Bee Hive, and its smaller … Read the rest