Let’s spoon.

The Well Fed Network announced the nominees for the 2007 Food Blog Awards yesterday. Bon Appegeek’s “Spoon Swoon” post has been nominated in the Best Post category. I firmly believe that my post about measuring spoons is the greatest measuring spoon post posted on an amateur food blog that starts with the letter “B” in 2007, but I can’t say that it’s the best post period, even among food blogs starting with the letter “B”. The nominees include beautiful and moving posts about things far more important than spoons. I’m flattered merely to be among them.

Vote for all your favorites now.

Spoon Swoon

Fourth Annual Menu for Hope and ice cream (updated).

It’s back! Last year’s Menu for Hope raffle raised more than $60,000 for the UN World Food Programme. We hope to beat that record by raising even more money for the same program, and this year the money has been specially reserved for the school lunch program in Lesotho, Africa. Pim has posted amazing pictures taken by the residents of Lesotho themselves with donated disposable cameras. Here is even more information on the details of the Lesotho program, Menu For Hope, and where the donated money will go.

Menu for HopeFood bloggers worldwide are donating food and food-related packages, tours, and treats for lucky winners of the Menu For Hope raffle. The full prize list and links to the regional hosts are at main host Chez Pim. Kalyn’s Kitchen is once again coordinating the central United States prizes, which includes Bon Appegeek’s six-part ice cream maker package (UC04).

Ice Cream Maker Package – UC04

My personal policy is never to offer a prize unless I’ve tested and used it myself. Last year I offered a pasta maker for knocking out burglars and, uh, making pasta. The first part of Bon Appegeek’s six-part prize this year (ships to the U.S. and Canada only) is a White Cuisinart ICE-20 1-1/2-Quart Automatic Ice Cream maker. I’ve used the same model for years. It has churned out this azuki bean ice cream and the rich vanilla bean ice cream pictured here and has never failed my taste buds (I can’t say the same for my waistline). It can also be used to knock out burglars, and the chilled canister can ice bruises should you accidentally conk a beloved family member on the head instead.

Vanilla Bean Ice Cream Wait, I lied. I’ve never tested or used David Lebovitz’s The Perfect Scoop, the second part of this prize package. Why not? Because I couldn’t buy cookbooks for myself this year, that’s why. If I’d known that David would release a fabulous ice cream book that the food blog world would go crazy over, I would have made an exception ahead of time, but noooooooo. So this book has been on my wishlist for months while everybody else has been happily using and loving it. Now you can too. And as of January 1, 2008, I WILL TOO. Stupid 2007 new year’s resolutions. It’s been a tough year for me, let me tell you.

UPDATE: The third part of this prize is free ice cream! If you’re planning a trip to Paris in 2008, David Lebovitz has generously offered to take the winner and a guest out to famed Parisian ice cream maker Berthillon for ice cream. (And while he didn’t explicitly offer this, if I were you I’d pick his brain for all the best places in Paris to eat and shop, assuming you can stop moaning over the famous ice cream. If anyone knows where to score the best food, it’s him!) Thanks, David!

Ice Cream Maker PackageThe fourth part of the prize is a small jar of hand-raked Fleur de Sel culled from my precious small stash. This is the celebrated sea salt of France. I’m a big fan of Fleur de Sel, and it’s important if you want to make, say, this Salted Butter Caramel Ice Cream recipe. This is your chance to try the salt and see if you like it. It’s also fabulous over braised cabbage and sprinkled on roast beef. There’s about five tablespoons or a heaping quarter cup in the jar.

Wait, I lied again. The fifth and sixth parts of the prize are two items I’ve never used but suspect are pretty awesome. This soft-handled Calphalon ice cream scoop looks like it can slice its way through even the hardest ice creams, and this bottle of Kahlua chocolate—that’s right, Kahlua and chocolate together in one bottle—looks luscious. No doubt you could mix up this sinful combination yourself, but until then, you’ll have it right there waiting for you to drizzle it all over your homemade ice cream . . . assuming I don’t drizzle it onto my own ice cream first. Bid fast, people! I’m only human!

This prize package’s code is UC04. Shipping is limited to the United States and Canada. Please feel free to ask any questions about the prize in the comments. More information on the raffle and the charity are at Chez Pim and Kayln’s Kitchen. Good luck everyone, and happy bidding.

How to donate and enter the raffle

1) Choose a prize(s) of your choice here.

2) Make a donation at First Giving.

3) Specify which prize you’d like in the “Personal Message” section of the donation form. Write how many tickets you want per prize and use the prize code. Each $10 buys one raffle ticket good for any one prize. (For example, a donation of $50 can be 2 tickets for EU01 and 3 tickets for EU02. Please write 2xEU01, 3xEU02.) Of course you may donate without entering the raffle if you wish.

4) If your company will match the donation, please check that box and fill in the information so that we can claim the corporate match.

5) Please check the box to allow us to see your email so that we can contact you if you win. Your information will remain private. Check Chez Pim January 9 for results.

A Transformers groom’s cake: more than meets the eye.

Transformers logoThis is a conversation with my brother half a year ago, shortly after he and his fiancée asked me to bake their wedding cake. Keep in mind that I am not artistic, had never baked professionally, or really decorated a cake. My cake specialty up until then had been pound cakes baked in bundt pans and dusted with powdered sugar. Sometimes I made carrot cake. They were tasty cakes, but unlikely to impress wedding guests.

Brother: Did you know that there’s also a groom’s cake?
Me: I’ve heard of it.
Brother: Can you make an Optimus Prime groom’s cake?
Me: Um. Well. I could make an abstraction of an Optimus Prime cake.
Brother: You mean…like a bunch of circles and squares?
Me: Yeah.
Brother: I’ll pass.

I thought about it. Then I thought about it some more. As long as I stuck with the chest up, the only problem with Optimus Prime was the elaborate head. The rest of him really wasn’t that far off from a bunch of circles and squares. So I ordered the Playskool Mr. Potato Head Opti-Mash Prime (“More than meets the fry”) and planned a cake around the helmet. This was the result.

Optimus Prime Transformers groom's cake 1

The base, helmet, ribbon, exhaust pipes, and nail polish-painted lights were not edible. Everything else, including the fondant and pastillage head, windows, and chest, were. They wouldn’t be tasty, but you could technically snack on them with your afternoon tea. I had originally hoped to make Optimus Prime’s head out of cake so that my brother could eat it with a spoon, but time constraints and the crazy decision to make this a secret groom’s cake made that too difficult. The secret was a success. He was surprised. Or at least he was once it sank in there was an Optimus Prime groom’s cake. It took time for the denial to pass.

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