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Start Your Ovens

One of the worst things about being
unemployed for so long (other than the obvious things, like the
possibility of losing your home) was how I had to curtail my
baking. I dearly love to heat up an oven and bake up a little
happiness, and Maddie has grown to really enjoy our times in the
kitchen as well; she’s probably the only two-year-old I know
who not only has all the ingredients for butter cake memorized, but
can identify Fiori di Sicilia by smell. So as the holiday season
started to rear its glittery, chocolate-filled head, I felt stabs
of longing even as I knew we wouldn’t be able to spend a lot
of money on my traditional whirlwind of baking and mailing out
boxes of holiday goodies.

Fortunately for me, my husband is gainfully employed and the
bakefest is back on. Scaled back, of course, as we recover from the
financial drain of eight months of no income. But back on it is.
With my recipe books piled high around the kitchen and my note
spiral open to my documentation of last year’s holiday baking
forays (yes, it’s sad but true), I’m now in hog

I’m mentioning all this here because
I don’t think I’m the only one out there who likes to
bake for the holidays, and I’m pretty sure I’m not the
only mom who tries to save her two precious commodities of pennies
and time as she does so; therefore, I’m making sure you all
know about one of my all-time favorite (non-parenting) sites
target="_blank">Baker’s Catalog

I sat down yesterday and planned out some of my holiday baking,
calculating how much chocolate, vanilla, and flavorings I’d
need to get through the next two months. I browsed through their
online recipe section, debating on whether or not I should try the
eggnog french toast or the mapledoodles (yes to both). I confess to
feeling a little thrill as I clicked the “send” button
for my online order, and will be waiting with nose pressed to the
window for the UPS guy to show up.

So what’s the deal with this company? They’re a small
Vermont company who sell high-quality baking ingredients and
utensils. They have an astonishing selection of whole-grain flours
and mixes, seek out fair-trade cocoas, and offer excellent recipes
in their catalogs, all while charging incredibly reasonable prices.
You can buy a bottle of high-quality vanilla for almost half of
what Williams-Sonoma charges, and Baker’s Catalog will charge
you shipping based on the weight of your order rather than the cost
(as most online companies unfairly do). This means I can buy
several pounds of baking chocolate, pay to have it shipped, and
still come out ahead. If you live in an area that doesn’t
have easy access to a gourmet store, this place is a lifesaver. And
their catalog? It’s porn for baking afficionados.

So if you haven’t checked them out, do so. Whether
you’re a novice or an expert you’ll be glad you did
– and so will all the friends and family on the receiving end
of your holiday goodies. As for Maddie and me, you’ll find us
slaving over the stained glass cookies.


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