I have a lot to cover in this post, so please grab a mug or tall glass of something and join me!
First up--the herb giveaway. I was contacted a little while ago by Matt From Daregal Fresh Frozen Herbs. He wanted to know if I'd like to try a sample. Heck, yeah! Trying to find reasonably priced and super-fresh herbs in the cold months isn't always easy. Not to mention that if you only need a little bit, and you have to buy a whole bunch, then you've got to come up with ways to use the rest up before they go bad, which is always sooner than later.
So here comes Daregal, with the perfect solution! Their herbs are 100% natural, salt free, and processed within three hours of being picked. They're not sitting around on store shelves losing flavor and freshness like the ones we've seen up until now. The herbs are washed, chopped (no stems included!) and ready to use in your favorite dishes--no thawing required, not even for salads. And you might think they'd be all stuck together, but the herbs get a very light misting of natural vegetable oils so they flow freely out of the container.
We've been testing some of them this weekend and I have to say, I think I'm in love. The basil, right out of the container, tastes like I just picked it from my garden in August. Same goes for the Italian and Original Blends--nothing but delicious herbs in there, tasting as fresh as you'd expect from your own herb garden. And they're already minced for you, so less work. Now, everyone would love to have a year-round herb garden, but for most of us, that's not happening. So these are the next best thing. I've tried the little frozen teaspoon sized cubes of herbs, and while they taste alright, they're not convenient if you're making an uncooked dish. The Daregal Herbs are like sprinkling your own fresh minced herbs into anything you're making. So far we've made Bruschetta with the basil, and a focaccia-loafy-type bread with the Italian Blend. Also, the Grilling Blend sprinkled into some olive oil made a perfect blend to dip our bread in.
So Matt and I talked for a little while and came up with a great giveaway! They're going to send out two packages of an assortment of herbs to two random winners. What will you get?
Package #1: One of each--
Package #2: One of each--
These will be shipped to your door packed in dry ice, and ready to be popped in your freezer to start using right away. And let's not underestimate the fun factor of dry ice...um, not that I'd know. Just be careful if you decide to make a cauldron of spooky smoke, and read the precautions first, ok? Ok. So the herb giveaway starts today, and two winners (US only on this one, sorry.) will be chosen on Wednesday, January 14th. In the meantime, check out the Daregal site, and maybe you'll find a store in your area that carries them so you can get a sneak preview. And a huge thanks to Matt and Daregal!
And now, the book that changed everything about bread baking. For me, anyway, and countless others that have bought this book. What book is this? Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day: The Discovery That Revolutionizes Home Baking .
My bread baking has gone from "pretty good" to "knock your socks off!" And all with very little effort. Seriously! There's no kneading, only about 5 minutes of mixing time. The dough rests at least 2 hours, then you can use it or pop it in the fridge. Want some bread? (I feel almost silly calling it "bread," when it's more like food of the gods.) Pull out some of the dough, shape it and let it sit for 40 minutes (or 20 if you haven't put it in the fridge yet), then bake it. The high moisture content in the dough is what makes it rise, right in the oven. And then? Prepare to BE AMAZED. Be prepared for your family and friends to start begging you to make more bread. Which you'll be happy to do because of the little bit of effort involved.
We've been experimenting with the book and haven't been disappointed yet--just the opposite, we've been thrilled! For Christmas Day, I made the Vermont Cheddar Bread from the book, but using half the dough, made 12 dinner rolls. They were so damn good, and even the fussy kids loved them. The rest of the dough went back in the fridge overnight and this afternoon, we shaped 2 flat-ish focaccia type breads. We brushed them with a little olive oil and gave them a sprinkle of good sea salt. Then--how easy--we sprinkled some Daregal Italian Blend over the dough, then let them rest for 40 minutes. When it was time for them to bake, we added sliced Campari tomatoes and fresh mozzarella. Instant lunch! We got 2 delicious pizza-focaccia-bread type loaves with about 10 minutes total work.
We've also tried the Boule and the Pizza Crust from the book. Both are fantastic! And with bread this easy, there's no more excuse to not have your own fresh baked bread. No more being afraid of yeast. And no more fear of kneading. You CAN do it with this book.
And I'm so thrilled with the book, that I'm giving a copy away to one lucky reader! Same as the herb giveaway, but this one is open to US and international readers. The contest starts today, and on Wednesday, January 14th, I'll choose a winner.
SO! You have a chance to win three prizes--the book, or one of two packages of frozen herbs. (Herbs-US only, book-US and international.)
Just leave a comment here to enter. And if you want a BONUS ENTRY, just Twitter or Facebook with a link to this giveaway, and come back to comment again with your link from that included in your comment. That will give you two chances to win.
Good luck! I hope you all had happy holidays, and here's to a happy and healthy new year!