Monday, July 27, 2015

Ships Ahoy!

Actually, that should be "Shipping Ahoy!" but that's a little clunky, yes? 

One of the things I love most about baking, and teaching myself to be a better baker, is sharing what comes out of my oven with friends and family. I get great joy out of surprising someone with a box of hand pies or a bag of cookies or even a loaf of bread. That's one of the reasons I've hosted my birthday tea for the last twenty years or so. 

Needless to say, it's much easier to do this sharing with local friends because my family is kind of spread out across the country. Sharing with them involves the USPS, FedEx, or UPS. Or flying with boxes of cookies (which I have done). Whatever it costs, though, it's more than worth it to be able to send some of my love to them.

Now, I'm not saying I'm crazy but I am. For the third time since launching this blog, I sent ice cream to my father's house in Florida during the summer. This time was a "just because". We were talking about my ice cream making and mentioned my Golden Double Vanilla (a happy accident) and the Maple Walnut I make. I said I'd send him a sample of something for his evaluation. What he didn't know was that I was planning to send him as many different flavors as I could make in a short amount of time. See? Crazy. 

Originally, I thought I'd make three different flavors but when I saw the size of the insulated box I ordered from Amazon, I figured, what the heck, I'll make it four flavors and five pints total, since I'd have enough room. 2 (two) pints of Golden Double Vanilla, 1 (one) pint of Maple Walnut, 1 (one pint) of Butter Pecan (which used to be a favorite of when I was a kid), and 1 (one) pint of orange sherbet.

Sidebar – What's In A Name Dept.

I've always heard the word spelled "sherbert" and pronounced "sher_burt". Never questioned it. I mean, I'm was a kid, eating a delicious frozen dessert. Why in the world would I question its pronunciation? That would have gotten in the way of the bowl-to-spoon-to-mouth action. As I've found out, though, "sherbet" is the most accepted spelling, with "sherbert" being a simple misspelling of that. Granted, this icy dessert has gone by other names, too: Zerbet, cerbet, shurbet, sherpet, sherbette, and sarbet, among others. Me? I'm not going to worry about it. I'm just going to make it and eat it. Bowl-to-spoon-to mouth.

Sidebar – What's In A Name Dept. Ends

Some pictures of what I sent him:

Golden Double Vanilla
As I mentioned above, this was a happy accident. The recipe I use calls for a half cup, plus two tablespoons, of sugar. I was on auto pilot and used brown sugar instead of white sugar. "Argh! I can't believe I did that!" I said. "Calm down. It'll be fine." Michele said. She was right. It's delicious!

Maple Walnut (and Apple Pie)
This recipe comes from Bi-Rite in San Francisco; it's in the recipe book that Michele got me last year. It's a perfect accompaniment to Apple pie.

Once I'd gotten all the ice cream made, I needed to figure out how to pack it in the shipping box. 

Boxing Day

There's an art to this and I'm still learning it. From how to assure there's adequate airflow, the right amount of frozen gel packs, positioning of the ice cream containers, even how/if to wrap the individual pints themselves. 

Five pints went in, four came out.
I was only partially successful. One of the Golden Double Vanilla pints got turned upside down and the box warmed enough for it to leak out. The rest were somewhat mushy but able to be refrozen, according to my father. And when he was finally able to taste the Maple Walnut and the Butter Pecan, he said they "would not go to waste". 

A Father/Son Exchange Regarding Shipping Ice Cream

Quoth He: "I'll tell you, son. This is a little expensive."
Quoth I: "Well, Daddy, I don't really care. I happen to think you're worth it."
Quoth He: "Okay! I'll call you when it gets here!"

A Father/Son Exchange Regarding Shipping Ice Cream Ends

Next time, though, I'll make sure he comes here to visit so I can serve him the ice cream fresh. Or just fly down there with it.

*****

Two more rounds of shipping involved my brother and his youngest daughter. I sent him a box of ginger-lemon creams, which actually travel pretty well, but she is mad for chocolate (all of his kids are) so I had to come up with something else for her. I initially thought it would be some kind of chocolate cookie with chocolate filling but time was getting away from me so I settled on this chocolate drop cookie recipe from The Food Network. Just the cookie part, though, not the filling.

The cookie is a lot like a brownie in consistency and texture. This meant one to me in this situation: it would possibly be too fragile to ship. Challenge accepted! (See, here we are back to that "crazy" bit.)

The cookies baked up brilliantly.

Dropped Chocolate Brownie-esque Cookies
And immediate proved to me how fragile they were when one of them slid off the cooling rack, fell all of three inches and shattered. 

Okay. The challenge was going to be a little more difficult to overcome. I couldn't just pack them into a box and expect them to arrive in one piece. I needed to figure out a way to cushion them without squeezing them too tightly. After some cogitation, I went with my friend, wax paper. I thought that wrapping each cookie individually...

Wrapped for their protection!
...then packing them into my presentation boxes in such a way that the wax paper absorbed some shock...

Such cute packaging!
...then packing those in a shipping box so that they moved as little as possible but had enough surrounding cushion that would absorb as of the pressure and jostling the USPS was bound to subject it to. And off they went.

Several days later, I got a call from my brother to tell me that he receive his cookies the week before and loved them. And my niece thanked me for her cookies, which arrived mostly intact. There were a few that were broken but she and her sister and brother were singing my praises as the best baker in the world! You know... because chocolate! 

I am an intuitive shipping genius! (Even if I have to say so myself.) And hearing the happiness in their voices makes all of this worthwhile. 

Currently listening to: Mika - Relax, Take It Easy


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