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In the beginning, there was cream cheese!!

Here we are, April 27th 2008. Reveal numero uno!!!!!

For those of you who haven’t read my post, “Hi, It’s Tina…” I joined the Daring Baker’s less about the baking and more about the blogging. In baking I find no intimidation, so when I saw the Challenge was based on cheesecake, I assumed this would be a “piece of cake” (sorry that pun was too “cheesy” even for me!!!!!!). Well…NOT SO MUCH!!!!

The technique wasn’t the hassle, aside from the baking time, which didn’t phase me. So, off to the kitchen I went, let’s get this moving, it’s early enough in the month, the remaining time better spent on the actual writing of the reveal. Mix it, pour it, bake it and let it cool, phase one done!!!! On to phase two, form it, dip it, decorate it and wrap it, should be a breeze. Once again…NOT SO MUCH!!!

Something kept gnawing at the corners of my mind and no color combo or design element satisfied me enough to go further. So here is the challenge, I discovered!!!! A couple days later, with no divine inspirations as of yet and an entire cheesecake about to turn into a 3rd grade science experiment, it was time to give in. I opened a can of cherry pie filling (not a fresh cherry in sight), crushed a few graham crackers and created a quicky cherry cheesecake for dessert. Hmmm, cheesecake, cherries and graham crackers, sounds like a classic to me!!! Now, I have made quite a few of these buggers in my day, white chocolate raspberry swirl, amaretto with an almond/caramel crust, even savory sage and sausage cheesecakes But the pinnacle of cheesecake is the tried and true, New York Style with a cherry topper and graham cracker crust. TaDa!!! Inspiration.

I haven’t yet mentioned that through this debate process, my partner, Ray has been getting progressively more and more ill. I take him to the ER, where he is diagnosed with a pleural effusion and released. I manage a wine shoppe, Ray and I own a Candy Shoppe/Fudgery, we have 2 huge dogs, a cat and a house we are currently playing DIY with. So somewhere between, my regular 50 hours/week, the dogs, cat, house, doctors, and now filling in for Ray at the Candy Shoppe I found the time for this months challenge, and boy am I glad I did.

As I already said, the classic was my inspiration. My cheesecake pops began with a fresh batch of cheesecake (the bake time still remained over an hour!), let ’em rest overnight in the fridge, then up 2 hours early the next morn. My cherry topper became a cherry filler, in the form of cherry cordials from our Shoppe. A few harried twists and turns now arose, I had to first pierce the cordials with the stick and then form the cheesecake around that, I could have used an extra pair of hands but Ray was continuing a downward spiral into illness. So I made due and threw on another pot of coffee!!! I gave them a quick chill in the freezer and then dipped into vanilla candy melts and a quick dust of graham cracker crumbs. Finally a drizzle of Lindt 70% cacao and Viola!!!

Now, you know we took them to the Shoppe and they were a rockin’ stompin’ hit!! Still 2 weeks to write up a reveal, “hey, I can do this”, I thought to myself. Alas, NOT SO MUCH!!!!!

The first week of my time pledged to writing, was overwhelmed with sleepless nights and louder and louder arguements about heading back to the hospital. “No”, Ray would say, “I have a doctor’s appointment in a week it’s not that bad”. Last saturday was a very very bad night, Ray fought to take air, I fought to take him to ER, neither of us were winning!! Sunday morn brought me to ultimatum time, I fought, he thought he won, I walked away, then I came back to pounce. “You are going to the hospital!” was all I said. He resigned, we drove, the ER staff quickly admitted him and I had to go off to open the Shoppe. It was indicated to us, that they would drain his lung monday, so I reworked the sched and opened a bit of my day for the event. Time wasn’t on my side, I had to head in to work and miss the procedure. Well as is often the case, things didn’t work out and delays were in order, so now tuesday was the day. Unfortunately my schedule rework did not afford me any time tuesday, so my poor sick boy had to brave it on his own!! Long story short, the lung was “tapped”, almost akin to me piercing the cordials for the pops, he is home and doing well and here I sit, saturday morn 4:10am writing what I thought I would have 2 weeks to write!!!

And now the Curtain rises…

First Challenge Finished

Now as the Curtains drops on…

In the beginning there was cream cheese

I have but one thing to say…

In the end there was RELIEF!!!!


A couple months back, a group of us (3 couples to be exact) decided to begin a monthly “game night”. A rather simple endeavor, pick a date, rotate the host/hostess, decide on a theme, choose a game and let the fun ensue. We have gotten through our first host/hostess rotation, appropriately so, the first theme was “In the Garden of Eden”. My turn came second and “A Very Brady Game Night” was born, complete with “Sam slippin’ Alice the meatballs” subs ( I never claimed to have angelic heritage). Last night brought us to “Tea Time at Tina’s”, an Alice in Wonderland Tea Party/Japanese Tea Ceremony Fusion event.

And all of this has what to do with “Hi, it’s Tina” or the “Daring Bakers”, you ask?

Well, Tina is a young, starry eyed, although a bit trepidacious hostess; she has great ideas, makes wonderful menu choices but becomes unsure upon entering the “implementation” phase of things. So, as the sands emptied from the hourglass, my phone began to ring with more frequency and urgency…”can I?, should I?, how much?, too little?, what temp?, how long?… the questions flew!!!! Now I am not the most tech savvy person on the planet but my cell phone does have caller ID, I have assigned Tina her own special ringtone and my hearing is still sharp enough that I can recognize this sweet ones voice; but each and every time I answer, with what she descibes as a husky, sleepy growl of a Hello, the response is always a cheery, melodic “Hi!, It’s Tina” (one must hear it to truly understand).

“The Daring Bakers”, intriguing, fascinating, a group of Blogger/Bakers. My limited understanding is that they, each and every month, create a baking challenge, “bake” the challenge and lastly blog about the challenge. On a specified date, the blogs of each “DB” discussing the challenge are “revealed”. The same ingredients, the same techniques yet results as varied as each Baker that Dared. Creativity combined with challenge and in the end, if the “Oven Gods” are smiling, a sweet reward! What a fun bunch, “I must belong”, so to the founders Lisa & Ivonne I send my request.

Again you ask, one relates to the other HOW?

Moments after I send my request a warm and welcoming reply arrives. A thank you for interest in “our little baking community” and a listing of “rules and responsibilities”. Now I have read and reread the reply and I assure you there was no “but” in it, nevertheless, I heard a “but” loud and clear. The “rules and responsibilities”, hmmm, the trepidation was setting in, “Tina I understand you”. Baking, now that is certainly not the issue, true I have had my share of “fallen” cakes, more than once I have been heavy handed with an ingredient and have upset the balance of flavor in a dish but I have often been heard to say, “I taught Martha Stewart everything she knows”…obviously a false statement but a blazing testament to the confidence of my skills in the kitchen!

Blogging, however, puts me on a totally different comfort level, or I shall say “discomfort” level. Don’t get me wrong, years ago while we were still using chisels to carve words into stone, I always received high marks and praise in my creative writing courses. Then I could turn a phrase, occasionally I still can, but then I was under the tutelage of knowledgeable folk, fresh in my mind was the difference between a verb and a preposition, then I knew a noun from an adjective!! After years of not really using these skills regularly and of settling into speaking “not-so-grammatically” correct english, I now worry what “experienced” bloggers would think of my “scribblings”.

So staring at the reply, I thought, “how nice, they opened the door” yet I also thought “I am not worthy to enter their Sanctum Sanctorum“. “can I?, should I?, how much?, too little?, what phrase?, how long?” again the questions flew yet this time not from Tina but from myself!! I debated and all but decided to reply with an appreciative Thank You but…

Luckily, a glance to the clock on the wall indicated it was time to get to game night, so my reply would have to wait a bit. Off Ray and I fly, we are the first to arrive, yet late as is typical of this group. In the door we walk and there is Tina, lovely in a kimono purchased in Paris, a few platters of food not completely “put together”, yet surprisingly absent was the sweat from her brow as I expected. The trepidation had transformed into calm surrender, it is what it is, it is what it will be. We chatted, laughed, ate and had a marvelous time. Questions aside, a smashing success!!!

Arriving at home, I thought “Tina overcame her obstacles and so shall I”! This morning a reply to Lisa & Ivonne, yes I accept the rules, I am ready for the responsibilities…no word as of yet but I am committed to becoming a Daring Baker. Perhaps not tomorrow but someday soon I will reference Shakespeare and his talents in the same manner that I do Martha’s!!

The teacher is now the grasshopper, it is now my turn to say….

“Hi, It’s Tina !”

Keeping the Flour Flying!!!

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April 2008
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