Guest Blogger – Donna Cronk – White Cloud World Teas

I am so excited to announce that “Blaise the Baker” has joined “White Cloud World Teas” to bring you some of the most fabulous teas – and new and delicious recipes – that I know you will go crazy for! Check out http://whitecloudworldteas.com for more information, ordering information and more – and follow us along on social media for new and exciting things coming soon!

First up!? My very dear friend, Donna Cronk, as a special GUEST BLOGGER for Blaise the Baker, discussing her reactions to the fabulous tea presented by White Cloud World Teas! Shoutout and special thanks to Donna Cronk for being a part of this journey as well as providing excellent feedback and gorgeous photographs!

Take it away Donna…

“Flavorful scented sips on an early spring evening” By: Donna Cronk

If there is the slightest nip in the air, no matter the month of the year, you can expect to find me sipping a cup of hot tea on any given evening in my home. Or, when visiting someone else’s home overnight or even when staying in a motel. It’s a favorite ritual.

So when I got home from work one Tuesday recently, and I discovered that Blaise had sent me not one but two delicious teas to try from White Cloud World Teas, the timing was perfect; the agenda set.

It was a damp-and-chilly early April day here in Indiana so following supper, I headed to the bathtub for my other favorite evening ritual – a hot bath.

As soon as I warmed up in the soapy soak, I put on my most cozy animal-print jammies and headed for the kitchen. First up was the intoxicatingly scented Lavender Vanilla Earl Grey. This stuff smells so great that it would make a fine potpourri if it weren’t meant for sipping.

Oh, but a cuppa tea was in the plan. Nothing quite relaxes me or finishes my day like a delicious tea. For Christmas, my husband Brian bought me an electric kettle. It quickly boils my water and then into a ceramic teapot it went, along with a teabag filled with the aromatic blend.

I could hardly wait the couple of minutes required for a good steep to try the finished brew. The scent was lovely and the color a golden brown. The steaming cup of tea hit the spot! The flavor was subtle. Better have a second cup. I liked it even better after a few more minutes of steeping as I prefer a stout tea.

Like a kid on Christmas, I couldn’t wait to try my second offering of the evening. But I wasn’t about to waste the rest of my pot of tea. So I poured it off into a glass, covered it with plastic and tomorrow I’ll make an iced version of the brew.

Then I went through the quick and easy process of brewing a pot of my second featured flavor – Lavender Berry. This one had a fruity scent that reminded me of summer. The flavor echoed that thought as I sipped and let my mind wander to the spring and summer nights to come, and in particular, the ones where I’ll warm up from my husband’s over-zealous cooling of the house with an evening brew. This would be delicious iced as well!

I’ll be checking out http://www.whitecloudworldteas.com and seeing what other flavors and goodies are available. Meanwhile, I’m enjoying the last sip from this evening’s samples of fine teas. Thanks for the taste, Blaise and White Cloud World Teas!

Donna Cronk is a community journalist and author of two inspirational novels. She and her husband are empty nesters who live in Indiana. Check her out on http://donnacronk.com

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Chew This! Macy’s Favorite Biscuits

Macy Chloe Doubman

Thank you to all of those who pick up a copy of “The Courier-Times” on the first and third Sunday’s of each month to check out my newest “CHEW THIS!” column features and recipes. Really means a lot to me. I appreciate your support and dedication. My newest column, last Sunday, was a recipe for “Macy’s Favorite Biscuits”!

The following “Chew This!” column has been reprinted from “The Courier-Times”, Sunday, April 15th 2018 edition. By: Blaise Doubman

Dog Love, Biscuits and a Broken Heart…
Blaise Doubman

It has taken me countless attempts at this column and I am still writing through tears. Never did I imagine that I would be creating a column “in memory” of my little fur baby Macy. For the past 12 years Macy has been such a strong part of my family that I can hardly remember life before her. Of course, before Macy, came my first fur baby, Chloe. Both Shetland Sheepdogs and both have taught my family and I so much about life. Chloe was a huge part of my childhood, Macy a huge part of my young adulthood. Chloe seen so much life. She seen my brother Damon and I through Elementary School and even into High School. She was a huge part of my brother’s Senior photos and a huge part of my beginnings into real responsibility. So much life happened those 12 years we had Chloe and so much happened the 12 years after that we had Macy. Macy got to see my brother and I both graduate college with Bachelor’s Degrees, watch as my parents and grandparents grew, struggled, celebrated and learned new normals. There was so much life, so much living in those 24 years. 24 years! A lifetime of memories, both good and bad, but always with either Chloe or Macy right by my side. But now, neither.

I always told people that Macy was like my child. Why? Because she really was! She was my “fur baby”. I felt like she was a part of me just as much as I was a part of her. We went though everything together, the good and the bad. When “Blaise the Baker” first really took off I would get messages and comments about what a beautiful baby she was, so gorgeous, glamourous even. People from all over the Country would comment to me when I would post her picture online and talk about how she looked almost like a “living doll baby”. People would send her gifts for her Birthday and Christmas, but that was nothing unusual for her, because for 12 years I had thrown her a Birthday party, complete with cake and presents. She loved the attention. Chloe had more of my brother Damon’s personality. Macy had mine. She always wanted to be center of attention, laughed a lot, smiled, very rambunctious, barked a lot, never wanted to be left by herself and was full of nothing but love…and perhaps was a little bit of a troublemaker.

She was spoiled rotten to the very core. Around her 11th Birthday my family and I noticed the aging process starting to take its toll on her. She started having more and more trouble until on March 31st, 2018 she passed away. My heart will never be the same. I am heartbroken. I still look for her. Listen for her. Worry about her. My family and I are devastated. Things will never be the same I am sure and the only thing getting me though this is my family, friends and the good memories I will always carry with me of my sweet little Macy. So many friends have reached out to me, thank you. So many of my readers, followers and fans have reached out also, thank you. Thank you also to “Country Acre Animal Clinic” of New Castle and thank you to Veterinarians Rob and Nathan Rich who extended the life of Macy and helped her anyway that they could and were always there for us, day or night. As I type this the tears are flowing. I am not sure how my family and I will get through this, but we will. Together. If you are reading this and have a fur baby of your own, please stop right now and give them a hug from me – and from Macy. I love you Macy and I will never forget you. Thank you for everything.

Macy’s Favorite Biscuits

These biscuits can be made ahead and stored in an air tight container for up to two weeks. Feel free to use any type of cookie cutter design you would like, even using special ones for Holidays. If you do not own a cookie or biscuit cutter just use the bottom of a drinking glass. Be sure to flour the cutter, or glass, for easier cutting of biscuits. You can replace the vegetable oil with bacon grease for a richer biscuit. When adding in the broth feel free to use whatever style broth you wish – such as chicken broth or beef broth. The color of the dough will vary slightly.

1 ½ cups instant oatmeal
¼ cup vegetable oil
½ cup white all-purpose flour
½ cup broth

Start by preheating your oven to 350 degrees F.

Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a large bowl combine with clean hands, the instant oatmeal, vegetable oil, white all-purpose flour and broth. Once the dough comes together and forms a ball, transfer to a clean and slightly floured surface. Knead a couple of times and then allow to rest for about 5 minutes.

Using a floured rolling pin, roll the dough carefully into about ½-inch thickness.

Cut out shapes, using desired cutters, and place carefully onto the prepared baking sheets.

Bake, one sheet at a time, in preheated oven for 30 minutes until firm and slightly dry.

Remove from oven and allow to cool at room temperature before removing.

Ask and Answer: I received a question about why I specify in my recipes, that my sticks of butter, salted and unsalted, are “4 oz”. The reason I specify this is because not all stick butter is 4 oz. Some European or Amish butters are slightly more or less ounces per stick.

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Chew This! Monica’s Love Brownies

Monica's Love Brownies

Thank you to all of those who pick up a copy of “The Courier-Times” on the first and third Sunday’s of each month to check out my newest “CHEW THIS!” column features and recipes. Really means a lot to me. I appreciate your support and dedication. My newest column, last Sunday, was a recipe for “Monica’s Love Brownies”!

The following “Chew This!” column has been reprinted from “The Courier-Times”, Sunday, April 1st 2018 edition. By: Blaise Doubman

Spreading Love and Brownies
Blaise Doubman

I am a huge cookbook lover and collect cookbooks the way some people may collect stamps, coins or knickknacks. One of my current favorite cookbooks is “The Best of Better Baking.com” written by: Marcy Goldman. It is filled with delicious, and easy, recipes that I turn to time and time again for foolproof baking. She is one of my culinary inspirations who has written, and self-published, several cookbooks on a variety of topics. When I was shopping around my debut cookbook I remember speaking to Marcy about it and asking for her help. She was more than happy to take me under her wing and share some of her greatest advice as a baker, a cookbook author and a self-publisher. After I spoke to her, I immediately called and emailed the publishers that were looking over my cookbook and pulled out of all possible deals. My goal was clear to me and that was to self-publish my cookbook and expand my brand on my own. If a publisher got wind of my success and offered to publish, great! If not, the time would come, and things would fall into place as they should. Between Marcy and my friend Donna Cronk, I had all the self-publishing guidelines and tips that I needed to make a clear-headed decision. My gut instinct was right and here we are!

In expanding my brand, I decided to try a “Blaise the Baker Mail Order Dessert Delivery” service. Without going into detail, there needs to be more research done! Ha! It was an enjoyable experimentation, but right now food writing and recipe developing keep me busy enough. Plus, there was something lacking in it to me and that was the hand to hand, eye to eye, delivery to the actual customer. I missed seeing someone’s eyes sparkle at the delivery of a fabulous dessert or their big bright smile when they see a dessert delivery coming their way. Take for example my friend and taste tester, Dr. Monica Price Kowaleski. She is one of the most trusted eye care professionals in Greenfield, an optometrist operating a family owned business (Price Eye Care Inc. located at 946 N State Street in Greenfield) and a very dear friend to my family and I. A few months back, during an eye visit, I brought in some brownies that I had developed based off one of Marcy Goldman’s brownie recipes. Monica and her staff flipped over them and that was all I needed to know that the recipe I was tinkering with was perfect. I named this recipe after my friend Monica and would highly recommend you stir up a batch of these! Feel free to leave out the chocolate chips and walnuts for a smoother finish brownie but be sure to make these in advance. These delicious brownies take time and prepping ahead!

Monica’s Love Brownies

These brownies are best made in advance because they need to set up properly and rest awhile before enjoying. At first look you may think these brownies may be too rich but they really are not! They are thick and chewy with a delicious chocolate flavor that the coffee really helps carry through. These also freeze beautifully! Some of my taste testers prefer to eat them directly from the freezer! Regardless, these need to be eaten chilled.

4 sticks (16 oz) unsalted butter
2 cups white granulated sugar
1 ½ cups light brown sugar, packed
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
2 teaspoons instant coffee granules
6 large eggs
1 cup, plus 5 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
2 cups white all-purpose flour
¼ teaspoon baking soda, heaping
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips, optional
2 cups chopped nuts, optional

Start by preheating your oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 9×13-inch baking pan with non-stick cooking spray containing flour. Line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper and lightly spray again with the non-stick cooking spray containing flour.

In a microwave safe bowl, microwave the unsalted butter until melted, about 2 minutes. Remove and add in the white granulated sugar, packed light brown sugar, pure vanilla extract and instant coffee granules. Beat well until the mixture is thick and combined.

Beat in the large eggs, one at a time, beating about 50 strokes to incorporate each egg before adding another egg. Once all the eggs are thoroughly beaten in, beat another minute.

Add in the unsweetened cocoa powder, white all-purpose flour, baking soda and salt all at once. Gently, and patiently, fold in until no dry ingredients remain in the batter.

Gently fold in the chocolate chips and or walnuts, if using.

Scoop the batter gently into the prepared pan and spread well and even out the top.

Place in preheated oven for exactly 43 minutes. The top will be set but will not look dry.

Remove from the oven and let cool to room temperature. Once at room temperature, place, uncovered, in the freezer for 2 hours. After gently frozen, flip brownies, or lift out, onto a clean work surface. Peel off the parchment paper and cut brownies into desired sizes.

Serve immediately or wrap in plastic wrap and store in the freezer or refrigerator.

Ask and Answer: I have received several questions about my previous column for “Funfetti Cake Balls” and if you can use different flavors of cake mix for this recipe. The answer? Yes! Use whatever flavor of cake mix you would like, just adjust the outer coating to match the cake ball flavor. Also, lots of questions pertaining to my upcoming second cookbook. To answer your questions, there is currently no release date sat and no preorders being taken. All I can say is that the book is scheduled to be released later this year, 2018. Thank you for the interest.

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