New Pillsbury Bake-Off Winner and Other Percolations

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Pillsbury Bake Off
Photo: Pillsbury

Dear friends,

Have you ever entered the Pillsbury Bake-Off? When I was about 12, our mom entered a special recipe she created for flaky breakfast rolls made from croissant dough, cherries and icing. I was sure she’d be among the contestants cooking their dishes on TV, but she didn’t place in the semifinals. I watched the Bake-Off that year with some bitterness in my heart that we didn’t win the cash prize or new appliances.

The new Grand Prize winner has just been announced in the contest’s 49th year, and Melissa Jollands won a kitchen makeover and $50,000 for her Dublin Cheeseboard-Stuffed Appetizer Bread recipe, shown above. I enjoyed reading Melissa’s story about the trip to Ireland that inspired her creation, and was reminded that the Pillsbury Bake-Off winners typically have an interesting tale that accompanies their recipes. I always love the backstory behind a recipe, don’t you?

Kitchen Yarns

Speaking of food stories, this week I’m devouring Ann Hood‘s wonderful collection of essays, Kitchen Yarns: Notes on Life, Love, and Food. I’ve always adored Ann’s writing, and was intrigued about the book after learning that she found love later in life and married author-food writer Michael Ruhlman. Hood’s stories are touching and relatable, and she shares several dozen wonderful recipes for dishes like her perfect Spaghetti Carbonara, Indiana Fried Chicken, Gogo’s Swedish Meatballs, Mary’s Peach Pie, and her husband’s technique for making the perfect baked potato.

Also related to finding love, if you’ve ever met someone at a party who seemed promising the song “Hey Eugene!” by Pink Martini will make you smile with recognition.

Creative Pressure

Darn it, I wish I could take back every time I’ve said, “You should sell your (cakes, paintings, jewelry, –fill in the blank–).” Molly Conway’s essay “The Modern Trap of Turning Hobbies Into Hustles” is so spot-on.

Imagine you’re an infectious disease scientist, and your husband suddenly comes comes down with a deadly infectious bug that not even Dr. House can identify. “This Viral Treatment Could Help Us Survive the Superbug Era” is a fascinating Wired interview with infectious disease epidemiologist Steffanie Strathdee and her husband, evolutionary psychologist Tom Patterson.  The couple wrote The Perfect Predator, a book that’s part medical mystery and part memoir, about Steffanie’s crusade to save Tom’s life. While he teetered near death, she advocated for doctors to try an obscure Soviet treatment called phage therapy that she’d read about one night while desperately surfing biomedical journal articles. Trying it would mean introducing a virus into Tom’s weakened immune system that would hopefully prey on the bad bacteria. A compelling read!

Balancing Act

flamingo balancing

Try this:  Stand on one leg, close your eyes, and see how long you can balance. It might be easy for you, or perhaps your foot will surprise you and wiggle around a little like mine did.

A study by the UK Medical Research Council found that 53 year olds who could stand on one leg for ten seconds with their eyes closed were more likely to be fit and well when they turned 66. Those who could only manage two seconds were three times more likely to die before age 66. Another study linked this one-legged balancing ability to better brain function and reduced stroke risk.

The good news is that we can develop strength in our feet, ankles and knees to help our bodies learn better balance. Yoga instructor David Procyshyn demonstrates how in this short video.

So here’s to balancing, both literally and figuratively, in the days ahead.

I’d love to hear what you’re reading, creating, cooking, eating and percolating about these days.

Best always,

Eliza Cross's signature

Grateful thanks to Chad Sparkes for sharing the flamingo photo above.

2 thoughts on “New Pillsbury Bake-Off Winner and Other Percolations”

  1. Dear Eliza, I was delighted that my husband found Kitchen Yarns mentioned on your blog. Thank you! What you couldn’t know is that we fell in love to Pink Martini and listen to them a lot still. N fact my ringtone for Michael when he calls us Amado Mio by Pink Martini!


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