Before I could pack up my pantry (and my life) and move back to Virginia, I had to pack up something special* first. *And no, I'm not talking about the Random Snacks of Kindness ...although those WERE pretty fabulous. ;) Yeppers...it was that time again: Foodie Pen Pal time! This time, I was matched up with Kimberly @ Sunny State of Mind a fun and fabulous Wisconsin 'cheesehead' who provided me with an interesting challenge: make my pen pal package completely gluten-free. I knew where to turn first: Bona Dea Baking Company is an Austin-based gluten-free baking mix company that I had become familiar with at the Farm Direct Local Austin showcase prior to Michael Pollan's talk last fall. I used this baking mix, and some dried strawberries and chocolate chips I uncovered in my pantry purging, to concoct some Gluten-Free Chocolate Covered Strawberry Oatmeal Cookies. As I was still operating as a vegan, and there was butter galore inside these babies, I had to restrain myself...but I hope they were as delicious as they looked! Things I CAN vouch for were some PopCorners Butter flavored popcorn chips and some cheesy Beanitos bean-and-flax chips (the latter also being a local Austin-based product). And of course, you can't have chips without my favorite Texas-made Mrs. Renfro's Salsa!* [However I'm not really sure the cheesy chips really go with peach so well...but I wasn't thinking about that at the time...] *Although I must say the Pomegranate is still my favorite...with the Smoky Roasted Salsa giving the fruitier treats a run for their money. There were, of course, a few more surprises in there, but you'll have to check in with Kimberly to find out just what those might have been... As for my package, I guess the ringleader of all this pen-palling, Miss Lindsay , was extra pleased with the box that I shipped to her in October ... ...because thanks to her match-ups, I certainly hit the jackpot with my foodie pen pal this month! Diana from Veggie Next Door e-mailed me immediately to let me know she had found out about me (and my current 'vegan-ish-ness') just before heading to Chicago's VeganMania food festival. She was able to find me some of the most intriguing vegan products I never knew I was missing! These included Dandie's Vegan Marshmallows ...that will either make some crazy good vegan Rice Krispies treats, s'mores, or, as Diana insisted, a topping for hot chocolate this winter. :) Also in the package was some Teese vegan nacho [or perhaps not-cho (?)] cheese sauce, which I anticipate coming in handy when my non-dairy-loving stomach decides it needs to take a trip South-of-the-Border while spending time (pretending I'm) watching football this winter. I packed the TastyBite Channa Masala microwaveable meal so that it would be easily accessible in the car, as this cross country move requires lots of unplanned meals and visits to people who may or may not be able to accommodate a dairy-free (for the moment) vegetarian. I cannot wait to crack open the SunGold tomato preserves... ...especially as they required special stampage on my pen pal box. Unfortunately for all of us, I had to open this box and then quickly pack it up again, so I have been unable to try most of these yummy treats. As I was frantically trying to pack up my life in one week, while also save or send most of the food in my pantry, I didn't have time to open up many new items. One thing I have tried? The Carrot Chips with Paprika that came along with their sisters (brothers?), some Tomato Chips. Both appeared to be imported from some Germanic country, and I packed the tomato and stashed the carrot into the driver side door, should there be a snack emergency on the road. [Which, of course, there was.] All I have to say is....they taste like carrots. Covered in paprika. And that, my friends, is amazing. Want to open up your own Foodie Pen Pal package this December? Of course you do! If you’re interested in participating for December, please send an email to Lindsay at email@example.com and include the following information -Your full name -Your email address -Your blog name/address -Your twitter handle (if applicable)
She will need to hear from you by December 4th as pairings will be emailed on December 5th!