That theme keeps recurring in my circle of blogging friends. We continually share recipes, swap family and personal stories, and most of all keep each other in stitches. When we’re not blogging, we’re usually chatting on Twitter or sharing recent finds on Pinterest. We’ve even joked about building a blogger commune with one giant kitchen so we can do this on a permanent basis (once one of us wins the lottery & all of our spouses or soon-to-be-spouses agree). Although we are literally spread out across the U.S., we are bound by our mutual love of blogging, food & family. “One Kitchen, Many Hearts” has not only become our mantra, it aptly conveys how much we’ve grown to care about one another.
Like any great group of gal pals, we love to make each other laugh. We not only support each other through thick and thin, we cheer each other on. And since some of us occasionally take it one step further and mail packages to each other, we thought it would be fun to start a gift box exchange program with a focus on sharing some of our favorite things, regional cuisines, and anything else that might tickle our fancy. Armed only with a list of food allergies and strong dislikes, our boxes are “sender’s choice” and open to just about anything that can safely be shipped (which obviously rules out kittens and cheese curds). Our goal is to ship & receive all boxes during the same week and then reveal what we all got on the same day. If this first round of boxes is any indication, this is going to be fun. I mean, who doesn’t love getting surprise packages in the mail?
This month was our first “One Kitchen, Many Hearts” box exchange, and today we’ll all be sharing what we received in a blog post on each of our blogs (links below). My first gift box came from Allison from Decadent Philistines Save the World in Arizona. Here’s what she sent:
Now, some of you may be thinking “Cactus candy?” but not me. I actually love the flavor of prickly pear cactus fruit. Maybe it’s a southwest thing, but it’s not totally unique to me. In fact, the best restaurant margarita I ever had was a frozen lime concoction with a thick, sweet prickly pear cactus fruit syrup swirled into it. Have mercy, it was delicious. So when I saw the candy, and given my recent love affair with Turkish Delight, I was thrilled. Prickly pear cactus fruit tastes a little like pomegranate mixed with strawberries, and the texture of these candies is like my childhood favorite orange slice candies. They’re like soft jelly gummies coated in crunchy granulated sugar, and they are lovely.
The bottle of olive oil was fate. On the very day I received my box from Allison, The Complete Package and I had a conversation about infused olive oils. Flavors we like, types we would like to try, and the basil & garlic infused oil our son-in-law had just made the previous night for eggplant and chicken parmesan. Which, by the way, was fabulous. When I opened the box from Allison and found the chili pepper infused oil, it just seemed like kismet. Somewhere, the infused oil gods were smiling on us. Now my mind is racing with all of the ways I could use it – brushed onto grilled meats, drizzled over a pizza, in salad dressings, mixed with herbs and dipped with bread. The list is literally endless.
Special thanks to Allison (and to Her Royal Highness, Allison’s young daughter) for selecting the perfect items to share with this Texas gal. I will enjoy them thoroughly and think of you fondly as I do. ¡Muchas gracias!
To see what everyone else received, click on these links:
Kat at Tenaciously Yours (recipient of my box)
Mads at Le Petite Pancake
Kirsten at Comfortably Domestic
Megan at Wanna Be a Country Cleaver
Allison at Decadent Philistines Save the World
NOTE: Tomorrow I’ll be sharing information on the Foodie PenPal program that inspired this inner circle box exchange. It’s a much larger project with over 200 participants, and it inspired our smaller version with my blogging buddies. Think you might be interested in joining? Tune in tomorrow to learn more!