Many thanks to writer, photographer and blogger (Life in a Skillet) Maggie Daniel Caldwell, our fabulous guest judge for the Cook the Books December/January pick "Baking Cakes in Kigali." Maggie took much care over reading each of our entries and as a group called us "quite accomplished." It wasn't an easy decision to pick a winner but I'll let her tell you about it in her own words! ;-)
Thank you so much Deb, and the others at Cook the Books Club, for inviting me to join you this month! I loved reading each of your blog posts; it was a great way to revisit the book, and you all impressed me in different ways with your observations and choices. A few thoughts from each of the entries:
Claudia of Honey From Rock: I enjoy Nancy Atherton's books, too, and am impressed that you made two different cakes. That Blackberry Mochi cake sounds delicious.
Camilla of Culinary Creations with Camilla: I'd never heard of Hummingbird Cake before and enjoyed the scan of that original recipe. It reminds me a bit of the pineapple upside down cake that Mom always makes for my dad's birthday. Your Kitchen Elves are quite accomplished at marzipan - I'm jealous!
Rossella of Ma che ti sei Mangiato?, (But you've Eaten?): You were very clever to make devil's food cake as a counterpoint to Angel's name, and I think the photograph of the slice of cake with tea that is dedicated to her is a touching gesture.
Debra of Eliot's Eats: I've added instant pudding to boxes of cake mix but never thought about sour cream. I imagine it adds tons of moisture with a nice zing. And that frosting - wow. Those three colors are very happy, and I do think that Angel would approve.
Simona of Briciole: Your recipe for Beans in Cashew and Tomato Curry looks fabulous and more than a little sophisticated. I'll definitely try this one out; I have a son who loves spice and beans but hates meat, so I think it will be a winner. And what a coincidence to find baskets woven in Angel's homeland - I often find, while reading a story, connections in real life that I may not have noticed.
Rachel of The Crispy Cook: What a fantastic summary of the book! I agree that Angel is quite quotable, and in my house it is also "tea time all the time." Imigongo is an interesting art form; it reminded me of the elephant dung sculptures that were so scandalous several years ago. My kids are giggling about stumbling across the google results page for "dung art!"
Deb at Kahakai Kitchen: I loved learning about cassava root and appreciate that you described the texture as well and the best way to prep. It's not an ingredient I've every used, but now if I ever see it I'll be inclined to try it out. I also think it was a stroke of genius the way you followed your instincts and married a traditional Rwandan dish with Marcus Samuelsson's berbere.
With all of these great blog posts, you can see that it was difficult to choose a winner. But I awoke very early this morning, before dawn, with a very clear notion of who should be the winner: Culinary Creations with Camilla. Just like Angel, who baked cakes as a means to solve problems, Camilla baked a cake to help solve the problem of honoring a book she just didn't care for. Her Hummingbird Cake was brightly colored and the marzipan birds intricate and festive - both details of which Angel would wholeheartedly approve. Best of all, though, she involved her "kitchen elves" in its creation. For me, engaging by cooking with others - especially your children, in this case - really captured the spirit of "Baking Cakes in Kigali."
Please share your win with the fabulous 'kitchen elves" that helped create your beautiful Hummingbird Cake.
Thanks to everyone who participated in this round and especially, a big mahalo to Maggie. We hope to have her join in with us as a participant in the future-maybe for our February/March selection: Twain's Feast: Searching for America's Lost Foods in the Footsteps of Samuel Clemens by Andrew Beahrs, hosted by Simona of briciole.