Rarely when you attend a PR event does it feel like you are invited into someone's family gathering. Yet that's what it was like at last night at OXO's test kitchen. Together with the OXO staff and special guest Dorie Greenspan, food bloggers were invited to a special party to kick off this year's charitable initiative benefiting pediatric cancer.
Upon arriving at OXO's incredible space, the food, the views and the drinks simultaneously demanded attention.
OXO put out quite a spread.
Nice wines were poured and gorgeous colors tempted attendees from the buffet table.
We were all encouraged to munch and mingle before the presentation.
After slapping on a fun temporary tattoo, I turned my focus to the Wall of Gloves because it demands attention. I had to learn details, so I grilled the nearest employee. Each glove had been picked up from the street of a location posted under the glove with the date and the person's name who retrieved it. The project is there to remind OXO employees the spectrum of hands they are designing products for. From lefties to senior citizens to children, it's all about Universal Design. Speaking of universal, I was told once an OXO intern recognized her lost glove on the wall.
After exploring the Wall of Gloves, I wandered around, took in the space, chatted with employees and other bloggers and found out more about what being a good cookie means.
|Vicki Winters from The Vicki Winters Show arrives in high tech style wearing her camera glasses and Pebble Smart Watch|
|The Diva That Ate NY and The Hungry Rabbit Share a hug while other bloggers mingle|
Cookies for Kids’ Cancer was founded by two OXOnians (OXO employees) who were inspired by their son Liam’s battle with pediatric cancer, a disease which claims the lives of more children in the US than any other. Liam's mom, Gretchen Witt started the initiative in 2007 with the idea to bake 96,000 cookies on her own, sell them online with the benefits going to pediatric cancer research. The company, it's employees and people everywhere stepped up big time to help make, package and sell those cookies ensuring its success and raising $400,000.
Out of this one idea came Cookies for Kids’ Cancer, an organization that provides inspiration and support to allow anyone to easily get involved in fundraising to find a cure for pediatric cancer. As a formal show of support, in 2014, OXO will donate up to $100,00 to support the cause.
We gathered around the kitchen area listening to Gretchen's heartfelt speech about who her son was, his battle with cancer and the origin of the initiative. I was surprised to learn some alarming stats regarding funding for pediatric cancer research. Compared to other types of cancer, the disease receives very little funding. According to Gretchen, the main reason for this is children can't vote, therefore they have little or no say on what happens to government allocation of funds to support fighting the disease. Cookies for Kid's cancer focuses on funding research and clinical trials.
When it was Dorie's turn to start her baking demo you could feel everyone in the room move even closer to the kitchen area en masse.
|This World Peace cookie dough came dangerously close to me. Easy to snatch a taste but I behaved.|
Anyone could be easily be intimidated by the serious culinary cred of Dorie Greenspan. The association with Julia Child. The umpteen fantastic award winning cookbooks she's authored. The long time part time residency in Paris France. The truth is Dorie is so personable, humble and funny. Here she was in OXO's test kitchen admitting to a room full of food bloggers she does not crack eggs properly when home in her own kitchen. Although I fundamentally relate to having three kitchens similarity, in my case, NYC, Pennsylvania countryside and Germany, ("Now where did I put that...?") I am fully aware and in awe of how accomplished she is. However, when watching her work, she makes you feel so at ease in the kitchen, one almost forgets about her formidable talent.
|Dorie Greenspan doing an interpretive cookie dance|
With the competent assistance of her lovely sidekick Mary, Dorie (A long time friend of Gretchen's, btw) demonstrated how to make her famous World Peace Cookies plus a French vanilla shortbread cookie called Palets des Dames featured in her new book.
|Dorie and Mary making cookies at OXO's test kitchen|
I jotted the following notes down while watching her demo.
- Add salt to blended butter/sugar ingredients instead of mixing it in with the flour to add later to the wet ingredients.
- Salt lifts the flavor of sweets. Try replacing the salt in cookie recipes with Fleur de sel, a hand harvested sea salt. Substitute twice the amount of fleur de sel for the salt specified in the recipe. Fleur de sel is not for pasta water. It's too expensive.
- Dorie says she's a lazy baker. She does not sift flour and other dry ingredients but whisks them together. However, she insists the two ingredients that should always be sifted are confectionary sugar and cocoa powder.
- Dorie has given up on using chocolate chips. She chops her own likes the surprise of the big chunks and the dust. Plus she can better control the quality of the chocolate.
- When rolling out a dough log to store in the freezer - Roll the dough into a log with your hands. Wrap it in parchment paper. Use a bench scraper to push the dough tighter into the parchment paper. It evens the dough out before chilling.
- Place the parchment wrapped dough log in a saved empty paper towel roll before placing in the freezer. This will keep the dough round.
I had a chance to flip through the galley of Dorie's new book, Baking Chez Moi: Recipes from My Paris Home to Yours Anywhere. Wow. So many wonderful recipes. The book becomes available for shipping on October 28th. As Dorie said (her birthday is October 25), she and her book are Scorpio babies. Incidentally, that makes three of us. I am an early November baby so today I pre-ordered a copy for myself as an early birthday present.
After the demo we were all encouraged to step over to work areas OXO had set up to demo some of their products. I have to admit I was impressed. First on turning us loose to play with baking products and second with the products themselves.
I immediately gravitated to the station featuring a Cookie Press. For good reason. Last month I spent an inordinate amount of time trying to find one with a serrated disk in my quest to make Bären Tatzen Kekse or Bear Claw Cookies for my German food page at about.com.
The one serrated disc I found came with a vintage press missing too many parts to use properly. I thought of how I struggled with trying to cobble a functional one together, while I was trying out OXO's cookie press. It was effortless. Unfortunately, this one does not include a serrated blade because this tool was almost too easy to use and a big time saver. In addition, the designs offered with the press are adorable. There are also Autumn and Spring sets of additional disks available for separate purchase.
The next demo area featured a little tool which, for me, was love at first sight. A Baker's Dusting Wand (tiara is optional when using it), resembling a tea strainer can do magical things for decorating baked goods. You open it up by twisting the bottom of the handle. Scoop up some powdered sugar with the solid side, close it and then turn it upside down to sprinkle the sugar on cakes, brownies, etc. through the sieved side. There was also the clever idea to use disks from the above mentioned cookie press as as a stencil to create designs. I guess I was so taken with the tool, I neglected to get shots of it in action.
The last station had silicon decorating bottles with interchangeable tips. They were easy to assemble, take apart, hold and looked like a cinch to clean. I tried my hand at putting my initials on a few cookies. Each bottle can also frost about 5 cupcakes at a time before refilling.
HERE is a list of OXO products you can buy, including the adorable cookie spatula pictured below, where a portion of the proceeds goes to fight pediatric cancer. OXO is definitely a company that not only bakes a difference but values and supports their employees. Last night was a special opportunity to learn about their great products and educate myself about the Cookies for Cancer cause.